Sexual harassment of women on trains has risen alarmingly. Surprisingly, the menace is more virulent in the metropolitan areas of north, south and western regions. Railway officials, instead of being saviours, have turned dreadful for women.

With little or no secure environment guaranteed on trains — with just some important trains escorted on sensitive routes — the worst part is women are actually required to protect themselves from the railway staff travelling with them. The number of cases filed against railway staff for such offences has shot up alarmingly over these five years.

On an average, 110 women were subjected to either rape, molestation or eve-teasing each year and one crime against women was committed every third day on trains.

Almost 552 cases — 22 rape cases, 352 molestation and 178 cases of eve-teasing — were reported from 2008 to 2012. Officials claimed prosecution had been initiated against those arrested in these cases and that included as many as 46 railway officials. The number of such incidents in 2008 was 88, with seven rapes, 44 molestation and 37 eve-teasing cases. It rose to 101 in 2009, with molestation accounting for 65 cases. The next year saw some decline, with no rape and a decline in molestation and eve- teasing, both accounting for 82 cases. However, things turned for the worse in 2011, when 109 incidents — three rapes, 72 molestation and 34 eve-teasing cases. Last year, such incidents rose alarmingly to 172 — seven rapes, 119 molestation and 46 eve-teasing cases.

Six officials were booked for their misdemeanour in 2008, five in 2009, none the following year, nine in 2011 and 21 in 2012. Tragically enough, sexual crime against women is taking terrifying proportions in major cities of south, west and north, with safety becoming a cause of major concern in trains and stations, particularly under the Southern Zone. In 2008, as many as 21 cases were reported, followed by 19 each in 2009 and 2010 and 41 in 2011. In 2012, it shot up to 58.

At the same time, officials here too seem to be fallible with 12 of them being booked for the crime with seven in 2012 alone.

Western Railway and West Central Railway, which govern Mumbai and neighbouring divisions, accounted for 100 incidents of sexual harassment during the five years with five rapes, 78 molestation and 11 cases of eve-teasing. Again, six railway officials were booked for their offence.

Under the Northern Railway that governs Delhi and other divisions, 77 incidents of sexual harassment were reported, with 64 of them related to eve-teasing. As many as 11 officials were booked for one offence or the other in the five years.

Significantly, the situation is not that bad in areas coming under the jurisdiction of North-East, North-East Frontier, South-Eastern and South-Western Railways.