Background Equal access to safe transport is increasingly conceptualised as a fundamental right for women, with demonstrated effects on health outcomes, social and economic mobility and societal participation. Its importance has been highlighted in the Sustainable Development Goals, especially in relation to low and middle income countries. Transport to work and education for women in Bangladesh often involves paid transport in a variety of forms with differing levels of regulation. Our aim was to explore women’s experiences of gender-based violence (GBV) and other threats to safety (including road crash risk) while travelling to work or education.
Methods A face-to-face interview survey solicited both qualitative and quantitative data to examine travel patterns and experiences among 200 women (aged between 18–64 years) using paid transport for work or educational purposes in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Results The women faced multiple threats to their safety, including GBV, harassment and crime, and traffic and non-traffic injuries, and the use of paid transport was associated with high levels of anxiety and fear. Despite these circumstances, the women were captive travellers, forced to make transport choices based on price, availability and ease of travel rather than safety. Unable to choose safe transport, the women attempted to mitigate risks by changing their travel patterns and behaviour and by restricting their travel frequency.
Conclusion and Learning Outcomes There is an imbalance in mobility justice in Bangladesh that requires more than provision of additional buses and women-only transport, as risks such as GBV and robbery are higher across all transport types.
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