From today, women travellers in Karachi, Pakistan, will be able to commute without any fear of eve-teasing and sexual harassment. Pink taxis, especially for women travellers, will ply in the commercial hubs of the city.
To tackle the problem of crime against women, a Pakistani resident, Ambreen Sheikh, has launched a cab service along with her husband, Zahid Sheikh titled — Pink taxi. Women will be able to access the service by their phone through a mobile app, SMS or on the streets of metro cities.
“Our pilots (drivers) wear a pink scarf and black coat as their uniform. They include housewives, young women and students,” Sheikh told the Thomson Reuters Foundation over phone after a pilot service of their initiative.
There is a rising need of women-only cab service in the country just like India as most women travelling from one place to another in metro cities faced sexual harassment by fellow commuters. The cab service employs women as drivers for a safe journey.
One of the drivers hired by Pink taxi is Noor Jehan. She worked as a maid earlier and learnt to drive to take her female employer around. She strongly feels that women in Pakistan require such a facility.
A study by International Labour Organisation revealed that many women in urban Pakistan did not contribute to the workforce because of many obstacles, one of the prominent ones being conveyance.
Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, minister for transport in Sindh province where Karachi is located, also pointed out that women face difficulty in travelling by public transport because of the way they are treated. “Having a mode of public transport catering to them alone can solve many of their transport issues,” he said on Pakistani television, reported Indian Express.
However, the lack of financial growth of women in the country might come across as a deterrent to these cab services that only cater to women. “Women-focused transport initiatives are important as they serve a growing demographic of mobile women,” said Zebunnisa Burki, a Karachi-based journalist. “I do feel, though, that such ventures will still not cater to a large number of working women who go out to work daily … since such women will not be able to afford relatively pricey fares in these private cabs.”
The founder of the taxi service said Pink taxi will initially be run in Karachi and Islamabad only. After three to four months, the service will be launched in other cities in the country.
Speaking about the unwanted attention faced in regular taxis, Kainat Chaudhry, a content writer with an IT firm in Lahore, said, “The taxi driver reserves the right to set the rear-view mirror to scan whatever you are wearing – the stress makes one cringe and hide in the corners of the taxis, away from his gaze.”
So, Pink taxi is a welcome move for female working professionals of the country for whom travelling from one place to another will be a much more comfortable task with the help of this cab service.