It’s a TGIF miracle: heartening, pro-woman news straight out of New Delhi. Eight female cab drivers in Delhi are trying their best to protect women from sexual violence and harassment with a fleet of seven ladies-only vehicles. Their business, Cabs for Women by Women, caters to moderately affluent women who can afford a cab, but don’t have a car or chauffeur of their own. Even before the gang rape and subsequent death of a 23-year-old in December, New Delhi was infamous for sexual harassment. A Reuters report ranks India as the fourth most unsafe place for women in the world, specifically noting that, “two out of every three women in New Delhi have been sexually harassed at least twice and up to five times in one year,” adding the unfortunate statistic that “seventy percent of the men interviewed said they would rather not intervene.”
Shanti Sharma, female cab driver extraordinaire
Cabs for Women by Women therefore offers an invaluable service: a sense of security for women who would otherwise have to trust private buses (the scene of the December New Delhi gang rape) and unreliable auto-rickshaws, or resign themselves to a dangerous walk home alone. Cabs for Women by Women seeks to ensure that no woman has to choose between making a living and staying safe. The company is the brainchild of two non-profits, the Sakha Consulting Wing and the Azad Foundation. The non-profits are on a mission to provide safe transportation for women and also employ women in steady, well -paid jobs. Nayantara Janardhan, a representative for the Sakha Consulting Wing, explains, “the Azad Foundation wanted to provide non-gender typical livelihood options to be able to allow these women to earn at par with the men.”
An ad from the "I stand for safe Delhi" Facebook page
Shanti Sharma, one of the cab drivers who works for Cabs for Women by Women, is emblematic of the positive change this company has already made in the lives of New Delhi women. Sharma, a single mother of three daughters, is now making 250 dollars a week, enough to support her family. Despite the fact that female cabbies are heavily outnumbered and often harassed by male drivers on the road, Sharma still insists that, “ever since I started doing this job, I feel like I’ve reached my destination.”
Images via Public Radio International, Wikipedia, and Facebook
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