Karachi female taxi drivers are dedicated to core towards their profession and have proved that nothing could put them off from providing safe and secure transportation to the women of the city from homes to the offices or to colleges or even to some late-night wedding functions.
Paxi—a women-only taxi service launched sometime back in March, has been successfully providing its services. Women can hail them by phone or app or just by flagging one down the road.
The women drivers admit that they have experienced harassment from the other road users, but they want to remain bonded with the service.
Shamina Bano— a middle-aged woman and a mother of grown-up sons and a driver with the first ever gender-discriminated taxi service said that the harassment we experience is the professional risk of this job. The best practice is to ignore such people—they would soon get accustomed to sharing roads with us.
She added that working in an all-female environment is far more relaxing and comfortable as it kills the need to be vigilant all the time.
The application asks for the number of passengers that would be travelling and whether any man would be with them. If the man is in the age range of 12 to 70 then the request for the ride would be turned down.
As per a report by Karachi’s Urban Resource Centre many female travellers experience sexual harassment when using public transport. From drivers who keep their gaze focused on the rear-view mirror or driving too fast or not turning the GPS system on there is a long list of complaints women travellers have against the male taxi drivers.
According to the pink taxi users’ women are generally more acceptable in terms of directions and are careful and happy.
Shaikh M. Zahid—Founder of the Service said that by the end of this year the firm would be doubling its fleet of vehicles from fifteen to thirty. He also informed that the pink taxis are soon to hit the roads of Sukkur and then Peshawar.
Zahid said that the women of Peshawar are mostly educated but owing to the lack of proper transportation system their mobility is restricted and their ability to prove themselves as productive citizens get somewhat lost. He added that he had talked with the women of Peshawar and the general response is positive and the women there are eager to have women drivers to take them around the city.
Shaikh M. Zahid also held many talk sessions with the religious heads for explaining them the benefits of the women-only transport service. However, the actual challenge would be of finding enough number of female drivers.
Founder of Paxi mentioned that it was not easy to convince the parents and families for permitting their women to drive the taxis in Karachi. But today the results are splendid as the same women have become role models for others and the general response is amazing.