A new taxi service that aims to protect female passengers from sexual harassment was launched in Pakistan’s commercial capital Karachi on Thursday.
Pink Taxi - a Taxi Pakistan Company Limited project elaborated with the help of local and UK-based Pakistani investors - will be available via phone, mobile app or text message service.
“From now on, the female passengers will be able to call Pink Taxi - driven by the women pilots wearing a pink scarf and a black coat,” Arif Khan, a British national of Pakistani origin and the co-founder of the service, told Anadolu Agency at the launch ceremony.
Initially, 10 taxis will be made available to 36 trained female drivers, he said, adding that the service will be extended to the cities of Lahore and Islamabad in the next four months.
The two core purposes of the initiative, Khan added, were to protect lone female passengers from sexual harassment and to empower women.
A recently released report by the Urban Resource Center, a Karachi-based think tank, said nearly 55 percent of women who commute in public buses either felt insecure or had been victims of sexual harassment in the city.
“Sexual harassment is a big issue for women in Pakistan, especially those who commute by public transport,” Khan said.
“We want to provide them an environment where they at least get rid of commute-related harassment. We will try our best to make it financially viable for common women commuters by subsidizing the charges as much as possible.”
Khan said he and his colleagues would continue to press for more female-only public buses.
“The provincial Transport Minister Nasir Hussain Shah has assured us that the Sindh government plans to bring 500 new buses on to the city roads, many of them will be reserved for women only,” he said.
Driver Rubina Naseem, 45, said she joined the service because “it was something new in the history of Pakistan”.
“I wanted to be part of this history-making event,” Rubina, a mother-of-three, told Anadolu Agency. “That’s why I have joined this as a proud pilot.
“Driving is my passion. By joining this service, I will not only earn the extra money to support my family but will also enjoy my passion.”
Rubina said the company had taken enough measures to protect the women drivers in a volatile city notorious for street crime and political violence.
“We all have been trained in self-defense - in addition to a special safety app enabling the headquarters to locate us in case of any eventuality.”
The company has marked several parts of the city as “no-go areas” for female drivers, she added.
By Aamir Latif
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