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The women auto rickshaw drivers are having a tough time in Chennai, as men regularly harass them by routinely throwing away their keys or threatening violence.
I have taken a lot of autorickshaws in my life, but I have never taken one driven by a woman. Typically public transport modes such as taxis and rickshaws and more are the domain of men. But things are changing. Since March 2014 several hundred women ply auto rickshaws in Chennai. They make their living and also offer an option for women travelers who feel more safe with women drivers and prefer to ride with them. But it hasn’t been an easy journey. They are routinely harassed and threatened by male autorickshaw drivers, who feel that the women threaten their source of income and even routinely throw away their keys, deflate tires as well as threaten physical violence. They have to worry about sexual assault and other threats and often have a self-imposed curfew. The prevailing tariffs aren’t always enough for them to make a living for themselves and their families. But more and more women continue to sign up with rickshaw companies, a hopeful sign. Other cities have taxi services run by women including Priyadarshini Taxi Service. If you know more, let us know by leaving a comment below.
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I think of myself as a feminist development practitioner with a strong interest in issues
I knew about Priyadarshini taxis, but not about women autodrivers. Kudos to you for highlighting their grit amidst the resistance they face from the male counterparts.
This has been the problem with men and also women for so long, that neither of them cannot accept the breaking of stereotyped roles that each perform. But the problem is (correct me if I am wrong), women tend to first stand in awe and then go and help the men perform that role more effectively (for eg. the conventional role that women need to cook – when this is taken by men in some houses, the women may nitpick sometime about the cleanliness, but at the end they would appreciate the men and help him.) They don’t go about harassing or pulling their self-esteem down. Then why is that men feel so threatened when they think some one has come as a competition. Doubly so when it is a woman.
A request to all the people who are reading this ….please, don’t fan the ego of the men known to you, by saying “a man can do anything’, ‘o God, did you lose competing with a woman, what a shame!!’ Such messages gives the man a bloated self-esteem, which is actually shallow, as he fails to see a person with their strengths and weaknesses, and judges by the gender. Let us explain to others, the word ‘weaker sex’ may mean physical weakness, which is also comparative. Some men may be weaker compared to some women. That does not mean the physically stronger person harass the weaker ones. Live and let live.
Hi, thank you for your feedback. I think it is true that men and women behave in certain ways because they have been told/taught that is how they should be. For sure implying that there is shame in losing to a woman or ‘real men’ can do anything are really damaging stereotypes. I also think that there is a lot of social conditioning about women being weak and if they weren’t continuously told they were weak etc, things would be different! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas, this gives me a lot of hope!
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