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Pink autorickshaws for women commuters, driven by women will soon hit Mumbai roads.
Autorickshaws specifically for women to start plying in Mumbai by the end of February, according to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Transport Authority (MMRTA). The Andheri RTO has issued autorickshaw permits to over 500 women through a lottery process. There are 1316 permits which remain to be allotted and the government seeks more applications from women. The government has introduced a five percent reservation for women autorickshaw drivers.
Certain rules have been relaxed for the female applicants and they will get their permits sooner than their male counterparts. However, most of the rules are same for the drivers of both genders. They have to be fluent in speaking Marathi and must have lived in Maharashtra for at least 15 years.
The autorickshaws will carry mostly female commuters and their families, according to MMRTA. However, there is no restriction on carrying male passengers. Women can commute in these autos if they consider it to be a safer option.
The autorickshaws will be coloured either in pink or light orange, so that it is easily identifiable by the commuters as catering to women only. The association of a particular colour with women might be problematic at certain levels but this is a welcome initiative as it is not only a step in the direction of the safety of women commuters but it will also create employment for many women and encourage them. It will also increase the visibility of women on the city roads which are usually dominated by the black and yellow autos driven by men.
The ‘pink auto’ initiative has been launched in other cities as well. Mumbai isn’t the first.
Ranchi and Gurgaon had started it following the 2012 Delhi gangrape. Ranchi had to shut down the service in 2015 due to permit issues. The Gurgaon pink auto service was closed down due to lack of safety features and was relaunched again 2015 with better features. After several complaints of sexual harassment from women commuters in Odisha, Buhbaneshwar and Cuttack initiated the pink auto service.
Ensuring safe transport is a significant stride in empowering women and providing them with a safe sphere for their growth and development, allowing them to work and study with a sense of security.
Here’s wishing the best to this initiative and hoping that it is a success.
Image via DNA
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