‘Uber Rape’ Drives Boost For Women Cabbies

The Delhi government banned the US-based taxi service in the Indian capital after a 26-year-old woman accused Uber driver Shiv Yadav, 32, of raping her.

Since his arrest six more women have come forward and accused him of the same crime.

Yadav, who denies charges of assault, rape and kidnapping, has gone on trial at a fast-track court in the city.

Yadav is learned to have told police that he baited women looking for a ride outside malls in Gurgaon, and got away every time since he knew police’s operating procedure. After committing a crime, he would lie low for a few days and then return to trap more women. He used to wait outside malls late at night, and if a woman hired his cab, he drove to a secluded area, stopped and forced her to have sex with him.

A police officer investigating the case said Yadav is a cannabis addict and a school dropout. He likes to project himself as a victim of circumstances. He has alleged that a cousin, who is a policeman in UP, implicated him in a false case, forcing him to shift to Delhi.

Two years ago, the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in a bus turned the spotlight on violence women suffer in India.

Unprecedented protests forced the government to enact new laws, but even with stringent punishments by fast-track courts the scourge of violence against women continues.

At the Sakha driving institute young women have taken things into their own hands.

They are a cab service driven by women for women. And its popularity is growing.

Given months of training on driving, self defence, first aid and legal advice they are ready to break the glass ceiling in an entirely male-dominated industry.

Meenu Vadhera, an activist for more than 20 years, runs the project as part of her charity.

She told Sky News: “Public spaces are not safe for women and apart from other measures that are required one important factor is to have more women out on the roads, and on public transport, driving buses, autos, taxis.

“The fact that there are more women on the roads will make roads safer for women.”

The young women she employs come from the weaker and marginalised sections of society. Many are survivors of violence or seen at very close quarters.

“The women who have become chauffeurs have almost transformed their life conditions by standing up to all things that stopped them from coming here including violence, beliefs and assumptions that women should not go out on the roads and also including their own beliefs that this is a job basically for men.

“By the time they finish their training and one more year of work they are so much more in control of their lives.”

Khushi Prajapati, 24, has been driving the all-women’s cab for over a year. She is the eldest of her four siblings.

Her father, a construction worker, could barely make ends meet. Khushi now earns about £150 a month, which helps pay for the school fees of her sisters and supplement the household expenses.

Khushi told Sky News: “The beginning was difficult as I  was doing a job which only men did. Drivers would stare and pass comments at me.

“But the support from Sakha and my parents helped me overcome it all. Now girls from my neighbourhood want to become chauffeurs like me.”

Khushi is part of the brave new face of Indian women determined to change their destiny by overcoming age-old barriers.


Source : Sky News