Bumpy ride for women cabbies in City

Surabhi Pandey, a single mother of two, feels happy to be a cab driver. She used to work as a domestic help and was apprehensive about venturing out alone in a car in the Capital. But now she knows how to handle lewd remarks and lecherous looks when behind the wheels.

Like other women chauffeurs, the 35-year-old knows it is not easy to drive a taxi in Delhi. But she has not quit since the job has given her financial independence and confidence to work in men’s world.

“I have been driving for six months. It is not an easy job. But I will not quit. I know how to handle lewd remarks,” Pandey, whose husband died 10 years ago, said.
“I keep my cool and ignore such comments. But I find it difficult to handle men drivers. When they see a woman driving a car, they hoot, chase and try to overtake. It sometimes gets scary. I wouldn’t have been able to do it earlier if I had faced a similar situation. But I’m more confident now,” said Pandey, who mostly picks up staff of a private company.

Delhi has around 100 women cab drivers. And the demand for women drivers is growing ever since the gang rape of a 23-year-old woman in a moving bus in the city December 16, 2012.

There are many cab companies in Delhi but some, like Sakha Wings Consulting, exclusively cater to women passengers who need a safe mode of transportation. They have 10 women drivers, but have 45 women working as private chauffeurs on a yearly contract.

“The safety of women drivers is not guaranteed. Every day, at least once I meet someone who makes a derogatory remark. For the first few months, I was scared. But now I know how to handle such a situation and I retort,” said Neelam Devi, who has been driving cabs for a year.

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