Indian Rickshaw Drivers Given Courses on Ensuring Female Passenger’s Safety
In response to India’s numerous sexual crimes against women the government have strove to introduce new laws and punishments for perpetrators. Now male rickshaw drivers are being educated with courses on how to respect women who travel in their rickshaws.
Smita Tewari, a trainer with the charity Manas in Delhi, tells the 140 auto-rickshaw drivers in the programme, “Don’t stare, whistle, follow, stalk or touch a woman, it’s against the law and you will be in big trouble.”
“As they provide the last mile connectivity it’s crucial they know how to behave and communicate with women. We also tell them if women wear short clothes and gets into their autos, she is not a ‘bad woman’.”
One driver, 37-year-old Narotam Rathod, said the course change his view of women, “We must begin respecting women and provide them a safe and secure journey. We will get more work and earn more because 80% of our clients are women,” he said.
A women’s distress centre in Delhi is constantly busy with incoming calls, the centre was set up two weeks after the widely covered Delhi bus rape case of 2012. Five female workers help victims deal with cases of rape, sexual and physical abuse, domestic violence, kidnapping or just advice on individual rights. The base has since received a total of 1.1million calls.
The project is headed by Kadhija Farouqi who has been an activist for 20 years, along with her 16 member team they handle the helpline every day of the year. Farouqi has her own personal experience as a survivor of violence.
“It’s a very overwhelming experience that some state initiative within two years of time has created so much faith in the women in the city that one million women call us because they have faith in us,” she said.
“We don’t leave any stone unturned in helping these women.”