The Supreme Court has upheld death sentence for four in the brutal gang-rape case of 23-year old Nirbhaya. The incident had shook the collective conscience of the nation but even after four years, the cases of harassment and
molestation continue unabated. Even women using cabs as their favourite mode of transport for privacy and smooth
journey do not find themselves safe.
When you talk to a cross section of women in metro cities, you find that a large majority is concerned about their security while they commute by cabs or taxies. Little doubt that Ministry of Women and Child Development gets numerous complaints of harassment and misbehavior against cab drivers from women every day. Social media too remains abuzz with complaints of different kinds. Seized of the lingering issue, the Ministry of Women and Child Development has come out with a set of guidelines called “Taxi Policy Guidelines”. The Ministry of Women and Child Development has sent these guidelines to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and Shipping (MORTH) for adoption. Maneka Gandhi, the Minister of Women and Child Development also had a meeting with radio cab service providers to find a solution to the lingering issue. She has also written a letter to Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and Shipping to incorporate necessary safety measures to stop the increasing instances against women safety while travelling via taxis or cabs. The recommendations includes suggest that taxis should be mandatorily fitted with GPS panic devices. Other suggestions are concerning central locking system in the taxis and cabs and that violation of the stipulated rules by taxi operators or drivers should be strictly dealt in accordance with law. Also the sharing of seat should be subject to willingness of passengers. It is learnt that the Ministry has accepted these recommendations in Toto.
Most of the complaints run like these- “I booked a cab in the morning and the driver was way away from my location. When I asked him to come to my location he was rude used obscene language and cancelled my cab booking “. In August 2016, police arrested a taxi driver on the charges of molestation after a Facebook user posted her friend’s experience which went viral. The woman was working in Gurgaon and she had booked a taxi to reach her office. But the overtly friendly driver kept asking her questions like ” Madam , where do you stay and where are you from? Do you stay alone?” Initially, she avoided the driver by making herself busy on phone and later she asked him to be a professional. After this the driver started driving rash and threatened her in the car. Driver also asked her to get down in the middle of the road. She also posted that when she dropped a complaint as feedback, she was assured by the taxi company that they will get back to her. However, but she got a call from a suspicious unknown person that the driver has made a complaint against her. But when she took help of her friend to dial on same number, she found that the number belonged to a taxi driver. The post below is her original post on Facebook after incidence took place.
“This is my last experience with Uber. Today morning I booked a cab for my residence at Mahrauli to my office at Gurgaon, Udyog Vihar phase 1. Immediately after the driver picked me up he started giving undue attention and asked me if I am going to my office and where do I work. I got suspicious at the moment and in order to avoid his questions, I started talking over the phone. Once I started speaking on the phone, he increased the volume of the radio to the maximum, however I didn’t confront him as I didn’t want any arguments. Then, when I stopped talking over the phone he started to ask me creepy questions like: “Madam, where do you stay and where are you from? Do you stay alone? Aap Delhi se nhi lag rahi ho, itna bhi kya narazgi hain,aap kuch bhi nhi bol rahe ho?” Then I asked him to be professional and do his own work. Suddenly he started driving very rash and was about to hit a car. When I asked him to drive properly, he told me “should I hit the other car(gadi thok du kya dusre gadi mein, tab aapko pata chalega”. I told him that I will file a complaint against him. Infuriated, he asked me to get down from the car in the middle of the road and I had to literally get down from the car in the midst of the traffic. Once I got down, he started following me in the car for few minutes. It was at this time that something clicked in my mind and I pretended like reading the number plate of his car and complaining to someone. At this, he drove away. I had to walk till the Sultanpur metro station to get a different cab. The story doesn’t end here. In the meantime, I sent feedback to Uber explaining about the incident and got a pop up that they will call me. After few minutes, I got a call saying that the driver had made a complaint against me. I was really furious. Then my friend called on the same number and asked who it is; he replied that he is a Uber driver. I have been a loyal customer of Uber from last one year as I don’t use any other taxi services other than Uber and I am really anxious to know if Uber is cautious enough to be more vigilant and avoid any future risk by not roping in the same person.”
Recently a woman from Karnataka filed a complaint alleging that she was heading towards her home at 2.30 am when the cab driver veered off the route shown on his Ola-approved mobile phone map and stopped the cab at a deserted area. She has alleged that driver groped her at a spot. She has registered her complaint with Bommanahalli police station mentioning that the sudden assault had left her numbed, she screamed and ran away from the car towards a nearby clinic. The woman is a professional singer. Ola has now terminated the services of the driver and the police is looking for the driver.
Ranjana Kumari, director of Centre for Social Research, said, “The government should create a kind of authority or transport authority should be empowered to access these cases and punish the culprits”.
The Ministry of women and child development has also launched hashtag # HelpmeWCD for women or childred facing sexual harassment or violence. After receiving so many complaints from women, the Delhi Police has also launched the app “Himmat” in 2015.