It is safe taking a cab in India if you are a woman?
Many feel that taking a cab in India is not safe for anyone, but conditions for women in India leave a lot of room for improvement. The first thing to remember about transportation in India is that there are many modes, and each mode has its own hazards. Just crossing the street in India involves risking your life! Taking the bus means being crammed against other humans. There is always a risk on a train of being a victim of terrorists. Taking a rick-shaw means that you are getting into a vehicle that won’t last in an accident, and only God knows who the driver is.
Many middle class women in India take cabs instead of rick-shaws. Cabs work for a centralized office who dispatches their call. The cab driver can’t get away with price gauging or sexual harrassment since the main office will fire him if there is an issue. Just a note that if you get a cab at an airport, make sure you confirm that it is really registered with a reputable company so you don’t get kidnapped or robbed. But, rick-shaws don’t offer the safety of registered cabs. I had a female friend who generally took cabs. But, one night she was in a hurry took a rick-shaw. The rick-shaw guy liked her and followed her home. Thankfully her family was home and told him to go away.
In India, women can’t go to parks alone because they will be followed sooner or later. They are not safe taking a rick-shaw. They can’t take the bus without being inadvertently touched by men. India is a prison for women in many ways. Additionally, on the road, there are no safe places for women to visit the restroom which is another huge issue. And if there are restrooms, they are so filthy, that no woman would want to set foot in them.
The irony is that Hinduism is the religion that supposedly respects women. Islam has a reputation of oppressing women — yet, there is no safer place for a woman to be than in Saudi Arabia. If anyone harasses you or molests you they will be sent to jail! In India if a policeman witnesses a woman being harassed, they will generally not punish the victimizer much if at all. I’m not from India, and have only visited, but based on what I call “word on the street,” the government really needs to think of ways to protect women in India!
I suggest a new rick-shaw system for women, and by women called Pink Rick! It would be a network of rick-shaw stops around major metros. The rick-shaws would be pink. There would be security at night at rick-shaw stops. They could have share ricks going to other nearby stops as well to economize and cut down on traffic. I also suggest that rick-shaws have safety mechanisms inside. If you get hit by a truck you will die in one of those. Perhaps some padding or airbags (or anything soft) would help.
Women only buses
In India, train compartments are by use and by gender. There is one car for those with huge bundles, others for mail, women have their own cars so they don’t get groped, and then there is a men’s compartment which women are allowed in but don’t go into unless they are with someone. Why not have women only buses? That would solve a problem for women. Maybe mini-buses, so that they could come more frequently. I also recommend that these buses should be pink. My final note is that buses are not washed much in India. I think they get a wash every three years whether they need it or not. But, to emphasize the pink color, perhaps a wash every few days would be in order. Women like cleanliness after all. Having clean and clearly demarcated bus stops would be nice too.
Restrooms for women on the road
If you are a woman on the road, it is often not safe to use a restroom in someone’s home. You don’t know what could happen to you, especially in North India. It would be safer to have clean, state-run restrooms on the road with soap, proper lighting, and last but not least — toilet paper. When I say that it should have toilet paper, I don’t mean that sometimes it should have toilet paper until it gets stolen or runs out and then you wait two weeks to replace it if the manager is available. I mean you should always have it, and the roll should be padlocked to the wall so it doesn’t wander off!