The safety of women in the background in bicycle taxis?

Chenai: Although there are no completely safe public places for women, it is not unreasonable to expect safety when using transport services, even if they are run by aggregators. private taxis.

Two-wheeled taxi services such as Rapido, Ola, and Uber are popular in the city, but women who use these services are often plagued with intrusive questions, harassment, harassment, and other safety issues from the share of passengers.

Says Anu, who uses the service to commute from his home to the office (Arumbakkam to Nungambakkam) every day: “The bicycle taxi driver asked me to sit closer and occasionally left the handlebars while driving. He wouldn’t slow down at speed bumps. He repeatedly turned around and asked me about the route or some other question. He also changed the route and when I asked him about it he said he was following google maps.

These are serious concerns faced by many women. Rachel from Besant Nagar was stalked by one of the bike taxi drivers. “Coming back from the office, the bike taxi driver asked me for my phone number. He offered to drop me off everyday as he would be taking the same route. I told him that it was not necessary and that I would only need his services for that day. He kept asking me personal questions about my workplace and asked me to sit near him! Rachel remembers.

It got worse after reaching the destination. The driver continued to ask Rachel about her house and followed her to the door. “I was so scared that I had to call my roommate to get off at the door. The driver kept asking for my phone number and repeated that he could drop me off any day. It was nerve-wracking and I don’t know if I want to take the two-wheeled taxi again,” she explains.

Another commuter explains that the bicycle taxi driver refused to drop her off at her destination but stopped halfway. “He said the estimated salary was too low. I offered to pay him extra because it was already around 10:30 p.m. I was afraid he would misbehave more if he stopped. Also, he tried to touch me during the ride and while I was paying him the money,” she added.

Most women who have encountered similar issues have filed complaints with the app. They shared their experiences in detail with the customer service agents. “They patiently listened to everything I said and also comforted me. And even promised to take appropriate action, but I don’t know what action was taken afterwards,” says Anu.

“What I need is not reassurance. Why should I pay more for a car or a taxi? Shouldn’t these companies ensure this by raising awareness among their workers and organizing workshops about women’s safety?” asks Sharadha.

When the two women raised these concerns with their neighbors and respective landlords, they were chastised for choosing the two-wheeler service and accused of being irresponsible for their safety. “How are we at fault? They tell us to take auto-rickshaws but these are expensive. Bike taxis are cheaper and don’t affect our monthly budget,” she says.

(Names changed)

Mara R. Wilmoth