Egypt's New Women-Only Taxi Service

Sarah Murali
Posted October 9, 2015 from United States
Photo from http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/07/egypt-pink-taxi-service-wom...

Pink Taxi was started in response to repeated harassment and assault by male taxi drivers on female riders in Cairo, Egypt. Pink Taxi's drivers are all female, and their cars are equipped with cameras and microphones to record every ride and help to ensure the safety of both driver and passengers. Critics, including women's rights activists, have complained that services like this only segregate women without addressing the actual problem of sexual harassment, and even that the company's owner is profitting (through high fares) on women's fear.

What do you think? Is this an important service empowering women to get where they need to go and participate fully in society, or does it segregate women and create a culture of fear?

You can read more here: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/07/egypt-pink-taxi-service-women-safe-haven-patronising.

Comments 9

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Nakinti
Oct 12, 2015
Oct 12, 2015

Wao! Sarah, I am just hearing about this now. I know that is something that some group of feminists will criticize. As far as gender and feminism is concerned, it is hard to draw the line between a wrong and a right thought -- everyone's opinion count. The truth is everyone is seeing through his or her own gender lens and definitely sharing what has been seen.

The pink taxi issue is a complicated one, just like the issue of teaching girls how to prevent rape rather than teaching rapists how to stop rape or telling rapists that rape is bad. The question of what method is a best practice leaves ones mind wondering.

I wish some people would share their views on what they think about the pink taxi, as far as I'm concerned we can weigh in on both sides to say each one has a point. And again, preventive methods can work better than tackling root causes. On the other hand, tackling the root cause can bring lasting solution. The two can be implemented at once.

Thanks for sharing this, Sarah.

Looking forward to more views on this.

Regards

Nakinti

Sarah Murali
Oct 15, 2015
Oct 15, 2015

Hi Nakinti!

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I have to agree, in this issue as with so many others, we must address the root causes of these problems, but we must also provide work-around solutions at the same time. Addressing the problem at its root will take time.

Solutions like this new taxi service are one attempt to mitigate the effects of this larger problem of violence against women. They give women who don't feel safe (provided they can afford the service) another option, when before they may have had none. In my mind, this is an improvement. The key now is not to stop. Creating more "work arounds" like this is not what our end goal should be (though it may be necessary in the short term). Our end goal should be that women are safe and respected, and treated equally no matter where they live, where they drive or walk, when they go out of their house, what they look like, or who they are with.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and furthering this discussion!

Sarah

Elvire
Oct 15, 2015
Oct 15, 2015

Thanks for sharing, Sarah.

The issue is comparable to a debate about a quick fix vs sustainable solutions.I like your question, even as it is difficult to choose, because of the numerous different issues at stake.

How I wish there was no need for this solution in the first place. I have usually been intrigued why those who harrass women only see a female being and not potentially their mother, sister, daughter in the lady they meet. A mother is precious, a grand-mother is special, it is easy to be protective with one's sister, to care very particularly for one's daughter. Are those ladies not a mother, a sister, a daughter to a friend, a neighbour or even just a fellow? Short sight and narrow mindedness are sometimes part of the issue; is it again an issue of education? Where does it start? Where and how is it being perpetrated? What can be done with the current baby and young boys so that in the coming years this is eradicated?

I am trying to picture the faith house, the school and home, and stakeholders....

Thinking aloud.

Sarah Murali
Oct 15, 2015
Oct 15, 2015

Hi Elvire,

Agreed. It is exactly that -- a quick fix vs. a sustainable solution. I think we should approach this solution with a "yes, and...." response. YES we need quick fixes to help some women find safer solutions, AND we need to address the root problem that made them feel unsafe in the first place, and creates a more secure, just and equitable world for all.

Your questions about why this kind of harassment even exists resonated with me. I've asked the same questions so many times! I once attended a training by a woman named Marty Langelan, the former President of the Washington D.C. Rape Crisis Center. She wrote a book called, "Back Off! How to Confront and Stop Sexual Harassment and Harassers," and she was offering a training on self-defense, but in it, she shared about a study she was conducting of men who harass women! She developed a survey and when she was harassed, she would pull it out of her purse and start asking the man questions! She would ask them how old they were when they started harassing women, how often they do it, if they harass ALL women or only certain women, etc. She wanted to understand why some men behave this way. She said they were often very upset by this and harassed her even more, but she would persist and eventually, many of the men actually started to answer her questions! When I met her, the study was still a work in progress, but I so wish I knew the results! It is such a contradiction how some men can cherish their mothers or grandmothers or sisters, and show no respect for the other women they meet.

(I also feel obliged to add the caveat here that Marty Langelan is working within a certain context in the United States, and in different contexts her approaches may not be safe or reasonable responses at all! Each woman knows her situation best and should use her judgment and wisdom about what is a safe response to harassment each time it happens.)

I think your thoughts about what can be done to stop harassment are spot on. We need to engage all of those places we come together -- homes, schools, houses of faith, social media, businesses, governments -- and we need to provide education about what harassment is, why it is unacceptable, and how we can work together to stop it. We need our male allies to be willing to tell their friends to stop when they are disrespecting women, rather than just going along with it, or laughing as though it were a joke. And we need all parents to recognize that they need to not only teach their DAUGHTERS about harassment, but also their SONS so that they can be aware and be part of the solution.

I'll also just mention that if you have a story to share about how to use technology as part of the solution to this problem, please contribute it to our "Take Back the Tech" initiative! We are gathering stories of how to confront violence and harassment using technology. We'll gather them in the groups (be sure to start the title with "Take Back the Tech:..." and then your story title), until the end of October. The organization, Take Back the Tech, will spotlight many stories on their website in November. It's a great chance to share your thoughts about a creative solution to this problem! Maybe we can start something that will be picked up even more widely? Maybe there is a way to use this to raise awareness and educate all those potential allies out there? When we are not aware of the problem, we stay silent, but when our awareness is raised, we can contribute our voices to the solution!

Thanks for reading, and for being my thought partner on this topic!

-Sarah

Jet1988
Oct 15, 2015
Oct 15, 2015

Thank you Sarah for sharing.

Discussed this today within our company with the women and we understand the initiative.

We do support this as from our point of view it is not to separate women from the community but to keep them save. At the end of the day this is the most important!

Agreed that we should live in a community where this is not needed but this an utopia unfortunately. We live in a world where people do not want to make an effort but are looking for easy results. Only when making an effort and being respectful to others is when we will see a difference.

Looking forward to your thoughts on this.

Sarah Murali
Oct 15, 2015
Oct 15, 2015

Hi Jet1988,

I'm so interested to hear that you discussed this in your company! Can you share more about your company and how this discussion came about?

First, I think it's wonderful that you are having these discussions. It's such an important issue and we need to use those public spaces we inhabit to have conversations about it.

I think you are echoing the thoughts of many others here. Yes, we need to support solutions that make life easier and safer for women in the short term. These solutions, though incomplete, can have very real impacts! They can even be life-savers at times! BUT we can't stop there, and we need to continue looking for ways to address the bigger picture, and get at the root of the problem.

Would love to hear your thoughts, and the thoughts of others, about: What are some of the other creative short-term solutions you're aware of? And what are some longer-term strategies to actually get rid of the need for interventions like this and create a safer world for women?

Thank you for reading and for your contribution to the discussion! Look forward to hearing more.

Sarah

Jet1988
Oct 20, 2015
Oct 20, 2015

Hi Sarah,

Thank you for your response.

I am working for an IT company and we decided to get together with the few women working at the company and discuss openly the topics on Worldpulse. This did not only drive an open discussion but also gave the strength on the women in the room to open up and share their own experiences.

I would say long term changes start with the education at a young age of both the boys and the girls. When parents say stop!, this can be the start of a new generation. It is that new generation that can then change the country and government as young adults having a strong voice. It is not going to be an easy road but it is a road we have to take if we want to change something.

Do you agree?

Sarah Murali
Oct 20, 2015
Oct 20, 2015

Hello Jet1988,

First, I must say how excited I am to hear about your discussion group at work! That is a fantastic idea! What an excellent use of the WP platform. I'm so happy to hear that these discussions gave the women present the opportunity to open up and share their own experiences. Would you be willing to write a post to the group about your company's discussions, and perhaps share a picture of your group (if those present feel comfortable)? I think it would be an amazing way to show how people all over the world are listening, supporting, and working toward an end to gender based violence. It could even make a great contribution for the Take Back the Tech opportunity currently going on in the Gender Based Violence group! (Click here for more information on that opportunity).

Regarding your thoughts on the importance of education as a means to ending gender based violence, I couldn't agree more! Little boys do not instinctively discriminate against girls, abuse, or harass them. These are all learned behaviors. The education we have provided thus far has been in the wrong direction! We need to correct that, and send messages to both boys and girls that harassment and discrimination are unacceptable for any reason. We need to provide formal education in schools that teaches children to communicate non-violently, and to understand and respect the basic rights of all people. But even outside the classroom, this kind of education needs to happen in the media, which often plays a huge role in defining our perceptions of gender. Even more challening, we need to educate children in our own homes and families. This means creating a very conscious awareness, in our families and in ourselves, of non-violent communication and the expectations we set around gender. I believe much of the abusive behavior we see against women springs out of an attitude of entitlement on behalf of the abuser. We need to counter this at a very early age.

I am also interested to hear ideas for changing the hearts and minds of adults who have grown up within this unequal system. While we have an incredibly important opportunity with the next generation of children, I do not want to forget those boys and girls who have grown into men and women and are functioning within this unequal system. How do we instill in women their inherent worth, dignity and equality to men? How do we instill in men an attitude toward women that is respectful, that recognizes their value as equals, and that dismantles feelings of entitlement? I would love to hear thoughts from the community on this. Perhaps restorative justice campaigns for men who engage in criminal acts of abuse toward women are one starting point? What are others?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and the thoughts of the community!

Best,

Sarah

Oct 20, 2015
Oct 20, 2015
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