A new Karachi-based taxi service aims to provide female customers with a safe way to travel around the commercial hub. If they're in need of a ride, all they need to do is call on 'Pink Taxis' and they'll be driven around by a female taxi driver.
Founded by Ambreen Sheikh and her husband Zahid as part of their Paxi company, the new service has been initiated with the hope of reducing instances of sexual harassment faced by women while travelling alone.
Rather than stand on the street to hail a cab, women can call a pink taxi via a mobile app, SMS or by old school dialling. Drivers also hail from an array of backgrounds and are easily identifiable by their pink attire and vehicles.
“Our pilots (drivers) wear a pink scarf and black coat as their uniform. They include housewives, young women and students,” Sheikh tells the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The most recent statistics released by The World Bank in 2014 suggest that less than a quarter of Pakistan's female population over the age of 15 participate in the workforce. A lack of safe transport is one of the main hindrances to gaining regular employment, according to Sindh minister for transport Syed Nassir Hussain Shah.
Sheikh says she intends to expand the service into other major cities like Lahore and Islamabad over the next four months. This should be welcome news for Lahore-based Kainat Chaudhry, who recently spoke with Global News about the harassment she experiences when travelling to work via taxi or rickshaw.
“A woman cannot sit in a taxi driven by a male driver and start a casual conversation without the fear of it being mistaken for some sort of inclination towards him,” she tells the Global News.
“The taxi driver reserves the right to set the rear-view mirror to scan whatever you are wearing – the stress makes one cringe and hide in the corners of the taxis away from his gaze.”