Pink taxis to the rescue. In Puebla, Mexico a fleet of 35 pink taxis driven exclusively by women are now operating for the purpose of protecting women from sexual harassment.
This comes as a result of women being harassed by male taxi drivers who not only try to flirt with the women passengers, but also make inappropriate propositions. Talk about feeling uncomfortable as well as feeling unsafe!
The new pink taxi service is also significant in that more women will have the opportunity to be taxi drivers, jobs that were traditionally held by men. According to Ms. Magazine, the source for this article, each taxi is equipped with a GPS system, a beauty kit, bank terminals and access to an emergency operator. The newspaper La Prensa said that the local transportation office of Puebla has invested 5.6 million pesos ($430,000) into the Pink Taxis.
Women’s rights groups have criticized this taxi service because they believe that the source of the sexual harassment is not being addressed. The appearance of the taxis has also come under criticism. Vianeth Rojas, of the Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Puebla, told the Associated Press the following, “ We are in the 21st century, and they are saying women have continued worrying about beauty and nothing more. They are absolutely not helping eradicate violence against women.”
Lidia Hernandez, a Pink Taxi driver told La Prensa that people on the street stop them to congratulate the drivers, and women ask how they can request one of the cabs.
I basically agree with Rojas, as well as the reasons behind the formation of this unique taxi service. Women want to feel safe, and they want to feel comfortable, and do not want to be put in a defensive mode when they take a taxi. They get all of these things when they travel in a Pink Taxi. The fact that there is a beauty kit in the taxi does seem a bit silly, but then again it is not something worthy of a feminist rights commotion. Many women rights activists wear make up; we don’t have to pretend that we don’t. It is true that the source of the sexual harassment is not being addressed with the creation of the Pink Taxis. Addressing that source requires the involvement of all of Mexican society, from the Church, to government agencies, to education. In the meantime the fleet of the Pink Taxis not only makes women feel safer, but enables them to venture out more. And that is priceless.