Tuesday, January 27, 2015


The other day I was reading an article in the Wall Street Journal  about a woman who had been raped by an Uber driver in New Delhi.  The response to the crime in  this particular city in India, was hiring pink vested females to drive approximately 20 pink and white cabs equipped with pepper spray along with panic buttons notifying the local police or a call center in case of trouble.  For the record, this has been done in other cities in India, as well.

Initially I thought this was an awesome idea, specifically since it's been done in Mexico in 2009; as the day progressed, however, a light went off that the state of violence towards women in India is much larger than a pink taxicab. Even though women are speaking up much more about violence at home or in public, law enforcement agencies may be slow to act.

This, of course, creates a domino effect of women who refuse to speak of being raped, sexually assaulted, publicly degraded, verbally abused or violently beaten.

According India's National Crime Records Bureau, 309,546 crimes were reported in 2013, but that number has to be much higher, in my opinion.  The numbers as reported are listed below.

The legal definition for domestic violence is "cruelty by husband or his relatives", according to the BBC.

118,866Domestic violence
Source: India's National Crime Records Bureau

"My husband came into the room, locked the door. He turned up the music so that no one could hear us outside. Then he took out his belt and started to hit me. He kept whipping me for the next 30 minutes."

Aditi (not her real name) is among millions of Indian women who have faced domestic violence. "As he was doing this, he warned me that I shouldn't make a sound, I shouldn't cry, I shouldn't scream, because if I did, he was going to hit me even harder. He was hitting me with his belt, his hands... soon he began to choke me. He was just so angry."

The incident Aditi above took place when she was just 19, a year after her "grand wedding" for which "people flew in from around the world to bless the couple.

"He became negligent and would verbally abuse me, calling me names. But my dad was an alcoholic and he had always abused my mom so I thought that was part of life. I also thought, maybe things would get better," she says. But they only got worse, she says, tearfully.

"The abuse escalated over the years and I thought if I do as he says, things would be okay, but it really never was that way. He always found some reason to find fault in me, anything could trigger him. Every moment of my life with him was unpredictable. When he went out and came back, I didn't know what to expect. He would call me names, put me down or just hit me."  This woman was brutalized for 6 years until one day in April 2012, she managed to escape with help from friends. Today, she's put her past behind her, finding a job with a non-governmental organization as she rebuilds her life. (From the BBC)

Sadly, this case is not unusual as it happens more than we can ever imagine in India, the United States and other countries.  Some crimes are reported, yet many more people suffer in silence while these cases are simply swept under the carpet and forgotten about.

Female drivers of these new cabs are paid $322 - $483 a month, according to the Wall Street Journal!  Yet how many woman can actually afford to use a taxi if they're trying to leave an abusive relationship?  How many professional women will be late for work while waiting to use a pink and white taxi driven by another woman?

If 60% crimes are reported, 9% make it trial, yet only 2% are actually convicted, what difference will it make if a woman hits the panic button and her concerns are reported to the police? This # is well below the national domestic violence conviction rate average of  16%!  Why not place a panic button or pepper spray in a regular cab?  Even if that were the case, would that crime really be taken seriously or even registered?  In 2013, 1,18,886 cases were reported and documented, increasing from 2012, and that number continues to grow.

There are many pink cabs available with a focus on breast cancer awareness, which is awesome. As the fight continues for the safety of women both in and out of the home, will a pink and white cab driven by women really make a difference in any country, where domestic violence is almost an afterthought unless it happens to a celebrity?  Isn't this really just placing a band-aid on an open wound, destined to eventually become infected?

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