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Delhi Company Hires Only Female Drivers to Promote Independence

Who can forget that 2012 horror story — the one about a female physiotherapy student who dared to board a bus in Delhi, India, accompanied by a male friend? The news went around the world: She was gang-raped and beaten so brutally, over several hours, that she died after many surgeries.

Protests — by both women and men — erupted, targeting the police for their routinely blasé response when women in India report sexual violence. One of those protesters was then 24-year-old engineer Yogesh Kumar, a man determined to give women the chance to occupy public space. The heinous attack on the student merely added to his motivation. Six months ago he created a Delhi delivery service, EvenCargo, that hires only women.

The drivers learn etiquette for greeting customers and are taught how to use a smartphone and Google maps. They take a two-day workshop on traffic signs and rules, and how to drive a two-wheeler. Then they venture out in their “Scootys.”

There are still obstacles: some parents won’t let their daughters take the job because they deem it unsafe. And there is male hostility toward women in public spaces. Megha Bahree of The New Yorker rode with 19-year-old Priyanka Sachdev, on her second day on the job, to deliver a package for a clothing company. On the way,  “a mini truck pulled up. The driver leaned out and said rudely, in Hindi, “You, girl, drive on the side.” Sachdev hollered back. We stopped at a traffic light and two men on a scooter bumped into us from behind, then an auto rickshaw cut us off.”

Company founder Yogesh Kumar’s attitude toward women’s fear of venturing out “was stubbornly idealistic, and is contrary to the predominant view that women, for their own safety, should restrict their movements to so-called safe areas. ‘This is the precise reason we have started this company,’ he told Bahree. ‘This feeling of insecurity or putting yourself in danger has to go away. We’re taking all the precautions we can, of course, but we want to change the mind-set of how people see women in public spaces. We can’t always think of women as a species in danger.’”

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