I’m going to start this story with a shocking statistic. In 2014 there were 33,764 victims of rape in India. That figures averages out at 92 women being raped per day. Another way to look at it is a woman gets raped every 20 minutes. This is a shocking and disgusting figure, truly harrowing. One woman has started taking steps to change this, along with offering jobs to women in the area.
Preeti Sharma Menon, an entrepreneur with over 20 years of business experience was “looking for something new to do, something that would make a difference”. This motivation led her to creating Viira Cabs.
Viira Cabs is a taxi service in Mumbai ran by women, for women. It provides female clients with a safe, secure service to get them where they want to be. Following the high profile case of a gang rape on a public bus and an instance when a woman was allegedly raped by an Uber driver in New Delhi many women felt uneasy about using taxi services or public transport. Viira cabs has changed that.
The benefits of Viira Cabs doesn’t stop there though, it’s also providing jobs for women. Offering a full training service women who have never driven previously get the opportunity to learn and support themselves. Every driver is given pepper spray and a GPS device with panic alerts to help ensure their own safety as well as being trained in self defence.
Rupa Swali found herself in need of a job when she left her abusive husband of 19 years. With a teenage daughter to support she needed to earn a living but was unskilled and struggled to find a job. This is when Viira Cabs came in, despite having never drive previously Rupa was provided with full training and has been working for the company for over 4 years now. Another driver has said she’s able to make enough money to be fully independent and support her family through working for the company, stating “I am independent. I am not under anyone’s dominance,” she said. “I am the master of my own will and I can take care of my household.”
In a country with such a shocking rate of violence against women it’s truly refreshing to see women working to help each other, improve safety and increase independence.