In the last week, a lot has been said and written about the Delhi rape case. We have heard the views of the government, the media, the public and even Shenaz Treasurywala . The man accused - Shiv Kumar Yadav - has gone from unknown cab driver to a household name, discussed at every dinner table. But have you ever spared a thought for other cab drivers?
On a recent ride home, I asked a cab driver how this situation had affected him. Here is how that went down:
As soon as I mentioned this, disgust was plastered all over his face. He was absolutely pissed that him and every other cab driver were having to pay for the heinous crime committed by one man.
The topic shifted to verification and he said that companies do have procedures in place. But he added that there are people who can get fake certificates and qualifications to get through. He said a proper background check is necessary. Had that been done, they would have known about Yadav's previous acts. Not all cab drivers would have this tendency or this urge but since he had a past record, he was more likely to repeat such a thing.
Because of this one incident, people would equate cab drivers as potential rapists, said my cab driver. He told me that he is scared of taking female passengers, unless they are accompanied by a guy.
"If I ever have to drop a female passenger alone at night, I will flatly refuse. It's not worth the risk. I might be losing out on cab fare but I would rather not lose my peace of mind."
As far as checking is concerned, cops are now asking for documents that they never did before and hence, the drivers are fined for the smallest of things. Though it is a good thing that they are stringent now, once they let their guard down again, something like this is bound to happen again. He just hopes that the cops don't take advantage of this situation and harass them. As long as it's routine checking, it's okay.
He was so angry at the rapist's actions that he said he should not just be sentenced to death but hung in public so that people can throw stones at him. And his anger was justified. Not only was the act despicable, he was also angry that it was affecting their daily bread, their earnings and their reputation. Someone he knew was recently turned down by a girl's family because he was a cab driver. That's how bad it gets.
"India should make it hell for rapists. They shouldn't be allowed to walk around freely. You know how women are scared to step out in the night. That fear should be in the rapists instead. They should get scared to even think of raping someone."
When asked about whether cabs companies should be banned, he said that it's also about the safety of the girls, they are scared. Taxis were supposedly the safer mode of transport for them. A girl returning late cannot take the train or the bus and now with this incident banning cab companies would not only leave many of us jobless but will also not leave women with many options for. But he just couldn't comprehend the logic behind banning Uber and a host of other app-based taxi services.
"Today a cab driver rapes a woman so you ban all the cab companies. Tomorrow if it's in a metro, will you shut down the Delhi metro? What about Indian Railways? Where is the logic in that?"
Finally, he added that he did not have a decent education growing up, but he still had sense enough to be human.