|Safe & secure: A female autorickshaw driver in Patna |
The women auto drivers in the city can heave a sigh of relief knowing they have chivalrous male counterparts to protect them from technical troubles or tormentors.
Even though women drivers in the city have forayed into a male-dominated profession the usual gender rivalry one would usually associate with the move is missing in the case of these three-wheeler drivers.
On the contrary, the female drivers are all praise for their male counterparts’ assistance and chivalry. The women believe that without the help from their male counterparts, it would have been very difficult to drive on the roads.
Citing an example of chivalry, Sarita Pandey said: “Sometimes, while waiting for passengers at the end of the queue, the male drivers ask us to come up to the front so that we can get customers without waiting for hours. Our shift is from 6am to 6pm, while the male drivers ply their vehicles till midnight.”
“They often help us load heavy luggage,” she added.
Kanchan Devi, another female auto driver recalled an incident when some youngsters tried to misbehave with her.
“A few people tried to tease me but thankfully some of my male counterparts were there. Three male drivers stopped their autos and intervened. They stood up for me and taught them a lesson. It happened near Hartali Mor,” she said.
Shobha Kumari (32), who plies her auto between Patna Junction and Agamkuan, said the male drivers have often extended help in difficult times.
“Last week around 5.30pm, my autorickshaw broke down near Chiraiyatand bridge with three passengers in it. I was not able to start my vehicle when a male auto driver stopped his auto to help me. He dragged my auto to the side of the road and helped fix it.”
She added: “If the male auto driver had not come forward to help, I would have landed in trouble financially and even otherwise.”
Echoing a similar sentiment, Gudiya Sinha, another female driver, praised her male counterparts.
She said: “At times, when fuel gets exhausted in the middle of the road, they are the ones who help us. Either they give us their stock or bring it from the nearest gas station. Even though we have received three months’ training, their presence is of great help.”
The Bihar State Autorickshaw Drivers’ Association and Patna District Autorickshaw Drivers’ Association had launched the women autorickshaw service with 10 drivers on August 18.
Most of them now earn between Rs 6,000 and Rs 7,000 a month.
The general secretary of the two associations, Raj Kumar Jha, said: “It is good that female auto drivers are getting all possible help from their male counterparts. It is a healthy practice and I appreciate it. Five more female drivers will ply their autos soon.”
He added: “In Hajipur, we would start the service next month. Total 27 women have expressed their desire to join the association.”
On the support and assistance they provide to their female counterparts, Pappu Kumar, a male auto driver, said: “The female auto drivers are like our sisters. Any brother would help his sister in trouble. We don’t want to take credit for it. Being in the same field of work, it is our social and moral responsibility to help them.”
Impressed with the service of female auto drivers in Patna, a 25-minute documentary film titled Women on Wheels would be released in about a fortnight.
Produced by Rajgir Kumar Singh under the banner of Wah Zindagi Media Services, the 25-minute film has been directed by Amitesh Prasoon.