Bengaluru has seen an increase in the reporting of sexual offences against taxi drivers.
The frequency of reported cases of sexual offences by taxi drivers has increased in recent years. According to City Crime Record Bureau (CCRB) data, the number of reported cases of sexual assault/ harassment in 2016 was just three. In 2017, that figure rose to 10 cases. As of July 2018, the number of cases reported against taxi drivers for offences stands at five.
The issue regarding the safety of women passengers has come to light in the wake of reports suggesting that attacks against women passengers have risen. This is alarming considering the fact that the number of taxis on Bengaluru streets has dropped from 33,337 in 2016-17 to 16,595 in 2017-18 as per the Karnataka Department of Transport.
Clinical Psychologist and Forensic Psychology expert Sunny Joseph believes that these crimes occur as a result of “a perceived loss of control”’. “These crimes occur as a result of an imagined loss of power. This arises from the belief that men are no longer in control since women are now independent and often go out into the city alone.” Elaborating further, Joseph went on to explain that these crimes help reinstate power. Joseph also attributes these crimes to resentment over financial inequality in society. “The mindset of the offender reads – “who are you to travel alone? “
These incidents come in the wake of allegations of sexual impropriety against public personalities at their respective places of work. Reports suggest that various organizations have begun to sensitize employees as a result. Taxi aggregator Ola had begun to blacklist suspected drivers.
Sexual offences against women by taxi drivers have paved the way for legislative action. The Government of Karnataka framed The Karnataka on-demand Transportation Technology Aggregators Rules, 20I6. Rule 8(2) which states that – drivers ought to behave in a “civil and orderly manner”.
However, officials within the Department of Transport believe that laws alone would not curb sexual offences against women. “The Aggregators rules prescribe a GPS, GPRS system, and a panic button. Furthermore, drivers have to undergo police verification.
”What Further measures can be taken for the protection of women?” an employee at the Department of transport asked. He believed that the law could only account for 80 percent of the job. “Society has a role to play as well,” he added.
Joseph was similarly skeptical about a policy-based control mechanism. “I doubt a change in policy can make a difference”, he noted. However, he observed that there ought to be a change in attitude. He believed that there must be a focus on objective reality and that gender equality ought to be imbibed. “Something imposed cannot yield results,” he remarked.