Lone female riders face sexual harassment by cabbies ‘Dirty talk ends in cash offer for sex’

KUWAIT CITY, Nov 6: Taxi rides in Kuwait are becoming increasingly dangerous for women, say commuters who shared their unpleasant experiences with the Arab Times Tuesday.

While there have been instances of women being abducted by taxi drivers, the more common complaint has been intimidation for higher fares. An Australian expatriate recently had to flee a taxi after throwing a KD 1 note into the vehicle, when the driver was acting aggressive to force more money out of her.

She had flagged down the taxi from near Sultan Center, Salmiya, to visit a friend living a few blocs away. After being dropped she requested the driver to pick her up at 12 noon, which he agreed to.

When it was close to noon, the woman gave the driver a call to remind him to pick her up. Yet, he arrived a good half-an-hour late, for which the woman was a little upset, even expressing her dissatisfaction during the ride.

The enraged driver turned rude and spoke disparagingly of the fare she was paying him for the ride. He said his sponsor was a policeman insinuating menacingly that he was above the law and that he could charge her more.

Upon reaching her apartment, the taxi driver pushed the line in an attempt to extract more money from her, and the Australian had to run away after casting the currency bill into the car. She has also had numerous experiences of taxi drivers haggling over fares on the ride after initially agreeing to a certain amount.

Women from certain Asian countries are harassed by taxi drivers who make sexual passes at them. Usually, it is “dirty talk”, say women who have suffered this harassment. “Some of them even go to the extent of offering money in return for sexual favors.”

Women say that while on one hand the government is making issuance of driving licenses very strict, on the other hand the taxi drivers on whom women are increasingly dependent for commuting are creating troubles. “The Ministry of Interior has to make some crucial interventions to ensure that women can travel safely within Kuwait.”

The women were recommending something of a hotline for harassments by taxi drivers so that patrol cops can arrive in time and protect victims.

In an early interview to the Arab Times, runaway maids who were trapped by sex rackets said they were forced into the trade by taxi drivers. The taxi drivers get a hefty cut for every woman they provide the racketeers, and some of them practice it as a side business, they added.

The women were quick to add that though such untoward incidents are on the rise, these are still only a small percentage of the taxis plying in Kuwait. “Most of them are good people.”

The complainants also pointed to the rundown condition of some of the taxis with worn out tires and a chassis threatening to fall apart any moment. This has cast doubts of ‘wasta’ at play as there is no way these taxis can get passed at the annual inspection. The words of the taxi driver, who intimidated his passenger throwing the weight of his police sponsor, might hold some clue to this riddle.


By: Valiya S. Sajjad Arab Times Staff

Read By: 7563
Comments: 1

they have no respectrobert littlewood | 11/8/2012 5:40:00 PM why the suprise the australian gets charged more the cab drivers in kuwiat do this to all expats from britain and america they charge twice as much then anybody else and if i was alone female traveling in kuwait i wouldnt trust cabbies not all are bad there are some good ones but alot of bad ones you see them staring at the women on the side of the road or shouting at them ,and they all claim there meter is broken when you ask them to go by meter how is it that from mangaf to fahaheel on a meter cost 300 fills but brits and yanks are charged 1kd allways so in future go by meter and if they say its broken dont pay them as they arnt allowed to work without a meter on
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