The first female taxi driver in Afghanistan
“It’s hard to believe that I’m a driver even to men, but it’s a fact,” says Sarah Bahai. The first female taxi driver in Afghanistan. “Although there are problems and difficulties in my country, although the statistics of kidnapping thefts and murders are rising in Afghanistan, I am a positive person, and I continue to offer my services to the inhabitants of my city,” she continues.
She is the first female taxi driver in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban government. She is the first woman to be personally trained in Afghanistan outside of the institutional framework. Sarah, has been working in a number of different departments, but her new job has put her in the spotlight. Working conditions for Sarah are not easy as she is working in a city where two or three taxis and drivers disappear daily. But she do not lose her hopes. She believes that must have hope to have commitment.
“I have learned to drive from a neighbor, ten years ago, when I was living in the Dehabadi district of Balkh Province. Later, I went to Mazar-e-Sharif, passed an exam and got my driving license. I sold a piece of land I had inherited from my father and bought the taxi. I knew then that I chose a difficult and dangerous profession, but I had no choice” She remembers.
Balkh is an unsafe and traditional Province of Afghanistan and there’s very less chance for women to work, drive and get education. Although war is still continuing but Sara Bahai has started driving from among hundreds girls and woman. She tried to break the dark traditional of Afghanistan. Taliban, war, kidnap are not the only problems of female drivers in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, forced marriage, poverty from one side and insulting, humiliating words makes their life hard and dark from other side.
“Since I began this work, I repeatedly insulted, humiliated and was threatened, but despite all this, I like my job and I do not want to stop it “says Sarah, and continues: «It is very difficult to be a female taxi driver in Afghanistan. Especially at the beginning, the men were sabotaging me. They were threatening me to stop driving, because as they were telling me, their women could have been taken an example of me and asking them to buy them a car and start driving too. But I did not care about their words, I was answering them that driving is not a waste of time”.”
In Afghanistan, some jobs are considered to be only for man and some others only for woman. Sarah Bahai has recently garnered the spotlight because of her choice to work as a taxi driver. In the past, he has done other jobs, but this choice has made her famous in Afghanistan.
The first female taxi driver in Afghanistan, says that women feel safe when she is behind the wheel of her car. They talk to her and they tell her their problems. She is very happy when she is given the opportunity to offer her city’s community but she feels very bad when men get off her taxi when they see the is a female driver.
Afghan woman, allow this action happily and requested from women affairs department to support this woman. Panah Hussaini one of the citizen in Balkh Province, says; “I met Sarah three months ago and since that time we became good friend be side of being a customer. She has a Bachelor’s Degree Certificate and is instructor in Mowlana’s Jalaluddin Mohammad Balkhi High School in Mazar. As she told me that has taught for 20 years, but she has never been able to provide her family’s expenses. Therefore, she drives after she has been teaching for hours”
Sarah is forty years old and has not yet been married. She says, she liked to marry like other girls, but many responsibilities prevent her. “The reason I did not get married, is because I have to support my sister and her children. Her husband was killed by Taliban group 14 years ago. Also, the expenses of the defective brothers’ children, which were damaged by the Taliban’s defeat, and they cannot work. The supervision of my old mother is another reason”.
Sarah has launched a driving training program for women in the Balkh region where she lives. Until now, she has learned how to drive to fifteen women. “Teach a woman how to drive from a female teacher is much easier than learning from a man. That’s what my schoolgirls tell me, “she says.
But Sarah is not just a taxi driver. She has been working with the Swedish Committee for seven years, and She has been taking physiotherapy classes there. Now, along with driving and teaching, she offers physiotherapy to people in need, while she also maintains a small farm with honeybees that also earns her a small income.
Written by Sayed Ahmad Sadat a journalist from Afghanistan