Sara Bahayi is Afghanistan’s first female taxi driver in recent memory, and she is believed to be the only one actively working female driver in the country, reports the Independent.
She’s 38, unmarried and outspoken. And in a highly patriarchal society, where women are considered second-class citizens and often abused, Bahayi is brazenly upending gender roles.
Every day, she plies her trade in a business ruled by conservative men. She endures condescending looks, outright jeers, even threats to her life. Most men will not enter her taxi, believing that a woman should never drive for a man.
Yet she earns $10 to $20 a day, enough to provide for her 15 relatives, including her ailing mother. She relies on ferrying women shackled by traditions and fear, who vicariously live their dreams of freedom through her.
In her taxi, Bahayi traverses streets and highways. One day, she convinced a man – who believed, like many Afghans, that Islam prohibits women from driving – that his beliefs were wrong. With every fare, Bahayi says, she is determined to send a message to Afghan women: Get out of the house – earn money – don’t rely on men.
“How long should women depend on men’s income, taking the men’s orders?” she asked. “I want them to be independent.”