Last Updated: June 05, 2023, 15:25 IST
In an uncommon sight, a burqa-clad Muslim woman auto-driver on busy the streets of Chennai has grabbed media attention. In Bhiyari Fatima’s words, she chose to drive an autorickshaw to support her husband financially.
Speaking to News18, Bhiyari Fatima said she was born and bought up in Chennai. “I was born and brought up in Chennai only so I know this place very well. I am married and I have kids. Covid changed many people’s lives including mine. I wanted to support my husband in earning a livelihood, hence I chose to drive an auto rickshaw.”
Fatima hoped that with both of them earning, the couple will be able to provide a good education to their kids. She further said her job gives her the liberty to pick up her children from school and go shopping.
Fatima also said that many passengers were surprised to see her in the driver’s seat. “Men will sit in the autorickshaw and be like, ‘All right mate?’ and then they’ll be like, ‘I’m so sorry, I didn’t realize you were a woman’. I say, ‘Don’t worry, it’s all right!’. Some people have actually said, ‘But I thought Muslim ladies couldn’t drive a commercial vehicle?’ They think women are at home, busy cooking in the kitchen. I want to show them that we can do whatever we want.”
“I love driving, it helps me to earn a livelihood and I don’t find anything wrong with it,” she said.
Let’s Take a Look at the Status of Women’s Rights In Muslim Countries
Rights of Muslim Women in Afghanistan
The Taliban regime in Afghanistan has stopped issuing driving licenses to women and other provinces of the land-locked country. Only men are issued driving licenses. While there is no formal ban on women driving, they can’t drive legally either. Before the Taliban took over Afghanistan, women could be seen driving in some of the major cities including Kabul.
From banning girls from schools above sixth grade to not allowing them to take trips alone, there have been reports of women’s rights seized by the new government.
Barely a month after the Taliban took over, the administration barred women from effectively working in government offices, banks, media companies and other workplaces and said the regime will fully implement sharia law. In Afghanistan women seeking to travel anything other than short distances must not be offered transport unless escorted by close male relatives. Also, the regime called on vehicle owners to offer rides only to women wearing hijabs.
Rights of Muslim Women in Saudi Arabia
The leader of Saudi Arabia, King Salman issued a special decree, or ruling, that grants women permission to get driving licenses on June 24, 2018. It was seen as a move to improve the women workforce in the country that in turn contributes a lot to the economy.
The landscape of the Saudi workforce is forever evolving, with many progressive changes being made around gender equality and equal pay. For the first time, women in Saudi Arabia have even qualified to drive the Haramain Express trains also known as the fast trains that run between the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.