As a young woman, one of the most difficult stages of getting to drive in our culture is the “permission”. After having to miss many events because there would be no one to pick and drop me, or because my brothers were too busy or simply unwilling to provide this assistance, driving became a necessity for me.
Despite taking driving lessons, it took almost two years before I was finally allowed to drive alone on the roads. That was just the beginning of a never-ending series of issues that I face daily as a woman who drives in Pakistan.
Some issues are so commonplace that they’re not even considered problematic anymore. Constant stares and unnecessary horns are as if a part of the deal. Now I have become immune to them, and don’t budge unless I am at fault. Then there are uncalled for lectures on my driving skills, regardless of whether I actually need them.
The number of times I have been followed and harassed by male drivers passing by is more than I can count. If nothing else, these men would shout at me saying things like “apka tyre puncture hai”, “apka dupatta bahar hai” and when I stop to check if everything is okay, I would hear bursts of laughter.
While I thank everyone who has ever supported me, respected me and helped me on the road, unfortunately, such gentlemen are very few. I face these issues almost EVERY DAY. But when you bring it up, you’d hear men say “isi liye aurton ko drive nahi karna chahiye”. Sounds very familiar to the ‘Issi liye aurton ko ghar say bahir nahin jaana chahiye’ line we hear when women want to work or go to college. We need to have more confidence in our women. They have the capability to master any skill that they put their minds to.