BEIRUT: An unconventional scene adorns the streets of Lebanon featuring women taxi drivers, who are resilient enough to unbind the shackles confining them.
A plethora of women, sprouting from all corners and paths of life, are relentlessly breaking societal conventionality in Lebanon. They have rendered their work to be one that questions the taboos that stain the Arab world in terms of professions designated as “suitable” for women.
“There isn’t a shield that distinguishes a man from a woman in terms of selected professions. Women are capable of doing anything a man does, and the most prominent evidence that accentuates the latter would be the prominent female quotas holding the politics of countries worldwide,” Yolla Maatouk, the owner of Turbo Taxi company, noted for Annahar.
It is widely known that female drivers endure being subjected to sexist and misogynistic comments from male drivers. Thus, the mere notion of being a female who is also a taxi driver is a societal transgression that victimizes these women. The latter is represented by a series of violations that pivot around acts of bullying, shaming, and cursing.
Women taxi drivers are often criticized and categorized in certain molds in which they are heavily stereotyped and misrepresented.
“They are shunned for their bravery in daring to defy empty traditions. Society perceives them as entities who are devoid of ‘feminine’ aspects, and thus labels them as ‘mannishمسترجلات – ’,” Calina Eid noted.
However, Georgette Moussa Moqbel, a taxi driver from Batroun, stated that women working in her field often repel the backlashes they receive, transforming them into tokens of powers. She personally ignores the gossip and focuses on the job that she willfully chose after long strife in life. She also noted that women have all that is required to fulfill any job position they freely choose.
The spectrum of women taxi drivers in Lebanon encompasses a diverse set of backgrounds, notably religious ones.
“One of the women taxi drivers I encountered was a Jehovah’s Witness. She did not utter a single word during the entire ride, yet gave me a card on which their website was printed. I found that very interesting and respectable,” Rami Hatoom noted.
Amira Kojok also narrated her anecdote with the hijabi woman who drove her. She mentioned that she was a single mother who had to leave her kids at home to take this job, which was something that left a mark on her ever since.
Women taxi drivers constitute a safety valve for the Arab society as a whole. People, especially women, children, and queers, are more vulnerable to cases of rape, abuse, and harassment when riding with male drivers. This is due to the lack of strict implementation of laws.
“I definitely felt safer when I took the taxi with a female driver, especially that it was during the night. When with a male driver, I’m always on guard, playing different scenarios in my head of what might happen and how I could react to them,” Kojok noted for Annahar.
Welcome to “NAYA,” the newest addition to Annahar’s coverage. This section aims at fortifying Lebanese women’s voices by highlighting their talents, challenges, innovations, and women’s empowerment. We will also be reporting on the world of work, family, style, health, and culture. NAYA is devoted to women of all generations. NAYA Editor, Sally Farhat: Sally.firstname.lastname@example.org
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