Lahore : Pakistan’s first batch of women traffic wardens in this eastern Pakistani city are becoming victims of harassment with men trying all sorts of tricks to gain their attention, Press Trust of India (PTI) reported.
The eight wardens who zoom past Lahore’s busy arteries on heavy duty 250cc motorcycles to ensure the smooth flow of traffic and women’s safety are themselves becoming victims of harassment.
They are troubled by men who deliberately break traffic rules to get their attention even if it is just to get challenges. Some have even gone to the extent of feigning breakdowns of their vehicles.
“Last week I broke my bike’s lights so that the warden could come up to me and talk. She did and the new lights just cost me Rs150,” a 20-something biker bragged on a local TV channel.
For the first time in the history of Pakistan, the traffic police in Lahore inducted eight women wardens in April to patrol the cultural capital on bikes and enforce traffic laws.
Smartly dressed in grey-blue uniforms, these women, who are in their early 20s, have proved to be real head turners.
“Women are very happy when they see us. Sometimes when they see us they salute us and their children are also thrilled,” Sadia Anwar, one of the wardens, said shortly after she took to the roads on her bike.
The women wardens were given special training along with their male colleagues. They are expected to extend emergency services to commuters and are perceived to be more honest and patient in their dealings with traffic violators.
They are also expected to improve road courtesy.
While the wardens may not be happy with the harassment they have had to face while patrolling, for now they are putting up a brave face.
“If people stare at girls it is something that is prevalent in our society. This is not something exclusive to the female wardens. I see so many girls passing by who are subject to such discrimination, but we are thankful to God and our families who have always supported us,” said Asifa, another warden.
Asifa said she felt confident while patrolling.
“There is some sort of an adventure. I feel on top of this world,” she said.
Saima, another of the lot, is also enjoying the attention.
“People get very excited when they see us on the road. Especially women always have a welcoming response. We too enjoy this,” she said.
But Saima was tight-lipped about the issue of harassment and said it was a figment of the media’s imagination.
The wardens say by breaking the glass ceiling they have made the going easy for other women. “So now those girls who feared how society will react to them patrolling the streets need not hesitate anymore. And this is because we have set a precedent for them to follow,” said traffic warden Bushra.
The wardens may believe that the decision to induct them makes perfect sense, but not everyone in Lahore agrees with them.
“A woman should not be riding motorbikes this way. She cannot leave her home and venture out like this. Our culture and society does not allow women to ride motorbikes, fine men and patrol the streets,” a local resident said.