While India is statistically a very safe destination, female travellers sometimes think twice about visiting, put off by tales of harassment and assaults. After a number of high-profile incidents in the last few years, safety for women is back at the top of the political agenda in India, and dozens of schemes have been set up to alter the perception that India is a risky destination for women.
In fact, India has a long history of public programmes designed to make travel safer for women. Women-only carriages have been used on suburban trains in Mumbai since 1992, and whole trains set aside for women started service in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai in 2009. Attention is now turning to taxis and auto-rickshaws, where female passengers are more likely to be alone with just a driver.
Launched by the charitable Azad Foundation, the Women on Wheels project has trained dozens of Indian women as taxi drivers, providing a safe chauffeur service for female travellers in Delhi, Jaipur, Indore and Kolkata. Pink Autos – auto-rickshaws driven by and reserved for – women have since sprung up in cities across Indian, including Delhi, Mumbai and Surat.
However, the problem for many women has been finding one of these women-only vehicles in the traffic-jammed streets of India’s major cities. TYGR, India’s fast expanding multi-transport-booking app, now hopes to solve this, with integrated booking for pink taxis and autos reserved for women. Ranchi in Jharkhand is the launch city for booking pink autos by mobile phone, and there are plans to expand the scheme to all the cities where TYGR is operating.