Woman in Karachi Was Denied a Bike License for Being a Woman

In a country where the Women on Wheels initiative was celebrated by many, it came across as a huge shock to us all that a woman was denied a bike license in Karachi simply because of her gender.

Shireen Ferozepurwalla, as per the required process, went to the License Office in Karachi to apply for a car/bike license, which was a cost-effective transport option for her, since not every woman in the country can afford a car. However, not only was she told to get out, but was also refused for applying for the license. The sole reason behind this harsh refusal was, in fact, the government officer’s own bias that women were not “allowed” bike licenses. Which only begs the questions – since when did bikes becomes a mode of transport specific to men and men alone?

Isn’t it a Licensing Officer’s job to consider nothing but the ability of a person’s driving skills before issuing the license. Since when did gender become a criteria for applicability?

Taking to her social media, Shireen Ferozepurwalla, said, “Got bike riding classes last month. Was literally so relieved to be able to ride a bike. You see, I can’t really afford a car right now and with the surging rates of other transport services, it was getting a little difficult for me to stay within my budget. Imagine paying 600PKR (Sometimes even 900PKR at peak times) for a one-way ride of 7.3km. That is roughly 1200PKR every single day (to and from office).”

Ever since the Motorway rape case, it has become increasingly apparent that the only way to get government officials to take a woman seriously in this country is by creating pressure on social media. Looks like without some hue and cry, some government officials remain under the impression that there job is not to serve women. We, the women of Pakistan, who make up more than 50% of the country’s population are refused something as simple as a license, let alone their basic freedoms of stepping out of the house without fears of being harassed and raped.

After Shireen’s tweets went viral, she was contacted by the DSP D.L Clifton and was called into the License office to get her bike license made. Here’s a quick update:

However, we must seriously look around us and see where this country is headed. This country and it’s systemic discrimination continues to sideline the majority of its population. Why must attaining even the most basic of rights be such a struggle for women in Pakistan? Why?

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