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Pink Taxi strikes back against sexual assaults in Egypt

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By Adrian Lancashire  with Mohammed Shaikhibrahim, Seif El Mashad, Egyptian Streets
Pink Taxi strikes back against sexual assaults in Egypt

There is a new taxi company in Egypt reserved for women: Pink Taxi.

Sexual harassment and Egyptian male society’s behaviour toward women is the worst in the Arab world, according to experts in 22 Arab countries.

With no clear signs of improvement, Pink Taxi founder Reem Fawzy has taken a business approach to the problem.

Fawzy told euronews: “Any new idea takes its cue from society, and we need a transport service for Egyptian women. Not only for them, in fact: for all Arab women and foreigners — women in general.”

In June last year, a new law was passed in Egypt, which made sexual harassment an offence punishable by six months in prison or the equivalent of a roughly 340-euro fine. Intervention groups continue to press to have existing laws enforced, and to turn attitudes around.

Pink Taxi driver training includes psychological preparation for dealing with the public. The women must have a secondary school diploma and speak a language in addition to Arabic.

At the wheel, Mervat al-Badry said: “The passenger can feel safe, not anxious as she would with a man driving, or as she might if she is going somewhere in the evening or at night, if she is driven there by a woman she can trust.”

Kareema Sakoot, one of the first customers, said: “I’m thrilled with this new idea, with women taking charge. Of course, Egyptian society is always going to reject new ideas and doesn’t understand initiatives like this, but it will get used to it, and I am sure that Pink Taxi will be a success.”

According to the UN, more than 99 percent of Egyptian women report being sexually harassed, almost all in some physical way, as well as by abusive language.