Thursday, August 13, 2015


Driving a taxi is a largely male profession just about anywhere you go in the world; all the more so in a highly traditional country like 
Afghanistan. But Sara Bahayi is out to change that. Bahayi, 40, is reportedly the country's first female taxi driver, and she makes it a point to teach other Afghani women to drive as well – counting 15 women among her pupils so far.

"I am proud that I am a taxi driver. I am serving my Afghanistan and my people," Bahayi toldTolo News, as conveyed by Pangea Today. "If [there were] other female drivers, it would create a safer and comfortable environment."

It hasn't always been easy for Bahayi, though: she only makes between 500 and 1,000 Afghanis ($8.70-$17.50) per day, and in the two years since she started driving a cab in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif, she's received repeated death threats from those evidently threatened by her actions in a traditionally paternalistic society.

Judging by her name, though, the clash between Bahayi's proactive feminist stance and the values of those around her could stem from a cultural difference. Members of the Baha'i faith have historically been persecuted by the predominantly Sunni Islamic majority in Afghanistan. A local Supreme Court ruling in Afghanistan eight years ago declared the Baha'i faith blasphemy and its practitioners infidels. Estimates place the number of Baha'i still in Afghanistan between 400 and 2,000, though their exact numbers are difficult to calculate since many Afghani Baha'i are forced to practice in secrecy, while others have converted to a more mainstream branch of Islam.

Meanwhile, a more concerted driving campaign is being undertaken in nearby Saudi Arabia, though, where women have been fighting to overturn a law banning them from driving altogether.



Sen McGlinn said...

As none of the reports have made a connection to the Bahai Faith, I doubt she is a Baha'i. Baha'i is both a name and a word in Persian: Shaykh Baha'i was a philosopher who lived in the 16th and 17th centuries, and baha-ye nafta is the price of oil. And a person whose name is Christian might be a Buddhist.

However it is quite true that the Bahai Faith and women's emancipation have been linked from the early days, and Bahai girls have role models such as Tahireh.
It would not be at all surprising if a Bahai girl grew up to be the first woman taxi driver in Kabul, or the first woman on Mars, or an F1 racing car driver.

Sen McGlinn said...

oops: to be consistent, the name should be either Tahereh or Tahirih, but not half-in-half