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15 Nov 2002
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This was posted last May...was wondering if things have changed since last year?

den4 :

Female cabbies face scum on the mean streets

Shukan Taishu (May 27)

Driving a taxi can be a dangerous business. Even on
the supposedly safe streets of Japan, cabbies have
been robbed, beaten and even murdered by their
Then there's having to put up with all manner of
boorish behavior, including drunk passengers who throw
up inside the vehicles or customers who conveniently
forget to bring along enough cash to cover their

And for drivers who are female, the dangers and
troubles are often magnified, says Shukan Taishu,
which talks with a number of female cabbies.

Not surprisingly, the most common problem is sexual
harassment by their passengers.

"I've been propositioned by guys who say things like,
'How would like to earn an extra 30,000 yen,' " says
"Akiko," who is 40 and has been driving for the past
four years. "In that situation, a blunt refusal can
cause trouble. So I gradually make the refusal known
while continuing the conversation."

Another woman, who says customers have repeatedly
invited her to love hotels, points to the fine line
between brushing off such advances and refusing fares.
Complaints about the latter from disgruntled customers
can result in serious reprimands from the cabbies'

Another big worry is men with their curious habit of
suddenly grabbing their driver by the throat,
according to a 45-year-old female cabby.

"The men are usually drunk, agitated or have rape in
mind," she says. "Many of them will suddenly try to
grab me around my neck, like they're trying to
strangle me. It's probably because I'm a woman. Men
these days are really scary. It's weird."

One woman, who says some of her customers have asked
to be taken to suspiciously dark and secluded spots
late at night, carries pepper spray and an alarm under
her seat. Another driver talks about men with evil
intentions who lurk in taxi queues waiting for the
chance to jump into a cab driven by a woman.

A 38-year-old driver, whose appearance this men's
magazine describes as "outstanding," complains of men
who jump into the passenger seat from where they try
to grope her. The amount of sexual harassment she has
suffered on the job is "beyond measure," the magazine

Says a 43-year-old driver, "About 20 percent of the
passengers are good people, 20 percent bad and 60
percent just regular."

But despite all the hassles and dangers, women are
making steady inroads into the profession. A
representative of an unnamed midsize taxi service
says: "We have about eight people join the company
each month. The women come along at a rate of about
one every three or four months."

That may not seem like a lot. But consider that only a
few years ago, female cabbies were almost nonexistent.

These working women also receive their fair share of
complaints -- mainly from female customers, according
to the cab company representative.

"The complaints tend to be emotional," he says. "Maybe
it has to do with a sense of hostility that women have
among themselves or because they think the driver is
wearing too much makeup. Or maybe they just don't like
their attitudes."
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