ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – For the first time in the history of Pakistan, a motor driving school has started classes for females to teach them motorcycle riding. Now girls and women have started to learn two-wheeler riding in a country that is fighting against radicalism. The first group of trainees have high hopes to see their city and then country on motorbikes if they are provided support from tourism organizations for a female motorbike rally in the future.
This initiative was taken by an NGO School of Motoring Lahore (SMILE), and the first batch of girls have started training as to how to ride motorbike on December 17, 2012. This project is supported by Honda Atlas Pakistan that has provided motorbikes for training while the City Traffic Police of Lahore is bridging the project by collaborating with SMILE and Honda Atlas.
Talking to eTN in the United States, Khawaja Asif, who is in charge of the project, said he was of the view that Pakistani females are a deprived class due to gender inequality and there was no institution in Pakistan for providing motorbike training to girls and women although they represent around 48% of the total population of Pakistan. When asked when this first batch of girls will be on the road, he stated that the first training course is 15 days long, beginning January 1, 2013; after that around 20 girls will start driving motorbikes on the roads of Lahore.
Responding to a questions, Tasleem Shuja of Honda Atlas was of the view that this is the first ever attempt of any organization to incorporate females into the world of motorbike riding in Pakistan, although women drive cars in Pakistan. Women of the middle and lower-middle class of the country who cannot buy cars are sitting at home, because they do not have any institution to encourage them and train them to ride motorbikes.
Project Director Naheed Niazi informed eTN that the city police of Lahore will provide driving license facilities to females within the premises where training has been given, which is the Railway Police Training Centre Walton Railway Complex, Walton Road, Lahore.
More and more women in Pakistan are fed up with gender inequality, and they have started to demand more rights despite the fact that religious forces are threatening gender rights and women rights organizations. The unfair treatment of women in Pakistan is also due to the country’s legislation, which, throughout the years, has greatly restricted the rights of women. Gender equality was guaranteed in the country’s constitution in 1973, but the implementation of that leaves much for want.
There have been a number of defeats in the fight for gender equality. General Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq, who was in power from 1978 to 1988, implemented laws in 1979 that were much more misogynistic than Sharia law. In Pakistan, they are referred to as the Hudood Ordinance or Hudood Law. Among other things, they forbade women from playing sports and also prescribed the use of the so-called purdah, a type of clothing similar to a burqa which was created to isolate women from their surroundings and must be worn in public.
Even former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated by Taliban, fought for women’s rights, but during her two terms in office from the end of the 1980s to the mid 1990s, she failed to pass legislation guaranteeing the protection of them.