BRAVE

Meet Afghanistan’s first woman taxi driver, who sleeps with a hunting rifle

Quartz india
Quartz india

She is an outlier, but she couldn’t care less.

Sara Bahai is a single, 40-year-old woman who works as a taxi driver in conservative Afghanistan. In fact, she is the first and only Afghan female driver in recent memory.

Bahai became the breadwinner of her 15-member family after her brother-in-law was murdered by Taliban insurgents in the 1990s. Today, she financially supports her sister and her seven children, Bahai’s ailing mother and two adopted sons who study in high school. She did not marry because a husband, she believed, would never let her work. She earns between $10 and $20 daily.

To get her license, she took a class with 30 other men. They weren’t exactly supportive. A male fellow driver was so outraged that he reportedly told her, “If you don’t feel shame, I feel shame for you.”

Only 10 people in the class got their license. Bahai was among them.

Bahai struggles on a day-to-day basis, too. Afghan men sometimes refuse to sit in her cab. Many say she is defying Islam. She receives frequent death threats.

“I receive threats from unknown callers who tell me to not drive in the city because I am a woman, because it is against Islam. Some tell me that if I continue to work as a taxi driver they will kill me,” she said.

At her shanty in a poor neighbourhood, she keeps a loaded hunting rifle at all times.

Bahai, who doubles as a mechanic, is now trying to give driving lessons to other women in her city of Mazar-i-Sharif, capital of northern Balkh province.

Here is a look at the brave woman and her taxi number 12925, a yellow and white Toyota Corolla.

In this Tuesday, March 3, 2015 photo, Afghan taxi driver, Sara Bahai, 40, right, waits for customers in Mazar-i Sharif city, capital of northern Balkh province, Afghanistan. For Bahai, becoming Afghanistan’s first and only woman taxi driver in living memory was a pragmatic step rather than a brave one. But in a country where women are regarded as inferior to men and often suffer horrific abuse simply because of their sex, she has also become a breadwinner, trailblazer and role model who believes women must stand up for themselves if her country is to achieve peace, prosperity and happiness. (AP Photo/Mustafa Najafizada)
Bahai waits for customers in Mazar-i Sharif city, capital of northern Balkh province, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Mustafa Najafizada)
In this Tuesday, March 3, 2015 photo, taxi driver Sara Bahai, 40, right, drives a customer, in Mazar-i Sharif city, capital of northern Balkh province, Afghanistan. For Bahai, becoming Afghanistan’s first and only woman taxi driver in living memory was a pragmatic step rather than a brave one. But in a country where women are regarded as inferior to men and often suffer horrific abuse simply because of their sex, she has also become a breadwinner, trailblazer and role model who believes women must stand up for themselves if her country is to achieve peace, prosperity and happiness. (AP Photo/Mustafa Najafizada)
Taxi driver Sara Bahai drives a customer, in Mazar-i Sharif city, capital of northern Balkh province, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Mustafa Najafizada)
In this Tuesday, March 3, 2015 photo, taxi driver Sara Bahai, 40, right, takes a customer's money, in Mazar-i Sharif city, capital of northern Balkh province, Afghanistan. For Bahai, becoming Afghanistan’s first and only woman taxi driver in living memory was a pragmatic step rather than a brave one. But in a country where women are regarded as inferior to men and often suffer horrific abuse simply because of their sex, she has also become a breadwinner, trailblazer and role model who believes women must stand up for themselves if her country is to achieve peace, prosperity and happiness. (AP Photo/Mustafa Najafizada)
Sara Bahai, right, takes a customer’s money.. (AP Photo/Mustafa Najafizada)
In this Tuesday, March 3, 2015 photo, taxi driver Sara Bahai, 40, right, watches a mechanic fixing her taxi in Mazar-i Sharif city, capital of northern Balkh province, Afghanistan. For Bahai, becoming Afghanistan’s first and only woman taxi driver in living memory was a pragmatic step rather than a brave one. But in a country where women are regarded as inferior to men and often suffer horrific abuse simply because of their sex, she has also become a breadwinner, trailblazer and role model who believes women must stand up for themselves if her country is to achieve peace, prosperity and happiness. (AP Photo/Mustafa Najafizada)
Sara Bahai, 40, right, pours some water into her taxi’s radiator. (AP Photo/Mustafa Najafizada)
In this Tuesday, March 3, 2015 photo, taxi driver Sara Bahai, 40, right, watches a mechanic fixing her taxi in Mazar-i Sharif city, capital of northern Balkh province, Afghanistan. For Bahai, becoming Afghanistan’s first and only woman taxi driver in living memory was a pragmatic step rather than a brave one. But in a country where women are regarded as inferior to men and often suffer horrific abuse simply because of their sex, she has also become a breadwinner, trailblazer and role model who believes women must stand up for themselves if her country is to achieve peace, prosperity and happiness. (AP Photo/Mustafa Najafizada)
Sara Bahai, 40, right, watches a mechanic fixing her taxi. (AP Photo/Mustafa Najafizada)
In this Tuesday, March 3, 2015 photo, taxi driver Sara Bahai, 40, right, waits for customers, in Mazar-i Sharif city, capital of northern Balkh province, Afghanistan. For Sara Bahai, becoming Afghanistan’s first and only woman taxi driver in living memory was a pragmatic step rather than a brave one. But in a country where women are regarded as inferior to men and often suffer horrific abuse simply because of their sex, she has also become a breadwinner, trailblazer and role model who believes women must stand up for themselves if her country is to achieve peace, prosperity and happiness. (AP Photo/Mustafa Najafizada)
Sara Bahai waits for customers. (AP Photo/Mustafa Najafizada)
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