When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Sources

Female Motorcycle Taxi Drivers Crank Up Business In Jakarta

Ride hailing apps are revving up motorcycle taxi use in Indonesia's congested capital, and a handful of enterprising women are challenging an otherwise male-dominated domain.

Many women drive ojeks in Jakarta
Many women drive ojeks in Jakarta
Nicole Curby

JAKARTA — Indonesia's sprawling capital, Jakarta, often looks like one massive bumper-to-bumper traffic jam. Commuters spend hours negotiating the city's congested streets, inching forward at a snail's pace, every morning and every night.

Little wonder that so many Jakartans opt for motorbikes, by far the fastest and least expensive option. And while some people own their own, others get around the city on ojeks, or motorcycle taxis. Ojeks are an institution here, and a very male dominated one at that. Of the hundreds of ojek drivers I've encountered, every single one of them was a man — until recently, that is.

It's not that women don't drive motorbikes in Jakarta. There's plenty of that. But when I see gangs of motorcycle drivers hanging around on street corners waiting for customers, they're entirely male. That, at least, was my impression. For confirmation, I decided to ask around.

Josta, a regular commuter, has been in Jakarta for five years. And in all that time, she's only been driven by men. "I've never had a woman taxi driver. Ever! Not since I've been in Jakarta," she told me.

But others I spoke to said they have, occasionally, been driven by a woman. "I have a vivid memory once of a driver apologizing for being female," said Fajar, who takes an ojek several times a day. "She said, "You don't mind taking a female driver do you?" And I was like, "Of course not, why would it be a problem?"" he recalled. Fajar told me that in two years of using ojeks, he's had maybe five women drivers.

They're out there, in other words. But not easy to find.

After searching for some time, I finally crossed paths with Rifka Kurniawan, who has been making her living as a motorcycle taxi driver for over a year. "There are many customers who don't want a female driver," she told me. "They want to cancel. I have to say, "No, don't cancel""

Rifka loves the job, but admitts that it's a daily struggle to be accepted on equal terms. And the biggest problem doesn't come from other drivers, but from customers. "Just this morning I took an order," she told me. "I hadn't yet met the customer, and they telephoned me. I was already at the place to pick them up, and then they asked to cancel."

Rifka asked the customer why they wanted to cancel, suspecting it was simply because she is a woman. Clearly, well-worn stereotypes about female drivers are hard to break. "There are people who think women drivers are still learning to drive," she said.

Wilhelmina, also a driver, agrees. "Sometimes if it's a man they say they;re embarrassed to drive with a woman, that they don't want to sit at the back," she told me.

A frequent ojek user I met named Rizal said he was so used to having male drivers that the first time he got a woman driver he was uncomfortable, and so asked her to sit at the back while he drove. The woman refused. But other female drivers have let him drive.

Wilhelmina and Rifka admit that they too sometimes let male passengers drive while they sit at the back, just so the passengers won't cancel and find a male driver instead. But when I asked female ojek passengers, they told me that, given the choice, they'd prefer a woman driver.

"I think it's better to have a female driver than a male driver, because I don't feel as afraid with women" Saiwan, a 17-year-old Jakarta resident, told me. "Sometimes male drivers will ask where I'm from, how old I am. I feel scared. So yeah, I'd chose female driver."

Saiwan isn't the only woman I spoke with who has had to deal with that kind of sexual harassment. Josta said the last time she took a motorcycle taxi, the driver asked: "Where's your husband? Are are you single or not?"

Female ojek drivers may be few and far between. But their numbers are growing. Rifka told me that she organized a group for women drivers, with 100 members already. Even male passengers are, in cases, starting to warm to the idea. Wilhelmina told me about one male passenger who recently took a nap on the back of her bike as she zipped through the city.

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Geopolitics

New Probe Finds Pro-Bolsonaro Fake News Dominated Social Media Through Campaign

Ahead of Brazil's national elections Sunday, the most interacted-with posts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Telegram and WhatsApp contradict trustworthy information about the public’s voting intentions.

Jair Bolsonaro bogus claims perform well online

Cris Faga/ZUMA
Laura Scofield and Matheus Santino

SÂO PAULO — If you only got your news from social media, you might be mistaken for thinking that Jair Bolsonaro is leading the polls for Brazil’s upcoming presidential elections, which will take place this Sunday. Such a view flies in the face of what most of the polling institutes registered with the Superior Electoral Court indicate.

An exclusive investigation by the Brazilian investigative journalism agency Agência Pública has revealed how the most interacted-with and shared posts in Brazil on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Telegram and WhatsApp share data and polls that suggest victory is certain for the incumbent Bolsonaro, as well as propagating conspiracy theories based on false allegations that research institutes carrying out polling have been bribed by Bolsonaro’s main rival, former president Luís Inácio Lula da Silva, or by his party, the Workers’ Party.

Agência Pública’s reporters analyzed the most-shared posts containing the phrase “pesquisa eleitoral” [electoral polls] in the period between the official start of the campaigning period, on August 16, to September 6. The analysis revealed that the most interacted-with and shared posts on social media spread false information or predicted victory for Jair Bolsonaro.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ