Recurring incidents of molestation and eve teasing have made many women rethink about travelling alone at night. And when it comes to booking a commute after 9pm, many of us think twice before booking an auto.
However, if you are in Chennai, fret not. Raji akka will come to your rescue!
PV Raji Ashok has been assuring freedom to female commuters in the dead of the night for the past 20 years. She even gives free rides to children and older citizens.
Known as Raji akka, she never refuses a ride to women even after her nine-hour shift ends.
She knows how unsafe women sometimes feel with male auto drivers and has taken it upon herself to drive autos and make sure women get home safe at night.
Hailing from a family of auto drivers and residing in Perambur, Raji takes great pride in doing her job. Apart from working with a cab aggregator, she rides the streets at night helping women who are alone.
She is also a great orator and can talk about anything, right from politics to water crisis.
Hailing from Kerala, she shifted to Chennai from Coimbatore after the bomb blasts in 1998. She was an accountant at a travel agency in Coimbatore but found it difficult to get a decent job in Chennai.
The failure of her several attempts to crack interviews made her take up driving an auto as a means of sustenance.
“It was not easy to be a female auto driver among a few hundreds of male auto drivers 20 years ago. I had moments of panic, moments of fear, moments of insecurity” she says.
Apart from giving free auto-rickshaw driving lessons to women, she delivers motivational keynote addresses at colleges across the city.
“Over the past few years, I have given motivational talks in over 13 colleges in Chennai. I also give free auto driving lessons to women interested in joining this profession. This is a great occupation for women, and I want to encourage more ladies to drive autos professionally,” she says.
Raji akka believes that whatever job one does, they must be completely satisfied with it, the way she is after breaking gender stereotypes while making a name for herself.