Other women Safa Tempo drivers have moved on. Chanmaya Tamang drove three-wheelers in Kathmandu for ten years, and now owns a car in which she gives driving lessons for women.
It has not been easy for the women drivers. Women drivers are frequently harassed by traffic police and face constant discrimination.
“Imagine, the police still ask us why we are out on the roads instead of at home cooking,” says Tamang. “If we attempt to talk back, they issue a fine on the spot.”
Shrestha says she has been sexually harassed as well. Policemen often pull her over and initiate unwanted conversation. “They ask for our phone numbers, and if we refuse they give us tickets. Some women have actually quit driving because of this.”
Meanwhile, the response from the passengers is markedly different, many are still surprised to find women behind the wheels. Some express their respect and appreciation when they get off at their stops, others do not ask for change or even pay five times the fare amount.
“We know we have worked very hard, and we don’t need validation,” says Moktan. “But it still feels good to get such responses every once in a while.”