Disgraceful act by taximen

We join men and women of good will in condemning the indignity suffered by a Johannesburg woman at the hands of taximen who stripped and sexually molested her at a taxi rank at the weekend.

In raising the issue, we defer again to our Constitution, as we did yesterday, by echoing the inalienable rights of individuals to dignity and privacy, part of our values that form the foundations of our open society.

The sense and experience that these rights have not translated into full protection for women against social subjugation and male chauvinism remains a blight on our society.

While our national consciousness remains cognisant of this gap, the reality is that patriarchal tendencies still condemn women as inferior in our society, undeserving of an equal social status as men.

This is because men still arrogate themselves the right to be the arbitrary regulators of culture and social norms to the extent of ramming the hegemony down women's throats at will.

Thus, such acts as the public humiliation of "under-dressed" women at taxi ranks are a manifestation of that mentality.

But the sheer impunity displayed by the taximen is sadly exacerbated by police inertia and lack of prosecutions against this kind of public humiliation.

The public must galvanise campaigns to discourage such uncivilised behaviour. Taximen have no right to police the public dress code - or to even interfere with passengers.

The taxi drivers responsible for the barbaric act must therefore hang their heads in shame.

Their disgraceful and unlawful action should be condemned in the strongest terms.

Their criminal actions have brought the taxi industry into disrepute.

We hope the police and senior members of the affected taxi association will help in exposing these heartless thugs who have tarnished the image of the taxi business.

But the most worrying aspect to the episode is the failure by police to respond to distress calls from the scene.

This is unacceptable.