Minibus mafia in Turkey
BELGİN AKALTAN - firstname.lastname@example.orgLast week was the anniversary of the gang rape incident and horrible murder of the Indian medical student at a New Delhi bus. She was raped and mutilated with an iron rod, her internal organs fatally injured. She died 13 days later. It was only a few weeks ago when Özgecan Aslan, a 20-year-old student, was attacked by a minibus driver, beaten by tire iron. The attacker later chopped her hands off, most probably while she was still alive, not to leave DNA traces under her fingernails. It is difficult to write and read this much cruelty…
In both incidents victims got into a small bus or a minibus to travel from one place to another and they ended up tortured and dead.
The midi-bus or the minibus seems to be a place where the aggressiveness finds an atmosphere to blossom. This kind of a small bus creates monsters I guess. It is not a car; the car is too small to move around. It is not a big bus; a big bus is too public, probably too bright. The size of the minibus, van, or a midi-bus like the one in New Delhi, seems to be perfect for these kinds of crimes.
What made me think about this is the information and comment that students from Özgecan’s university, Çağ University had filed complaints to the administration many times before this horrendous event happened. The students were not happy with the limited shuttle services the school was providing; they had to take these minibuses after late classes. Anyway, students complained on the dangerous driving and the way they treated students. The university did not do anything about it.
Then I read a city planner who said, “This is a consequence of bad planning and freakish urban development. If you build a university at the middle of nowhere with no transportation facilities, without thinking of how the students would commute, then this happens…”
Like certain offices in Istanbul, as the city enlarges, office buildings and workplaces are moved away from the city, obliging the staff to commute long distances. They outsourcing of staff transportation creates what I call the “minibus mafia.”
Like the students at Çağ University, you complain about it, but then how many times can you complain? If you complain about the same thing over and over again, then there is the risk of being marked as a “paranoid”? The quality of the service, the driving, violation of traffic rules, irresponsible and careless driving, the front row bonding with the driver, the low level of the jokes and chats, the harmful atmosphere created both for passengers and other vehicles, how can you prove all of them and complain about them?
Most minibus drivers and dolmuş drivers blow their horns for no reason; they are just used to it. They cannot reverse their action or stop it. They blow the horn. Full stop. They use the emergency lane. You cannot change them with heavy fines. It’s their habit to drive at the emergency lane. The justify their act with a thousand reasons.
I’m not saying minibus drivers are all potential criminals and rapists. But the atmosphere of some of these vehicles cannot be called women-friendly.
We have grown so used to this attitude, these abuses and this lack of safety for the passengers and other vehicles, that we have developed some kind of indifference; we have “normalized” the bad driving and the bad attitude of minibus drivers as it they were “normal,” and sometimes we do not even notice the wrongdoing.
I wish we could stop this minibus mafia at that level and train them, teach them how to drive properly, how to have proper passenger relations before things get out of hand…
Or maybe the outdated ultra-conservatives were right. We should have pink buses only for women.
Also women should stay at home and not go out without the guardianship, accompaniment of a man… But, wait, wasn’t this attitude that brought us here?
I don’t want to generalize and blame minibus drivers and owners as potentials threats, but maybe one is the prerequisite to the other.