It seems Pakistan’s Karachi Female riders opt for Risk Rather Than Wear A Motorcycle Helmet while travelling on a motorcycle. They don’t like the way it looks and just doesn’t go with their wardrobe.
This phenomenon interested researchers at the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) who found that while a majority of the women in the city are not opposed to using helmets while pillion riding, they avoid it mainly because they feel “awkward” or fear others on the road will “hoot at them”.
The study, ‘Perception of Pakistani women pillion riders about helmet use’, was conducted by the Department of Emergency Medicine at the AKUH. The study was run by Dr Junaid Razzak while Dr Uzma Rahim Khan was the senior instructor. “The objective was to assess the knowledge of women pillion riders on laws and the use of helmets especially since many accidents and lives could be saved by proper use of the headgear,” Khan says. Volunteering with the study was Dr Afshan Khan, who analyzed the data. “The most prominent reason women offered was that the helmet does not suit their apparel i.e. the shalwar kameez or the abaya, but if they were ticketed for not doing so they would be forced to wear it,” she explains.
On the law for wearing helmets, Uzma says the Manual for Motor vehicles Law by Advocate Hafizur Rehman clearly states: No person shall drive or ride the pillion seat of a two-wheeled motor vehicle except when she is wearing a helmet.
Study method – The study was conducted using five groups, each comprising six to eight female participants who live across the city and who use motorcycles as their “most common” means of transportation. The study, qualitative in nature (meaning that there were no pre-set options for answers instead interviewees note down their perceptions), does not depend on statistics but rather on the analysis of major themes emerging from the answers.
Questions and answers – Among some of the questions asked were: What do you think of motorcycles as a mode of transportation? Another tested their knowledge on by laws, asking: What do you know about safety laws? Third, and perhaps most important, were their reasons for not wearing a helmet. All participants admitted to not doing so.
In response to the first question, most participants said that motorcycles were quick and speedy which is why they preferred them to public transport but they also found the bikes risky. To the second question, many admitted to not knowing much about the laws but they did say that they “wouldn’t mind wearing helmets if others did the same and it was made mandatory,” Uzma says. Some participants even suggested that perhaps women police officers should begin wearing helmets so others were encouraged. One participant suggested there could be a rental system for helmets especially for women who do not use them as much. Another put a religious spin on the issue, saying that if a fatwa was given, then everyone would feel obligated to wear the headgear.
*source The Express Tribune Pakistani/ Illustration: S.JAMAL.K