Russia’s mostly-Muslim Chechnya launched first women-only taxi service in its capital city of Grozny.
The Mekhkari taxi service is supposed to become an alternative for Chechen women, who cannot travel unaccompanied with a male driver outside their family circle for religious reasons.
“Currently five vehicles are operating in Grozny, but we plan to bring it to 20 by the end of the year. All drivers are, of course, females,” project initiator Madina Tsakaeva said, adding that the female-only taxi will not accept reservations from men.
According to the Mekhkari app, it also provides delivery of additional services such as home cleaning and even medicinal bleeding known as Hijama.
The project is funded by UAE’s Sheikh Zayed Fund, which finances small and medium-sized businesses in Chechnya. The new service is “suitable for transporting women passengers in terms of religious standards and traditions,” the fund said in an Instagram post.
The initiative received mixed reaction from internet users outside of Chechnya. Many users perceived the enterprise as promoting gender segregation, comparing it to ‘the Middle ages,’ while few praised it for ‘respect to religious beliefs’.