Asian taxi drivers in Rotherham claim they are facing racist abuse from passengers on a daily basis. Cabbies in the town say they have been the target of bigots since the Jay Report into child sexual abuse by largely Pakistani men was published in August.
Nasar Raoof says he and his fellow drivers are sick of being abused and running a gauntlet of hate every day. And he confirmed that he and others are thinking of quitting their jobs.
“It feels like the anger of the world has landed on our heads,” said part-time cabbie Nasar, aged 27, from Wincobank, Sheffield, who works in Rotherham. “At the moment we are being racially abused and called paedophiles, scumbags and rapists all the time. We are getting so much abuse that a lot of us are questioning whether it’s worth carrying on.”
Nasar, a business studies graduate from Sheffield Hallam University, listed some of the issues facing Asian cab drivers in South Yorkshire – and said that he and others feel that taxi drivers are being scapegoated by the council.
“We want to get the taxi-drivers together to try to build a positive image but it seems the council is persecuting us, blaming taxi drivers for its own shortcomings. They are sending us on courses at the taxpayers’ expense but most of us already have been on courses and are Criminal Records Bureau checked. They are just wanting to be seen to be doing something and, in the meantime, we are getting the backlash from the public.”
Nasar and other drivers also feel that they are losing business.
“Taxi businesses with ‘English-based’ drivers are in more demand at the moment and are picking up more business. It makes us feel like we are being racially abused from every single angle, being called perverts all the time. Women will stay on the phone throughout their journey and you hear them say things like, ‘I’m in a taxi with an Asian driver, stay on the phone with me until I get home’. How would that make you feel?
“When it gets to ten o’clock on a Saturday night, which is our busiest time of the week, I’m clocking off and going home because I can’t stand it any more. Sometimes you have been abused all night and you get one more and you think, that’s it, I’ve had enough. It keeps me sane if I go home and get out of it so that’s exactly what I do.”