Sophie Denman, 22, is behind the wheel of Sophie’s Angels, a registered start-up service aimed at getting women home safely at night whatever the distance.
Just this month, two 19-year-old women spoke out after half a dozen taxi drivers refused them a short ride home from central Wellington late at night because the fare would be too small.
“I love guys, they’re awesome – but there’s a small handful of predators,” she said.
“A lot of girls told me if they got in the front or sat behind the front seat, the [taxi] driver would turn around and touch their thigh and ask them if they were having a good night.
“This isn’t something I want: my kids to be in constant fear that they can’t walk anywhere or get a taxi.
“When they say there’s a rape culture in New Zealand, they’re not joking.”
Ministry of Justice research for 2014 found about 24 per cent of women suffered some kind of sexual violence in their lives.
Denman said many women told her they were particularly scared of using the steps by Boyd-Wilson Field, in Kelburn, where a man assaulted a woman late one night in February.
Armed with a passenger endorsement and a passenger service licence, she operates from 4pm to 5am on Tuesdays through to Sunday mornings..
There is a flat $5 pick-up fee, plus $2.20 per kilometre, and she will go as far as Plimmerton or Upper Hutt.
“We’re starting it to just get girls home safe.
“Even if it’s a two-minute ride up the road. ‘Can you come get me?’ ‘Yes’.
“We need [lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-sexual] people to feel safer.”
She set up a crowd-funding page on Indiegogo to help her grow the business, including creating a booking app.
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