A dentist from India who migrated to Australia for a better future could not have bargained for a worse nightmare that involved alcohol, sex and misjudgment â€“ none of which was his fault.
In what started like a typical story of a qualified migrant driving a taxi in Australia, ended in a sad saga of a young man stripped of everything he had.
Prabhjit Gill came to Australia with the hope of practising medicine and fuilfilling his dollar dream.
The 37-year old dentist realised that his Indian medical accreditation had to be accepted in Australia before he could practice. While he waited for his Indian qualification to be approved, he started driving a cab to pay for expenses.
However, what unfolded soon was a series of events which saw Gillâ€™s plans being watered down. He was arrested on charges of raping a drunk passenger. While the trial went on, his taxi license was cancelled by the Department of Transport.
After months of trial, he was acquitted by Perth District Court jury of raping a 25-year-old passenger.
Now he is a free man with no money, no registered qualification and no license to drive a cab. And thereâ€™s social and cultural stigma that he will have to live with not just in Australia but also in his home country â€“ India.
Apparently, it is common for female passengers to offer sexual favours as payment to cabbies. Gill says that he knew of up to 60 drivers who had been offered sex, and he was offered oral sex as payment for fares two or three times a month.
Gill says he never accepted such favours.
He was accused alongwith another cabbie, 32-year old Amrit Pal Singh, who was convicted of raping the woman in the taxi.
Singh, the court was told, sexually violated the woman who was heavily drunk from a night of drinking at a hen’s party on 5 February 2011.
The same woman accused Gill of trying to have sex with her while she was in Singh’s taxi.
Gill says that all he did was deliver drinks to Singh at the car park where the woman was raped.
Interestingly, Gill also throws light on another concerning fact. He says that the Taxi Council and Swan Taxis (his employer) knew of drivers accepting sex for payment.
However, in support of his employer, Gill says that, during training, new cabbies are warrned about sex-for-fare passengers, and are trained to refuse such gestures.
It is illegal for drivers to have sex in a taxi, according to Taxi Council of WA chief executive Olwyn Williams.
Gill is so shaken by the experience that he says he no longer wants to drive a taxi for the fear of being accused again.
He has lost thousands of dollars in applications to have his accreditation accepted and his residency granted, because of the trial.
“I lost everything. If I want to become a dentist I have to start [from] the very first English test, it’s going to take me two to three years [and] another $20-30,000… where am I going to get it? I have no idea,” he says.
He now drives a truck and is still committed to completing his training for pursue his career as a dentist.