#ShouldITakeThisUber: Women's Safety and the Use of Technology in South Asia

  • The Fletcher School 160 Packard Ave Medford, MA, 02155 United States

Every 51 minutes, a woman faces harassment in India’s public spaces, according to a 2011 National Crime Bureau report. Today, transportation concerns are as acute as ever, ranging from the 2012 gang rape on board a Delhi bus to a recent case involving a 25-year-old woman and her Uber driver.

Uber once served as an alternative to dimly lit roads or empty bus stations, however, the company’s failure to conduct adequate background checks has raised questions over transportation safety across South Asia. South Asian entrepreneurs have taken matters into their own hands, developing their own solutions. However, can apps really keep people safe? SAPAC sets out to investigate this question in “#ShouldITakeThisUber?”.

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Last December, a driver from the web-based taxi firm Uber was charged with the rape of a female passenger in New Delhi, India. The driver was later found to have had a criminal past and Uber was banned from all operations.

This January, Uber has since resumed its operations following a month and a half ban. The web-based taxi firm has introduced India-specific safety features, such as “Send Status” which allows users to share driver, vehicle and journey details with friends and family, and an “SOS button” that allows riders to call 100, India’s police emergency number, with two taps.

However, Uber’s recent changes have been described as “cosmetic” at best. On International Women’s Day, the 25-year-old lashed out against Uber, stating, “Until women can legitimately feel safe, we cannot obtain equality. Sadly, Uber doesn’t understand this.”

SAPAC invites students from all backgrounds to hear about recent innovations and collaborate on solutions, policies, plugins, and features that will positively impact public transportation in South Asia. Has Uber done enough? What do you like or dislike about their recent additions?

“#ShouldITakeThisUber?” gives students a platform to directly submit our collective suggestions to Uber Management in India. Please join SAPAC on Wednesday, April 8th in Cabot 205 in an attempt to bring forth change and have an impact beyond our campus.