Travelling in the city late at night gets a bit troublesome for most, given how the crime statistics seem reluctant to shrink. Even before midnight, public transport draws to a halt and the only option you are left with, if you don’t have a vehicle of your own, is to book a cab. Some even insist on taking cabs as travelling in public transport after sundown isn’t exactly low-risk. “It’ll be safer.” And that may be true, but that’s a whole other issue. However, travelling in cabs all by yourself is what it is- being locked in a closed space with a complete stranger. And the only thing keeping you from doubting the driver’s true intentions is the trust you bestow upon the taxi service. Sometimes they come through, but sometimes they don’t.
Lately, several cases have emerged where the cab driver took unlawful advantage of the situation and sexually abused the riders. As though being in control of the vehicle, gives them the nerve to treat their passengers whichever way they like.
Here are some such cases of sexual harassment in cabs across India from this year alone:
A female journalist travelling to Noida from Delhi lodged a complaint against her Uber driver who reportedly took a detour which was followed by an argument. The woman deboarded the cab which is when the driver chased her and “behaved inappropriately.”
2. March, 2017
While travelling between Mehrauli and Gurgaon in an Uber, a woman found her driver to be extremely unprofessional and “creepy.” The woman, who detailed the incident on Facebook, said the driver asked her prying questions about her residence and asked her to deboard following an argument. After she deboarded, he even followed her for a few minutes until she tried to read his number plate.
3. May, 2017
After having travelled in an Uber, a Pune woman started receiving creepy messages from her driver. The woman detailed her ordeal on Facebook, sharing screenshots of the messages where the driver said he missed her and asked her about her whereabouts.
4. May, 2017
In Mumbai, an Ola driver was arrested for molesting a woman he forced into his cab. Reportedly, the woman was on her way to pick up her son from school when the driver talked her into taking a ride in his cab. He then molested her and even attempted to kidnap her. When the woman tried to jump out of the moving vehicle, he stopped the car which is when she fled and alerted the police.
5. May, 2017
In Bengaluru, a woman boarded an Ola to travel a short distance to her home. However, her driver deviated from the route and when questioned about the same, molested her and attempted to drive her to a deserted location. The woman fled the cab just in time and lodged a complaint.
6. June, 2017
A woman returning home in Thiruvananthapuram was assaulted by her Uber driver. Reportedly, the driver tried to befriend the rider during the ride and when the cab came to a halt, he molested her.
7. July, 2017
Another incident from Ghaziabad, where a woman seeking a job was lured to her Uber driver’s home where he beat her and committed unnatural sex. The police were alerted of the incident by the woman’s doctors who confirmed rape.
8. July, 2017
A female journalist travelling between Noida and Greater Noida detailed her horrifying ordeal with an inebriated Uber driver. Reportedly, the driver stopped the cab midway, claiming the vehicle had run out of fuel. Later, he called on his friends, allegedly to fetch petrol, whilst also mentioning he had a female passenger with him. Meanwhile, the journalist also called a friend, having sensed the danger. The driver locked her inside the cab and when her friend arrived, he even refused to cancel the trip.
9. August, 2017
An Ola cab driver was arrested in Mumbai after he sexually harassed a passenger. Reportedly, the driver tried to have a conversation with the victim first. Later, he slowed the car down, unzipped his pants and “engaged in an obscene act.”
10. August, 2017
A woman in Ghaziabad had booked an Ola share cab, however, when the other passengers had deboarded, the driver stopped the cab, unzipped his pants and flashed the passenger. Shocked, she ran out of the vehicle and lodged a complaint.
11. September, 2017
A cab driver in Delhi was arrested after raping a victim he offered to give a lift. The driver, who drove a kali-peeli taxi, took the victim to a park near Red Fort where he raped her. Following the heinous act, he dropped her at Old Delhi Railway Station and fled.
12. September, 2017
A Hyderabad woman filed a complaint against her Ola driver, whom she accused of sexual harassment and stalking. Reportedly, when the co-passengers alighted the cab, the driver took the cab on a different route and misbehaved with the rider.
13. September, 2017
In South Chennai, a female doctor returning from work had booked an Ola to take her home. However, the driver stopped the cab mid-way, allowing two of his “friends” to board the cab, who then assaulted the rider. She was rescued by people travelling on the road who heard her screams and stopped the cab.
14. October, 2017
A woman travelling in Hyderabad noticed that her Uber driver constantly kept staring at her through the rear-view mirror. When she tried to gain cognizance of the matter, she realised the driver had unzipped his pants and was masturbating. Horrified, she deboarded the cab and lodged a complaint.
As horrific as these cases may seem, it is also important to note these are only some of the incidents that were reported. And that not every woman who has faced molestation, or worse, has been able to take a stand against her perpetrator. These stories do not highlight the real statistics. The incidents of sexual assault/harassment have become alarmingly frequent, however, what’s even more petrifying is that the issue of women’s safety still remains in the grey area as far as travelling in a public conveyance is concerned. We have, it seems, outraged much, but accomplished nothing.
Security provided by private cab providers like Uber and Ola (despite all their assurances) are laughable thanks to falsified driver credentials remaining unchecked and zilch initiative from said companies to ensure a prompt safe option in case of emergency.
We can create all the angry hashtags we want to, but the question is, who’s listening?
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