Yet another incident of molestation in an Ola cab in Bengaluru on the 1st of June has made us ask if cab service providers actually take sexual harassment and assault seriously?
“We regret the unfortunate experience the customer had during the ride. We have zero tolerance for such incidents and the driver has been blacklisted from the platform as an immediate action.”
Is that really all you have to say for yourselves, Ola? The phrase ‘unfortunate experience the customer had during the ride‘, makes it sound like a minor inconvenience, as if the air conditioner wasn’t working or the seats were uncomfortable. Not to mention the distance that Ola has put between themselves and the driver. Stop distancing yourselves and take some responsibility.
A 26-year-old architect said that an Ola cab driver who was supposed to take her to the Bengaluru airport molested her, attempted to choke her, forced her to strip and took photographs of her which he shared on WhatsApp. He then blackmailed her saying that he would bring his friends to gang-rape her if she alerted anyone.
The brave woman managed to convince him that she wouldn’t tell anyone what had happened, so that he would drop her at the airport. Then, she emailed a complaint to the police who have since arrested the perpetrator, Arun V (the complaint was sent on the same day – the 1st of June – and the arrest happened within three hours).
This isn’t the first time that a woman has faced molestation inside a cab. This has been going on for years. We keep telling ourselves that we are progressing with the improvement of technology. But tech-savvy service providers like Ola, Uber have not become crime-free yet. And one wonders if they even care, when they get away with extremely superficial apologies like the one given by the Ola spokesperson for the most recent incident that happened in Bengaluru.
However, the more important question is, ‘Do the rest of us even care?’ We say we do, but we don’t hold any of the service providers accountable, or we do, but don’t manage to seriously get them to change anything.
The last few cases of sexual harassment in cabs supposedly led to stricter rules for cab drivers. But, where are the results? How many more women will have to put up with this before we see some real change? It’s time for a change. It’s time to hold the cab service providers accountable and make them take our words seriously, to take the women’s – who suffered sexual harassment or assault – words seriously. Proper measures have to be taken to prevent sexual harassment and assault.
To give a few examples, cab providers claim of driver verification, but often, cabs are driven by the official driver’s friends or relatives. This has to be stopped and in the event that one of these unofficial drivers turns out to be a perpetrator, it is the cab providers’ duty to find out who it is and make sure that action is taken.
What would also be really useful is a method of instantaneously alerting other people if something bad happens – and making them aware of the location – so that drivers remain scared of getting caught easily. There are many such safety apps available and women should make use of it while travelling.
Another thing that could help women feel safer, is to employ more female drivers and send them to women on request. While I’m not claiming that women don’t sexually harass or assault people, I do think in the issue of cabs, it would greatly reduce the chances of female passengers facing either. This would also help women enter the male-dominated territory of professional driving.
Womencabs exclusively employs women as drivers but it would be very nice for all of us if mainstream cab providers tried to employ more women as well. And it is everyone’s responsibility, including the government, to make sure all of this happens. After all, it is every woman’s right to be able to travel without worrying about her safety.
Image Source: Pexels.com
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