The alleged rape of a 27-year-old woman by an Uber cab driver in north Delhi on 5 December has put the spotlight on cab-booking companies and their practices. Uber, an international service which boasts of providing cabs with convenience and safety, is now busy deflecting blame for the horrific crime against one of its customers.
Instavaani polled 1,118 respondents across all metros including Delhi to find out if they felt Uber should be blamed for this lapse of safety. 76% of the respondents felt Uber was to blame for this lapse in safety and the resulting crime, while only 24% think otherwise. This number held across cities—over 70% of respondents in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Chennai held Uber responsible for the incident. Women respondents blamed Uber by a higher margin—81% felt that Uber was to blame.
When Instavaani asked respondents if in the future, they would be comfortable hiring Uber for travel, 59% of all respondents, and 62% of women said they would not be comfortable travelling in Uber cabs anymore, while 41% of the people answering the poll indicated that they would continue to use their services.
Following this incident, the Delhi government has banned Uber and other mobile app-based cab companies like Ola and TaxiforSure from operating in Delhi, until they get a licence from the government. Almost 48% feel that this decision by the Delhi government is justified; 52% of the respondents disagree. A majority of women—51%—agreed with the Delhi government’s decision.
The results yet again highlight the issue of women safety in our country, and women respondents in particular have been spooked by this incident. Actions taken by the authorities received mixed reactions in the poll, but women respondents are unequivocal in condemning the cab company involved and supporting harsh measures against it.
The fact that the Delhi driver had committed a similar crime before, which Uber failed to uncover in its background check, especially counts against the company. Uber has been pulled up before in the US for weak background checks of its car drivers. In a January 2014 case of a Uber driver who struck and killed a six-year old girl while driving in San Francisco, it was later revealed that the driver already had a reckless driving charge against him, which Uber had apparently not discovered in their background checks.
The poll’s respondents, it is clear, feel that cab companies cannot have it both ways, in assuring passengers of quality, service and safety—Uber’s tagline guarantees ‘a safe, reliable and affordable ride’—while in reality failing to implement the necessary standards and practices.