A 26-year-old woman was allegedly raped and beaten by her Uber driver in Delhi, Indiawho reportedlyhad offenses on his record,includingrobbery, molestation, and possessing an unlicensed firearm.
This drew criticism about Uber’s background check policy in the country.
A local Uber executive named Neeraj Singhal told the Wall Street Journal that the company’s drivers in India previously had not been screened; all a driver needed to be accepted were valid insurance documents, driver’s licenses and a commercial taxi permit. To be fair, Uber worked only with commercially licensed drivers, who were required to undergo police background checks.
Now, Uber will start conducting its own background screenings for its drivers in India.
In response to the rape allegation, Alina Tiphagne, a New Delhi citizen, created a Change.org petition asking Uber to match its Indian background check standards to its seven-year US background checks.
“If your company had run a background check and got police verification done, this crime could’ve been avoided,” Tiphagne said in the petition. “What’s worse, you have a three-step background check process in the US but not in India. These are double standards.”
The tragic event in Delhi was a deeply sobering reminder, that we must always be vigilant in the endeavour to achieve best-in-class safety. …
Our teams have worked tirelessly in the past month to re-verify all safety aspects of our operations in India. These include document verification, driver-partner background checks, rider feedback and all service support processes. […] We also know that we can do better, and we are holding ourselves to that promise.
Delivala also stated Uber would introduce a series of new safety measures in the country, including better background checks, police and document verification for drivers, in-app safety features, and a localised incident response team.
Following the unnamed woman’s alleged assault, India’s capital territory banned the service. Uber suspended operations in New Delhi to review its Indian operations three days later, according to a company blog post. Later, the company said it would create more stringent background checks using new technology.
The woman allegedly attacked by her Uber driver has hired a New York attorney and is now considering suing Uber in the US, the Guardian reports. The woman has approached high-profile attorney Douglas Wigdor, who previously represented the hotel maid who accused former IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault.
Wigdor told The Guardian he was considering the possibility of the Delhi woman suing Uber for negligence in a US court.
The driver, Shiv Kumar Yadav, pleaded not guilty to charges of criminal intimidation, rape, and kidnapping.
We’ve reached out to Uber for comment on this story and will update when we hear back.