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Stop partnership with Uber, activists appeal to UNwomen


Activists aghast at UNwomen’s joint campaign with a company that has a record of its driver’s violence against its passengers including rape and molestation

By Team FI
Women activists and organisations in India have expressed their shock and dismay at UNWomen’s association with Uber, the private cab company whose recruitment and verification of its drivers were questioned after the rape of a woman passenger by the Uber cab driver.

UNwomen, a United Nations organisation, that calls itself as a global champion of woman, has partnered with Uber as a part of their mission for global economic empowerment of women. Uber has promised to create ‘1,000,000 jobs for women as drivers on the Uber platform by 2020’.

Uber, a private cab company, began its services in India in 2013. In December 2014, an Uber driver, Shiv Kumar Yadav, was accused of raping a 27-year-old woman. Yadav, whose criminal record includes cases of violence, molestation and even a case under the Arms Act, had been arrested and sent to jail in 2012 on the charges of raping a woman in his cab in 2011. He was acquitted due lack of evidence.

The private cab company that has had its share of controversies in the US, regarding its business practices, has also a record of its drivers being accused of kidnapping a female rider, assaulting a passenger with a hammer, abusing his passenger, killing a six year old (where the company went scot free because its drivers are not employees but contractors), fondling a female passenger and so on. Ironically, a joint statement about the campaign put forward by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick includes this sentence – “This important mission can only be accomplished when all women have direct access to safe and equitable earning opportunities.”

According news reports, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, once told a reporter that Uber’s success has made him more desirable to women – “We call that Boob-er,” he said. http://fortune.com/2014/11/18/a-brief-history-of-ubers-controversies.

The letter sent by women’s organisations pointed out the double standards practiced by Uber which has a process of a seven year background check for its drivers in the USA, which it failed to apply in India. The letter appealed to the UNwomen team not to participate in a campaign that is designed to gain Uber “their loss credibility and in fact damage UNWomen’s standing in people’s mind.”