Our Contributor Giulia Luzi, questions whether the banning of web-based taxi service Uber in countries such as Spain and India will effectively ensure the safety of women and taxi passengers.

Uber is a web-based taxi service that is accessed through a smart phone and is used in 45 countries and more than 200 cities worldwide. In recent months it has caused much controversy.

Protesters in many countries such as England, France, Germany and Spain have denounced the unfair competition created by the company, which links passengers with non-licensed, or illegal, taxicabs and consequently is seen as compromising passenger safety. 

Following a series of protests by the Madrid Taxi Association and various strikes of taxi drivers, Spain has ordered Uber to cease all activities in the country.

Recently, the app was also banned in India, but for a different reason: here the ban was introduced after one Uber driver was accused of raping a female passenger last Friday in the capital, Delhi.

Nine days before the incident, a woman who had travelled in the same taxi had reported her unpleasant journey with the man in a feedback report sent to Uber.

The company’s support centre promised to check on the driver, but not enough was done as the man was still in service when the rape happened.

The price to pay for Uber’s negligence is another case of rape and Uber and other similar companies being prohibited from operating in Delhi.

But is Uber really to blame? Should they be publicly punished for what happened?

It’s already unfortunate to have to witness victim-blaming when discussing rape, and now Uber seems to be a new scapegoat for a problem that seems too hard to handle.

Without a doubt, Uber is responsible of not acting when in possession of useful information which could have prevented a crime. 

Some may think that the ban will be effective in setting an example for other licensed taxi services, in the hope to implement stricter driver checks.

But are really ‘classic’ taxi companies more reliable than online ones in this respect? And who will make sure that they do comply with stricter regulations once they’ve obtained a license?

Many people in India are expressing their discontent about the incident through social media, with #DelhiShamedAgain and #Uber being among the top Twitter trends.

Some complain that the new regime hasn’t really done anything to fight corruption in the country, while other regard the Uber ban as a “fake solution”.

After the ban, only six registered radio taxi companies are allowed to operate in the capital. However, according to BBC, Uber is still operating in Delhi, and since its taxis do not carry any visible branding, many wonder how the ban will be enforced.

We then need to ask ourselves whether the ban is really an effective measure to prevent rape and to ensure passenger safety.

If Uber is now operating outside the law, it is doubtful it will enforce a more responsible check on its drivers.

If there’s anything to gain from the ban, it’s definitely not the prevention of rape and the assurance of women’s safety. 

Photo: Sayamindu Dasgupta/ Flickr