EXCLUSIVE — Uber cab rape victim breaks her silence: ‘This city has failed me’

I try to sleep but I can’t, the city is unsafe, says the 25-year-old in a piece written for this series with reporter Sumegha Gulati

Written by Sumegha Gulati | New Delhi | Updated: January 2, 2015 3:16 pm
uber, uber cab rape, uber delhi Uber cab rape victim: “This should never have happened to me. This city has failed me.” (Illustration: C R Sasikumar)

This should never have happened to me. This city has failed me.

That night, I did not see any patrols on that street. And Uber, the taxi-hailing service that I had trusted, had employed a driver with a criminal background, without a (Public Service Vehicle) badge. I later learnt that they had also neglected a complaint by another female passenger, Nidhi Shah, about driver Shiv Kumar Yadav’s conduct, and failed to take action. The irreversible loss that my family and I have suffered because of this is unimaginable.

On December 5, when I walked out with my friends after having dinner, I chose to travel by a reputed cab service hoping to reach home safely and because, after the December 16 gangrape two years ago, this is what was recommended to every Indian girl — take a safe option to reach home.

I had used Uber so many times that I trusted them completely. Also, I did not want to trouble my friends and colleagues by asking them to drop me home.

Today, I find it difficult to sleep. Memories of that night keep coming back in flashes to haunt me. I try to sleep but can’t because of the constant fear. The incident has left a deep impact on my psyche, I feel scared to go out alone.

But I was never like this before. I had attended a school where the environment was very liberal. They taught us how to be practical, inculcating values of freedom and courage at a very young age. At Delhi University, where I completed my graduation, I used to travel by public transport, but never faced any harassment.

I have always believed that if I see something wrong, something I feel strongly for, I will speak up, even if it means opposing my family or friends or relatives. That is why, after the incident that night, I called the police first, before even informing my parents.

And that is also why in December 2012, after the gangrape happened, I took to the streets in protest and urged my family and friends to join.

I strongly feel about the issue of women’s safety. The government may have taken a stand then but I don’t think it has been a concrete one. No strong message has been sent out to society. It hasn’t deterred the criminals. There are hundreds of other, similar cases.

Isn’t it ironic that the Uber driver had the audacity to threaten me by saying he would use an iron rod on me? Instead of being deterred, this man actually used the December 16 gangrape to scare and assault a woman.

I pray for justice, stringent punishment for the accused, action against Uber. If no action is taken this time, we have failed as a society, as a government, as a system, as a country and as human beings. A clear and strong message needs to go out.

Yet, I also appreciate Delhi Police. They were humble in their behaviour and efficient in finding the culprit. In fact, I wanted to give them a reward, but they did not accept it. The senior officers just said that I could treat the entire investigation team to a cup of coffee, instead.

Now, looking ahead, there’s the question of managing society and my career. Some people in my neighbourhood have already started raising questions about my dignity. I have stopped going out alone and I am facing immense difficulty in coping with the pressure.

For instance, a friend of my mother called her after an incorrect newspaper report, asking why we had filed a case. She told my mother, ‘Badnaami hogi (You will get a bad name)’. My mother replied, ‘Badnaami uski hogi jisne yeh kaam kiya hai, meri nahin (The people who will get a bad name are those that did this, not me)’. She said she was proud of me for reporting the incident.

Some of my colleagues, who claimed to be friends, would message me, saying how I could “shut” my eyes to “reality” and “not face the world.” Later, some friends took me out to make me feel better. I realised that those who stood by me in this testing time were my real friends.

Now, I have started working again. My office has been very supportive. My seniors are in regular touch with me and are tracking my progress. They have also provided me with counsellors to help me feel better.

It’s not just my colleagues and seniors, others have shown sensitivity too. After the incident, I attended a wedding where no one asked me about it.

So now, after what has happened to me, if someone does not have a brother or a husband or a male guardian to tag along, does a girl stop going out? Do you want her to sit at home?

We have the right to go out, too, and work peacefully. I have visited other countries with my parents and never felt unsafe. In fact, travelling is my passion. But I have realised now that this city is unsafe. I cannot go out alone. I will think twice before going out alone.
For me to feel safe again here, the most important thing is to have cabs driven by women drivers. More patrolling and increased police presence also help women feel safe. When a girl is travelling in a cab, the vehicle should be properly checked and details of drivers must be thoroughly inspected. If Uber had been diligent enough, this incident would never have happened.

Also, the public needs to be sensitised. People usually tend to avoid instances where they feel they will get embroiled in police and court cases. That mentality must be done away with.

I also believe that more opportunities must be given to women if such incidents are to be curbed. India is a male-dominated society, and men will not be able to take women for granted if there are equal opportunities. Education, too, plays a very important role in how we shape our young minds.

As for the new generation, people of my own age, I want to say this: Speak up, see something, say something. Don’t be quiet.

As narrated to Sumegha Gulati

We invite responses to this series. A selected collection will be published. Please send them to: ideas@expressindia.com

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  1. K
    Kalpana Tanwar
    Jun 20, 2017 at 6:46 pm
    ur post is very nice fire tv stick
    Reply
    1. K
      kumar
      Jan 2, 2015 at 6:32 am
      I don't like to use the word 'rape', but to answer your question most probably the 'rapist' thought that she held the necessary set of genes to give his off spring the best chance at life.Its survival of the est, evolution does not stop the last time the human species changed anatomically was 200,000 years ago, modern humans changed from H. rhodesiensis to H.s. sapiens and have not changed since then.Evolution will continue its relentless march forward, it survived 2 ice ages, mive volcanic eruptions, a super mive asteroid collision and being hunted by dinosaurs, if you think LAWS can stop evolution, you are will mistaken and you will be crushed and pay the ultimate price...extinction.
      Reply
      1. K
        kumar
        Jan 1, 2015 at 10:11 pm
        It's been mans natural right to for over 7 million years, law cannot come in last 100 years to change that. Look at a video on youtube called the evolution of .Its perfectly within mans right to discharge his genetic payload to ensure the survival of his species.
        Reply
        1. M
          MildManners
          Jan 1, 2015 at 12:23 am
          Let me say that the outset, this incident is shameful and a blot on the Indian citizens. I live overseas and have been in the US for 20 years or so .Women feel unsafe due to an uptick in these incidents. What can be done ? Here are a few suggestions1. Women must be Women and have the same freedom that men enjoy - ability to go out, party & get a safe reliable ride home.2. Report ALL - yes each and every incident be to the police.3. Use photographic ability on their smartphone to capture/record driver's picture, car # etc. secretly prior to getting in the car 4. Get expedited justice ...maybe death penalty for rape should be a law in IndiaI travelled to India about several years ago with my wife who is a White Caucasian women on the subway in New Delhi. It was disgusting & I will simply say I almost ended up beating a 20 something boy with a Haryani accentIf we cannot respect 50% of the potion, we can never be respected as a country
          Reply
          1. N
            nitin
            Jan 1, 2015 at 6:12 am
            more power to you. As you say, you must go out, must work, must live your life to the full. It is your life and no one can take it away from you. And you must get justice!
            Reply
            1. A
              a
              Jan 2, 2015 at 1:36 pm
              Agree with your sentence .. "Put ban on late night liquor shop both English and indigenous .Bcos the situation is out of control" for these kind of drunkard girls.
              Reply
              1. A
                a
                Jan 1, 2015 at 11:36 am
                Am totaly against girl wearing short minis and boozing .. drinking and then take a cab and sleep in cab. There should be punishment for parents of these kinds of girls. Hope no one marry this girl to make society learn a lesson here.
                Reply
                1. A
                  a
                  Jan 2, 2015 at 1:29 pm
                  And applaud your courage as well. Now the result should be the girl should be set as an example. so that no good family girl drinks in two pub and board a taxi and sleep. Let set this as an example as parents, by not letting our son marry this loose tehzib girl.
                  Reply
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