After #MeToo, woman shares horrifying incident of Hyderabad Uber driver ‘masturbating’ in carhttps://indianexpress.com/article/trending/this-is-serious/right-after-metoo-woman-shares-horrifying-incident-of-uber-driver-masturbating-in-the-car-4898062/

After #MeToo, woman shares horrifying incident of Hyderabad Uber driver ‘masturbating’ in car

Uma Sharma, travelling to the airport in Hyderabad, was in an Uber taxi when the driver slowed the car on a relatively empty road. She wrote in a Facebook post that the man was apparently masturbating as he kept glancing at her through the rear-view mirror.

Uma Sharma said that Uber refused to divulge the name and vehicle number of the driver because “they remove it from the trip history as soon as you finish the trip”. (Source: Uma Sharma/Facebook)

It was only recently that a powerful hashtag movement #MeToo highlighting the shocking magnitude of sexual abuse that women and men faced in their lives took the Internet by storm. Tweeting and posting on Facebook with the hashtag, people came forward to speak about the traumatic incidents of sexual abuse that they have gone through, hoping that seeing the vast numbers the perpetrators will be brought to shame and that nobody would have to face a similar situation in the future.

But another Facebook post going viral on the Internet indicates a rather grim reality. Uma Sharma, a resident of Hyderabad, travelling to the airport in an Uber taxi, wrote about a harrowing experience wherein the driver slowed the car on a relatively empty road and was apparently masturbating as he kept glancing at the rear-view mirror. She shared the incident on Facebook with the aim to encourage women who have been through similar situations to not be afraid and speak up.

Read the Facebook post here. 

“Today my #Uber driver thought it perfectly normal to masturbate while dropping me to the airport. As soon as we were on the relatively empty ORR in #Hyderabad, he slowed the car to about a 50 kmph and kept glancing back in the rearview mirror. After about 5mins when I realized what he was doing, I shouted and asked him to stop the car – unfazed, and continuing his act, he very nonchalantly asked me what was wrong. After much screaming, he reluctantly stopped the car, and continued standing on the road until I took a picture of him and threatened to go to the cops.
I was scared- as an alone woman in a still-unfamiliar city. Scared of what else he may do since I’d threatened him. Scared that he may return while I waited on the road for another cab. Scared at how utterly powerless I felt when he blankly he looked at me, without an ounce of guilt on his face. And most of all, scared that this was probably not the first time he’d done this- yet he was still out there, just a matter of time until he did the same, or God forbid, did worse with some other woman.
Two days back I was hopeful as I, along with hundreds of other women I know, chose to speak about the sexual harassment we’ve faced. Anger aside, there was also an odd sense of unity in watching so many women #stopthesilence after years and courageously come forward with their stories. Today, I shudder to think how many of these #metoo statuses were because of the same vile men who repeated their actions – only because we were too scared to speak up.
So today, I choose to speak up and I won’t stop until #UberIndia takes responsibility for their non-existent driver verification and complete disregard for their passengers safety. I’m also taking this up with the cops to initiate action against this worthless excuse of a man.
#Reshare if you’ve ever been in the same situation, known anyone who’s faced the same; If you’re as sick as I am of the supposed normalcy of these things. Re-share so that more women read this and maybe find the courage to speak up the next time they’re such a situation too. #nomore #yesallwomen”

This is not the first time that a woman has been in a similar situation. In July this year, a girl complained to the women’s helpline in Mumbai about a man who was masturbating at her in the local train and their response was to laugh at her. Talking to indianexpress.com, Sharma, who was coming home in New Delhi for Diwali, said that she received two calls from Uber — one by a service representative who asked her “how the drivers actions made me ‘feel’ during the trip” and the other from their incident response team member, who apologised for what the first representative had said, saying, “I’m sure, as a woman it would be tough for you to explain your feelings while in the cab.” The executive further assured her that they are ready to work with the police and share any information required.

Sharma said Uber revealed that his name was B Raju. “They have also acknowledged that since their app only displays the first name, it only showed ‘B’ — a possible glitch in their system which puts many commuters at risk without proper driver information,” she said.

She shared with us a photo of the drive she took while she was hurrying out of the car.

The 25-year-old said she is in the process of filing an official FIR, which is proving to be difficult because the police have refused to file the report saying only Hyderabad police can help her because the incident happened in that city.

In a statement to indianexpress.com, an Uber spokesperson said: “What’s been described has no place on our app. Our community guidelines clearly reject such inappropriate behaviour. The driver partner’s access to the Uber app has been barred.”

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However, Sharma said she saw a music system from a rival radio cab service in the car and is now apprehensive that he is possibly still driving for that company.