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#Ante: Delhi Uber rape victim sues company in US federal court

Above: The alleged rapist, Uber driver Kumar Yadav outside a Delhi court

A passenger who said she had been raped by an Uber driver in New Delhi is suing the online car service in a US federal court.

The lawsuit claims that the San Francisco-headquartered company failed to maintain basic safety procedures and describes Uber as the “modern day equivalent of electronic hitchhiking”.

“Buyer beware – we all know how those horror movies end,” the suit states.  The unnamed victim, a resident of Delhi,  had been beaten and raped in early December after hailing a ride with the Uber driver 

In a statement, Uber did not directly address the lawsuit but said it is cooperating fully with Indian authorities to ensure the perpetrator is brought to justice.

“Our deepest sympathies remain with the victim of this horrific crime,” the company said.

India is Uber’s largest market outside the United States by the number of cities covered, and the country’s radio taxi market is estimated to be worth $6 billion to $9 billion.

The rape allegation triggered protests and reignited a debate about the safety of women in Asia’s third-largest economy, especially in New Delhi, widely considered India’s “Rape Capital”.

India banned Uber in New Delhi last month following the allegations and arrest of the driver.  But the company restarted services there last week and applied for a radio taxi license.

Uber said it would not take any commission from its drivers in New Delhi until uncertainty over how it can operate in the country’s capital city is cleared up.

In her lawsuit, the woman also demands an overhaul of Uber’s safety practices, including localized 24-hour customer-support centers and in-car video cameras.

She is also seeking unspecified damages from the company.

Her attorney, Douglas Wigdor, has represented high-profile plaintiffs, including a hotel maid who accused former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault.

Uber, valued at $40 billion last month, said last week it would introduce additional safety measures including more stringent driver checks and an in-app emergency button.

The Delhi case is one of several around the world, including one earlier this month in Chicago, in which passengers have accused their drivers of assault.

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