A tragedy among taxi industry

PHOTO COURTESY OF INDVSTRVS.COM  Crime in the Chinese taxi industry prompts investigation into the safety of women hitching rides.

PHOTO COURTESY OF INDVSTRVS.COM

Crime in the Chinese taxi industry prompts investigation into the safety of women hitching rides.

Lingchuan Xu ’21

On Aug. 24, a Chinese girl was raped and killed when she hitched a ride using the Didi ride-sharing platform in China.

According to local media, the girl was on a way to a friend’s birthday party when she met the taxi driver. She was later found dead, with evidence of rape, at the base of a hill. This was the second killing of a Hitch passenger in three months.

This murder was the tipping point for Didi after three months of sexual misconduct allegations, with another similar murder occurring just a few months earlier. Didi released an apology soon after the body was found, their first response since the incidents began.

Didi’s official Weibo, the Chinese Twitter equivalent, also released a joint statement from the company’s executives of the company, Wei Cheng and Qing Liu, on Aug. 28. In it, they expressed their disappointment at the incident and their condolences to the victim’s family.

“We see clearly this is because our vanity overtook our original belief. We raced non-stop, riding on the force of breathless expansion and capital ... but this has no meaning in such a tragic loss of life.”

Didi pledged to prioritise improving safety over business expansion. However, many questioned if Didi’s changes would be enough to stop similar tragedies from happening and asked what else could be done to prevent them.

In Suzhou, a journalist went undercover to interview a Didi driver. He reported that a great deal of drivers intended to have sex with young and attractive women. Access to the police force is not as straightforward as it is in the United States. He concluded that, coming from a place of privilege, “[he] had underestimated the danger young women face.”

Uber, which has a stake in Didi’s business, has also grappled with similar issues. These issues are difficult enough to examine in the United States but are unfortunately even harder to address in countries like China. While the so-called “Smith Bubble” allows us to ignore many of the events happening outside of Northampton or outside of America, we cannot forget to continue fighting for women everywhere. We must not only have the courage to defend ourselves but also those with less privilege from sexual assault and misconduct.

As of Sept. 11, Didi Chuxing’s ride-sharing service was suspended indefinitely.

Sophian Smith