A 21-year-old woman was reportedly murdered by a taxi driver in Zhengzhou, China, after using the country’s largest ride-hailing platform, Didi Chuxing.
Following the tragic incident, over 100 women changed their profile photos and gender listing on the ride sharing service, known as Hitch, available on the app.
Hitch drivers are apparently able to see passenger’s occupation, gender, profile picture and even the comments left by the last driver before they accept a ride.
As a part of its corrective measures, the company has since decided to hide the personal data of the passengers from the drivers. Also, last week, it temporarily suspended the service.
Such measures were taken after the horrifying details of the 21-year-old flight attendant’s murder came to light. The victim’s half-naked dead body was found with more than 20 stabs in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou.
Later the police found the body of a 27-year-old driver in a river in Zhengzhou.
According to Didi Chuxing, the man had stolen his father's profile to use the app.
Moreover, it was revealed drivers were reviewing female users based on their appearance.
According to Chinese financial magazine Caixin, some of the descriptions drivers were posting about female passengers included “Goddess," "natural beauty" and "long-legged."
Ever since such alarming details surfaced, the female Hitch user began changing their profiles, with many using pictures of male relatives and stock photos found online to even fictional characters from TV and film.
The women were not only terrified by the deeply sexist remarks of drivers blatantly objectifying them behind their backs, they were also furious. Many even shared their updated profiles on popular Chinese micro-blogging site Sina Weibo as an act of protest.
In the wake of such incidents of sexism against the female commuters in China, country’s state-owned broadcaster CCTV printed a safety brochure advising women to avoid using ride-hailing services late at night and also going alone to unfamiliar places.
The ad also featured a suggestion to not chat too much with the drivers – because a woman must be taught how to not get sexually harassed instead of men being taught not to harass, right?
With the mounting worries of safety of passengers, Didi, which is the largest ride-hailing start-up in China, has started to shake up its services.
By the end of this month, the company reportedly aims to revamp the app with a redesigned emergency help button that will enable user’s emergency contact to track the ride. Moreover, it also announced conducting a facial-recognition for drivers every day.
Banner / Thumbnail : REUTERS/Carlos Jasso