The UBER rape case – a comment by Ria Sharma

Not half as gruesome as the Nirbhaya gang rape or other cases that surface everyday in India, WHY IS THE UBER RAPE CASE GETTING SO MUCH ATTENTION? The UBER rape case -a commentary by Make-Love-Not-Scars founder and WomenNow editor Ria Sharma.

 

We all felt the wave of outrage that presented itself in the form of numerous protests and marches that followed in the wake of the Nirbhaya gang rape. Nirbhaya could have been me or you or her. It could have been anyone that decided to go watch a movie in Saket or decided to board a bus to go home. In all its gruesomeness the Nirbhaya case was not just a rape case. It was a catalyst that would soon spark a mini revolution in India that most would think would diminish the rape culture that Delhi is infamous for…but sadly that’s not what happened.

 

If anything good came out of the Nirbhaya gang rape, it was that more women found a voice to actually go and report the crimes committed on them…but did anything else change? Yes, we started seeing more and more rape cases and the only one that got fast track justice was sadly only Nirbhaya.

 

There was definitely an increase in awareness and supposed measures were also adopted to prevent such incidents from reoccurring but did any of this help? NOPE. Nada. It did nothing. If anything we put ideas into the minds of sick men. These men (majority of our country, including backward politicians) rose to the occasion and took it on as a personal challenge of sorts! No, really. As I sit here and think about it, the more the women were encouraged to speak out the more they were demeaned, tortured and abused. See the Nirbhaya case did do one thing, it showed us that we had a voice and in that moment we were made to believe that our voices when raised would be heard and protected by the “extra security measures for women” that were put into place and that might have even been the case a year ago. But now your existence as a woman Is a curse in this country, your voice is nothing but an invitation to the men that have been brought up with the mind-set that women’s voices are meant to be supressed. This is no ones fault though, we the women were stupid enough to believe that things could change…because one didn’t realise that raising your voice would do nothing but harm.

 

After Nirbhaya, India has seen uncountable rape cases, thousands and thousands of women being stripped of their dignity. If not as gruesome as the Nirbhaya case…but let’s not deny that we have seen far too much now. In the past few days I have heard a lot about the recent rape case that took place in an Uber cab.

 

I myself was introduced to Uber, while I was studying in the UK and once I came back to India I was so elated when I found out that Uber had now launched its services in New Delhi. It was literally like a dream come true. It opened so many doors for the common girl!

I recommended and endorsed Uber to all my friends…raving about how we could finally just use a taxi company not realising that just because it was Uber didn’t mean it was safe… solely because it existed in the rape capital of the world: New Delhi.

 

I read an article about how the rape survivor was completely fine and even though trauma is trauma I found myself wondering why this case over all cases was getting so much attention.

 

I know this sounds terrible, but hear me out. I just wanted to know why…out of all the numerous rape cases we have seen and that have been reported, over the past year some of which were fatal…did not get as much attention as this one.

 

Was it because this case involved a big multinational company ? Or was it because of the rape itself? After reading multiple tweets, Facebook comments etc I realised it was actually none of the above. It was actually because Uber was just the face of another freedom that was snatched away from us. Yes, this cab driver that decided to rape this girl didn’t just rape her, he raped all of us of our new found freedom. This sense of security that we all thought we had gained was just stripped away from us. Being a girl in New Delhi I know I won’t be using Uber anymore…and it’s such an injustice because this has forever tarnished the use of cabs hence restricting us to limited options once again. The independence that I thought Uber gave me, has yet again, been taken away from me because of the men of my country.

 

The Uber incident hit way too close to home for many because unlike the Nirbhaya case where she had to board an isolated bus due to lack of public transport, Uber seemed to have been the answer to our prayers.

 

That’s not the only thing that makes me angry about the Uber rape case however, I know this sounds a little dramatic but I feel violated. For all the times I have sat an Uber cab and spoken to the driver about how I believed Uber was safe for women, I now feel personally betrayed. For all I know I could have been in this rapist’s back seat and not have known it. I could have been pouring my heart out about how safe I felt and he could have been laughing at me in his own mind…yet again playing on how naïve the Indian woman was and how dominant he was.

 

Just when my faith seemed to have been restored, it angers me that just one man is all it took to break my faith in an entire company. An entire company that probably just had one bad apple managed to yet again close another avenue for women. Like my parents didn’t fear for my safety enough as it is, now I can’t even say “don’t worry dad, I’ll Uber it”.

 

So here we go, we are back to square one. My heart not only goes out to the survivor but also to the countless girls that have had their wings clipped once again because ONE man couldn’t keep it in his pants…not only stealing a girl’s dignity but every other girl’s right to a dignified living.

 

So where did this leave us now? At home, worried, scared and clipped (once again). Uber in now banned in New Delhi and even if it wasn’t I doubt anyone would use it… but now every time that survivor thinks about taking a cab out at night she will think twice, every time I think about taking a cab out at night I will think twice.

 

This has just given our backward politicians another reason to say that women should stay home at night or should be accompanied by a male companion when out and about.

The Uber rape case might have not been the next Nirbhaya but in its own right it is because it could have been me, you or her very easily.

 

By Ria Sharma

Ria Sharma

About Ria Sharma

Ria Sharma is the founder of Make Love Not Scars, a youth driven NGO that works in all aspects of rehabilitation in the field of acid attacks in India. Ria finished her schooling from pathways World School in Gurgaon and has a BA (Hons) degree in fashion from Leeds College Of Art in the United Kingdom. A young individual that believes in the power of justice, the strength of the human spirit and the next generation that is ready to help eradicate social stigma. Determined to bring about change, the term impossible is just another opportunity in her opinion.

  

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