Rape and mur­der of a Didi pas­sen­ger ex­pose app’s flaws

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - FRONT PAGE - By Wang Han

A21-year-old Chi­nese fe­male flight at­ten­dant sur­named Li was raped and then stabbed to death af­ter hail­ing a pri­vate car from ride-share plat­form Didi Chux­ing on the evening of May 5 in Zhengzhou, cap­i­tal of Cen­tral China’s He­nan Prov­ince.

Didi of­fered a re­ward of up to one mil­lion yuan ($157,000)for clues about the suspect, a driver sur­named Liu, ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports. But on May 12, Zhengzhou po­lice found a corpse in a river later con­firmed to be Liu, thep­a­per.cn re­ported.

Even though the suspect is dead, pub­lic con­dem­na­tion of Didi’s lack of se­cu­rity and safety mea­sures has con­tin­ued. One blog­ger posted on Weibo that her col­league was also ha­rassed by Liu. The blog­ger said her col­league made a tele­phone com­plaint to Didi, but the plat­form would not pun­ish Liu, which she feels might have pre­vented the Li’s death.

Many ne­ti­zens claim that Didi does not strictly ex­am­ine the back­grounds of car own­ers who ap­ply to be Didi driv­ers. Ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports, Liu once com­mit­ted a se­vere traf­fic of­fense that re­sulted in a pedes­trian be­com­ing par­a­lyzed.

Fol­low­ing the up­roar about Li’s bru­tal rape and death, Didi an­nounced a na­tion­wide one-week sus­pen­sion of its hitch ser­vice. I’m glad to hear this, as I too have en­coun­tered some trou­ble with Didi driv­ers.

Back in Fe­bru­ary, I was hang­ing out with my friend Sara, her boyfriend John and their pet dog at a tourist spot in Hangzhou, cap­i­tal of East China’s Zhe­jiang Prov­ince. Upon leav­ing, I hailed a driver us­ing Didi.

But the driver re­fused to al­low their dog to get into his car. John slammed the car door to show his dis­sat­is­fac­tion. The driver cursed at him, so John went up and pushed him. The driver then claimed that he would call a group of friends to “beat us to death.”

While the driver was on his phone calling his gang, I called 110 and ex­plained the sit­u­a­tion to the po­lice. For­tu­nately, the po­lice ar­rived be­fore the driver’s gang could. Af­ter John went to the po­lice sta­tion with the driver, John found out that the driver was a “fre­quent vis­i­tor” of po­lice sta­tions.

An­other thing that wor­ries me is that some­times the li­cense plate num­ber of the car I book via Didi is not the same as that of the car that picks me up. This means that the driver’s in­for­ma­tion – in­clud­ing pos­si­ble crim­i­nal or traf­fic of­fense records – was not checked, which poses se­vere safety risks to all pas­sen­gers. Will I con­tinue us­ing Didi? The an­swer is a re­luc­tant yes, be­cause it is still the largest car-hail­ing ser­vice plat­form in China. But do I ex­pect Didi to launch new, ef­fec­tive mea­sures to im­prove the safety and se­cu­rity of its pas­sen­gers? Who knows. The plat­form could, if they re­ally wanted, up­load a new func­tion that re­quires pas­sen­gers to press a “safely ar­rived” but­ton be­fore trans­fer­ring their pay­ment to Didi. Also, the plat­form could use bet­ter tech­nol­ogy to exam the back­grounds of its driv­ers, which would lower the risk of al­low­ing un­trust­wor­thy in­di­vid­u­als to get into the industry. Ride-hail­ing ser­vices in China, just like those in other coun­tries, have their share of safety and se­cu­rity re­lated is­sues. The only thing that will re­ally make a dif­fer­ence is for the plat­forms them­selves to en­act new, strict mea­sures to pre­vent such tragedies from hap­pen­ing again.

The opin­ions ex­pressed in this ar­ti­cle are the au­thor’s own and do not nec­es­sar­ily re­flect the views of the Global Times.

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