A Chinese Ride-Hailing App May Strand Women at Night — for Their Safety

BEIJING — Didi Chuxing, China’s reply to Uber, needed to ensure its car-pooling service was completely secure for feminine passengers.

So when it relaunches the late-night model of the service this week after the surprising homicide of a feminine passenger by a driver made headlines throughout China, it is going to embody a rule designed to guard ladies: It received’t let male drivers decide up feminine passengers within the after-hours.

The new measure left lots of Didi’s feminine prospects perplexed. As anybody who has ever hitched a trip by way of Didi can inform you, discovering a feminine driver is usually a tall order whatever the time of day. Must ladies utilizing Didi Hitch, because the car-pooling service known as, wait late into the evening till a feminine driver occurs by?

“It’s just not the right solution,” mentioned Chen Xiaoyan, a 22 12 months previous college scholar and consumer of the Didi Hitch service within the metropolis of Guangzhou. “It’s simply avoiding accountability.”

“Are the numbers of feminine drivers and male drivers working within the evening identical?” she added. “Would it be convenient for female passengers?”

Didi Chuxing, considered one of China’s most profitable and precious start-ups, continues to grapple with the fallout from an incident that raised questions on passenger security, significantly for feminine customers. But its newest step to revive its status has run into an issue: Most Chinese drivers are males.

Of China’s 385 million drivers, almost three-quarters are males, based on authorities statistics. For Didi, the numbers are even worse: Only about 10 % of drivers and automobile house owners utilizing its platform have been ladies.

In some components of China, just a few authorities and landlords have designated bigger parking spots for women, sparking a backlash on-line and accusations of sexism.

The Didi spokeswoman mentioned the corporate will monitor the outcomes and alter them as wanted. “Our focus is on ensuring the Hitch service is brought back in a safe and responsible way, and that users understand — and join us as we work through — the challenges involved,” she mentioned in an e mail.

Didi’s predominant enterprise is much like Uber’s ride-hailing service. Didi Hitch, a less expensive various, permits common automobile customers to supply up their spare automobile seats to passengers heading the identical means. Didi’s app allowed drivers and passengers to fee one another.

That perform fell beneath a highlight after Li Mingzhu, a 21 12 months previous flight attendant, was discovered lifeless after utilizing the service. Authorities imagine she was killed by a person utilizing his father’s Didi driver account.

After that, many ladies who used the service found drivers have been utilizing the score service to touch upon their look. Didi overhauled the app and stopped use of Didi Hitch at evening.

On Wednesday, Didi Chuxing says the Didi Hitch service will resume service on Friday between 10 p.m. and 12 a.m. and between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. For security causes, it mentioned, male drivers can solely decide up male passengers throughout these hours and feminine drivers can decide up solely ladies. Passengers will be capable to share their route with an emergency contact.

The resumption of evening service has turn into a serious subject of dialog on-line in China, with many asking whether or not the gender restrictions will do something to make passengers safer.

“This policy is like women-only subway cars,” mentioned Li Di, a 27-year-old male Didi consumer, citing an initiative tried in Guangzhou to chop down on harassment. “Both just isolate women.”

“It’s just like enclosing sheep with a fence,” he added. “It’s merely curing the symptoms, not the disease.”

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