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Uber Blames India's Licensing After Rape Charge Leads To Ban

Just days after a young woman in New Delhi accused an Uber driver of rape, the Delhi region's Transport Department banned the ride-sharing service.

By Jamal Andress | December 8, 2014

Uber has been banned in the Indian capital of New Delhi after a driver from the popular ride-sharing service allegedly raped a female passenger.

The Delhi region's Transport Department banned the service Monday — the same day the driver accused of rape appeared in court.

He is accused of raping a 26-year-old woman who hired an Uber car on Friday night. After falling asleep on the ride, she allegedly woke up to find the car was parked in a secluded place where she says the driver then raped her.

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Over the weekend, dozens of students scuffled with police as they protested. More rapes happen in New Delhi than in any other city in India.

Sexual assault in India has been the subject of international scrutiny and protests since a 23-year-old woman died after being beaten and gang-raped after boarding a bus in 2012.

Uber Delhi sent out this tweet Saturday saying they were "deeply disturbed" by the incident and that they are cooperating with authorities.

Uber's CEO Travis Kalanick followed that up with his own statement calling the incident horrific but also seemed to try to shift some of the blame back on the Indian government: "We will work with the government to establish clear background checks currently absent in their commercial transportation licensing programs."

The man arrested in the alleged assault was also arrested for rape three years ago, and though he was acquitted of those charges, this incident has raised some questions about what Uber is doing to protect its passengers in New Delhi and whether Uber is conducting thorough background checks.

An anonymous Uber driver in Delhi told Quartz"I went to their office, they checked my driver's license and they ask me to read. … The drivers then take the car, their licences, photos and other documents to Uber's office … where they are verified."

A stark difference from the U.S. process, which — among other things — checks all your county, state and federal records going back seven years.

This bad news for Uber comes amidst aggressive and massive international expansion for the ride-sharing company. Uber currently operates in 51 different countries around the world.  

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