- Major e-hailing services in South Africa, Bolt and Uber, do not yet have an option for women passengers to request women drivers.
- This comes as women on social media continue to share stories of incidents of violence while using an e-hailing service.
- The scourge of GBVF against women and children has been described as a shadow pandemic.
Uber says it is not yet looking at an option for women passengers to request a driver who is also a woman.
"Safety is a top priority for us and while Uber is always looking at new features and products, this is not something we are looking into at this time," Uber told News24 on Wednesday.
The e-hailing service, however, said it had made a number of safety features available to users such as: in-app emergency button, trusted contacts, injury protection and 24/7 customer support.
"We will continue to research and invest and remain open to consider various other safety-based technologies," Uber added.
This came after News24 asked the e-hailing service whether it was considering an option for its women passengers to exclusively request a woman driver to ensure their safety.
South Africa continued to experience high levels of gender-based violence and femicide. This scourge of violence against women and children had been described as a shadow pandemic.
This shadow pandemic had shown that women and children had little to no spaces where they could feel or be safe.
In addition, social media was awash with daily tales of incidents of violence against women while using an e-hailing service. This prompted several requests for women drivers.
News24 sent a similar enquiry to Bolt, which said it had noted various reports by women on social media about instances where they felt unsafe while using e-hailing services. Bolt condemned any incidents of violence that they had suffered.
"Bolt strongly condemns gender-based violence, unwavering in our belief that every person has the right to move around without risk of harm, intimidation or coercion, or fear of death or injury," Bolt said on Wednesday.
The e-hailing service did not provide an answer as to whether the option for a woman passenger/woman driver would be available - it did, however, highlight its safety tips.
- Wait for your ride in a safe location, until the app alerts you that the driver has arrived. Avoid dark areas, and don't wait unaccompanied.
- Be sure that the vehicle that arrives to collect matches the details of the ride that the app has shared with you. Ask the driver to give you his name and ask him who he is looking for - it should be you. Also check that the car make and model matches what's in the app, along with its registration.
- Ensure that the driver's picture matches the individual who is driving the vehicle.
- Activate Bolt's "Share My ETA" function in the bottom of the app, right under the driver's profile, to share your trip details with trusted friends or family.
Bolt further stated that it believed everyone in South Africa had the right to travel safely and to earn a living.
"We continue to look for ways to make e-hailing safer for everybody, in consultation with the SAPS, the Department of Transport and other stakeholders," the e-hailing service concluded.