GBV in the e-hailing sector is a concern

Selala is a senior manager in the Department of Women Youth and Persons with Disability. Picture: Supplied

Selala is a senior manager in the Department of Women Youth and Persons with Disability. Picture: Supplied

Published Nov 16, 2023


Cassius Selala

Public transport systems are an important gateway to access essential opportunities.

However, the risk of violence and harassment can reduce women and girls’ freedom of movement and equal access to markets and services. Gender-based violence (GBV) is a pervasive issue in South Africa, affecting various sectors, including the e-hailing industry.

While e-hailing services have brought convenience to the lives of many South Africans, they have also exposed drivers and passengers to unique challenges, making them vulnerable to Gender-Based Violence.

The majority of people in South Africa use public transport as their main mode of transport. Investments in safe and well-designed transport infrastructure can increase economic empowerment by improving mobility and access to better-paid work, education and healthcare.

Gender-based violence in public transport has become a common occurrence with Incidents ranging from relatively mild to very serious. There have been widespread reports of women generally being jeered at, physically assaulted and stripped of their clothes in public transport service platforms. To holistically address GBV in South Africa, there is a need to focus on public transport.

E-hailing service as an alternative mode of transport allows users to request a transport service through a mobile application and that also exposes both passengers and drivers to a potential risk of being victims of Gender Based violence.

The National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence calls for Justice, Safety and Protection, a very strategic demand that also calls for putting resources and local safety plans in place.

The 2019 Sonke Gender Justice Report presents the unfortunate reality that women and girls continue to live with the experiences of gender-based violence and harassment when using public transport such as e- hailing remains highly prevalent.

It presents the findings of a study conducted in Gauteng and the Western Cape among women and girls who use public transport, particularly mini-bus taxis, buses and Metrorail trains. It documents women and girls’ lived experiences of GBV, sexual harassment and crime perpetrated against them, as commuters of public transport.

Public transport is an essential part of everyday life for many South Africans.

Approximately 10.7 million individuals made use of taxis and 6.2 million used a car/truck as a driver According to the 2022 National Household Travel Survey report by Statistics South Africa. E-hailing drivers, often working long hours and late shifts, and passengers, particularly women, may feel vulnerable while travelling alone in e- hailed vehicles.

The relative anonymity of e-hailing passengers and drivers can make it challenging to track and identify perpetrators of GBVF.

With the Incidents of sexual harassment and assault being reported to law enforcement regularly, and also as part of the Initiatives to address GBV cases. The E-hailing platforms have started implementing safety features, such as emergency buttons, and in-app to assist in reporting driver/passenger ratings.

As part of the programme driver and passenger awareness campaigns are importantto raise awareness about GBV, safety measures, and the reporting mechanisms. In collaborating with the authorities the E-hailing companies are working with law enforcement agencies to improve response times to incidents reported through their platforms.

Civil society and advocacy groups organizations are working to shed light on GBV in the e-hailing industry and demand better protection for drivers and passengers. While encouraging users to be vigilant and supportive of each other, creating a sense of community within the e-hailing platform.

Addressing GBV in the e-hailing industry in South Africa is a complex challenge, but it is essential for the safety and security of both passengers and drivers. E-hailing platforms, government agencies, civil society, and users all have a role to play in creating a safer and more inclusive environment.

Pretoria News

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