A young woman’s murder has prompted Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing to suspend its carpooling feature in China for a week. The incident has sparked fierce debate on the web over safety and sexism.
CGTN’s Frances Kuo reports.
The 21-year-old flight attendant landed in Henan’s capital Zhengzhou earlier this month, and used Didi’s popular app ‘Shunfeng Che’, or ‘hitch’ in English, to take her into the city center.
Her partially clothed body was discovered two days later, with a dozen knife wounds. Her last text message was to a colleague, complaining that the Didi driver was calling her beautiful and demanding to kiss her.
“We have retrieved surveillance video and tracked the suspect along the route. It shows that he abandoned the car and jumped into the river after committing the crime. We are searching this area,” said Zhong Qingxiang from the Zhengzhou Public Security Bureau.
Didi is offering one million yuan to help find a 27-year-old suspect, and issued a photo on Weibo. It also suspended the “Hitch” service until next Saturday, at least as it tries to introduce more safeguards for passengers.
Meanwhile, a web post is causing outrage online over sexism.
On Friday, a professor from China’s top University of Public Security posted an article on Weibo advising young women to avoid going out at night if they can, and to not take rides alone. He also said they increase their risk by dressing well and appearing rich.
Some web users reacted angrily, saying it’s unreasonable to make such demands on women instead of disciplining the criminals. Other web users said Didi’s platform is to blame. They said Didi drivers comment on women’s looks when writing their passenger assessments. One young woman said her driver deliberately put things in the back seat to force her to sit with him in the front.
Didi uses facial recognition to verify its drivers. But a defect allowed the suspect, who was not registered, to log in on his father’s account. It’s also reported the account received a complaint of sexual harassment before, without being suspended.
Didi has admitted fault and apologized. The Chinese Ministry of Transport has also announced new regulations to blacklist unqualified carpool drivers.