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Uber is being sued for negligence in a U.S. federal court by an Indian woman who alleged she was raped by one of the company’s driver last December in New Delhi.
According to the Hindustan Times, the woman (a young financial analyst identified only as “Jane Doe” in the lawsuit) is being represented by Douglas Wigdor, whose high-profile plaintiffs in the past have included the maid who accused former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault in a New York hotel. (The incident inspired last year’s Abel Ferrara-directed Welcome to New York, which starred French actor Gerard Depardieu).
The Indian woman filed a civil suit Thursday against the ride-sharing company in San Francisco alleging Uber was aware that the driver and alleged rapist, 32-year-old Shiv Kumar Yadav, had a criminal past. Seeking unspecified damages from Uber, the lawsuit accused the company of failing to maintain “basic standards” for hiring drivers. “Buyer beware — we all know how those horror movies end,” the suit reportedly stated.
Last December the woman reported being raped and beaten by the driver in New Delhi after she booked an Uber cab to go home following a night out with friends. Yadav was arrested soon after the alleged incident and now faces trial in India. The Delhi government also banned Uber and it’s still not clear how the service will be allowed to operate. Last week, Uber said it had restarted its service, applying for a radio taxi license.
The incident shocked India and follows a string of rapes and assaults, most notably the horrific and fatal gang-rape of a young woman in Delhi in December 2012, which led to an uproar and mass protests demanding better safety for women in India as well as a bout of national soul searching.
Meanwhile, another case of harassment, this time in Australia, has hit the headlines. The Guardian reports that a 32-year-old Indian man — who was accused of stalking two women — has escaped a jail term after his attorney argued that it was “quite normal behavior” for Indian men to obsessively target women regardless of their affections being returned. The defense argued that the behavior was a result of the accused’s film fanaticism given male characters in Bollywood movies are often seen aggressively pursuing their female counterparts until they finally give in to a relationship.
Sandesh Baliga — a security guard who had immigrated to Australia three years ago as a student — was accused of harassing the women with unwanted texts, messages and personal advances. The judgment by the Hobart Magistrates Court in Tasmania adjourned the complaint against Baliga — who pleaded guilty — for five years on condition of good behavior while imposing a restraining order. Magistrate Michael Hill was reported stating he was satisfied that Baliga’s cultural background meant he did not realize the seriousness of his actions and therefore did not imagine they could be classed as criminal.
Bollywood movies have had a long history of the leading man pursuing the woman of his dreams against all odds until she gives in. But not all films have a fairy tale ending. One of the most well-known portrays a deranged and obsessive stalker — who is eventually killed — played by superstar Shah Rukh Khan early in his career: 1993’s Darr (Fear). Recently, 2013’s hit Raanjhanaa (Beloved) saw top male actor Dhanush stalking his teenage crush (played by Sonam Kapoor). He cuts his wrists when rejected and dies in his fruitless pursuit.
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