The taxi company confirmed that it had contacted the victim’s family, who denied this and accused the administration of lying (Reuters)

An Egyptian MP submitted an urgent briefing request to Parliament regarding tightening the procedures and rules for operating drivers in smart transportation applications, against the backdrop of the “Shorouk Girl” incident, which accused a taxi driver of trying to harass and kidnap her.

The incident preoccupied public opinion in Egypt, and the hashtag “Shorouk Girl” spread on social media platforms, after a girl named Habiba Al-Shamaa accused an Uber driver of trying to kidnap her in the city of Shorouk, east of the capital, Cairo.

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The accident, which occurred on the Cairo-Suez road, caused Al-Shamaa to fall from the car, sustaining internal bleeding and several fractures, wounds and abrasions. She was taken to the hospital after losing consciousness.

The local newspaper, Al-Masry Al-Youm, said on Sunday, February 25, 2024, that Parliamentarian Amal Salama “submitted an urgent briefing request to the Prime Minister, regarding tightening the necessary procedures and rules for employing drivers in smart transportation applications operating in Egypt (Uber-InDrive). Didi) and other new companies.

The representative confirmed that smart transportation "is no longer safe, after repeated accusations of harassment and attempted kidnapping," noting that these companies "allow the employment of those who have criminal convictions and use narcotic substances."

According to a statement by the Ministry of the Interior yesterday, Saturday, “One of the witnesses to the incident reported that while he was walking on the Suez Road, he saw the injured woman jumping out of the back door of a car she was traveling in while she was driving.”

The witness added that he "stopped to help her, and she informed him that she was riding in a car belonging to a smart transportation application, and when the car driver tried to confront her, she jumped out of the car for fear that he would harass her, and she was taken to the hospital after that," according to the statement.

Exposing the circumstances of what was circulated on social media included a woman jumping from a car on the Suez Road in Cairo.

Upon examination, it was found that the #Shorouk Police Department in the #Cairo Security Directorate was informed from a hospital that it had received (the woman referred to - a resident of the #First_Settlement Police Department) with head injuries...

- Ministry of Interior (@moiegy) February 24, 2024

The Ministry explained, "The driver has a criminal record. He was arrested, and when he was confronted, he admitted that when he closed the car windows and sprayed perfume, he was surprised by the girl jumping out of the car, so he continued driving, and did not stop for fear of being harmed."

Commenting on the incident, Dina Omar, the girl’s mother, said in a television interview, “My daughter lives in (the city of) my city, and she got out of the house and called me and told me that she took an Uber to go to the assembly area, and during the call I could hardly hear her, because the driver was running The music was very loud, and he was in an argument with another person on the phone.”

She added during a phone call with the “Al-Hekaya” program yesterday evening, Saturday, “When Habiba asked him to lower the volume of the music, the driver was angry and uttered suspicious words, and after about an hour her friends called me to inform me that Habiba had an accident (was injured) and (was taken) to a hospital.” General Sunrise.

The mother said that she met the person who saved her daughter in the hospital, who told her that he had seen Al-Shamaa fall from a taxi, and when he approached her, she told him that the driver wanted to kidnap her. “Then she had convulsions and lost consciousness. My daughter has not come out of the coma yet since the accident occurred on Wednesday.” In the past, due to the injuries she sustained, including bleeding on the brain.”

The mother explained that her daughter jumped out of the car because she was in a difficult situation, saying, “Her fear of being kidnapped is what pushed her to do that,” while she described the taxi company’s statement as “entirely a lie,” denying that any of the company’s officials had communicated with her.

Uber Egypt expressed its deep sadness over the incident, stressing its cooperation with the investigating authorities to ensure that all necessary measures are taken.

The company's official spokesman in Egypt told Cairo 24 newspaper, "Our accident response team is in contact with the passenger's family, and Uber is always committed to providing safe and reliable trips for passengers. Uber's community guidelines prohibit any violence or inappropriate behavior, and any behavior will be dealt with." This kind of thing, seriously."

Uber, based in the United States, entered Egypt in 2014, with the company's cars operating in 10 cities, in addition to Cairo, and continued to dominate the Egyptian market before new international companies entered passenger transportation services in 2020.

Despite this, Egypt is one of the 10 largest markets for Uber in the world, as the value of the passenger transportation services market in Egypt was estimated at about $922 million in 2020, according to a report published by the Indian-American “Grand View” research and consulting institution.

The organization expected that Uber's market value in Egypt would grow at a compound annual growth rate of 15.8% from 2021 to 2028.

The report attributed this expected expansion to the increasing traffic congestion in the country, the rise in consumer demand for car-sharing services, the growth in Internet penetration and the use of smartphones to book trips.

Lawsuits and demonstrations

Between 2009 and 2016, Uber paid $161.9 million in fines in safety-related lawsuits, and a year later the company faced a class-action lawsuit in America, which accused the company of “giving perpetrators of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and physical violence access to thousands of vulnerable victims in... All over the country."

In 2019, Uber faced another lawsuit, and was forced to pay $10 million to a woman after an Uber driver sexually assaulted her.

In 2022, more than 550 women in the United States of America filed a lawsuit against the transportation company Uber on charges related to harassment and sexual assault by the company’s drivers.

According to the lawsuits, the complainants reported incidents of violence and assaults in a number of American states, while the complaints were filed with the Supreme Court in San Francisco, where the company’s headquarters is located.

The charge stated that the company had been aware since 2014 that its drivers were sexually assaulting and raping female passengers.

But the accusation alleges that Uber "prioritized growth over safety."

European countries banned Uber, led by Britain, which refused to grant the company a new license to operate in London, due to safety and security concerns. The company was forced to stop working in Denmark, Hungary, and Barcelona, ​​Spain. It also suspended its operations in Morocco while adhering to local laws.

Source: Al Jazeera + Egyptian press