Careem hits a bump in the road as allegations of harassment emerge

Published: June 27, 2016
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The taxi-hailing service is popular among many who want to travel safe, but some reports of harassment have emerged. PHOTO: CAREEM

The taxi-hailing service is popular among many who want to travel safe, but some reports of harassment have emerged. PHOTO: CAREEM

Taxi-hailing apps, such as Uber and Careem, were welcomed in Pakistan with a healthy dose of skepticism. But the rental and private car services proved to be popular among many who want to travel safe — that is, until, reports of harassment by drivers began to emerge.

The latest allegation comes from a young girl in Lahore who claims to have been harassed by a driver of Gulf-based Careem after using the service to get to work on June 14. The girl, who reported the incident requesting anonymity, said the driver tried to make conversation with her throughout what she described as an ‘uncomfortable’ 40-minute journey, Cambiar News reported.

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“After the driver constantly attempting to initiate an exchange of dialogue, I got off the car. The day passed and I forgot about it. The next morning, I was woken from a phone call from an unknown number,” she narrated.

Upon answering the call, she discovered it was the same driver calling from his personal number to inform her about her promo codes he brought up during their cab conversation. She noticed he used a different name from the one he was registered with at Careem during the call.

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Cambiar News screengrab of the girl’s call log showing calls from the Careem driver.

As he provided her with the information, feeling rather uncomfortable, she disconnected the call.

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A few moments later, she began receiving text messages from him, which included forwarded messages as he attempted to initiate conversation. One of the messages read, “Kiya ap bzi hain” (Are you busy?)

Cambiar News screengrab of the text messages the girl received from the Careem driver.

Cambiar News screengrab of the text messages the girl received from the Careem driver.

Even though she did not respond to any of his messages, he continued to harass her for the next couple of days.

When contacted, Careem assured The Express Tribune that “safety and security of customers is their top priority”. Further, the Gulf-based cab service clarified that any headway in this particular case was yet to be made since the name of the victim and driver were not shared despite repeated attempts. “Every complaint [we receive] is taken seriously, and thoroughly investigated with immediate action. No stone [is] left unturned. Customer [comes] first,” Careem CEO Junaid Iqbal said. He added that for action to be taken it was necessary that the identity of the victim and driver are shared with them.

However, this is not the first case of harassment by a Careem driver. A staff member of The Express Tribune, who wishes to remain anonymous, also received calls and Facebook messages from a Careem driver after using the service. Upon lodging a complaint, however, the cab-hailing service was quick to respond and sacked the driver.

Cases of harassment by cab service drivers are not uncommon around the world. Uber was banned in New Delhi in December after one of its drivers was convicted of raping a female passenger. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Uber drivers in Pakistan were made to attend mandatory seminars on sexual harassment, unlike those in most of Uber’s 69 markets. “It’s basic things, like they might not know that telling a girl she’s pretty could actually constitute as sexual harassment,” Uber spokesperson Shaden Abdellatif told Fast Company.

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Reader Comments (10)

  • Disgusting
    Jun 27, 2016 - 6:01PM

    For Careem determining the identity of culprit Driver is no problem. I am amazed at their innocense. The victim has just to inform the time she hired the car. Rest Careem should know. But what this Junaid chap says I doubt if they wish to.
    It is only yesterday that my neighbor told me about Careem and I had plans to contact them as I go out frequently. Driving is not that easy these days. But NO CAREEM now. By the way this poor girl should not let this man off. Recommend

  • ibs
    Jun 28, 2016 - 3:32AM

    @Disgusting:
    Careem is great service. You skip it and you’re the one that will lose out.Recommend

  • AK
    Jun 28, 2016 - 4:00AM

    I have used careem in Saudi and uae and found it to be an outstanding service. Issues can always happen but it has all the modern mechanisms available to check driver quality and raise complaints. Keep in mind that they are providing an alternate to traditional taxis and buses which are hardly harassment free. At least here you have a professional company that you can hold accountable.Recommend

  • Rabeeyah
    Jun 28, 2016 - 5:14AM

    Careem will do whatever it takes for the security of the passengers. Personal experience, one call I made, shared the name of the driver & my experience and he was fired from the job for misbehaving.

    For people at Careem to take action against the captain, they should know the details. Even if not, just the time or name of the captain. I always take the screenshot of captain I get while I book. This way I have the proof about the captain. Even if not, from the phone number of the passenger they can find only if the person going anonymous will provide that.

    Let them handle, if you want them to make ot better. Recommend

  • Advice Khan
    Jun 28, 2016 - 8:09AM

    Careem should mask the number like Uber does and have a panic button as well. Recommend

  • Osaid Siddiqui
    Jun 29, 2016 - 9:31AM

    How hard is it to install Cab Camera System for such companies. The level of trust this basic technology can instill in their customers will go very far for their success in South Asian countries.
    Masking the number is definitely a good option however only ensure no harassment later and provides little safety during the ride.Recommend

  • ahmad
    Jun 29, 2016 - 10:21AM

    I had this concern in my mind as I feel the customer’s contact number should not be in access of the driver. The company can inform the passenger about the car’s arrival instead of forwarding the contact number to the driverRecommend

  • Ayesha
    Jun 29, 2016 - 1:08PM

    I was already reluctant to use Uber in Pakistan after the world over harassment cases reported but it turns out that Careem is no different. The lack of response from Careem in this case is also alarming. The fact that anybody can register as a driver without being a permanent employee absolves the companies of all responsibility towards customer’s safety. I doubt that a proper screening or monitoring process is followed by these companies.

    I have used ataxi in Lahore a couple of times after I was ensured that all their drivers are hired by the company and have gone through necessary screening. I found this service to be highly professional. Recommend

  • shahid
    Jun 30, 2016 - 5:08AM

    I believe that lawsuits should be initiated against such malpractices, then these companies will be pitched to take more actions than sarcastically terminating the driver who was never their employeeRecommend

  • Disappointed
    Jul 25, 2016 - 1:33AM

    Careem needs to find a way to live monitor their drivers without compromising privacy of passengers
    Or have a dedicated pool of female drivers for female (or family) passengers

    If Careem is really serious then proper vetting and background check of male drivers is a must otherwise its a sure-shot accident waiting to happen

    It seems Careem may just resort to create “good-to-hear” soundbites only without doing any concrete action to keep their passengers safe and comfortable, both psychologically and physically Recommend

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