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Delhi victim sues Uber in the US over alleged assault

The woman, who remains unidentified, is seeking damages and new safety practices to lessen the chances of crimes occurring in Uber vehicles.

Uber has been sued in the US over alleged rape. Uber

A woman who says she was assaulted and raped by an Uber driver in New Delhi last month has sued the car-sharing service in the US.

The woman, who remains unidentified, is suing Uber for unspecified damages, saying that the alleged assault stemmed from the company failing to implement basic security features that might have kept her safe, according to Reuters, which obtained a copy of the lawsuit. The woman, who resides in Delhi, also asked for Uber to update its security protocols, arguing that a 24-hour customer support hotline and in-car cameras could prevent attacks from occurring.

"Our deepest sympathies remain with the victim of this horrific crime," an Uber spokeswoman said in a statement. "We are cooperating fully with the authorities to ensure the perpetrator is brought to justice."

Last month, the 26-year-old woman hailed a car from Uber in Delhi after attending a social event. Soon after, the driver allegedly attacked and sexually assaulted her. A few days later, the driver, Shiv Kumar Yadav, 32, was arrested in his hometown 100 miles outside of Delhi.

The arrest called into question Uber's safety protocols. Uber, based in San Francisco, performs background checks on drivers, but the company's drivers have faced a string of allegations over the last several months, including dozens of claims of sexual assault, groping, kidnapping, and physical assault, according to media outlets.

Just days after the woman in Delhi was allegedly assaulted, an Uber driver in Boston, Alejandro Done, was arraigned on charges of rape, assault to rape, kidnapping, and two counts of assault and battery after allegedly attacking a young woman in his Uber car. Done allegedly took the woman to a secluded area and attacked her, the district attorney's office for Massachusetts' Middlesex County said last month.

The alleged attack was the fourth time an Uber customer in the Boston area had reported an assault or inappropriate touching within one month, according to the Boston Globe. Three women had previously reported incidents with car-sharing services, and at least two had used Uber.

Uber has acknowledged that it needs to improve its approach to security. Last month, the company's head of global safety, Phillip Cardenas, said in a blog post that Uber has "more work to do" in safety, adding that his company "is committed to developing new technology tools that improve safety, strengthen and increase the number of cities and countries where background checks are conducted and improve communication with local officials and law enforcement."

Cardenas' comments came a month after Uber started a safety review to identify new technologies, such as biometrics and voice verification, to enhance driver screenings and background checks. Uber also said it is working to make it easier for riders to communicate with the company and is building "Safety Incident Response teams" to provide support to customers during emergencies. Uber did not say when its new programs would roll out.

After the alleged incident in Delhi, Uber's service was banned from the Indian capital territory over claims that it was operating illegally. Last week, Uber announced that it had applied for a radio taxi license and was now operating again in Delhi. The license effectively makes Uber a taxi provider and requires more availability, including a 24/7 on-call center.

In its statement announcing its return to Delhi, Uber said that it has instituted new safety protocols, including reverifying drivers and "implementing independent background checks on all driver partners, plus vehicle documentation reviews."

"Our teams have worked tirelessly to develop new safety features (including an in-app emergency button) nationwide, establish a dedicated incident response team and reverify the full credentials of every driver-partner on the Uber platform in Delhi," Uber wrote in a statement.