Uber is partnering with a domestic violence charity to give women free rides

Anyone who opts into a simple Uber feature next week can give a free ride to a woman fleeing domestic violence, thanks to a new initiative.

Uber has partnered with WESNET, a domestic violence organization, to launch its Share a ride, give a ride away Safety campaign to raise awareness of violence against women in Australia.

Users simply have to opt-in to share their ride with a trusted contact, an option that appears on-screen after beginning an Uber ride, and the company will then provide a domestic violence victim with a coupon for each time the option is selected a free ride available from November 25th to December 10th.

“We know that many people use Uber every day, and the vast majority of people don’t want violence against women,” said Karen Bentley, executive director of WESNET.

“But quite often people don’t feel like they can make a difference, but here’s a really tangible, practical way you can.”

Since 2019, Uber has partnered with WESNET, the umbrella organization representing over 300 domestic violence services in Australia, offering an average of five free rides a day to vulnerable women.

Ms Bentley says the Covid-19 pandemic has caused logistical problems for shelters trying to help women fleeing violence and described the Uber vouchers as a “blessing”.

“When we went into the pandemic and everyone was in lockdown, your average domestic and family violence service that used to have staff in an office and might have had some staff vehicles… all of a sudden they’re not there, she said.

“How shall we help? [a woman] coming from the train station when she has moved 250km from home to escape her abuser?

“Who will pick up mom and three children and take them to the women’s shelter?”

The pandemic caused not only logistical problems, but also a “surge” in the number of domestic violence cases.

“Women who had never experienced violence before suddenly started experiencing it for the first time, and many women who had experienced it got much worse,” Ms Bentley said.

The campaign also aims to raise awareness of the Uber app’s security features.

To share your location while driving, simply swipe up on the screen after requesting a ride, click the “Share your status” option, and select up to five people from your contact list with whom you want to share your status.

These people will receive a text with a link containing your trip details. When opened, your driver’s first name and vehicle information as well as your real-time map location are displayed.

Originally published as the Simple Act to save Australian women from domestic violence

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