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In Mexico, Momentum Builds for Women-Only Ride-Hailing Apps

A female passenger’s death sparked a movement demanding safer mobility options for women. Can this business model work here, after faltering elsewhere?
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Eliana Aponte/Reuters

In early September, a 19-year-old college student named Mara Castilla was heading home after a night out with friends in Cholula, Mexico, near Puebla. It was late, so she did what anyone would’ve done: She ordered a car using a ride-hailing app (Cabify, in this case). She never made it home. A week later, her body was found in a ditch, and the driver was arrested on suspicion of rape and murder.

Since then, women across Mexico have been worried—even more worried than usual in a country where seven women are murdered every day and getting around safely is a daily gamble. Some turned to new apps like Laúdrive, which promise greater safety by pairing women passengers with women drivers. At a time when Uber finds itself at the center of a class-action lawsuit over its failure to protect riders from sexual assault, “Uber for women” apps seem like a brilliant idea. But after similar initiatives in the U.S. and elsewhere have come and gone, will Mexico’s version fare any better?