Placeholder Content Image

Mother booted off ride share app for her unusual name

<p>A young Sydney mother has been booted off popular ride sharing app Uber, after they deemed her birth name too inappropriate. </p> <p>Swastika Chandra's first name means good luck and prosperity in her native Sanskrit language, and holds a lot of cultural significance and connection to her Hindu heritage. </p> <p>However, to global transport app Uber, her name was deemed too offensive to be let on the platform, as they said her name violates their terms and conditions. </p> <p>The 35-year-old grew up in Fiji, where she says her name was commonly heard in classrooms throughout her childhood.</p> <p>"It is a very common name. I personally know four or five other girls with the same name," she told <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>A Current Affair</em></a>. </p> <p>"In school, we had two or three other girls with the same name. It means good luck. It means good things for me."</p> <p>Chandra didn't run into any issues using her name on her birth certificate, Australian citizenship paperwork, her health care card or her driver's licence. </p> <p>However, last October Uber banned her account, claiming her name was a violation of their terms of use due to its appropriation by Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party and neo-Nazis.</p> <p>Coinciding with the start of the Israel-Hamas war, Uber brought in new guidelines on words that could be offensive - including swastika.</p> <p>Inadvertently caught up in the middle of a policy which had the best of intentions, Chandra was told she would have to change her name to get back on the app.</p> <p>"I was putting in an order for food one afternoon and went to the payment stage and this pop-up came up saying, 'Your first name is in violation and you need to change your name on the app'," she explained.</p> <p>Chandra has a deep understanding of her name's very troubling double meaning, but she says the community needs to know the word's origins.</p> <p>"They don't know that the Hindus used it for thousands of years before Hitler used it in the wrong way," she said.</p> <p>"A bit of education, I think, is needed. I'm very proud of my name. I believe in the good that comes with it and I'm not changing it for anyone."</p> <p>Five months later, Uber has backed down from their decision and allowed her to rejoin the app, although it took intervention from Australia's peak Hindu body, The Hindu Council, support from the Jewish community and the NSW attorney-general to make it happen. </p> <p>The Jewish Board of Deputies also backed Chandra's fight, telling A Current Affair: "There is a difference between Ms Chandra innocently using her name and the deployment of a sinister symbol."</p> <p>The young mum has a message for all the other young girls who might have a different name to others, saying "Don't let the past be a stepping stone for your future."</p> <p>"Be proud of your name. It's your identity - it's who you are."</p> <p><em>Image credits: A Current Affair </em></p>


Our Partners