For long, the debate over violence against women has grappled with questions over the inequities of class and caste. What do we make of the fact that assaults on women from privileged social groups get more attention than the steady violence faced by women from poor, disadvantaged groups, marginalised areas and communities?

The rape of a young woman in an Uber cab did indeed elicit more media attention than the rape and murder of a woman in a poor neighbourhood in South Delhi last week. In both cases, the victims were working women but one was a factory worker while the other was an executive in a multinational company.

A report by Flavia Agnes, Audrey D’Mello and Persis Sidhwa in the Economic and Political Weekly documented the story of two women raped by the same group of men in an abandoned mill in central Mumbai. Everything from the aftermath of the assault to the fight for justice in the courts was filtered through the prism of social class. And yet, the experience of sexual violence was shared, uniting the two women despite all other differences.

Now, two days after a fast-track sessions court in Delhi framed charges against the accused Uber driver, news comes in that the woman executive has hired a high-profile lawyer in the United States to sue the company for negligence. The Guardian reported on Thursday that the woman had retained Douglas Wigdor, one of New York’s most high-profile litigators, to represent her. 

"Wigdor said he was examining the possibility of asking a US court to exercise jurisdiction in the case because Uber’s conduct was based on company policy made in the US," the report said.

This case will be only one of several against the company in the United States and might not end with any significant changes for the company. Whether it alters the conversation about public safety in India will be of greater concern.

As people pointed out after the incident, Uber, with its GPS and instantly available personalised services, offered only a false promise of a safer city through technology, and that only to a very limited set of people – the ones spoken of most often by the media.

It is evident that the legal system moves far more efficiently for those who have the dual benefits of money and societal backing. However, justice for the executive is not restricted to being shepherded through the courts by the police. That she can challenge the corporate structure that enabled the crime shows that she is not content to follow the given script for survivors of sexual assault.

Her ability to pursue a case in an entirely different country underlines her privilege compared to most women in India, who find it hard to even go to the police to file a complaint. But it serves as a reminder of the upward social mobility of women in our cities. A new generation of metropolitan women, empowered through education, employment, and financial muscle, carries both the potential and the responsibility of amplifying the demand for better safety on the streets and a society free of gender violence.