xx. this is "nightline." tonight a more fair bnb, facing accusations of discrimination. air bnb saying hosts are rejecting them because of their race. >> every single message that i got the worst excuses in the world. >> how the company says it plans to prevent bias. plus the child goddess of nepal lavished with gifts and carried through festivals. worshippers traveling cross-countries to sing her praises. even her own parents bowing at her feet. so why are some activists calling this tradition abusive. an ex-goddess describes her holy
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good evening. thank you for joining us. it's the popular hash tag that triggered a social media firestorm. air bnb while black. frustrated users of the home sharing site claiming they were refused accommodations because of their skin color. now facing a class action lawsuit, today the company acknowledging the issue for the first time pledging to battle discrimination head-on. here is abc's sonny hostin. >> feel at home anywhere. >> reporter: the room and home sharing site whose slogan is belong anywhere. but many users have been feeling anything but welcome. >> being denied because of the way i look. it sucks. >> reporter: 23-year-old kirtina criteton, took to twitter voicing how impossible it was to book a place in miami for her
girlfriend getaway. >> every single message that i got had the worst excuses in the world. as to why they weren't accepting me. >> reporter: she believes she was repeatedly denied by hosts because of the color of her skin. when she tweaked her profile picture, she says her suspicions were confirmed. >> i changed my name to tina and put up a photo of a cityscape in chicago. once that happened. i never had anier uy eissues bo on air bnb. users posting similar incidents under #airbnb while black. some users claiming to wear their arm uniform just hoping to avoid rejection. others commissioning their friend to book places for them. and then there was this host in north carolina. blatantly rejecting a black user with a racist rant of messages. dropping the n word and adding. this is the south darling. air bnb permanently banned the host. the ceo calling the comments
unacceptable. >> on a service like air bnb, where you are not necessarily automatically matched the person has some discretion about accepting you or rejecting you, it invites the kind of discrimination that we have seen for a long time in accommodations. >> reporter: the stakes were raised after this man, gregory filed a class action lawsuit against air bnb. the virginia user claiming a host rejected him because he is black. a suit that is still pending. >> airbnb a house in the hills or place in malibu. >> reporter: today for the first time the company is formally acknowledging discrimination is a very real problem on the platform, confronting the issue head-on. >> i think these complaints have been going on for -- a while. and the company founders admit that they were slow to respond in a meaningful way. >> now, releasing a list of recommendations aimed at fighting discrimination by
making photos less prominent on the site, making hosts sign a community commitment, and hiring a team to monitor bad behavior. this is the woman air bnb hired to fix it. former washington, d.c. aclu head, laura murphy. >> this team is being given the latitude to be creative, to come up with ways of detecting discrimination, and i think that this is really an exciting innovation and a paradigm shift for a silicon valley company. >> this comes at a time when airbnb population continue to soar. there are 2 million listing and 60 million people booked spots since it first launched in 2000 #. the site popularity attracted terrence and victoria when they were looking to book a three month european tour. they decided to update their pre file picture. >> we had become an official couple the she wanted to best
represent us. >> they say it was when the couple switched their profile from one of victoria alone to this photo that rejections began to trickle in. >> being a blond white woman, this isn't something that i come across every day. so he would say to me, i think it is because of the profile picture. man you should kid taking it down. i am like, no, no, that's definitely not it. no, i don't think so. >> reporter: after suspecting the photo was indeed the culprit, the couple claims they went on to report a number of hosts who to airbnb for alleged discrimination. >> it is not our responsibility to figure out how they can achieve that. it is their responsibility. >> reporter: today the company says they're doing just that. >> airbnb they feel very strongly that people should feel a sense of belonging anywhere that they travel. >> reporter: some say their proposed solutions may not be enough to fight bias among users.
a study released earlier this year by harvard business school, showed that requests made by profiles with what the researchers deemed distinctively black sounding names, got 16% fewer positive responses than names deemed white sounding. >> the internet is utopia. it reflects the same sorts of social biases we seen the real world. >> a professor at princeton university. professor wasa argues that on demand sites have the potential to fight discrimination. >> they have data how people are using their surface, they could use that to see the discrimination that is invisible. >> ride share uber has taken on age old frustration, people of color have hailing a taxi. >> we are going to request the uber. the app in the face makes it harder for drivers to refuse
passengers on basis of race or destination. so, leslie, what information do you get? >> just your address. >> just the address to -- where you should arrive? >> yeah. >> what's nice about what is happening on uber, there is no discretion for the driver or the passenger in this kind of instant match making that reduces the amount of discretion where either party could discriminate against the other. >> reporter: sites like airbnb are built on personal information. >> people want to know about you, what your interests are, what you look to do, why you are traveling? the more information you are going to divulge, the more likely you are to get booked. >> ask the schaffer, an airbnb super host made hundred of thousand renting properties on the site the he doesn't discriminate, but notes the screening process can be complicated. >> i don't think discrimination on airbnb. discrimination occurs for many reasons, could be gender, age,
nationality. people don't want to be hosting young bachelor parties. >> he says air bnb does offer an option to land a rental without getting screened by the host. the instant book button. >> that means they can be booked look a hotel. with no prebooking communication or discrimination possible. >> the company is doing a great deal of investment in instant book. in part because the it is a good business model. also in part because it really helps intercept the discriminatory conduct that the company is seeing. >> earlier today we checked in with kirtina. >> my issue is not with airbnb as a company. i want them to understand diversity is not optional. and the responsibility ultimately lies with them to create environments where racism and discrimination are not tolerated. >> she says she spoke with laura murphy herself. >> i would have liked somebody
else to reach out to me sooner. but i, i do still appreciate the effort. >> reporter: a good first step, she says, she wants to wait for november 1st. when the policy is put into practice. for "nightline," i'm sonny hostin in new york city. up next, good luck telling this little girl it is her bedtime. she is a child goddess. even her country's prime minister bows to her. later, tom ford is turning off-the-rack into off the run way. ♪ take on any road with intuitive all-wheel drive. the nissan rogue, murano and pathfinder. now get 0% apr for 72 months, plus $500 bonus cash.
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you know, it is one thing to praise your children, it is another to worship them. a century's old tradition in nepal proclaims young girls goddesses. becoming a deity may not always be a blessing. here's abc's terry moran. >> reporter: with breathtaking temples and soaring mountain peaks, nepal has a undercurrent that flows through every day life. here on a bustling street, a small hand painted sign announces the residence of a living goddess. a goddess who is only 7 years old. her name is unika, a kamari, a century's old living, breathing child goddesses. it is considered good luck to merely lay eyes on her.
>> reporter: the kumari lives here with her mother and father. they have left their previous jobs to book her full time caretakers. her mother had to learn to do this customary makeup. the kumari is not allowed to leave her residence except for holy festivals. furthermore her feet are never supposed to touch the ground. she is carried everywhere. the kumar is worshipped by hindus and buddhists alike. to be chosen as a kumari, a young girl, typically 2-4 years
old must meet amazingly specific standard. first their astrological chart must be considered favorable. then the girls are tested for 32 very specific physical attributes including eyelashes like a cow, thighs look a deer, and voice as clear as a duck. once a girl is chosen, she is kidded an incarnation of the hindu goddess. most people have heard of the d dali lama, said that his soul is reincarnated into a new male child in death. finding the new dali lama involves extensive tests. >> you say this is yours. >> similar to the kumarai. what else belongs to you? >> this is mine. mine. mine. mine: >> yes. >> but there is a big difference between the dali lama and
kumari, because kumari are not for life. once they hit puberty the young girls are forced to return to life as a mere mortal. this woman served as a kumari. when i was a kumari there was not a lot of walking outside. i was uncomfortable after i retire from the house, i am uncomfortable to walk around. >> reporter: along with the challenge of having to walk as a teenager, another hurdle. an old superstition that says men who marry ex-kumaris are destined to die young. this is a superstition. if the kumari married a guy, this is only a superstition. all of the ex-kumari married. i am just married before six months. this is only rumor. >> reporter: some activists in nepal criticized the tradition calling it child labor. but in 200 #, nepal's supreme
court overruled the petition to end the practice citing its cultural value. in april of last year, nepal was struck by a catastrophic 7.8 earthquake. 8,000 people were killed. entire villages destroyed. and famous historical landmarks flattened. as a ruesult people say the kumari became more important than ever with an uptick in visitors seeking her blessing. we saw this devotion firsthand allowed to walk beside her as she made a rare appearance in the outside world. for the hindu festival of rain. every step another person hoping to receive her blessing. this 7-year-old goddess, serene. if at times seeming a little nervous.
♪ ♪ the ceremony is elaborate. filled with marching, and chants, all for her. then, a visit from a vip. the prime minister of nepal who has also come here to seek the kumari's blessing. life as a kumari can seem surreal. strange. according to those who have lived it this extra ordinary childhood is a privilege. ex-kumaris enjoy prestige their whole lives as well as a lifelong pension from the nepali government. but rashmila says greatest honor is continuing the ancient tradition. >> best thing that i being a kumari, present my -- preserve my culture. and to do that, nepalis do that as of a living kumari.
for 7-year-old unika, a great responsibility and sacred duty. for "nightline," terry moran in kathmandu, nepal. ♪ >> up next, a quick turnaround never goes out of style. tom ford's new fashions available just the day after they debut. try duo fusion!ing antacids? new, two in one heartburn relief. the antacid goes to work in seconds...
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this sequin evening gown you may have to save up. the price tag nearly $12,000. it was mark twain who said clothes make the man. i'm not sure what red sequins makes you. thank you for watching abc news. join us for "good morning america" tomorrow. as always online at abcnews.com and our "nightline" facebook page. good night, america.