Uber’s sexual assault numbers horrifying, more transparency needed: women’s advocate

Uber has released a report showing 3,000 sexual assaults reported during a ride in the US last year and while the numbers are alarming, the company claims the report is in an effort to tackle the problem.

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A women’s advocate is calling for more transparency from ride-hailing companies after Uber reported an increase in sexual assaults during rides in the U.S. in 2018.

Angela Marie MacDougall with Battered Women Support Services says the results are “horrifying.” The company’s safety report found more 3,000 sexual assaults were reported with 235 rapes in 2018, up from the 2,936 sexual assaults and 229 rapes reported in 2017.

“It’s horrifying to think that getting a ride involves getting sexually assaulted. It’s very concerning. And it really gives a sense of just how vulnerable individuals could be in a car, trying to get to work or to [go] out at night,” MacDougall says. “Being in a car is a very intimate space, and being in close quarters. And I think, the amount of sexual violence that we deal with in our society on a daily basis, gives us a sense of just a vulnerability.”

While she says the release of this report is important, she thinks other ride-hailing companies, as well as taxi and public transportation, needs to do the same.

“We have to have full transparency and accountability when it comes to sexual violence in transportation, and that the taxi companies and ride-share companies, as well as public transportation, must be monitoring this,” she says. “It’s very, very important that we are making visible what is often rendered invisible. It’s only when we try and light on these problems that we can we get any closer to addressing the problems.”

That’s something a woman sexually assaulted in a Vancouver limo five years ago agrees with.

The woman, whose name NEWS 1130 has chose to withhold, says she was sexually assaulted by a limo driver after a night out with friends celebrating her birthday. She says he put something in her drink, parked the vehicle, and refused to take her home.

“It took me a week to report the assault because I was so frightened. That this man knew where I lived, because, you know, he did drag me home,” she says. “I think I was just absolutely petrified that he was coming back.”

The woman says while Uber’s public release of the numbers is a good first step, nothing will change unless the judicial system steps up too.

“I had evidence, everything and the crown recommended no charges, so these horrific crimes are happening, but sometimes, nothing is being done about it.”

It’s still unclear what kind of action, if any, ride-hailing companies are taking to prevent assaults from happening in the first place.

With files from the Associated Press

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