In the 1970s there was a rash of sexual assaults in Israel. The all-mail cabinet discussed imposing a temporary curfew on women, hoping that this would solve the problem. Prime Minister Golda Meir had other ideas.
“Men are attacking women,” she said. “Not the other way around. If there is going to be a curfew, let the men be locked up, not the women.”
Unfortunately, in spite of the effort to raise consciousness in the 1970s, sexual assault remains a prevalent issue all over the world. The company reported 6000 cases of reported sexual assaults in a two-year period.
Uber and other rideshare services such as Lyft perform background checks, before allowing drivers to pick up riders. Uber considers any kind of nonconsensual touching of a sexual nature to be sexual assault. According to the website lipcon.com, Uber’s definition of sexual assault does not include driver’s propositioning passengers or masturbating in front of them.
A Lyft passenger recently reported sexual support to the company. She was refunded her money, but she was not promised that the driver would be fired. It is not only passengers who need to be concerned, there are female drivers who have been assaulted by passengers.
As you may have guessed, there are several class-action lawsuits pending against both Uber and Lyft. Both companies have taken some recent measures to decrease the incidence of sexual assault such as testing cameras and audio equipment in the driver’s cars.
Simple Precautions You Can Take
- If you are a passenger of a ridesharing service, there are a few simple steps to take to protect yourself against assault.
- Always ask the driver for the name of the person they are picking up.
- Put the license plate number of the driver into your phone.
- Turn on the video camera on your phone as soon as you get into the car and do not turn it off until you have arrived at your destination.
- Call a friend if you can and stay on the phone with them through the ride. If you cannot get a hold of a friend, call your answering machine and pretend you are talking to a friend.
- Be sure to carry pepper spray whenever you go out. There are some cans of Mace that will fit on a keychain. Be sure to have your keys out as soon as you get in the car. Your keys can also be used as a weapon.
- It is never a bad idea to take a self-defense class. There are some simple moves that you can learn that may help you in a crisis.
- Watch the rideshare app as you travel to your destination. The GPS will reflect the trip from your pick-up point to your destination. A driver with bad intentions may drive past your destination, end the ride and then continue driving, so their location cannot be traced, You should never let a driver take you anywhere for free or for cash.
Uber is a modern convenience and it can be a great way to get home if you have had too much to drink. The majority of Uber drivers are men and the company may not be financially able to impose a curfew on male drivers. Making sure someone knows where you are and being alert can help keep you safe.