Belgian women testify as Uber report reveals over 3,000 cases of sexual assault

Belgian women testify as Uber report reveals over 3,000 cases of sexual assault
Credit: Belga

Many women in Belgium and France have spoken out about being sexually harassed, assaulted or even raped by their Uber or taxi drivers, following a similar incident with a student in Strasbourg.

On Twitter, hundreds of testimonies like "A driver refused to open the door for me before I gave him my number" and “As he was walking toward my house, he grabbed me, but I couldn’t defend myself because I was terrified" have been posted to Twitter under the hashtag #UberCestOver.

Most of the incident the tweets describe took place in France, but many Belgian testimonies have also been reported on in Le Soir.

Similar incidents about the ride-hailing service Uber have made the media in several countries. In London, the company lost its licence because it could not guarantee the safety of its clients, following 14,000 complaints.

Uber itself released a report on its security recently, revealing that 5,981 sexual assaults were reported by users and drivers, as well as by third parties, over 2.3 billion trips in the US in 2017 and 2018. "The reported incidents amount to 0,00002% of all journeys," said Uber, reports Le Soir.

"However, although rare, all of these reports represent someone who has undergone a painful experience. Even a single report would be one too many," the company added.

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In Belgium, a man recently pretended to be a Collecto driver to rape a ULB student.

"Sometimes we are faced with behaviour that lasts only a few seconds," said Olivier Slosse, a spokesperson for the Brussels police, reports NewMobility. “Asking for a telephone number in itself is not an offence, but preventing a person from getting out of a car is an arbitrary deprivation of liberty," he added.

Uber has recently introduced new security measures in its app, like an emergency button in the app, and sending the clients a photo of their driver in advance.

Uber is "a refuge for potential sexual predators" according to Sam Bouchal, the president of the Brussels Taxi Federation. He acknowledged that it is “not impossible” for taxi drivers to adopt reprehensible attitudes themselves, but he also points to the guidelines for being a taxi driver, which include an admission examination, an interview with a psychologist, training and disciplinary council, reports NewMobility.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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