Things That Matter

Uber Says There Were More Than 3,000 Sexual Assaults Reported In Its App Last Year And Here’s What They Plan To Do

Uber has been grappling sexism and sexual assault controversies for years now. After revealing its first safety report, the car service disclosed that users reported 3,045 sexual assaults, of those 235 were rapes, during rides last year. There were also nine murders and 58 people were killed in car accidents. 

The number of outright tragedies reported is less than one percent of total Uber rides, which reached 1.3 billion rides in the United States in 2018, according to the company. Nevertheless, officials at Uber were unsettled by the number of crimes and tragedies. 

Uber relies on the fact that it is accessible and ubiquitous to drivers and riders.

Like other ride-hailing apps, including Lyft and Via, the lynchpin of Uber’s business model is an egalitarian approach to who can use it. This means regulations are often ditched in favor of allowing any driver with a car to work for the company. It means these drivers aren’t screened, and in New York City they don’t require a Taxi medallion like traditional yellow cab drivers. 

When employees (and customers for that matter) aren’t properly audited, sexual assaults, attacks, and murders can become all too common. Uber maintains that the crimes and tragedies aren’t a reflection of Uber’s policies but of society’s. 

“The numbers are jarring and hard to digest,” Tony West, Uber’s chief legal officer told the New York Times. “What it says is that Uber is a reflection of the society it serves.”

When the New York Times checked Uber’s safety record against the New York Police Department’s registery of sex crimes and rapes on the city’s transit systems, 553 assaults were reported in 2018. 

There were trends among which crimes drivers committed and which were committed against them. 

While 92 percent of rape victims were riders, murder victims tended to be drivers, riders and other parties. However, both drivers and riders reported other forms of sexual assault at about the same rate, according to Uber’s report. The report categorizes sexual assault into 21 categories that range from unwanted touching to attempted rape to rape. 

“Confronting sexual violence requires honesty, and it’s only by shining a light on these issues that we can begin to provide clarity on something that touches every corner of society,” the company’s chief legal officer, Tony West, said in the executive summary of the report. “The moment is now for companies to confront it, count it, and work together to end it.”

In April a woman filed a $10 million lawsuit against Uber claiming she was sexually assaulted by her driver and as a result is suing the company for negligence and consumer protection violations, according to The Verge. At least 31 drivers have been convicted of various related offenses like assault, rape, false imprisonment and other crimes, according to CNN. Last year, a pedestrian was killed after being hit by a self-driving Uber car. In 2017, an engineer at the company exposed Uber’s corporate culture as sexist leading to an investigation where dozens of employees were fired. 

Uber has begun implementing more steps to protect passengers and drivers.

Uber’s reputation has been overshadowed by seemingly countless incidences of sexual assaults and the report has not pacified all of their critics. Nevertheless, many are praising the company for disclosing such information warts and all. 

“The more that the public is aware, the more the company and everyone else has to respond,” Jeanne Christensen, whose law firm represented rape victims in cases against Uber, told the New York Times. “It’s such a part of daily life that everyone is going to take it. We’re already at that point. So now they just have to make it as safe as possible.”

Uber has been taking steps over the past 21 months to document and prevent more safety violations. In the app, they added a panic button so that passengers can directly call 911 and provide them with their location. Riders can also use check-ins if their driver appears to be taking a suspicious route. 

“All of those steps are starters because these ride-hailing companies have been abjectly failing in their duty to protect against predators or criminals,” Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal told the New York Times

The company has partnered with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center to determine its best course of action. Since 2017, the company has tripled the staff of its safety team with continued expansion expected. In 2020, it will roll out a hotline with the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. 

“The numbers in the report are not surprising because sexual violence permeates all aspects of our society, whether that’s ride-share or Metro or taxi or a workplace,” Allison Randall of the National Network to End Domestic Violence told Washington Post. “This is definitely the start of a conversation.”

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Daisy Coleman, The High School Sexual Assault Survivor Featured In A Netflix Documentary, Has Died By Suicide

Fierce

Daisy Coleman, The High School Sexual Assault Survivor Featured In A Netflix Documentary, Has Died By Suicide

Netflix

In 2016, Netflix debuted the heartwrenching documentary Audrie & Daisy a film that examined the tragic experiences of two high school students. Audrie Pott and Daisy Coleman were two teens at the time of their sexual assaults. Both women were subjected to cyberbullying and abuse after their assaults and forced to heal with little support. But soon after her assault, Audrie Pott was driven to suicide by hanging.

The film showed that Coleman also struggled with suicide ideation after the assault.

Four years after the film’s debut, Coleman (who had become a sexual assault victim advocate) has died by suicide.

In a post to her Facebook page on Tuesday, Coleman’s mother shared the news: “My daughter Catherine Daisy Coleman committed suicide tonight,” Melinda Coleman wrote. “If you saw crazy messages and posts it was because I called the police to check on her. She was my best friend and amazing daughter. I think she had to make it seem like I could live without her. I can’t. I wish I could have taken the pain from her! She never recovered from what those boys did to her and it’s just not fair. My baby girl is gone.”

At the time of her assault, Coleman was 14 years old. She was sexually assaulted by a high schooler named Matthew Barnett and was dumped outside of her home wearing only a T-shirt in the dead of winter. The documentary film said Coleman had been left behind in sub-freezing temperatures and that her hair had stuck to the ground.

Barnett was eventually subjected to a felony sexual assault charge for what he did to Coleman but the charge was later dropped.

After, Coleman became a target for bullying.

Filmmakers followed Coleman for two years watching the ways in which Coleman and members of her family were subjected to the trauma of her assault.

“I definitely feel like people have certain views and perceptions about me and about cases like this because they’re uneducated,” then-19-year-old Coleman told People in a 2017 interview. “That’s exactly why I’m going out and trying to educate people on what’s going on in our society.”

Speaking about her experience, Coleman said that she didn’t hold any animosity against her attacker. “I honestly don’t have any vindictive feelings toward him,” Coleman told People. “I feel like all of that negativity that he put onto me was passed down to him at one point, so I felt the need to stop that kind of transaction of negativity and hate… I went through a lot of years of self-loathing and asking myself, Why me? So much ‘woe is me’… I just decided one day that I was done being negative about it. I needed to forgive myself for what happened.”

In 2017, Coleman worked to help others from being subjected to sexual violence for the national campaign SafeBAE — Safe Before Anyone Else.

If you or someone you know might be considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Or text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741.

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Latinas Are Opening Up On Instagram About Why They Didn’t Report Their Sexual Assault And The Stories Are Heartbreaking

Fierce

Latinas Are Opening Up On Instagram About Why They Didn’t Report Their Sexual Assault And The Stories Are Heartbreaking

Drew Angerer / Getty

TRIGGER WARNING for victims of assault.

Recently we came across six stories by women who opened up about why they didn’t report their sexual assault via the account @whyididntreport. Heartbreaking, tragic, and also empowering each of these stories were a reminder that not only do we need to believe women but also support them.

As a response to the posts, we asked Latinas what experiences they had with keeping quiet about their assaults.

See their stories below.

Because it was a family member

@whyididntreport / Instagram

“My mom did not believe me because it was her husband … we would always fight and he would put her against me … that’s why I always say my children will always come first … then anyone … even before me and my own needs.” – soley_geez

Because of the statute of limitations

@whyididntreport / Instagram

“I did report. The cop taking notes told me they couldn’t file the report because of the statue of limitation being 10 years. I was reporting 13 years after I was raped. I was 3 years old when it happened. I was 16 when I reported.” – jedi_master_evila

Because she’d been labeled dramatic

@whyididntreport / Instagram

“He was my ex boyfriends cousin and I was intoxicated after a night of partying with a group of friends. I said no over and over again. I never came forward because I was already labeled/seen as “dramatic” by my ex and his friends and figured they wouldn’t believe me.” – love.jes

Because she was punished by her parents

@whyididntreport / Instagram

“I was 12. He was 18. My parents found a note he wrote to me. They spoke harshly with him but never pressed charges and punished me for lying.” 0valicorn_rainbow_pants

Because it was someone she thought loved her

@whyididntreport / Instagram

“I had a boyfriend rape me after I confronted him about lying and cheating. He used it as a way to punish me. And I stayed with him a year after the fact. I’m still processing feelings almost 20 years later. I’ve gone through self-destructive behaviors and tried to push others away. I’m forever grateful my husband showed me I am worthy of a beautiful life even after trauma. To all my fellow trauma survivors…we are worthy of good things.” – thebitchyhippie559

She thought she deserved it

@whyididntreport / Instagram

“He was my “step” grandfather. He molested me from ages 5-10, I was having some rebellious teen years and my parents were trying to find out why. I told them, my dad didn’t talk to me for a few days and after that everyone pretended that nothing happened and the rest of my family never found out. I held on to this secret until I told my parents at about 16 or 17 I was always so embarrassed and thought I deserved it.” – klemus09

She didn’t want to ruin HIS life

“It was my boss. At 15 I felt so bad, bc the wife was the only other person working with us and I was more worried about what this could do to their marriage. I thought I healed but typing this was hard.” –dolores.arts

If you or someone you know needs to report sexual assault, please contact the National Sexual Assault Helpline 800.656.4673 or speak with someone you trust.⁠⠀

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