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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NFL Lineman Justin Herron Saved A 71-Year-Old Woman Who Was Being Sexually Assaulted

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NFL Lineman Justin Herron Saved A 71-Year-Old Woman Who Was Being Sexually Assaulted

Fans of the New England Patriots offensive lineman Justin Herron know by now that he’s got a thing for being in the right place at the right time. After all, his career relies on it.

Still, most likely didn’t know that the 25-year-old football player has a hero’s spirit as well.

This week, the lineman was honored by an Arizona police department for his role in saving a 71-year-old woman from being sexually assaulted.

On March 21 a 71-year-old woman was taking her daily stroll in Kiwanis Park in Tempe, Arizona when a 30-year-old man attacked her. The man, now identified as s Kevin Caballero, threw the woman to the ground in the park and attempted to remove her pants.

Herron and a Phoenix resident, identified as Murry Rogers, were present during the assault attempt and intervened.

“It was a crazy experience,” Herron stated during a news conference on Wednesday, according to NBC affiliate KPNX. “It was something that I never dreamed that I thought I would see. You see it in movies and TV all the time but you never think it’s gonna happen in real life until it does. In that moment, I was in shock. It was 11, it was in the middle of the day, not one cloud in the sky, and in a very open field, and the fact that it happened there at that time was very shocking.”

At the time of the incident, Herron was working out by the lake and Rogers was getting ready for a birthday party in the park for his 15-year-old daughter.

“I’m a football player, I’m kind of big,” Herron who is Herron, who is 6-foot-5 and 305 pounds, stated during the news conference. “I try not to be too aggressive with people knowing I could potentially hurt somebody. I do have a loud voice. I yelled, told him to get off of her, and then yanked him off and I told him to sit down and I told him to wait until the cops come.”

For their actions, Herron and Rogers were presented with Outstanding Service Awards by the Tempe Police Department.

“These two individuals stepped forward and really, truly saved her life,” Tempe police chief Jeff Glover stated during the ceremony.

According to the Today Show, “Herron has been in Arizona for offseason training ahead of his second season with the Patriots. The team’s sixth-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft out of Wake Forest University said he was just reacting when he saw the woman being attacked.”

“And in the moment, I wish I could tell you what I was thinking, but I just knew that someone needed help,” Herron said. “… All I could do was just rush myself over there and make sure and help the victim, and make sure that I comfort her and be the best person I can be.”

Herron and Rogers were able to meet with the woman who has yet to be identified.

“Over the past several days, I have thought about her and pictured her face, so it was really nice moment, and I’m really glad I got to meet her,” Rogers said during the ceremony.

“My parents always talked to me about it, if there’s someone in need, make sure you can help them and be the best you can be,” Herron added. “I don’t want this to happen again, I don’t want to have to save someone else’s life again, but I’m glad I was able to save someone’s life on Saturday.”

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Demi Lovato Says She Was Raped At 15 During Disney Days And Violated Again While Overdosing

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Demi Lovato Says She Was Raped At 15 During Disney Days And Violated Again While Overdosing

Demi Lovato is putting it all out on the table.

During her latest documentary Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil which premiered this past Tuesday at the SXSW Film Festival, the singer and actress revealed that she is a survivor of rape. Not just once, but tragically, twice. One of which occurred on the night of her overdose.

In her docuseries, Lovato revealed that she was sexually assaulted the night of her overdose by her drug dealer.

“I didn’t just overdose. I was taken advantage of,” the 28-year-old singer revealed in the documentary where Lovato’s friend Sirah Mitchell shared that she had been given heroin “laced with fentanyl” on the night of her overdose.

“He also ended up getting her really high and leaving her for dead,” Mitchell explained of the dealer.

“When they found me, I was naked, blue. I was literally left for dead after he took advantage of me,” Lovato shared. “When I woke up in the hospital, they asked if we had had consensual sex. There was one flash that I had of him on top of me. I saw that flash and I said yes. It wasn’t until a month after the overdose that I realized, ‘You weren’t in any state of mind to make a consensual decision.'”

Lovato became emotional later when she revealed that the trauma of that night brought up the memory of a previous sexual assault.

Lovato explained that when she “was a teenager, I was in a very similar situation. I lost my virginity in a rape.”

“I was part of that Disney crowd that publicly said they were waiting until marriage. I didn’t have the romantic first time,” Lovato explained. “That was not it for me — that sucked. Then I had to see this person all the time so I stopped eating and coped in other ways.”

Lovato went onto share that her alleged attacker “never got in trouble” for raping her even though she opened up to adults about the incident.

“They never got taken out of the movie they were in. I always kept it quiet because I’ve always had something to say. I don’t know, I’m tired of opening my mouth. Here’s the tea,” she explained.

Lovato said that after her last assault she attempted to “take control” by getting in contact with her abusers.

“I called that person back a month later and tried to make it right by being in control. All it did was make me feel worse,” she explained about the person who assaulted her as a teen. “Both times were textbook trauma re-enactments, and I really beat myself up for years which is why I had a really hard time coming to terms with the fact it was a rape when it happened.”

Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil premieres on YouTube on March 23.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, connect with a crisis counselor by texting “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.

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