How Uber Can Take Action Against Sexual Assault

How Uber Can Take Action Against Sexual Assault

According to media reports and court documents, an UberDC driver was arrested Saturday on a sexual abuse charge after a woman reported the assault to police last month.

We were deeply saddened this week to read the news of a sexual assault allegedly perpetrated by a UberDC driver. According to media reports and court documents, an UberDC driver was arrested Saturday on a sexual abuse charge after a woman reported the assault to police last month. We hope this tragedy will help Uber realize the necessity and urgency of providing safety measures to protect its riders — an issue that CASS has raised with the business numerous times in recent years, including as recently as this spring.

We first reached out to Uber after an UberDC driver was charged with sexually assaulting a female client in December 2012 in Cleveland Park. At the time, we urged Uber to consider mandating anti-sexual assault training for its drivers, a measure that we successfully encouraged Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to implement the same year, which is currently being rolled out. We contacted Uber again earlier this year when the company instituted its $1 “safety fee,” again asking the company to give the community what it really wants in order to feel safe and implement sexual harassment and assault prevention training for its employees.

In order to help illustrate the pressing need for increased safety measures from Uber, we surveyed community members about what safety measures they wanted to see from the rideshare service. According to our survey findings, DC community members strongly want Uber to take preventive measures against sexual assault and use greater transparency when speaking about its safety measures and what it’s doing to address sexual assault. Specifically, community members and Uber clients want to see Uber implement anti-sexual assault trainings for drivers and staff. They also want Uber to establish an online portal, similar to WMATA’s, so that patrons can anonymously report sexual harassment, thereby helping Uber gather information and better address the issue. The message is clear: DC community members want more commitment to safety from transportation services like Uber.

Recently, we’ve seen positive action on behalf of DC businesses in recognizing their part in ending sexual violence. Over the past year, a handful of bars and restaurants have participated in our Safe Bars program, which trains and empowers staff at alcohol-serving establishments to recognize and respond to incidents of sexual harassment and assault. And in addition to WMATA and its ongoing anti-sexual harassment work, we’ve worked with companies like Pepco and Bare Minerals to address sexual harassment. We hope that Uber will also rise to the occasion.

We know only about this most recent sexual abuse allegation against Uber because the survivor chose to report to authorities, but not everyone makes that choice, for a variety of reasons. With sexual assault being one of the most underreported crimes, many similar incidents may go unreported. Safety measures like staff trainings and a process for reporting sexual harassment and assault would help show Uber’s commitment to keeping its clients safe. In the meantime, we at CASS look forward to launching RightRides DC this fall, a program that will provide free and safe late-night rides home for women and LGBTQ folks. No one should fear sexual violence, and everyone deserves a safe ride home. We hope that Uber makes steps to show the community that they feel the same.

Want to help us launch RightRides DC this fall? Donate now.
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Here Are The Awesome #ItTakesAllofUs Workshops You Should Attend This Saturday!

An event in Washington, DC, to build a community dedicated to ending gender-based violence in all its forms.

Saturday, July 26 • 2:00-5:00pm • Malcolm X Park • 2400 15th St NW

> > > > RSVP ON FACEBOOK < < < < 

#ItTakesAllofUs is an in-person event to share our knowledge and experiences and build an organized grassroots community against violence here in our nation’s capital. Meet other people who share your vision for a violence-free community, share your experiences, and learn concrete skills from experienced local organizers. You’ll leave with a new appreciation of your own power to end violence, ready to share that power with everyone you know. We welcome people of all gender expressions, sexualities, ages, races, abilities, and classes.

Participants will choose from any of the following skillshares:

    • “From Invisibility to Impact: Online Activism 101″
      Renee Davidson, Collective Action for Safe Spaces
      Hate that sexist billboard? Ticked off by unjust actions by a local bar or business? Organizing for local policy reforms? From Twitter to Change.org, this workshop will teach you how you can use online resources to make your activism go viral.
    • Stand Up: How to be an Active Bystander”
      Julia Strange, Collective Action for Safe Spaces
      Gender-based violence rarely happens in a vacuum, and there may be ways for bystanders to prevent it — turning them immediately into UPstanders! In this skillshare, you’ll learn a few basic techniques that you can use to diffuse tense situations and support victims. Most importantly, you’ll learn how UPstanding behavior can help us change our culture to make it safer for women and LGBTQ folks.
    • Crafting Policy Solutions for a Complex Debate: How to Think Creatively About Gender-Based Violence Policy”
      Christina Henderson
      Is there room for policy solutions when it comes to gender-based violence? This workshop will take a look back at the pitfalls and successes of past attempts to offer a policy solution for gender-based violence, and provide tips on how to map and craft creative policy solutions going forward. The focus will be on local and state action.
    • Talking to Your Friends and Family about Street Harassment
      Zosia Sztykowski, Collective Action for Safe Spaces
      “It’s just a compliment!” “Relax, he was kidding!” “Boys will be boys!” Hearing a response like this when you talk about an experience that hurt or scared you can be just as painful as the experience itself. This skillshare will show you how to take down the most common excuses for one of the most common forms of gender-based violence, and communicate with your friends and family about why they should take it seriously, too.

We’re in this fight together, and #ittakesallofus.
We can’t wait to see you this Saturday, 7/26!