By marie_dm 🌺

For a lot of women, Uber became the first choice as a means of transport to avoid public transport or get home alone in the street at night. I used this solution many times to feel safe when coming back from a party or dinner. But after reading the #UberCestOver hashtag on Twitter (a mix of French and English, translate “Uber it’s over”) and read several testimonies, it seems that the app has now become an ambush for many women.

Many testimonies of sexual assaults
In Strasbourg (France), after a party downtown, four students (three women and a man) order an Uber to get home. One of them is named Sonia and she gets into the passenger seat. Everything is doing fine until her friends are dropped off and she is now left alone in the car with the driver. The latter took her hand, touched her thigh, and then forced her to caress his.

After her testimony became viral, another woman named Noémie reports that she has also been the victim of a similar attack by the same driver 2 years ago. She was surprised to see he was still active even then Uber told her that they took care of it after she reached out to them.

Later on, the Instagram account @memespourcoolkidsfeministes is being alerted of this attack and relays the story to her many followers. Her creator, Anna Toumazoff, will receive hundreds of other testimonies in 48 hours from all over France, including several mentioning the same driver. She said she received a wide variety of stories, from inappropriate behavior to rape.

Unpunished drivers and no change at Uber
It is now clear that the company is being negligent at best and is not taking care of the security of its customers. In France, and probably in other countries, women face these kinds of incidents which stay unpunished. Several women reported that after reaching out to Uber nothing happened. And when they want to file a complaint, the police may refuse to take it because of the little information they have.

The irony is that Uber France is partnering with two associations fighting against harassment. It is also displayed on their site that they are committed to ensuring women’s security in the public space and that millions of them trust them to get back home at night.

In addition to that, the traffic of fake professional cards to avoid the platform’s controls exists in Paris. It is not being taken care of and no rigorous controls are being put in place. The driver’s ratings are not a reliable indication either: many of the testimonies were about drivers with 5 stars.

The alternatives
I’m not particularly optimistic, but Uber may take the necessary measures to fix these issues and ensure its customers’ security in the future. In the meantime, what do we do? If we boycott Uber, how do you get home and feel safe at night?

I asked myself that question since I am going to Paris for a friend’s birthday in a couple of weeks. The good point is to see flourish new services that take the security of their customers seriously. I’m particularly interested in these women-driving-women kinds of platforms. Here are the ones I heard of in France:
- Kolett (Paris)
- WomenDrive (France, luxury VTC)
- FemmeAuVolant (Paris and surroundings, only between 9 AM and 11 PM)

What alternatives do you know in your country?

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