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Eight People a Day on Average Are Sexually Assaulted in an Uber, According to New Uber Report

It’s the app that made getting into a stranger’s car seem normal. Billed as a safer alternative—for women in particular—to one-man taxis, Uber is now responsible for nearly four million trips a day. But after almost 21 months of data collection, the platform has released an unprecedented safety report, a record of thousands of sexual assaults and over 100 Uber-related deaths. The first of its kind across not just ride-share apps but most big businesses, the 78-page document is a damning account of violence

The review, which Glamour previewed, tabulates and categorizes all reported incidents from 2017 and 2018 and focuses on the most critical: fatalities and sexual assaults. In that period and after around 2.3 billion rides, 107 people died in Uber-related motor vehicle fatalities, 19 people died in Uber-related fatal assaults, and nearly 6,000 people experienced sexual assault—that’s on average eight reports per day and eight more than most of us think about when we open the app to request a ride.

The sexual assault claims run the gamut. For the report, Uber developed five categories of sexual assault, defined in consultation with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) and the Urban Institute. The names sound clinical—non-consensual kissing of a non-sexual body part, attempted non-consensual sexual penetration, non-consensual touching of a sexual body part, non-consensual kissing of a sexual body part, and non-consensual sexual penetration. But advocates stress that consistent taxonomies for assault are essential; the fact that we don’t have them is just one of countless reasons it’s been so hard to put reforms in place. And no matter how dispassionate the tone, the numbers are a gut punch: 464 reports in 2017 and 2018 claim the most serious offense—non-consensual sexual penetration (of which most of those victims were riders; 92% overall). But the data also points to a less recognized problem—assaults on vulnerable drivers. Across all five sexual assault categories, the percentages of drivers and riders who report even out. Drivers, who have few defenses against intoxicated users, report assaults at more or less the same rate as riders.

In an introduction to the data, Uber stresses that 99.9% of Uber trips—of which there are now close to 4 million per day—“end without anything going wrong or anyone contacting us” and that the “vast majority” of the .1% of reports that Uber does receive are not safety-related at all. (True, but context that Uber repeats more than once in a document that also details hundreds of cases of serious assault. The effect is somewhat disquieting.)

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