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Touches, kisses, rapes : There were 3,000 sexual assaults in Uber cars in the United States in 2018

It happened after a cocktail evening in San Diego: intoxicated, the young woman gets into the Uber car, vomits during a stop, and finally passes out. When she regains consciousness, the Uber driver lies on top of her. She is raped by him just one block from her house. So it reported the television station CNN last year.

This rape, as a safety report published by the driver service provider now shows, was only one of a total of 464 in the past two years in the company in the USA. In 2018, 3045 cases of sexual harassment were reported, slightly more than in the previous year (2936). This also included nearly 600 attempted rape. The other attacks included unauthorized touching or kisses.

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"So far there is no corresponding report for Germany," an Uber spokesman told Tagesspiegel on request. The findings from the events in the USA would now flow into Uber's considerations for other markets. In this country, no comparable cases are known, said the spokesman. Uber also pointed out that drivers in Germany - unlike in the USA, for example - would have to show a passenger transport license for their work. Among other things, a police clearance certificate without a criminal record is required for this. In addition, the drivers are employed by rental car companies.

Cases have recently become known in London in which customers have been transported by unauthorized drivers. That happened in at least 14,000 cases, said the responsible transport authority "Transport for London" (TfL). Untested drivers could upload their photos to the accounts of official drivers - and convey to the passengers that they were the booked drivers. A few weeks ago, the TfL revoked the travel agent's license due to safety concerns. There was a "pattern of failure," said the traffic authority. Uber has appealed the decision.

Drivers were only half the suspects

There are no comparative figures from the taxi industry in this country. "Assaults on passengers are not a structural phenomenon in taxis," explains a spokesman for the Federal Association of Taxis and Rental Cars. In 2019, the association is aware of one rape case - with around one million promotions a day. With the strict regulation of its trade, the association explains that the risk of being attacked in a taxi is lower. Each vehicle has its own serial number, the drivers can be identified - and thus the perpetrators can also be identified.

However, the high number of sexual assaults during Uber trips in the United States should also be seen against the background of trips as a whole. According to its own information, Uber finished 99.9 percent of its 2.3 billion trips in 2017 and 2018 without a security incident. In addition: the drivers only made up a little more than half of the suspects in sexual assaults. In 46 percent it was the passengers. But even a single reported case was "one case too many," said Uber.

Sexual assault and other threats are a big problem for the fast growing transportation service industry. Uber competitor Lyft is also under increasing pressure on the subject. Just recently, 20 women in San Francisco filed a lawsuit against Lyft for being raped or sexually assaulted in Lyft-brokered vehicles.

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