It’s a ritual among women: Call an Uber (or Lyft, or another rideshare app), get home, and immediately text your besties to let them know you’re not dead in a ditch somewhere. That’s due in large part to the numerous horror stories you see in the news where women are sexually harassed or worse while taking a car home.
(Seriously, so many stories.) So what’s Uber doing about it? Yesterday, it put out a list of 21 categories defining sexual misconduct and harassment, with the promise of a full report sometime in 2019.
The list is divided up into two sections, sexual misconduct and sexual assault. And the categories creepily range from “staring or leering” and “indecent photography without consent”, all the way to “non-consensual sexual penetration.”
In its blog post, Uber says it worked with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) and Urban Institute to come up with the full list. Uber says the categories were created based on reports made to the company, with the personal information removed. “The resulting taxonomy,” Uber says, “is designed to categorise the reports we receive from riders and drivers, using the behaviours that they describe.”
Here’s the full list:
• Staring or leering
• Comments or gestures: asking personal questions
• Comments or gestures: comments about appearance
• Comments or gestures: flirting
• Comments or gestures: explicit gestures
• Comments or gestures: explicit comments
• Displaying indecent material
• Indecent photography without consent
• Soliciting sexual content
• Masturbation / indecent exposure
• Verbal threat of sexual assault
• Attempted touching: non-sexual body part
• Attempted kissing: non-sexual body part
• Attempted touching: sexual body part
• Attempted kissing: sexual body part
• Non-consensual touching: non-sexual body part
• Non-consensual kissing: non-sexual body part
• Attempted non-consensual sexual penetration
• Non-consensual touching: sexual body part
• Non-consensual kissing: sexual body part
• Non-consensual sexual penetration
It’s about freaking time — and some might say too little too late. Uber’s track record with sexual assault is abysmal. According to a CNN report, at least 103 Uber drivers in the past four years have been accused of sexually abusing or assaulting passengers. And it wasn’t until earlier this year that Uber ditched forced arbitration for sexual assault or harassment cases, enabling individuals to take their claims to court. That’s honestly just the tip of the Uber-being-horrible iceberg.
But it’s a step in the right direction. Defining sexual misconduct and harassment makes it harder to dismiss bad behaviour, and crucially, if the company’s planned transparency report sees the light of day (Uber promises it will next year), it’ll provide some hard statistics on exactly how many sexual assaults occur in relation to rideshare apps. No major rideshare company currently releases this sort of data, so while it’s known these cases exist, the full scope of the problem remains unclear. CNN’s report was based off old-school combing of police reports, federal court cases, and county court databases in 20 major cities.
We’ve reached out to Uber for more information on its 2019 transparency report, and to find out if the company has made any concrete changes to its reporting tools and how it responds to reports of sexual misconduct and assault. Uber claims that “clear categories lead to counting consistently, which allows companies to respond more effectively to each report of sexual misconduct.”