Taxi cab sex assaults

I’m absolutely spitting furious. I am a member of the Region of Waterloo Licensing and Retail Committee and I cannot believe the members had to find out about numerous, not one, but numerous alleged and proved sex assaults in taxi cabs through the Record. Before this, I can only remember one or two times when sex assault came before the committee. Of course the driver lost his license.

I have always told my daughters to carry enough money to take a taxi if a date goes bad or they feel unsafe or they have drunk too much. What am I to tell them now? Taxis are supposed to be a safe place for women.

 

In Waterloo, 70,000 students have just arrived to live away from home for the first time. Half of them are young women who can no longer call home for a ride.

I cannot believe that the Chair of my committee said, “Innocent until proven guilty.” and when I wrote to him upset about the Record article, he added, “We’re not Syria Yet”.

Taxi drivers are like teachers and priests. People who have a responsibility to work at a higher professional standard.  Yes I know it is only a very small percent of the taxi drivers who were convicted of sex assault and are on trial as the staff head of our licensing division said. But do we say this about the handful of murders in our community? About the number of regular assaults? No these are subjects of deep concern.

When I was a school trustee, a teacher was removed from the classroom if they were accused of a sex crime. Yet a taxi driver was still driving around! And my committee wasn’t told.

Then there is the case of the woman who was drunk and the driver was acquitted. I quote from the Record:

“The Crown argued a driver picked up an intoxicated 20-year-old woman at night and took her to a deserted parking lot in October 2012. It was alleged he assaulted her in the back of his cab, where he took off her clothes, fondled her and touched himself. At his jury trial this year, the cabbie argued the woman initiated the contact. He was acquitted.”

The woman was drunk, therefore not in the capacity to give consent. I know a number of women who have been raped and never reported it.This is why.

I have been told that everything is cleared up now. That it was all because our by-laws didn’t require the police to report to the Region, who give and take away licenses. And soon drivers will have to report charges as well as convictions. Actually we use driving records.  Surprisingly, not everyone reports their convictions. There will be cameras in the taxis. Because, as the head of the taxi association says, “It’s for everybody’s safety — drivers, passengers.”

The head of the taxi association is organizing a training meeting with police and drivers to tell them what is acceptable and not acceptable. Seriously? It’s not obvious? No, sadly, it’s not.  I suggest trained women from the rape crisis center teach this course.

The Licensing committee hates drivers who speed in their taxis and this is a hundred times worse. I am furious.

I have since talked to the Head of Licensing and he is working with the sex assault centre as well as working on the other solutions mentioned. He told me he takes this issue very seriously and the evening we spoke, he was heading out to check out taxis and how things are going on the first weekend of students’ terms.

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8 responses to “Taxi cab sex assaults

  1. Scott Stager Piatkowski

    I would add that the following comment from Regional staff was equally galling:

    “Angelo Apfelbaum, the region’s director of licensing and enforcement said he is not worried about the string of charges.”

    Um, really?

  2. I couldn’t agree with you more. I was appalled that Apfelbaum responded so casually with stats about the low number of assaults as compared to the total number of trips. It’s not a number game. It’s sexual assault. One assault is too many. It’s a crime against another person. Cameras in cabs would be a good idea. The changes in reporting as well, are good. I think the cab driver should have his taxi driving licence taken away until his case is decided and if he is guilty, then he loses the license completely. Everyone is encouraged not to drink and drive. We have to know that our cabs are safe for young women. Something definitely needs to be done.

  3. The Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region is actually in the process of asking to be involved in the training. Our Male Allies Against Sexual Violence (MAASV) program coordinator will be contacting them.
    Thank you for naming all the different issues that surfaced in this article.

  4. Pingback: Sexual assault in WR taxis: community response needed | Cameron Dearlove for Waterloo Region Council

  5. Yep it happened to my sister age 22. I sent her home in a cab and it happened. In Toronto. We did nothing she felt it was her fault I felt it was my fault and we both knew Police would not believe her we did nothing. It was a terrible time.

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