Shelly’s story: “we live like we are in a war zone”

I wrote this in response to The Coast’s July 13th article about taxi drivers and sexual assault.

I doubt they will read it, and I’d like SOMEONE to read it.

Here’s what I wrote:

I have not been physically assaulted by a taxi cab driver, but I have countless experiences with cab drivers saying sexually explicit and super-obviously-creepy things, such as “everything is about sex” and “you just pretend to be a good girl, don’t you?” I don’t buy the scapegoat of blaming cultural differences on this insipid creepiness – the creepiest cab drivers I’ve had were consistently white Nova Scotians. By comparison, the kindest and most professional cab driver I’ve ever had was Iranian.

I’ve had plenty of friends tell me horror stories of rape and attempted rape by their taxi drivers when they were intoxicated, exhausted, or distracted. They told me that even after reporting the incident to the taxi company directly, no actions were ever taken. One friend was told that the cab company denied all responsibility for the behaviours of their drivers. Therefore, I only ever ride in a cab if I’m 100% sober, and ready to fight for my life. There have been a couple of times I needed a taxi to/from the hospital but decided to walk instead because I didn’t want to get raped by a taxi driver. This means that I do not have full access to taxi services because I’m a woman – this is discrimination.

The root of the problem is that any time you have a man in a position of power, the potential for him raping someone is there. Add to the equation police who don’t know how to properly deal with sexual violence, a general mistrust of anything women have to say, and the classic “well she was asking for it” attitude that we witness time and time again, and it’s no surprise that taxi drivers are sexually assaulting their clients.

As women, we live like we are in a war zone. We are constantly managing the potential threat of rape. Laws don’t protect us and cause more distress to the victims of sexual violence than to the perpetrators of sexual violence.

Cameras in taxi cabs could definitely help, as long as there is a way for passengers to verify that the camera is ON and that the video feed is being fed to an external party outside of the taxi cab, with no way for the driver to tamper with the system. There must also be NO period of time where the camera shuts off. I don’t want to say that all men can’t be trusted, but with what I’ve witnessed and how I’ve been treated, I think they’re asking for it, don’t you?

Better yet would be a bus system that runs through the night. It is not fair to impose a midnight curfew simply because the buses stop running and taxi drivers can’t be trusted not to rape people.