Uber received over 3,000 reports of sexual assault last year in the US

Access to the comments Comments
By Sofia Sanchez Manzanaro  with Reuters
Uber received over 3,000 reports of sexual assault last year in the US
Copyright  REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

Uber received over 3,000 reports of sexual assault during 2018, according to its first biennial US safety report published on Thursday.

Chief Legal Officer of Uber Tony West stated that most companies don’t talk about issues like sexual violence because they fear consequences such as "negative risks or public criticism".

West says the company wanted to adopt a new approach to tackle this problem.

"As someone who has prosecuted sex crimes and worked on these issues for more than 25 years, I can tell you that a new approach is sorely needed. Confronting sexual violence requires honesty, and it’s only by shining a light on these issues that we can begin to provide clarity on something that touches every corner of society", West said on an introduction letter to the report.

Out of the 3,000 cases of sexual assault reported, more than 1,500 involved non-consensual touching of a sexual body part and 235 non-consensual penetration. Nearly all of them were filed by women.

Uber said reports of assaults on passengers overlooked risks for drivers as riders accounted for roughly half of the accused.

Between 2017 and 2018, there was approximately a 16% decrease in the average incident rate across the 5 most serious sexual categories included in the report.

However, Uber pointed out that the release of this data could lead to an increase in the number of sexual reports in the future, as victims "may feel more comfortable coming forward".

The firm also published other incidents reported such as fatalities or physical assault.

Safety concerns in London

The 84-page report comes almost two weeks after Uber said it would appeal the loss of its license to carry passengers in London over a "pattern of failures" on safety and security.

Transport for London (TfL) revoked the licence at the end of November after finding the app was not "fit and proper" and that a change in the system had endangered users' safety.

Uber, which in the past has faced criticism over safety on its platform and has been repeatedly hit with lawsuits over driver misconduct, last year committed to releasing a safety report in a sign of a cultural turnaround under its new CEO.

"I suspect many people will be surprised at how rare these incidents are; others will understandably think they're still too common. Some people will appreciate how much we've done on safety; others will say we have more work to do. They will all be right," tweeted Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi.

In the report, Uber said 99.9% of its 2.3 billion US trips in 2017 and 2018 ended without safety incidents.