For a couple of months now, French society has been demonstrating in the streets once again. Thousands of people are demanding the changes in the pension system introduced by President Emmanuel Macron, and have decided to paralyze the country until their demands are heard.
But simultaneously, popular discontent has begun to grow on other fronts.
The demands have come in the form of artistic movements such as the urban art guerrilla Collage Femicide, which filled the streets with the number of female deaths due to intimate violence, or even the replication of the famous performance “El Violador Eres Tú” in several cities in the country.
However, another campaign has gone viral in the networks against an even stronger epidemic: the sexual assaults suffered by thousands of women at the hands of Uber drivers.
Through the hashtag #UberCestOver (“Uber it’s over”), thousands of women have resorted to social media to recount in detail and denounce the harassment and sexual assaults to which they are constantly subjected by choosing Uber to “get home safely.”
According to 20 Minutes, it all began with the Twitter report of a student in the city of Strasbourg during the month of November, who described how the driver touched her without consent and tried to kiss her upon arrival at her destination. The young woman immediately informed the company and filed a complaint the next day with the police.
But by that time, and after reading her testimony, a domino effect was triggered in which thousands of women recounted similar situations or entrusted their testimonies to feminist activists such as Anna Toumazoff, responsible for the account @memespourcoolkidsfeministes on Instagram and the newsletter “Les Glorieuses.”
Due to the number of cases in which Uber did not respond to the complaints or kept the identified drivers in the service, Toumazoff wrote: “We often take your vehicles just to feel safe and not take risks. Are you serious? Well, don’t worry. We’ll flood you anyway. We are thousands, we have our keyboards, our hashtag #UberCestOver and our determination.”
Uber France replied on Twitter that “the safety of our users is an absolute priority” and that “any aggression is treated within the framework of an inflexible procedure. Harassment and sexual assault cannot go unnoticed.”
However, other women reported cases, where the drivers who assaulted them are still active in the application and Uber, has not responded to their demands.
By December 6, 2019, Uber was forced to make public it’s first safety report that counted 3,045 sexual assaults and up to 9 deaths during the years 2017 and 2018. But many other cases remain unaccounted for, especially since many victims choose not to report their aggressors. In the United States alone, 44% of women have suffered some form of assault in their lives, and it is an epidemic that seems to have no end.
For Tony West, Uber’s chief legal officer, the figures from the report “are jarring and hard to digest.” In an interview, West said the company’s safety report shows that “Uber is a reflection of the society it serves,” a society impregnated with male violence that still gets its way.