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Uber commuter files complaint against driver who allegedly verbally harassed her

Saza Faradilla shared her story yesterday (22 December) when she was being harassed by an Uber driver along her 10 minutes ride last week.

She said that the driver was at first engaged in a conversation with her which later ended up asking her to have a meal together.

Despite her refusal, the driver continued with his advance by offering to read her fortune as he said that he did Palmology. He told Ms Saza that he could see her as a very independent and strong-willed woman, and would always go get the things that I wanted. “I can see it. You’ve had 3/4 ex-boyfriends before,” he said.

Ms Saza then said that at first she did not want to report the driver to the company as it was “just” verbal harassment,  there was no physical harassment.

However, she thought, “But what if he gets emboldened by this encounter if there were no consequences to it? What if the next passenger is even more vulnerable than I am, and he harasses them even more?”

She then finally decided to lodge a report.

However, she stated that Uber has not been responding to her feedback reports. She said that she had submitted one right after the incident occurred, and received a call from Uber Support Kuala Lumpur. Her feedback was bounced between 3 different people, and nothing has been done till today.

She wrote, “To me, that is unacceptable. It has been a week, and nothing has been done. This driver could still be driving an Uber and harassing other women, and I will not stand for that. Sexual harassment complaints need to be taken seriously and dealt with appropriately. ”

AWARE also commented on the incident, saying, “We hope the company takes action – harassment is all too common an experience for women, and should not be tolerated in any way. Companies should set an example to support victims by taking immediate measures against the perpetrators.”

aware

Below is the full account of the incident by Ms Saza:

tldr; Harassed on Uber but Uber is not resolving this appropriately. Please do share

Last week, I took an Uber for a very short 10 minute ride. As soon as I got on, the driver engaged in conversation, which I thought was nice. But, things turned quite ugly after that. After some small talk and finding out that I’m a uni student, he tried to guess my horoscope and insisted that I guess his. He then repeatedly tried to ask me out, suggesting that we should go out for coffee or chicken rice, which I initially refused politely but became quite frustratedly annoyed with after.

Getting visibly agitated at my refusals, he said he did Palmology, and then attempted to read my fortune. He told me that I was a “Number 6”, which apparently meant I was very independent and strong-willed, and would always go get the things that I wanted. “I can see it”, he said, “you’ve had 3/4 ex-boyfriends before”. We reached my destination and he asked if he could have my number, which I again refused and stormed out.

Throughout the ride, I felt unsafe and harassed being in a car driven by this man. Firstly, an Uber ride is a service which is meant to be pleasant and safe. I was a young solo female passenger in a car with a middle-aged man who probably had more strength than I did. He was literally in the driver’s seat. I did not appreciate intrusions to my personal life in that ride. My safety was compromised when the very person who is supposed to bring me safely to my destination is the perpetrator of a harassment. The second reason I was hesitant to report was because this was /just/ verbal harassment, there was no physical harassment. But what if he gets emboldened by this encounter if there were no consequences to it? What if the next passenger is even more vulnerable than I am, and he harasses them even more?

At first, I regaled this to some friends and I wasn’t too sure if I should report it to Uber but did so after some consideration so that no one else would need to go through the same situation.

However, Uber has not been responding to my feedback reports. I submitted one right after the incident occurred, and received a call from Uber Support KL (???) Why was it that different countries Uber supports would reach out to complainants from other countries? If I happen to miss a call from Uber KL, I could not call back without incurring extra charges, thereby slowing down the efficiency of resolution to this case. Not only that, I was very surprised at the lack of understanding received of my complaint. In the very first message, I said that “My driver was inappropriate and tried to hit on me throughout the ride. It ended with him asking for my number”. This was misinterpreted as the “driver hitting me”, as in physically assaulting me. This was not only a complete misrepresentation of my complaint, but also when I clarified what “hitting on” meant – ie. flirting, making passes, attempting to make advances with another individual, my complaint was not taken very seriously.

There was a follow-up to this email with 1 phone call from a different Uber staff (still within the KL office). Then, I received an email from yet someone else. So far, my feedback has been bounced between 3 different people, and nothing has been done. I was rather frustrated and so I fb messaged Uber Singapore. I received 1 reply saying that someone will contact me, but nobody did for 5 days. Today, I just called Uber, and apparently all the support staff can do is to ‘raise this issue up’. When asked “What happens if I don’t get a follow-up again?”, the staff just said “Oh you can email us again”.

To me, that is unacceptable. It has been a week, and nothing has been done. This driver could still be driving an Uber and harassing other women, and I will not stand for that. Sexual harassment complaints need to be taken seriously and dealt with appropriately. Hopefully, Uber will be able to do something about this issue given how prevalent it is. I do not believe my complaint is an isolated incident, and that many women might have silently faced this same harassment but did not want to go through the hassle and red-tape of sending a complaint. This is the reason why rape culture is perpetuated. Women do not feel empowered enough to speak out because their voice is not being listened to, their concerns are easily dismissed, their challenges not appropriately dealt with. Men then feel that this is not a problem, and that there is nothing wrong with /just/ street harassment. We need to take a stance, that harassment, in any form at all, done to anyone, in any location, is a big problem, and it needs to be addressed.

I wasn’t sure if I should post this, and if it’s attention-seeking or ‘too much’. But my friends encouraged me to share my experience, and I think it is probably better to be too much than ‘too late’ or ‘too little’. I hope to encourage everyone who has been a victim of harassment, no matter how minor; if you can, speak up, make noise and hopefully the harasser will be dealt with.