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Uber Skips The Process Of Vetting Its Drivers And Thousands Of Women Have Been Raped As A Result, According To A Lawsuit

The lawsuits just keep piling up against Uber. Earlier this year, a woman employee penned a blog post that alleged the company had created an environment where female staffers were subject to sexual harassment. Last month, three Latina employees sued the company over unequal pay. This time, the ride-sharing company has been hit with a lawsuit that alleges they’ve been negligent on incidents of rape and assault experienced by women using their service.

Uber’s latest lawsuit claims that thousands of female riders have experienced abuse at the hands of the company’s employed drivers.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in San Francisco, alleges that female riders had endured rape, harassment and assault from drivers who were working as employees under the ride share company.

A portion of the filed complaint claims that the company skips a general vetting process for its drivers in an attempt to maintain high profits. The lawsuit argues that the company has experienced an ongoing harassment and assault problem as a result and has ultimately put thousands of women at risk. The plaintiffs of the lawsuit are looking to open up the suit to a class-action status.

“Uber has done everything possible to continue using low-cost, woefully inadequate background checks on drivers and has failed to monitor drivers for any violent or inappropriate conduct after they are hired,” the complaint reads according to USA Today.

The complaint alleges that Uber has avoided regulations typically placed on transportation companies by labeling themselves as a “technology platform.”

The lawsuit underlines the fact that California drivers using private transportation carriers are typically held to a higher “duty of care,” in terms of monitoring and vetting their operators. Meaning, by law, taxi cab and limousine companies are required to run criminal background checks on their drivers and ensure that they are monitored. Uber, according to the claim, avoids these standards by not being licensed as a private transportation carrier.

In an effort to ensure the safety of future female riders, the complaint is demanding that Uber make “drastic changes” to its policies.

Jeanne Christensen, a lawyer on the case, concluded in a statement reported by USA Today that the company “must come forward with information about how many reports it has received about rapes, sexual assaults and gender-motivated harassment to allow consumers to assess whether Uber really does provide safe rides, especially to women.”

The suit has been brought forward by a victim whose accusations of rape against an Uber driver were confirmed by the driver himself.

The plaintiff, known on court documents as Jane Doe, ordered an Uber ride home in October of 2016 after a night of drinking in Miami-Dade County. She was barely conscious when her driver, Nimer Abdullah, took her up to her apartment and raped her in her own bed. Doe reported the rape to police the next morning and Abdullah was ultimately arrested and charged with two counts of sexual battery. He eventually confessed to police that he had raped Doe and admitted to being aware that she was drunk while he assaulted her. When Doe contacted Uber about the incident, she was told they would be “taking the appropriate action here.” According to her complaint, the company never confirmed that Abdullah had been deactivated from being a driver for the company. To compensate her, they offered to refund her the $9.51 she had paid for her ride.

The other plaintiff in the case is a Los Angeles resident who said she had also been intoxicated when she ordered an Uber in January of this year. On her ride home, her driver sexually assaulted her in his car and then followed her into her home and raped her.

The attacks on the two plaintiffs were avoidable had Uber done its due diligence, but they’re also just two examples of a stream of similar incidents.

Not only does the lawsuit cite various other cases of sexual assault, but it also highlights hundreds of public tweets from women who had complained about Uber drivers during the #MeToo campaign.


Read: These Three Latinas Suing Uber For Failing To Give Them The Same Wages As Their Male Counterparts Are Feminist Goals

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Study: Police In The Dominican Republic Are Abusing Women Sex Workers With Impunity

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Study: Police In The Dominican Republic Are Abusing Women Sex Workers With Impunity

Sex workers in the Dominican Republic, where the profession is illegal, are vulnerable to violence, but many don’t feel safe reporting these crimes to law enforcement because, in many cases, it’s police officers who are responsible for their abuse.

This month, Amnesty International released a report detailing how law enforcement in the Caribbean country rape and torture women sex workers. The study, harrowingly titled “If They Can Have Her, Why Can’t We,” includes interviews with 46 cis and trans sex workers who discuss the abuse they experienced at the hands of local police.

According to the report, of the 24 cis women interviewed, at least 10 had been raped by law enforcement, several at gunpoint. Similarly, many trans women disclosed being violently mistreated, some even tortured, by officers.

“The interviews reveal how a deeply engrained culture of machismo within the National Police, coupled with intense societal stigma and discrimination and conservative religious values, embolden law enforcement officials to unlawfully abuse their powers and punish women who engage in sex work as a form of social control,” reads the report.

One woman shared her account of being gang-raped by three policemen. In October 2017,  the woman was pulled over by an officer who spotted her waiting for clients when he forced her to enter his police van. There, he and two other patrols started groping the woman and ripping off her clothes.

“I was afraid. I was alone. I couldn’t defend myself. I had to let them do what they wanted with me,” she told Amnesty International. “They threatened me, that if I wasn’t with them they would kill me. They (said) that I was a whore, and so why not with them?”

The woman, whose shocking account influenced the title of the report, said that the officers called her a “bitch,” among other expletives, adding: “They saw me, I guess, and they thought ‘Well, if they (clients) can have her, why can’t we?’”

This mentality isn’t uncommon. The report notes that the government, and society at large, often views sex workers as less than human and are thus “deserving” of the violence they experience.

“The harrowing testimonies that Amnesty International has gathered from the Dominican Republic reveal that police routinely target and inflict sexual abuse and humiliation on women who sell sex with the purpose of punishing and discriminating against them,” Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said. “Under international law, such treatment can amount to gender-based torture and other ill-treatment.”

While this particular study looked at the problem in the Dominican Republic, Guevara-Rosas says police violence against sex workers isn’t unique to the region but rather follows a pattern of gender-based violence across Latin America and the Caribbean. She calls it an “epidemic” and notes that marginalized women, like sex workers, are at increased risk because of fear arrest.

Read: Mothers, Students And Teachers Protested — And Were Attacked By Police — At Puerto Rico’s May Day March

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In Brazil, Four Women Have Been Killed Every Day This Year

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In Brazil, Four Women Have Been Killed Every Day This Year

Since the start of 2019, four women have been killed daily in Brazil — and human rights leaders want the South American country to tackle the gender violence crisis more aggressively.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the human rights arm of the 35-member Organization of American States, described the deaths as “alarming” and stressed that more needs to be done to combat violence against women at its roots.

“The commission calls on the Brazilian State to implement comprehensive strategies to prevent these acts, fulfill its obligation to investigate, prosecute and punish those responsible, as well as to offer protection and comprehensive reparation to all victims,” the Washington-based IACHR said in a statement.

In 2015, Brazil, joining nations across Latin America, took its first major step to address the growing killing of women, passing a law that gave a legal definition to the crime — femicide — and instituting jail sentences for convicted offenders up to 30 years.

But, nearly five years later, IACHR is calling for the Brazilian government to do more, particularly in strengthening prevention and protection measures.

“It is inadmissible that women with protection orders are murdered, that they do not have sufficient shelters or that their complaints are not properly taken into consideration,” Commissioner Margarette May, IACHR’s president and rapporteur for women’s rights, said.

According to Human Rights Watch, while Brazil, the largest country in Latin America, has a population of more than 200 million, there are only 74 shelters for survivors of domestic violence in the nation.

IACHR added that many of the fatal victims of gender violence in Brazil, disproportionately Black, Indigenous and queer women, are often shot dead in their own homes by current or former intimate partners who have a history of abuse.

“The commission notes with concern that in most cases, the murdered women had previously denounced their aggressors, faced serious acts of domestic violence or suffered previous attacks or attempted homicides,” the IACHR said.

With Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s far-right president who has been compared to Donald Trump, taking office last month, activists are concerned the matter won’t be wholly addressed. As a candidate in 2018, Bolsonaro, who has already renamed the existing ministry of human rights to the ministry of women, family and human rights, combining indigenous rights with women’s issues, was the only person running for president who did not denounce the murder of Rio de Janeiro councilwoman and Afro-Brazilian defender of human rights Marielle Franco.

Read: One Of The Men Suspected In The Slaying Of Councilwoman Marielle Franco Has Been Arrested

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