After a surge of activity in January, Unsafe Cabs lost momentum and couldn’t get the kind of traction and volunteer base it needed to operate. Unfortunately, the site is still very relevant and will provide a much-needed resource for women and other people who feel unsafe in cabs because of driver conduct.
John Silvester’s crime report in The Age on Saturday describes a toxic culture in which women are not only experiencing assault at the hands of taxi drivers but then often don’t report, fearing they will be disbelieved or blamed. This follow up piece by Alana Schetzer profiles Unsafe Cabs as a grassroots initiative created to help people out with options and a safe space to share their stories.
I must repeat, and refer you back to the mission statement, that Unsafe Cabs has nothing but the highest respect and gratitude to the large majority of drivers who work hard to provide safe, friendly and efficient services to passengers. The taxi industry has its own structural problems that negatively impact drivers, and of course, drivers are not always safe due to the conduct of passengers. This site will not tolerate sweeping generalisations about all drivers, racism (implied or otherwise), or victim blaming of passengers who are assaulted or harassed by drivers.
That said, I think we can create something valuable in terms of providing resources and support for those who experience unsafe cabs. I see it as an opportunity to share experiences (both positive and negative), offer advice, and point out the options available to victims of assault, harassment, abuse or unwanted advances from drivers. Unsafe Cabs would like to build relationships with the Victorian Taxi Directorate, Consumer Affairs, the Public Transport Users Association, Victoria Police, community legal services, feminist organisations, disability advocates, and the various taxi companies servicing Melbourne (and possibly beyond). That should get us off to a good start. If you are involved with any of these bodies and want to become a supporter or ally, I’d love to hear from you.
If you’d like to help out with researching, writing copy, website administration or community outreach and relationship-building, I’d be grateful for your ideas and assistance. This is a voluntary project with no funding or political affiliations and the current membership is me. I’m just learning all about this industry myself, and making connections as I go. Thank you to the people who’ve already contacted me and offered their support or help. To those who suggested a PayPal button for donations, that is underway. I reckon we can do a good thing here, at a very basic level, to reassure victims that they’re not alone, that this is not okay, and that they have options.