Unsafe Cabs hopes to provide resources, support and information for those who want to help make travelling in cabs safer for women. Unsafe Cabs asserts that our public spaces belong to women too, and too many of us have been propositioned, threatened, harassed or assaulted by taxi drivers when travelling alone. The idea is that together we build a one-stop resource with links to the appropriate organisations and advice about how to proceed if you wish to make a complaint. These processes vary from state to state and we’ll try to account for that too.
We thought a good start would involve publishing clear guidelines on the rights and responsibilities of passengers, the rights and responsibilities of drivers, and the options you have when you feel your rights have been overlooked or abused by a cab driver. We can hopefully provide directions for how to make complaints to a) the cab company, b) the appropriate public transport directorates or consumer groups, c) the police and/or d) community legal services if you want to take further action in court.
Our hope is that sharing and focusing this information in one place will empower women and remind them that they’re not alone, give them the facts they need to take it further, and create a broad base of pressure on taxi providers to crack down on this behaviour in the industry. We’ll also connect with other organisations and movements like SlutWalk, Reclaim the Night, Hollaback Melbourne and Melbourne Feminist Action, to share and access other ideas.
To be absolutely clear, Unsafe Cabs does not seek to imply that only women feel unsafe in cabs. Obviously, many people (including queer and trans folk, people of colour, people of disability, the elderly and many other groups) feel unsafe in cabs and experience ill treatment at the hands of drivers who abuse their rights. Unsafe Cabs hopes to be attentive to these issues while focusing on the experiences of women, and creating a safe space for women to seek support and assistance. Hate speech, triggering language and derailing of women’s concerns will not be tolerated here.
A further point of clarification that matters a great deal is the assertion that Unsafe Cabs in no way wants to demonise all cab drivers. It’s a difficult and systemically unfair industry to work in, and drivers are often themselves working in conditions of heightened danger and risk of abuse and attack. We take that seriously, and also want to reiterate how many good men and women work as taxi drivers and acquit themselves every day with integrity, fairness, kindness and care. Driving taxis can be a lifeline for many, helping to establish whole families, paying for further education, and breaking out of poverty cycles. It’s a profession that many take seriously and with good reason – getting people where they need to go safely and swiftly is a fine aim, and we all know how reassuring and cheering it is to find yourself in a clean cab with a friendly, efficient driver. So likewise, Unsafe Cabs will not tolerate hate speech or offensive generalisations about cab drivers, no matter how angry or upset your experiences have made you.
That said, this should be a place with one broad aim – making cabs safer. We’ll have guest posts from different commentators and experts, and we’ll post advice, strategies and tips for making your taxi travel safer and less scary. Hopefully by communicating these fears and solutions with one another we’ll go some way to connecting women through their experiences and making you feel less alone.