‘Boyfriend will keep me from raping you’
FEMALE Uber and Lyft drivers have shared shocking stories of sexual harassment while on the job, including being propositioned for sex and touched inappropriately.
Speaking to Cosmopolitan as part of the #MeToo movement sparked by the Harvey Weinstein sex scandal, the 11 women described the dangers they faced while working for the ride-sharing platforms, particularly at night.
"The first night that I went out driving for Uber, I had my boyfriend with me because I was nervous," 31-year-old Maggie told the publication.
"We picked an individual up from a bar and he hit on both of us, asking us to stop driving for the night and go to his house to fool around.
"I was extremely uncomfortable but glad my boyfriend was with me. When we got to this guy's destination, he said, 'Well, I'm glad your boyfriend was with you to keep me from raping you.' I started driving with pepper spray and my gun after that, but I couldn't figure out how to report him."
Jessica, 35, recalled a passenger propositioning her for sex before the ride even started. "I said no, trying to laugh it off so he could get himself together," she said.
"But then he started calling me a bitch because I wouldn't do anything with him. He was really drunk, like falling-down drunk, so I wasn't as worried about something happening, but he was so belligerent that I told him I wasn't going to take him."
Anna, 23, told of how she picked up a man from a bar at 2:30am when he was "super drunk". "We got to his apartment complex, and before he got out of the car, he was like, 'Can I tell you a secret?' and motioned for me to bring my ear closer to him," she said.
"I wouldn't do it, but I wanted him to get out of my car so I finally moved closer to him and he started trying to kiss my neck ... I reported him to Uber and gave him a one-star."
Several reported being inappropriately touched. "I ... once had an intoxicated man in the front seat who put his hand on my thigh while he was talking to me," said 38-year-old Vanessa.
"I told him that he needed to move his hand, so he apologised and moved it, but when he did, he was like, 'Wow, you're really beautiful.' And while he continued talking, he put his hand on my thigh again. And he wasn't just touching my leg - his hand was on the inside of my thigh."
Some of the women also reported inappropriate advances from couples, including other women. "I picked up these two girls that I had actually picked up once before," said 35-year-old Lyft driver ShaQueta.
"When I picked them up, they told me I should come home with them. I asked if they were a couple, and they said they weren't, they just play around every now and then. I told them I wasn't interested, and they asked why I was being so stuck up, and they said they were into black girls.
"Then one of the girls took off her underwear and was twirling it in the air, and the other girl was like, 'Do you smell that? That's what good pussy smells like. I can only imagine what yours tastes like.'"
Both platforms say they have a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment. An Uber spokeswoman told Cosmopolitan the stories were "deeply concerning".
"Sexual harassment is a societal problem that affects all of us - individuals, businesses and industries - including transportation and the Uber community," she said.
"We recognise we have a responsibility to listen, to learn and to find ways we can play an important role in prevention - in the workplace and on the road."
Lyft, which does not have a presence in Australia, said the safety of its community was a top priority. "Lyft does not tolerate harassment on our platform, and such behaviour can and does lead to a permanent ban from our service," it said in a statement.