I’m absolutely spitting furious. I am a member of the Region of Waterloo Licensing and Retail Committee and I cannot believe the members had to find out about numerous, not one, but numerous alleged and proved sex assaults in taxi cabs through the Record. Before this, I can only remember one or two times when sex assault came before the committee. Of course the driver lost his license.
I have always told my daughters to carry enough money to take a taxi if a date goes bad or they feel unsafe or they have drunk too much. What am I to tell them now? Taxis are supposed to be a safe place for women.
In Waterloo, 70,000 students have just arrived to live away from home for the first time. Half of them are young women who can no longer call home for a ride.
I cannot believe that the Chair of my committee said, “Innocent until proven guilty.” and when I wrote to him upset about the Record article, he added, “We’re not Syria Yet”.
Taxi drivers are like teachers and priests. People who have a responsibility to work at a higher professional standard. Yes I know it is only a very small percent of the taxi drivers who were convicted of sex assault and are on trial as the staff head of our licensing division said. But do we say this about the handful of murders in our community? About the number of regular assaults? No these are subjects of deep concern.
When I was a school trustee, a teacher was removed from the classroom if they were accused of a sex crime. Yet a taxi driver was still driving around! And my committee wasn’t told.
Then there is the case of the woman who was drunk and the driver was acquitted. I quote from the Record:
“The Crown argued a driver picked up an intoxicated 20-year-old woman at night and took her to a deserted parking lot in October 2012. It was alleged he assaulted her in the back of his cab, where he took off her clothes, fondled her and touched himself. At his jury trial this year, the cabbie argued the woman initiated the contact. He was acquitted.”
The woman was drunk, therefore not in the capacity to give consent. I know a number of women who have been raped and never reported it.This is why.
I have been told that everything is cleared up now. That it was all because our by-laws didn’t require the police to report to the Region, who give and take away licenses. And soon drivers will have to report charges as well as convictions. Actually we use driving records. Surprisingly, not everyone reports their convictions. There will be cameras in the taxis. Because, as the head of the taxi association says, “It’s for everybody’s safety — drivers, passengers.”
The head of the taxi association is organizing a training meeting with police and drivers to tell them what is acceptable and not acceptable. Seriously? It’s not obvious? No, sadly, it’s not. I suggest trained women from the rape crisis center teach this course.
The Licensing committee hates drivers who speed in their taxis and this is a hundred times worse. I am furious.
I have since talked to the Head of Licensing and he is working with the sex assault centre as well as working on the other solutions mentioned. He told me he takes this issue very seriously and the evening we spoke, he was heading out to check out taxis and how things are going on the first weekend of students’ terms.