The Toronto police are investigating a report of sexual harassment made against an Uber driver in Toronto. Vv Magazine’s Patty Hails has all the details.
Halloween came early for rising YouTube star and anime/cyberpunk/gaming enthusiast Erika Szabo, when her Uber driver made threatening unwanted sexual advances bordering on assault.
Szabo’s phone died just before she got into the car. Uncertain of whether payment would go through since it’s done through the app, Szabo told the driver her phone was dead. Seizing what he must have seen as an opportunity, Vice reported that the driver lied to Szabo, saying the payment wouldn’t go through if her phone was dead.
According to a CBC News report, at this point, an unsuspecting Szabo asked the driver to stop his vehicle and let her out. The driver refused.
Once on the highway, the driver told Szabo she would have to give him a blowjob as payment. Szabo told Vice that the driver said, “You need to pay me for this because I am driving over six kilometers”. Szabo, most likely terrified, said no.
The driver continued to insist that Szabo “need[ed] to do something about this” according to Vice’s report, and then instructed her to show him her breasts. Szabo said no, so the driver offered to pay her, and she said no again. Then she got out of his car early.
Let’s take a minute to acknowledge this young woman’s overwhelming resilience. We need to bask in that. It’s something we should honor in every survivor. Hell #YesAllWomen.
So many women can relate to the palpable fear that comes when someone tries to remove our agency. It can’t be overstated.
Sometimes I experience that fear as a cold sweat and my ears start to ring. My limbs go numb. I’m dizzy. Sometimes I can’t stay in my body. I check out. I’m gone. Or I freeze. Or all of those things.
I can’t speak to Szabo’s experience—only she can do that—but I can guess as to the type of fear she might have felt in that car. I can imagine what might have begun to surface for her in the days since. The aftershocks of anger: surging, pulsing. The shame. That fucking shame that belongs on the perpetrator. She named a sense of humiliation in her CBC interview, and that is a result of rape culture.
Let’s not minimize this. The driver tried to coerce Szabo. He kept her in his vehicle against her will. He demanded “payment” in the form of what would have amounted to oral rape.
Szabo told the National Post that even as she was about to get out and walk the rest of the way home, she was afraid the driver would keep her locked inside his vehicle.
According to various news reports, on arriving home, Szabo plugged in her phone. She checked the app and saw that Uber had indeed received her payment in the amount of $12. But don’t worry spoiler alert: they reimbursed her a day or two later.
When she first complained to a worker at Uber’s physical Toronto office, the company was unresponsive. As reported by Vice:
There, she says she received little assistance and was told, “We can’t help you here.” Szabo says an employee there told her that while normally customers like her are a priority, the worker was currently busy dealing with a driver filling out an application to work for the company. Disappointed to learn that there was no customer service available at the headquarters, after, she went to Toronto police and filed a report.
Uber told Vice it would look into the situation and that it removed the driver from his post.
I reached out to Uber for comment. As of press time, the company has not replied.
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