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Taxi companies under fire after sexual assault incidents

With the recent introduction of Uber cab services in Australia and their link with a number of sexual assault cases around the world, passenger safety in taxis is once again being questioned.

Sexual assaults in transport services are not uncommon, with motor vehicles being one of the foremost places for these incidents to occur.

According to Rape and Domestic Services of Australia, one in five women will be the victim of sexual assault in Australia and an estimated 126,000 sexual assault incidents occur each year.

Motor vehicles pose as one of the easiest places for criminals to gain control over victims in these type of sexual assault situations.

While passengers are not assured safety in any transport service, unregistered taxi companies or ride-sharing services like Uber present greater risks for both men and women in terms of safety and liability.

Although registered drivers may have had appropriate screenings and licence tests, this does not always prevent criminals from slipping through the cracks.

As of July 14 2014, Uber introduced insurance for ride-sharing in the U.S., but is yet to confirm any type of insurance in other countries. In the absence of insurance, companies such as Uber may be liable for incidents of sexual assault if they are not following correct protocols.

Uber’s most recent incident occurred in Chicago, where a driver allegedly raped a 22-year-old passenger in December 2014. This incident has reignited the ongoing debate of passenger safety in taxis but in a new form, known as online ride-sharing services which are illegal in most countries.

Services like these, which include Uber, have received backlash from several countries after the company was at the centre of sexual assault cases in the U.S., New Delhi and now Melbourne, Australia.

The Queensland Government issued a cease-and-desist in May 2014 in an attempt to make Uber meet existing taxi service laws.

Since then, several lawsuits have been issued against the company and Uber is now banned in Spain and New Delhi.

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: March 19, 2015.

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