The Montréal Police Service has instructed women not to take taxis home late at night and to drink responsibly, after a series of women were sexual harassed by their cab drivers. A somewhat embarrassing notice to issue if not prefaced by “this is a short-term solution”. This kind of recommendation is a bandaid and in no way deals with the problem: the offenders. Maybe, instead of calling on women to find a different avenue home at night, enforce taxi driver screening policies (of which Montreal has none)? Or arrest someone?
Montreal Police Tell Women To Not Take Taxis In The City Alone Anymore
Concern for the safety of women riding in Montreal taxis comes in the wake of a rather startingly story of an NDG woman who was sexually assaulted by a cabbie in NDG last weekend. The 26-year old woman spoke to CJAD, recounting her sexual assault at the hands of a cab driver, who leaped to the back seat and forcibly kissed her when she was about to get out of the car.
Following this report, four more women in NDG came forward with similar stories of sexual assault, according to CBC. Montreal police stated that there have been 17 other cases of a similar nature reported this year alone, with a total of 29 in in NDG last year.
The police are now looking for leads on these recent cases of sexual assault, and note that it could be a single taxi driver who is the perpetrator. All well and good, though it was the Montreal’s police force’s recommendation to women taking cabs that is quite problematic.
Addressing the women of Montreal, the SPVM said women should try to not take taxis alone, and to “limit their alcohol consumption and stay in control,” as quoted by the Gazette. If you see a problem with this, then congratulations, you are a sensible person.
Telling women to not drink before getting into a cab and “stay in control” is essentially putting the responsibility on women to not be sexually assaulted by a taxi driver, something I don’t think any woman is looking for. It’s basically the same as saying a woman is “asking for it” simply by wearing a short dress or skirt. Alison Hanes eloquently explains the inherent issues with the SPVM’s statment quite well, all of which we agree with.
Instead of giving almost useless advice, the SPVM should be ensuring the safety of taxi passengers, and preventing any future sexual assaults. Background checks for Montreal cab drivers, which aren’t a thing, would go a long way in this, and it’s about time the city starting making this a requirement, as they already promised.
Melbourne, Australia has its own solution to the same problem, which could be applied to Montreal. Still, the creation of a for-women-only taxi service is just a bandaid on a much larger issue.
For more on all things Montreal, follow Michael on Twitter @MDAlimonte