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Uber reports 141 rapes, 998 sexual assault incidents overall in 2020, despite pandemic ridership decline

Uber received 3,824 reports of sexual assault and misconduct from 2019 through 2020, a 38% decrease from 2017 through 2018, the company said in its U.S. safety report Thursday.
An Uber car drives through Times Square on Nov. 16, 2020 in New York.
An Uber car drives through Times Square on Nov. 16, 2020 in New York.Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / VIEWpress / Corbis via Getty Images file

Uber reported 141 incidents of rape and 998 incidents of sexual assault overall in 2020, even as the business was crippled by the ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic and ridership plummeted, according the company’s 2019-2020 U.S. Safety Report released Thursday.

Uber received 3,824 reports of sexual assault and misconduct from 2019 to 2020, according to the report, the second of its kind.

That number is a 38% decrease compared to the 5,981 incidents reported from 2017-2018, according to company data released in 2019.

The decline came at the same time the nation locked down due to the coronavirus crisis and travel was limited to essential trips. According to Uber’s data, there were 1.4 billion U.S. trip reports in 2019, that number sunk to 650 million in 2020 under the backdrop of the pandemic. 

“The change in rate of sexual assault reports over time may have been impacted by a number of factors, including how the COVID-19 pandemic altered usage of the platform as well as Uber’s safety and transparency efforts," Uber said in the report. "But each reported incident represents a harrowing lived experience for the survivor. Even one report is one report too many.”

Here are some of the more startling statistics in the 78-page report:

  • 141 reports of non-consensual sexual penetration, or rape, in 2020, down from 247 in 2019.
  • In 2020 there were 998 incidents of sexual assault across five categories: non-consensual sexual penetration, non-consensual kissing of a sexual body part, non-consensual touching of a sexual body part, attempted non-consensual sexual penetration, non-consensual kissing of a non-sexual body part.
  • In 2019, there were 2,826 incident reports across the five categories.
  • Riders were the accused party 43% of the time in sexual assaults from 2019 to 2020, similar to the 45% Uber's 2017-2018 report.
  • Drivers, 56% of the time, were the accused party across the 5 categories of sexual assault.
  • Across 2019 and 2020, for rape, the survivor was the rider in 91% of incident reports, the drivers were survivors in 7%
  • Women made up 81% of the survivors of rape, men comprised about 15% from 2019-2020, doubling from 7% reported in 2017 to 2018. 

Uber rolled out its first safety report in 2019 after facing increasing scrutiny on the heels of lawsuits from riders alleging they were sexually assaulted by drivers. 

In the Thursday report, the ride-sharing service said in its dedication to safety on the platform, drivers are given criminal background checks — a mark that more than 500,00 prospective drivers failed in the 2019-2020 period. 

More than 80,000 drivers have also been removed from the app to date due to continuous criminal and motor vehicle checks, the report said.

Uber touted rolling out sexual misconduct education for drivers on the platform and launching new product features such as on-trip reporting — "which allows riders to discreetly report a non-emergency safety issue during a trip" — to improve rider safety.

The ride sharing service also provides a Survivor Resources Hotline to support survivors who report sexual assault incidents on the Uber app, it said in the report.