Flagging down a cab at night? Hail No!

Montreal Police need to show more drive

Threaten to take away their pensions, and Montreal Police will storm City Hall. When women are being raped, well — that’s another issue entirely, apparently.

In recent weeks, many women have come out to talk about their experiences in Montreal’s taxis. There have been numerous complaints of sexual assault, and many more who chose not to file a formal report are speaking out.

Montreal taxis are not required to have GPS or cameras, and although legally obligated, background checks on drivers are never done. Women out late must often choose between risking public transportation or taxis. (Louis Duchesne / Flickr)

What was the SPVM’s response? Was it promising to finally introduce the cameras that were proposed for cabs back in April? Or the GPS trackers to watch which cabs pick up which customers? More police presence after dark? No, no wait — how about actually implementing the background checks that are mandated by law, but are not enforced due to bureaucratic confusion?

Nope! Better tell women not to hail a cab. Problem solved.

I’m outraged, but not surprised. It’s not the first time that the police has decided that it is up to women not to get raped. In 2011, a Toronto police officer famously said that “women should avoid dressing like sluts” to keep themselves safe from sexual assault.

Let’s run down the master list of how not to get sexually assaulted, shall we?

Don’t dress like a “slut” — but geez, try to pretty yourself up, will ya? You’ll never get a man like that! Now then, don’t go around tempting him, you know that boys will be boys (and yes, eye contact counts). Don’t drink to excess, but come on, darling, just take a sip! What are you, some prude? Oh, you got drunk? Well, of course he’s going to bring you home with him.

Want to go home alone instead? Yeesh, talk about cold. Well, if you insist — but don’t walk home, that’s dangerous! You want to take a bus? Do you know what kind of people are on those things after dark? Better take a cab (hope you can afford it) — but make sure you call one, don’t hail it! (But remember, standing outside on the city street is dangerous.) Once you’re inside, make sure you take the identification number down! And call someone to tell them where you are! Of course, if you feel unsafe, better just ask him to stop and let you back out. Back at square one? Tough luck. Be lucky he even stopped in the first place.

There is simply no way to win if you’re a woman in Montreal at night. No wonder so many women didn’t report to the police: when you’re expected to follow so many unspoken rules, who knows what will happen when you try to tell your side of the story?

After all, no one has asked if a murder victim was asking for it. No one bothers questioning if the robbed knew the robber. The “pleasure” of being constantly called into question, scrutinized and demeaned is one entitled to victims of sexual assault alone.

I always was under the impression that Montreal’s police would be both available and willing to help me if something were to happen. However, in recent months — starting with the standing-by of officers as protesters broke into our biggest civil institution, and now with the lackluster response to the numerous sexual assaults taking place in the city — my trust is, simply put, non-existent.

In the meantime, does anyone know how to sign up for Uber?

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