One sex abuse a week in Australian taxis

July 4th, 2010 - 11:08 am ICT by IANS  

Sydney, July 4 (IANS) At least one complaint of a “sexual nature” is lodged every week against a taxi driver in Australia’s southeastern state of New South Wales despite the cabs being tracked with CCTV cameras and global positioning radio devices, media reports have said.
Even though taxis are regarded as the safest form of public transport, 20 sexual complaints were made to cab companies in the first five months of this year. Six were upheld but only one was reported to police, according to the state transport department which will now make three cameras compulsory for all vehicles.

“Three cameras are required under the new specifications because they provide greater security for passengers and the driver,” The Sydney Morning Heral quoted a Transport NSW spokesman as saying.

Coupled with GPS tracking devices and information sharing with police, the extra cameras would “mean that even without a licence-plate number, information such as pick-up and drop-off locations and times are enough to identify the taxi in which an incident has occurred”.

Taxi drivers underwent a criminal record check and 92 complaints have been lodged in two-and-a-half years, relating to gestures, language, harassment or unwanted advances, the Transport NSW said, adding, “all complaints of a sexual nature were taken extremely seriously and investigated”.

NSW Rape Crisis Centre manager, Karen Willis, said the number of complaints against taxi drivers would only represent about 15 percent of the total cases.

“It is never easy to report sexual assault. The key is making the offenders responsible and challenging their behaviour, not telling woman to live their lives in fear,” Willis said.

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