News / Toronto

Founder of Toronto ridesharing service for women speaks out about Halifax taxi verdict

'A place that is supposed to be a safe haven has also become a place of threat,' Aisha Addo says.

Aisha Addo, founder of DriveHer, is starting a ride-sharing service by women for women.

Torstar News Service

Aisha Addo, founder of DriveHer, is starting a ride-sharing service by women for women.

A Toronto woman launching Canada’s first ride-sharing service exclusively for women has added her voice to the growing outrage over a sexual assault verdict in Halifax.

Aisha Addo, founder of DriveHer, said the case is an example of the horror stories she’s heard from women over the years.

“A place that is supposed to be a safe haven has also become a place of threat,” she said about cabs. 

A Halifax judge handed down a not guilty verdict Wednesday in the case of a driver charged with sexually assaulting a young woman found drunk and unconscious in his cab. In his ruling Judge Gregory Lenehan said “clearly a drunk can consent.”

Judge Gregory Lenehan when he was a Crown prosecutor in 2009.

CBC

Judge Gregory Lenehan when he was a Crown prosecutor in 2009.

Calls for a formal review of his decision have been mounting from advocates across the country.

“The message this is sending out there to younger girls is that, 'hey, if you go out and you drink too much and then you get into a taxi and something happens, you can’t necessarily report it to the police because the judge is going to say the fact that you were drunk means that you can still give consent,” Addo said.

She wants to see mandatory sexual assault training for all cab and ride-share drivers as well as extensive background checks.

Halifax taxi verdict

While she’s heard stories about sexual assault, she’s heard many more about general harassment, lewd comments and prying personal questions asked by cab drivers.

The industry is dominated by men and many women find themselves hailing a ride alone at night after they’ve had a few drinks, Addo added.

“I think it does put women in a vulnerable position,” she said.

She sees her service — rolling out soon in the Peel region and in Toronto after that — as an alternative in a situation where there are few alternatives.

The TTC does offer a late-night service that lets people feeling vulnerable request a drop-off between stops. But Addo said there needs to be more options.

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