After Brazilian writer and activist Clara Averbuck posted on Facebook that she had been raped by an Uber driver, other women in Brazil began telling their stories with the hashtag #MeuMotoristaAbusador, or "My Abusive Driver."
The outpouring of stories on Facebook and Twitter made Averbuck's point distressingly clear.
Dozens of women came forward to talk about drivers taking advantage of the closeness of sharing a car to touch their passengers.
Among the reports were cases where the driver locked the passenger in the car and made some kind of threat. In this case, the goal was the victim's telephone number.
There were cases where the driver used the app's rating system as blackmail.
Other drivers had used the argument that the fare would be free if the victims just went along with the drivers' desires.
The stories show that the abuse can happen in any situation.
Many women said they felt afraid to make a formal accusation because the drivers know the address where they live.
The reports also served as a reminder that the abuse isn't limited to Ubers and cab rides. It can also occur in other situations, like when hitching a ride.
And can occur even at the hands of men who are close to the victims, like friends.
Since 2009, Brazilian legislation has considered rape to be any act, such as undesired touching of private parts, that has occurred through violence or grave threat, even if penetration doesn't take place.
In other words, in the law's eyes there is no longer any difference between rape and an indecent assault. Here are the current penalties for rape in Brazil:
— From 6 to 10 years' imprisonment, in nonqualifying cases.
— From 8 to 10 years' imprisonment, if the victim has suffered great bodily harm or if they are between 14 and 18 years of age.
— From 12 to 30 years, if the victim has been murdered.
This post was translated from Portuguese.
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