Whether by bus, cab or foot, commuters are particularly susceptible to sexual harassment in Malta. However, it’s not just passengers who face abuse, with one Maltese cab driver speaking up about the dark side to Malta’s taxi apps.
“I’ve been a cab driver for four years. The number of business cards, offers and comments I face is as creepy as it gets,” Alexandra*, 32, told Lovin Malta.
The worst part, she added, was the fact that cab drivers like her are subject to a rating at the end of each trip.
“A driver that refuses certain sexual advances can receive one star after a trip, possibly a bad comment and be investigated. It could leave them without a job at the end.”
When it comes to harassment, Alexandra said it would happen once a week before the pandemic hit. Recently, it’s toned down to once a month.
One scene that left its mark was when a client tried to force her to touch him.
“It was an early morning ride and the client was seated next to me. Although I drive an automatic car, I have a habit of leaving my hand on the gear lever.”
“We were chatting along the way, I can’t remember what about. Suddenly, he grabbed my hand by the wrist and pulled it towards his crotch. Instantly I pulled it back, he apologised and didn’t say another word.”
She didn’t report it or even tell her partner about that morning. Instead, she worried that her rating could take a blow because of the incident.
When it comes to passengers, Alexandra said harassment often comes from clients on late-night rides and under the influence.
“It’s mostly drunk people who are out of their senses – or at least that’s what I tell myself. It’s my job to smile, help and chat – I can’t help if someone interprets it wrongly.”
Harassment is a virus that affects every stratum of society. In Malta, hundreds of people opened up about to Lovin Malta their stories facing sexual abuse online, on public transport, clubs, from strangers and people they know.
Workplace harassment as faced by Alexandra is a crime. Unfortunately, many like her don’t report the abuse they’ve faced to authorities, prompting the question of how Malta can better support victims to come forward to crack down on the issue.
*Names have been changed for the sake of anonymity
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