Come on Bill Bratton. We want to like you, we really do, but we need you to do better than this. Do you think you could do that for us?
According to ABC, 14 of the city's 166 reported rapes in 2015, and two already in 2016, were committed by cab drivers.
The NYPD announced these statistics at a press conference on Monday, and then Bratton made his victim-blaming suggestion.
"One of the areas of concern that we have is particularly young women coming out of clubs and bars," Bratton said during a radio interview on WNYC.
"They're by themselves and intoxicated getting into a cab ... and we've seen an increase in assaults in those instances. So we're encouraging women to adopt the buddy system."
We doubt Bratton has any idea that his comment was made in the exact spirit that fuels rape culture: the suggestion that women should be less free than men, that it might be a woman's fault she got raped because she got in a cab alone.
This resonates in the wake of the rhetoric of other victim blaming comments: that a woman's rape was her fault because of what she was wearing, or because she was walking alone at night.
Here's a good barometer, Bratton. If your suggestion for how to prevent rape requires a woman's autonomy to be compromised-- if you wouldn't make the same suggestion to men, then don't make it to women. It's infuriating.
Instead, get to the source, Bratton. Instead of instructing women not to ride cabs alone, how about taking measures to ensure cab drivers are not in a position to rape? Don't you think that'd be a better idea?
Luckily, city politicians and women's rights advocates attended the press conference where Bratton made these comments on Monday. They demanded more concrete measures to prevent rapes by cab drivers.
One proposal would require taxis and car services like Uber to have a back-seat panic button that would summon the police to a passenger in trouble.
City Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson made comments after the conference that were at direct odds with Bratton's.
billbratton A United Call To Take Care of Our 9/11 Heroes We lost 23 officers that day, and nearly five times as many since. It's "nearly” because the numbers change, sometimes daily. We're STILL losing people. For these first responders, September 11th has never really ended. These men and women went in when others ran out, and they stayed to work what became the largest crime scene in American history. They did it to take care of us, and we owe it to ourselves—as a nation—to take care of them. The Zadroga Bill is named after NYPD Police Officer James Zadroga. Officer Zadroga died from an illness caused by his participation in the rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero.
"We want to ensure that when we're working with our police department, we're not encouraging women to implement buddy systems, but rather saying, 'You have a right to be safe.' If you decide to go out and enjoy yourself in any borough and you get into a cab, there is an expectation that you arrive at your destination safely," Gibson said.
We also should point out that statistically, it's far more likely for a driver to be attacked in a cab than a female passenger. At least three drivers were killed in New York last year.
Still, instances of cab assault have been on the rise in cities other than New York, and these types of headlines can do a lot to create a culture of fear for women.
It's a good rule to keep in mind that if at any point you're blaming anyone for an attack against their safety, you're enforcing a cultural bias that restricts that person's freedom. We'd appreciate if in the future, Bratton would keep that in mind.[via The New York Times] [Feature Image Courtesy Instagram]