Grab criticized for asking for ‘mediation’ between customer and driver she reported for forcibly kissing her

The Instagram story detailing the customer’s claim of sexual assault and the response from Grab Indonesia’s Twitter account saying that they had offered to hold a mediation between the customer and the driver but the customer had refused.

While there’s no doubt that the rise of ride-hailing apps has made transportation more convenient for many Indonesians, considering the hundred of thousands of “partner drivers” now employed by market leaders Grab and Go-Jek and news stories about customers being sexually harassed or, in a few cases, assaulted, their policies for handling customer safety and complaints are rightfully under heavy scrutiny.

Grab Indonesia’s response to a recent customer complaint, which went viral after it was detailed in a social media post, has been heavily criticized by many and led some to declare that they would no longer be using the company’s services.

The incident began with this Instagram post from a friend of the customer that was shared by the Indonesia Feminis account and later reposted by @lambe_ojol.

The post describes the customer’s experience of being unwillingly kissed on the lips by her driver and not resisting because she feared for her life. She also says the the driver threatened her to make sure she gave him a 5/5 star rating in the app, leading her to suspect he’d done it to other customers before.

The second part of the story includes the driver’s identifying information and says that his friend attempted to get Grab to fire the driver.

The story got further attention from a viral tweet by @qitmr, which then received a response from the official Grab Indonesia Twitter account.

Thank you for sharing the information with us. Grab Management is aware of this information and based on the results of our investigation, the relevant driver partner has been given sanctions in accordance with the Grab Driver Partner Code of Conduct.

But that wasn’t all. The response thread went on:

Furthermore, we have also explained that the concerned driver partner was willing to meet with the passenger to give an explanation directly and we offered a mediation process between the two sides.

But until now, the passenger still refuses to meet, despite already receiving an explanation from our side.

The thread goes on, saying that they were grateful to the passengers for reporting the incident and allowing them to follow up.  “Safety is obviously a major priority for us and is a pillar of Grab’s entire operational activities as well as our services,” one tweet says, followed by another mentioning the Grab app’s advanced security features including the “Share my Ride” option and emergency buttons for passengers and drivers (a press release from the company describing the new features, released in May, declared “Grab Reaffirms its Position as Safest Ride-hailing Platform in Indonesia with New Safety Measures”)

Grab’s response was quickly lambasted by many who argued that the idea of having a “mediation” meeting between the driver and the passenger was completely insensitive, given the trauma the driver had allegedly put her through in the first place, and that saying the customer “refused” the mediation was akin to victim blaming.

Hollaback Jakarta, an organization that combats and raises awareness about sexual harassment, asked Grab if calling for a mediation between drivers and the customer who have accused them of harassment was their official policy.

Grab did not respond to their question and we have not yet seen an official statement on whether this is indeed their standard response or if there were special circumstances in this case that they felt called for a mediation between the two parties.

We have reached out to Grab Indonesia for a clarification and will update this article with their response.

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