Pipper sent in this poster from the Transport for London office that advises people to never use private cabs that haven’t been booked by phone–that is, to not get into a cab you hail on the street rather than get through a dispatch office. The poster obviously uses violence toward women to get across the idea that getting into a private cab that has not been officially dispatched (and therefore has an official record of the trip) could be dangerous (potentially upsetting image below):

I suppose it could be about murder, but when I saw it I instantly assumed it was implying that she’s being raped.

This one is unambiguously about rape:

I found several others that didn’t have anyone pictured, but I couldn’t find any that showed a male passenger being at risk.  While women have been raped by UK cab drivers, so have gay men. I couldn’t find any data on the total number of crimes by cab drivers, and I think all the stories about women being raped referred to the one case, Worley, who attacked multiple women. Does anyone know more about this? Is there a high rate of crimes against women by unlicensed/unbooked cab drivers? Is this just a sensationalist panic, perhaps linked to anti-immigrant sentiment (for example)? [Or not! I just googled “UK rape cabs” and a lot of pages about Muslim cab drivers attacking women came up, so I was wondering if that played a part, is all. That’s why I was asking.] Is rape the only crime people really worry about (as opposed to being robbed or otherwise victimized), or is it being utilized as a “worst case scenario” attention-getter?

And I have to say, I find the images disturbing. I’m pretty sure there is a way to get across the need to use licensed, dispatched cabs (assuming that other cabs really do represent a significant danger) without resorting to showing a terrified woman lying on her back with text that mimics what we often hear women screaming or begging when rape is portrayed on TV or in movies. If nothing else, they could be pretty upsetting to women who have been raped and have to see them in public places.


It’s not the first time violence against women has been used in PSAs. There was the Danish Hit the Bitch campaign and pretty much every PETA protest ever. There was also the CSI ad that showed a dead woman’s body that had clearly been assaulted.

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