City leader blasts taxi harassment

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The head of Oslo’s city government, Stian Berger Røsland, called an emergency meeting on Wednesday with both local taxi companies and police after several women have reported being sexually harassed by taxi drivers. “This is completely unacceptable,” Røsland told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).

City government leader Stian Berger Røsland from the Conservative Party sees great economic development prospects from an Olympics, and is keen to exploit the success of the last Olympics held in Norway by reusing facilities in and around Lillehammer. PHOTO: OSLO2022/Oslo kommune

City government leader Stian Berger Røsland is calling a meeting with taxi companies and the police to address sexual harassment of female passengers. PHOTO: Oslo kommune

Several women have told NRK that they’ve been subjected to sexual harassment by taxi drivers. After NRK reported the harassment on its morning radio broadcasts nationwide, many more women responded by saying they, too, had been victims of harassment.

Some say they’ve been both verbally and physical abuse, or that aggressive taxi drivers have refused to let them out of the car or drive them to the correct destination. Others have “invited themselves” to late-night parties, or suggested they come home with their female passengers.

In one case, a woman who had taken a taxi home from a football match on a Tuesday evening told NRK that her driver began telling her she was pretty and that she looked like “a superstar.” Then he proceeded to ask whether she enjoyed oral sex, repeating the question “at least 10 times and making perverse gestures with his mouth and fingers,” she told NRK. “Then I got scared. I yelled that he had to stop the car and I got out.” She said that a friend of hers had a similar experience with another taxi driver.

“These are people who shouldn’t be taxi drivers,” Røsland told NRK. “What we need to do now, both within the branch, the city and the police, is to make sure that we have the necessary means to prevent such people from becoming taxi drivers.”

Oslo Taxi has received around 30 complaints about its drivers, NRK reported, while Norgestaxi has received six. There currently is no common complaints bureau for the entire branch, something which the state consumer council (Forbrukerrådet) has noted.

“We need to see what we can do, or whether we need help from the Parliament or the state government,” Røsland said. “We have the possibility of seizing their licenses, police can retract permission for taxis to operated, and the branch can clearly decide who they want as drivers. There are many possibilities here.” Incidents of harassment are not unique to Oslo, and have been reported in other Norwegian cities as well.

Røsland encouraged anyone experiencing harassment to report it to the police. Lars Dolva, information chief at Oslo Taxi, was glad the city’s top government official was reacting as he did. “It’s important that we all sit around the same table and go through this,” Dolva told NRK. “Then we can decide what we can do.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund