MAY 8 — Late last month, a former Grab driver in Singapore was found not guilty of attempted rape of a drunk 19-year-old passenger in 2018.
The woman was taking the Grab back to her home after a night out with friends.
She had been drinking and after declining a ride from friends, she was helped into the car.
When she reached her destination, she was unable to find the access card to her residence. When the driver realised she was struggling, he helped her back into his car.
She was visibly upset and frustrated. The driver claims at this point he tried to calm her down by holding her hand and then she started kissing him.
Other sexual activity followed. The driver then drove the woman to another location and attempted to engage in more sexual activity with her but eventually dropped her back at her residence.
The woman was found hours later unconscious on the road without any underwear.
It was clear he already knew she couldn’t enter her home so what did he expect would happen to her?
A case was brought against the driver arguing that all the sexual activity engaged in was non-consensual as the woman was too drunk and that the incident amounted to rape.
While I will not deem to know better than a court on points of law, it is my personal opinion that a driver should not be making advances on his passenger especially not when she is visibly intoxicated and distressed.
The law may be on the driver’s side but I think his behaviour fell far short of any basic standard of decency.
The driver was in his 40s, more than 20 years older than the woman concerned, and married.
Whether the woman was drunk enough to consent or not, we know this is very difficult to determine and to some extent is a matter of opinion.
But what is clear is you’re an older sober man whose job in this instance is to deliver a young drunk woman home. When she struggles to enter her home, it is I would argue your duty to make sure she’s safe and not take her back to your car and begin engaging in sexual acts with her and definitely not to finally leave her unattended and undressed on the street.
To me, it is relevant that he is her driver — he literally only came into contact and proximity with her because of his job. A job that has a clearly defined role.
Unless it’s this driver’s experience that 19-year-old women he has barely met frequently try to engage in sex acts with him.
While you might be sympathetic to the temptation, that is not an excuse and it’s not a decent standard of behaviour.
Drunk people — both men and women — initiate all sorts of stupid activities. Unfortunately it’s the job of reasonable non-drunk adults around them to make sure they don’t end up doing harm to themselves or the people around them.
Engaging in these acts did harm to the driver’s own family as well.
The whole situation to me seems distasteful. Of course, consent is a complicated conversation but is this the standard we should accept from men in our society?
If a visibly drunk or distressed woman who is barely known to you starts making out with you while your job is to drive her home, it is generally safe to assume she’s not in the right state of mind.
Reject her advances and convey her to a place where she might be safe. Whatever you do, don’t commit a furtive sex act then flee leaving the person in a vulnerable position.
Is my expectation truly that unreasonable?
*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.