To increase their income, app drivers have agreed to have sex with passengers in exchange for money.
Over three weeks, the Folha report heard reports and testimonies from drivers registered with Uber, 99 and InDriver who confirmed the existence of the practice.
All asked not to have their names released to avoid punishment. Sought, the companies said that those involved can have their accounts deactivated.
In most cases, both the passenger and the driver are male. There are reports of drivers receiving offers from female passengers who wanted to pay for the ride with sex rather than cash, but these are rarer.
According to drivers, there is a kind of code, with signals that can be sent discreetly by anyone interested in sex.
The most common of them is the letter “b” -a reference to oral sex- written in the platform’s chat and sent by the passenger to the driver before getting into the car. It was created by users in response to apps that automatically detect and punish those who use the space to write pornographic terms.
The initial approach can also occur during the journey through looks in the rearview mirror, gestures and questions.
Afterwards, the parties agree on what they want to do (masturbation, oral or anal sex) and the amounts that will be charged. The act can be practiced with the car in motion, stopped on less busy streets, in a motel (paid for by the customer) or even in the passenger’s house.
Felipe (not his real name), 31, worked as a bartender in São Paulo and earned R$100 a night. Four years ago, he decided to become a driver to increase his income. He says he has always been harassed by passengers, until one day he decided to accept one of the proposals due to the need to earn more.
This person offered BRL 150 to perform oral sex, says Felipe – the amount was half of what he earned per day with the races. According to him, the first thing he thought was that this extra gain could help fill up the gas tank.
In four years, the professional says he has never been a victim of scams or robberies, but he was caught once by the security guard at a parking lot in Vila Mariana, south of the capital, while receiving oral sex from a passenger. The guard did not call the police.
He says sex usually takes place without using a condom and that he only protects himself with PrEP – a combination of drugs that prevents HIV infection but not other infections.
Felipe also says that one tactic to get customers is to park the car next to saunas or nightclubs and discreetly start a conversation along the way.
Also driver Marcelo (not his real name), 22, says he has taken about 50 passengers since he started working in the area two years ago – in some cases, he did not charge for sex.
The value of your program can cost between R$ 50 and R$ 150, but it has already earned R$ 200. This is equivalent to almost all the daily profit you make from the races. Payment can be made in cash or Pix.
According to a survey released in May by the Ipea (Institute of Applied Economic Research), the average earnings of a transport or goods application worker in Brazil is R$1,900 per month.
Marcelo says that he had already heard stories about sex with passengers from other colleagues, but that he was surprised when he was approached for the first time.
At the time, he was driving when the passenger, with the car in motion, began to touch him. So the driver stopped the vehicle and the two had sex right there, before the end of the race.
He states that he expects the approach to come from the passenger himself personally and that he never responds to codes sent by the chat, as he is afraid that the messages will become evidence against him.
He also says that the number of programs has increased since December last year, amid the increase in the price of gasoline.
For Luciane Soares, professor of sociology at UENF (Universidade Estadual do Norte Fluminense), prostitution between drivers and passengers represents “precariousness within precariousness”.
“Transport applications are no longer an income supplement and have become the main income of a large part of the unemployed population. The situation is accentuated with the pandemic”, she says.
“The practice is the result of a crisis when part of the population can no longer sustain the price of fuel and the accounts don’t settle. You really have something there with an element of cruelty.”
In addition to racing, drivers have also gained part of their clientele through social networks and relationship apps such as Grindr, which is aimed at the LGBTQIA+ audience. In these cases, the person gets in touch, combines the value and the destination, as if it were a private trip and the sex enters the package.
As prostitution is not a crime in Brazil, driver and passenger cannot be punished for the practice, says criminal lawyer Maria Pinheiro, from the Feminist Network of Jurists.
“But in the event of doing this publicly, there is the crime of obscene act. And then, in this case, both could be held criminally responsible”, he emphasizes.
The penalty for the crime is from three months to 1 year of detention, but it can also be converted into a basic food basket or services provided to the community.
In a note sent to Folha, Uber points out that, according to its codes of conduct, “any behavior that involves violence, sexual conduct, harassment or discrimination when using the app will result in the account being deactivated”.
“This also extends to what is typed in messages that can be sent within the app, as respect among everyone in the community must be maintained in all interactions “” virtual or real”, says the app. 99 declined to comment and InDriver did not return the report’s contact.
Eduardo Lima de Souza, president of Amasp (Association of Drivers for Applications of São Paulo), classified the cases as an isolated practice.
“We have no way of assigning [ao aumento dos combustíveis ou taxas de apps] because everyone is working, making a little money there. So, we believe that, within the class, there is that type of person who proposes to do so.”