In a world where there is a constant dialogue about Women’s safety and their rights, one can be convinced that no place is truly safe for a woman. Is a woman safe in home or in flight? Nowhere really.
An Indian national, Prabhu Ramamoorthy was sitting just beside his wife when he raped another sleeping woman on the flight! The 22-year old victim found her shirt undone and pants unbuttoned. She woke up horrified to find his hands in her pants. The 35-year old Indian techie was given 9-years imprisonment after his bizarre incident took place.
A tight skirt highlighting curves, high heels and silky hair. Time and again, air hostesses have been objectified by the public and portrayed as a luscious doll by the media. Behind the glamorous image of an air hostess are some scary tales of harassment. The airline industry has always been known for its notorious standards of sexism.
68% of flight attendants endure sexual harassment. But only 7% of them have reported the cases.
“As flight attendants we were trained to deal with intoxicated or disgruntled passengers and emergencies that included a fire accident, an evacuation, a hijack and a medical emergency.” The petrified flight attendant told The Hindu –
“But not once were we briefed about sexual harassment, what it entailed, or our rights or the rights of our passengers”
Are female passengers safe in flights? No.
Midair sexual harassment is rising at an alarming rate. The numbers are not pleasing as it only proves one point- women are not safe even when they fly.
What is Midair sexual Harassment?
Glad you asked! Technically, mid-air means a section above the ground. Midair harassment means the incidents of rape, groping or any other form of sexual misconduct that takes places in a flight during the journey.
Some of the most common forms are- Manspreading, groping and fondling, passing sexually colored comments or any other inappropriate behavior that causes discomfort to female passengers or air hostess.
WHAT CAUSES MIDAIR SEXUAL ASSAULT?
- Lack of personal space as seats are aligned in such a manner that even the line of sight is diminished- The victims being in a confined and cramped space often makes it easier for assaults to occur and harder for victims to seek safety.
- Manspreading- Tendency of a man to spread his legs wide apart thereby occupying more than one seat.
- Alcohol consumption
- Night flights, dimmer lights.
- Fewer flight attendants
- Sheer guts to misbehave publicly and evade personal space!
WHAT CAN A VICTIM DO?
- Hit the CALL button. Especially if you’re trapped in the window seat. By doing so, an air hostess will come to your seat. Don’t keep it to yourself.
- YELL! Yes, that’s right. Speak up loudly so your other passengers will be alert. The abuser will crouch in fear as perpetrators fear public attention.
- Insist on a seat change. Either you move to a more secure place or have the perpetrator moved.
- Report the crime to the pilot. Why? So that, they can notify the police and the law enforcement officials can take action once the flight lands.
Our Social Call
Unfortunately, sexual abuse in the air is not a rare case. What’s worst? More often than not, these cases go unreported. Airlines should formulate policies and publicize about how one can report such incidents. On the other hand, law enforcement should be swift and strict! Flights should be making flying safe, both for their own employees and for passengers. The skies must be safe for women.