Companies from all over the world are trying to keep their employees happy by looking after the problems they face in the workplace. One of the most extensive problems employees are facing presently is sexual harassment. This has become a growing issue, particularly in the aviation industry. As a layman, one always hears rumors that the cabin crew on a flight is objectified by the passengers as well as the colleagues. But these rumors are absolutely true. The aviation industry is one of the leading industries where the employees face sexual harassment. Not only women but also men experience this torment on a regular basis.
How severe is the sexual harassment issue
According to a survey conducted this year, more than 27% of flight attendants have faced the issue of sexual harassment in the past twelve months. Out of the total sexual predators, 59 percent were passengers whereas 42 percent were colleagues like the senior cabin crew or cockpit crew members. This information is in accordance with the statements given by the flight attendants. There are numerous incidents which the victim does not report due to fear of losing the job or their reputation. This gives an idea about the seriousness of the issue.
Almost one-quarter of the victims don’t report the harassment caused to them. This is because the flight attendants feel that it is an unnecessary hassle to disturb the captain on the flight for such a matter. In the hospitality field, it is the customer who is important and not the staff. The staff is specifically trained to behave in a polite manner with the passengers irrelevant of how they behave. This gives the passengers the liberty to take advantage of the attendant’s politeness and they make sexual advances at them. These passengers call the attendants for help repeatedly and pass lewd comments on them or touch them inappropriately.
Reason behind such treatment of the cabin crew
Companies are trying to analyze the root cause of such behavior. One of the most obvious reasons behind this is the projection of female flight attendants by the airline companies. It is a common belief that being a part of the cabin crew is a glamorous task. All one has to do is put on makeup, dress decorously and that is their job. Passengers are unaware of the rigorous training one has to go through. Regular health checkups take place to make sure the attendants are fit to fly on a continuous basis. They receive training to look after the passengers in case of an emergency, be it a hijack or a plane crash.
Certain classes of people believe that as they have bought the ticket, they have the liberty to behave with the staff as they please as if they own them. There have been instances when passengers have groped attendants, touched them inappropriately while they are being served, or also ask them to sleep with them. Not only this, but fellow employees approach these attendants in an unethical manner as they think that it is acceptable to do so. Such incidents take place as flight attendants are objectified to look pretty and fulfill all the needs of their guests. People forget that they are only supposed to work efficiently and being polite is a part of their job, not a sign that they are interested.
How to face such issues
There is an association called the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) which represents more than 600,000 cabin crew members worldwide. They try to find a solution to such problems but most of the attendants hide their identities and keep the name of the airlines anonymous in order to avoid risking their jobs. Also, some of them believe that lodging an official complaint is quite a hassle especially in between continuous flights. As they would never see that stranger again in their lives, they prefer to avoid the incident and just concentrate on their work. At times, even the airlines brush off the issue saying that it was just an advance. The incident isn't taken seriously as long as attendant doesn't incur any substantial harm.
Most of the international airline companies have a policy statement for sexual harassment. But 39 percent of the cabin crew is unaware of it. Experts believe that the companies are partly responsible for such issues. This is because they advertise their cabin crew as glamorous objects instead of safety experts. The attendants have to follow a strict health regime about how they look. Some companies have grounded their attendants on the pretext that they are overweight. Therefore the aviation industry should try to change the image of flight attendants in the minds of the people. It is important for the staff to look presentable and be efficient in their work. It is not necessary to dress like a stylish object.