New York, May 11: Most flight attendants in the United States are sexually harassed by passengers, according to a survey by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA). The survey reported that 68% of flight attendants are subjected to sexual harassment during their flying careers.
More than one-third of attendants who participated in the survey said that they had experienced verbal sexual harassment from passengers within the last year, out of which 68% said that they had experienced it three or more times, while one-third of the attendants were subjected to such verbal abuses to five or more times.
AFA president Sara Nelson, who's been a flight attendant for 23 years, told CNNMoney, "This is a silent epidemic in our country." She further added, "This is an industry that is steeped in a sexist past. The airlines for a very long time sold tickets based on defining air travel in a sexual way and oftentimes flight attendants were the object of that."
According to flight attendants, passengers reveal their sexual fantasies to them and also demand pornographic videos and pictures. The survey revealed that the harassment occurred in spite of the emergence of the ‘#MeTooMovement’.
Out of the total attendants participated in the group, 18 percent claimed that they had experienced physical sexual harassment within the last year, and of that group, 40% said they were subjected to this harassment for three or more times. These attendants were groped, kissed and slapped.
According to the survey, only 7% of the respondents reported the abuse to their employer, and 68% claimed that nothing was done by their employer to address the grievance. Alaska Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and United Airlines are the only airlines which are addressing this issue, the AFA said. Nelson, who is employed by United Airlines, said that the CEOs for the three airlines wrote open letters condemning sexual harassment and announcing zero tolerance policies.
According to the report, the survey results are based on responses from 3,500 flight attendants from 29 US airlines. This survey was conducted in February and March of this year. In this survey 80% of the respondents were women. The AFA has done this type of survey for the first time. Last year, the association surveyed passenger-on-passenger assault.