Airline introduces women-only rows to tackle harassment

Move comes after recent incidents of men allegedly groping passengers and cabin staff

Two rows on every flight will be designated as “female only” seats

Two rows on every flight will be designated as “female only” seats

 

India’s national airline has announced that from today it will designate two rows on every flight as “female only” seats for women travelling alone and concerned about their safety.

Air India made the announcement after two incidents in the last month of men allegedly groping cabin staff or other passengers. A general manager at the airline, Meenakshi Malik, said officials at the carrier had made the decision because “we feel ... it is our responsibility to enhance comfort level to female passengers”. The service, which will come at no extra charge, will start this week on internal flights, and be rolled out across the network throughout the year. Women in India can already ride in segregated train carriages and buses, and bright pink women-only auto-rickshaws in two cities near Delhi.

The airline is trying to rebuild its reputation as a safe airline for female passengers after an incident in December, when a business class passenger flying from Mumbai to Newark moved to an empty seat next to a woman in economy and allegedly groped her as she slept.

Another Air India passenger was also reportedly arrested in January after an air stewardess complained he had touched her inappropriately and made lewd remarks.

This month, the airline announced its crew would begin carrying restraints on both domestic and international flights to be used on unruly passengers as a last resort. A former Air India executive, Jitendra Bhargava, told the Hindu the move was a “misplaced priority”.

“To my knowledge, this happens nowhere in the world. Planes are not unsafe for women passengers,” he said. “In case of unruly behaviour, the airline crew are authorised to take action as per the law.” Domestic air traffic jumped by more than 20 per cent in India in 2015, making it the world’s fastest growing aviation market. - (Guardian Service)

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