HK survey: 1 in 3 air stewardesses sexually harassed last year

HONG KONG - Sexual harassment doesn't happen just on the ground. It happens on flights, too, and it can be as bad as it is in pubs or on public transport.

A survey in Hong Kong has revealed that nearly a third of female and a sixth of male flight attendants say they have been sexually harassed during work over the past 12 months.

Harassment included physical contact such as patting, touching, kissing, pinching, leering, sexual jokes and requests for sexual favours.

In some cases, the sex pests, mainly passengers, used obscene and pornographic material, the Hong Kong Standard reported last Saturday.

The survey, done on 337 female and 53 male flight attendants, was carried out by the Equal Opportunities Commission with the help of a flight attendants' union.

About 27 per cent of the respondents - 97 women and nine men - said they had been sexually harassed a total of 239 times while on duty in the past 12 months.

A further 47 per cent of the them said they had seen or heard about colleagues being sexually harassed.

The commission's policy and research committee convener John Tse Wing Ling said the survey indicated that the sexual harassment was serious and "such acts should never be tolerated".

He added that in most cases, the attendants were sexually harassed by passengers, although there were a few cases involving cabin and cockpit crew.

Mr Tse said one of the causes of the harassment was alcohol consumption during flight.

Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union's vice-chairman Vera Wu Yee Mei told The Standard that since the economy class cabins are generally packed, some customers deliberately touch attendants.

"Sometimes customers use their mobile phones to take photographs," she said, adding that some junior flight attendants do not usually complain to their companies as they feel nothing can be done.

The poll also showed that 68 per cent did not undergo any training course on avoiding sexual harassment.

Mr Tse urged the government to provide greater protection to such workers.

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