A woman was groped by a male passenger on a Mumbai-Guwahati flight on Saturday. The airline said an FIR has been registered, and the accused has been handed over to the Guwahati police. The incident happened on flight 6E-5319, which took off from Mumbai around 9 p.m.
According to the airline’s statement, a passenger travelling on IndiaGo 6E 5319 was handed over to the Guwahati police on landing after receiving a complaint from another passenger alleging sexual harassment claims.
The complainant filed an FIR with the Guwahati police, and the airline assured that it would provide necessary assistance to the investigation.
Woman Passenger Molested On Flight
The woman was recuperating after a hospital stay. She was seated in an aisle seat, had lowered her armrest, and had fallen asleep as the cabin lights dimmed. She woke up to find the armrests up and a male passenger leaning close to her.
She explained that she distinctly remembered putting the armrest down, but since she was half asleep, she put it down again and went back to sleep. However, the passenger began groping and touching her inappropriately. The woman said that she wanted to scream but couldn’t as she "froze."
When the accused tried to grope her again, she pushed his hand and screamed. She immediately turned the seat lights on and called the cabin crew. The woman shared that the man immediately began apologising when she began shouting, crying, and narrating the incident.
At least four cases of sexual assault involving Indian passengers have taken place over the past three months. India is reported to have the highest percentage of female pilots in the world and acts as a forebearer in setting equality goals in the aviation industry around the globe. However, the distressing reality is that women passengers, crew members, and pilots are subjected to some form of sexual harassment on a regular basis, despite the "empowerment" that the nation is proud of.
On September 8, a 30-year-old Bangladeshi man was arrested for flashing at an air hostess and attempting to masturbate on a Vistara flight that was flying from Muscat to Mumbai.
Last month, a flight attendant was subjected to sexual harassment on SpiceJet. A passenger tried to click obscene photos under her skirt on a Delhi to Mumbai flight on August 16.
In July, a 47-year-old professor was arrested for sexually assaulting a 24-year-old doctor on a Delhi-to-Mumbai IndiGo flight. The complainant stated that the man had touched her inappropriately on purpose.
Despite the said developments in the aviation industry, why is flight continuing to remain an unsafe place for women? How long are women going to remain unsafe, even on flights?
The Delhi Commission for Women studied the relevant Directorate General of Civil Aviation regulations. It was found that "sexual harassment" was merely considered unruly behaviour" under the rules and regulations. The commission had recommended a separate category of regulations for crimes committed in the air on flights and at airports.
However, will that reduce the number of mid-air crimes? The probability is low considering that, despite several existing laws, crimes against women remain one of the most concerning problems in the country. This is mainly because of the patriarchal mindset that women are men’s property, even on air. Regardless of Indian progress in every other aspect, patriarchy hinders the overall development of the country.
The worrisome truth is that women are not safe anywhere—not on land, water, or air. This clearly shows that no matter how empowered women become, patriarchal societies will continue to find ways to exert their control over women. But when is this going to stop?
We are in dire need of stringent action against perpetrators who commit crimes against women. The punishment must be harsh and swift in order to firmly instil fear, and the offender must be reminded of the severe repercussions that await him the next time he violates a woman.
Views expressed by the author are their own
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