The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued a guideline with five tips you can use to prevent against sexual harassment aboard airplanes.
The FBI reports it is receiving more reports of in-flight sexual harassment than ever before (38 cases in 2014, 63 cases last year). This is usually found in the form of unwanted touching. Just in case you’re wondering, such conduct is a felony and can get you thrown in prison.
Here are the five FBI tips to prevent and respond to sexual assault onboard airplanes:
- Trust your gut. Offenders will often test their victims, sometimes pretending to brush against them to see how they react or if they wake up. “Don’t give them the benefit of the doubt,” FBI Special Agent David Gates said. If such behavior occurs, reprimand the person immediately, and consider asking to be moved to another seat.
- Recognize that mixing alcohol with sleeping pills or other medication on an overnight flight increases your risk. “Don’t knock yourself out with alcohol or drugs,” Gates said.
- If your seatmate is a stranger, no matter how polite he or she may seem, keep the armrest between you down.
- If you are arranging for a child to fly unaccompanied, try to reserve an aisle seat so flight attendants can keep a closer watch on them. Highley has seen victims as young as 8 years old.
- If an incident happens, report it immediately to the flight crew and ask that they record the attacker’s identity and report the incident. “Flight attendants and captains represent authority on the plane,” Gates said. “We don’t want them to be police officers, but they can alert law enforcement, and they can sometimes deal with the problem in the air.” The flight crew can also put the offender on notice, which might prevent further problems.
Should you run into a sexual assault situation, alert the crew immediately. The flight deck can reach the FBI from the air and a team will meet the plane (and if not the FBI, local law enforcement).
Not a very happy topic, but I’ve seen plenty of sexual assault myself over the years on airplanes (usually inappropriate touching of female FAs) that I figured it was worth covering. Easy for me to “mansplain” it, but if you are victim, do not be embarrassed or ashamed: report it and report it immediately.
More details here.