When an individual is sexually harassed or assaulted in-flight, they are trapped in an enclosed environment with limited options for movement. Intimidation that prevents individuals from speaking out, and ill-trained in-flight staff who are not prepared to handle such complaints, can converge to leave individuals suffering in silence.
The FBI is now reporting that sexual assaults on commercial airline flights are increasing “at an alarming rate.”
FBI investigations into midair sexual assaults increased by 66% from 2014 to 2017.
Sexual assault on a plane is a federal crime.
Recognizing this disturbing trend, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation launched the Fly Free project to collect its longstanding work on the problem of sexual harassment and assault on planes.
(CNN Excerpt) Last year, CNN reported it is difficult to determine just how frequently assaults happen on commercial flights because no federal regulatory agency tracks that data nationwide.
Sara Nelson, a United Airlines flight attendant who is president of the union, told CNN, “In my 22 years as a flight attendant, I have never taken part in a conversation — in training or otherwise — about how to handle sexual harassment or sexual assault.” While policies exist, Nelson says that if they’re not elevated in airlines’ training, flight attendants are at a loss for what to do when confronting inappropriate — and sometimes criminal — behavior.