May 31, 2018

STATEMENT: Southwest Fails to Help Woman While Man Masturbates, Watches Porn on Flight

Southwest Fails to Help Woman While Man Masturbates, Watches Porn on Flight
Statement by Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of NCOSE

Washington, DC – On May 29th, a woman tweeted to Southwest Airlines in a desperate plea for help. The man sitting next to her was masturbating and watching pornography for the duration of her 5-hour flight. She tweeted about feeling powerless and unable to speak to flight attendants for fear of being further harassed by the man. Southwest did not alert the flight crew and reportedly offered her a voucher for a free dinner. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation calls on Southwest and all airlines to better train their attendants and make clear policies against the viewing of pornography on planes or in terminals.

Unfortunately, this woman’s horrific experience with Southwest is not an isolated incident. Airlines are chronically ill-prepared to address the growing problem of pornography on airplanes and the ensuing culture of sexual harassment that this fosters,” said Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. “While some people on social media are criticizing this woman for tweeting to Southwest instead of being more vocal on the plane despite her explaining that she felt unsafe, it’s clear that aircrews have historically failed to respond appropriately in nearly identical past circumstances.”

“For example, in December of 2017 business owner and reporter Angela Zatopek confronted the man watching pornography on her Delta flight. She brought the issue to the attention of the flight crew, but they told her nothing could be done and to file a complaint later online. And in 2012, I personally confronted a man watching violent pornography during a flight and was told to be silent by the flight crew. When women speak up, feeling harassed for the hostile environment public pornography viewing causes, they are ignored by airlines.”

“In the age of #MeToo, airlines need to not only have clear policies against pornography in flights and terminals, but they must also pro-actively train their staff members to intervene in these circumstances,” Hawkins stated. “No one should be subjected to endure a toxic and sexually hostile environment on an airplane. It’s time for Southwest, Delta, and all airlines to do better.”

National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Founded in 1962, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) is the leading national organization exposing the links between all forms of sexual exploitation such as child sexual abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking and the public health crisis of pornography.

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