If you are like many of us, when you fly, you nap. However, experts are reporting that in-flight sexual assault is on the rise, and many people fail to report these incidents due to shame or embarrassment.
Airlines do not disclose statistics on these assaults, nor does the FBI. The U.S. Department of Transportation tracks complaints, but not specifically sexual assaults.
Part of the issue with sexual harassment and assault on airplanes is that it is underreported or even ignored, and passengers have a variety of reasons for not reporting it. Airlines, however do have systems in place that ensure crewmembers make reports when they see any criminal activity, which, of course, includes sexual assault. However, there is no universal standard on enforcing penalties when someone engages in sexual harassment or assault on an aircraft. There are ideas, however, such as training flight crew members in self-defense should an attack occur.
When on an airplane, the crew cannot be everywhere, however, and this means passengers cannot rely on members of the crew to protect them. There is also the question of whether or not flight crews can identify warning signs for physical or sexual assault. On top of this, not all airlines may train their staff to recognize the behaviors of sexual or physical assault.
Tips to Protect Yourself from Sexual Assault When On a Flight
There are some tips that can help to protect passengers when on a flight. First, avoid taking medications that may facilitate a deep sleep. Also, you should make sure that you cover your drinks, and then take it with you if you use the restroom or get up from your seat. If using a blanket, tuck it under your legs and keep the light on when sleeping.
Also, if you are getting the creeps from your seatmate, approach the flight crew to see if you can move seats. If not, talk to other seatmates to bring attention to the issue. Finally, if you do tell the flight crew about your creepy seatmate, and they will not allow you to change your seat, ask them to check in with you during the flight, just in case you need a nap.