Target: Michael Huerta, Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration
Goal: Prevent and punish sexual assault on airplanes.
Slate recently reported that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has no standard procedure for airlines to deal with sexual assault on flights. After high-profile cases where women have been sexually assaulted on flights, including cases involving a 13-year-old and a 16-year-old, this is unacceptable. Demand that the FAA take action to prevent and punish these sexual assaults.
According to the report, in 2015 the FBI had 40 open cases involving sexual assaults on flights. However, this doesn’t include how many sexual assaults reports may have been made to other law enforcement such as police departments or airport security. Those don’t factor in how many sexual assault cases go unreported, which is highly common. This means the number of cases could be much, much higher.
With these numbers comes several previously mentioned high-profile cases involving sexual assault on flights. In recent years, a priest was accused of groping a woman’s breast, thigh and groin on an overnight flight. Another case involved a man who tried to rape a woman in the bathroom of a plane. A 13-year-old girl reported that she was sexually assaulted by a man sitting next to her while flying home alone. Despite these statistics and cases, the FAA has chosen to do nothing.
The only standard the FAA currently has designates that flight attendants must be trained in “passenger handling, including the procedures to be followed in the case of deranged persons or other persons whose conduct might jeopardize safety.” There is no specific standard for sexual assault, so they often go unpunished with airlines simply shrugging their shoulders and telling women to get over it.
Half the population should not feel unsafe on flights and face sexual assault with no justice. Demand that the FAA set a strict standard for how airlines should handle sexual assault, ensure that flight attendants are trained to handle sexual assault, and work together with the FBI and law enforcement to ensure these sexual assault perpetrators are punished for their crimes.
Dear Mr. Huerta,
Sexual assault and rape have been huge issues in the media lately, yet your agency doesn’t seem to have any reaction to it. A recent report not only showed that the FAA doesn’t have a procedure to deal with the huge problem of sexual assaults on flights, but that you are basically choosing to ignore the problem and your responsibility in combating it.
As is air travel isn’t awful enough, parents should not have to worry about sending their daughters on a flight where a man may grope her and get away with it. Women should not have to worry about taking a flight and getting raped or taking a nap on a red-eye and being sexually assaulted in their sleep.
I demand you implement a strict policy that designates how airlines must handle sexual assault on flights and work together with airlines and law enforcement to punish sexual assault criminals and rapists.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Matthew Hurst