• Sat
  • Dec 20, 2014
  • Updated: 1:12pm
NewsHong Kong

Aircraft sex pests set to face civil action in Hong Kong courts

Bill will make sexual harassment of a service provider illegal, even if it happens outside HK

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 June, 2014, 2:50am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 June, 2014, 4:25pm

Passengers who sexually harass staff on Hong Kong aircraft could soon feel the weight of local law after the government yesterday announced a bill to clamp down on mile-high sex pests.

Set to be introduced to the Legislative Council next Wednesday, the bill would make the sexual harassment of flight attendants a civil offence, with offenders liable to be brought before a court for financial damages.

The move by the government follows a survey by the Equal Opportunities Commission in February that found more than one quarter of flight attendants - both men and women - had been sexually harassed in the previous 12 months.

It also comes a little more than a month after Cathay Pacific flight attendants called on the company to redesign its uniforms, which cabin crew said were too revealing and could provoke sexual harassment.

If passed, the Sex Discrimination (Amendment) Bill 2014 would close a gap in existing regulations by making the sexual harassment of any service provider "unlawful".

"Based on recommendations made by the Equal Opportunities Commission, we propose to render any sexual harassment by customers against providers or prospective providers of goods, facilities or services unlawful," said a spokesperson for the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, which is behind the bill.

Given the international nature of flight attendants' work, the bill would also cover offences committed on a Hong Kong registered ship or aircraft while outside Hong Kong, the bureau said.

Representatives from the aviation industry reacted positively to the news, with Cathay Pacific's Flight Attendants Union hailing the extra legal protection.

"About 27 per cent of flight attendants were sexually harassed last year, while 47 per cent witnessed or heard about cases of sexual harassment," union vice-chairman Julian Yau said, citing figures from the Equal Opportunities Commission study. "We're very happy to see the government wants to fix the law to cover all service providers."

Yau said he hoped the prospect of punishment would be a deterrent to would-be offenders.

"It is also good for other service providers, like waiters or waitresses," he said. "They know they are protected."


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This article is now closed to comments

We could end here up with a serious pilot shortage!
I have a problem to believe that 27% of flight attendants were truly sexually harassed. And then we have to add the not reported cases which is usually a higher figure than the reported ones.
It is important that there is a clear definition without a grey zone and a detailed list of what is considered to be sexual harassment to avoid misuse of claiming sexual harassment.
Having my 100+ flights a year I have never touched a flight attendant but on uncounted occasions they have put their hand on my naked arm or hand while kneeling and talking to me. Was I sexually harassed or they just wanted to be nice without any ulterior motive ?
However, I fully agree that it is important that employees of any profession and gender are protected against true sexual harassment .
Jonathan Smith
Those perverts should be jailed and banned from air travel.
So because you have never seen it, it doesn't exist? What a great mind you possess. I guess that's what should be expected from someone who uses words like 'feminazi'.
P Blair
About time to put away the perverts behind bars. A jail sentence of a few years for those perverts will teach them a good lesson.
What does a campaign regarding Rugby have to do with sexual harassment?
If all you can think about are inappropriate innuendos regarding "Always Game", then best you stop here.
Who is going to pay for the lawyers to take the offenders to court? I doubt the flight attendant concerned will have the resources.
What if the offender lives overseas? I can't see them rushing back to HK to face the music.
More half baked and ill conceived legislation that will neither deter or be enforced due to cost.
They should make it a criminal offence with a power of arrest. The HK Police are best placed to deal with this type of matter and the criminal courts can give compensation to the victim. Offenders may think twice if they know they will be arrested, publicly shamed and placed on a sex offenders register.
Even though Cathay Pacific promotes itself at the Sevens as 'Always Game':
Not condoning the behaviour of the airline sex pest, but surely it's time the employers of the ladies on the receiving end of the abuse stopped objectifying their staff...
I fly pretty frequently but have never witnessed any untoward behavior towards stewardesses. When do people do this? For hours on each flight, the stewardesses are never to be seen. And what protection can be offered to passengers who are snapped at by major-domo stewardesses who thinks passengers are cargo, and nuisances to be served meals when they are having such lively conversations with their 'mates'? Unlike the Cathay ladies, the change of uniform recently for the Amazons hasn't made them any more endearing.
All female flight attendants should feel very fortunate to be living in this part of the world not governed by Muslim law. Religion usually takes precedence over the law, if any. In many parts of the Arab world, if a woman causes a man to sin, groping, sexually harassing.... etc, it is the woman to be found guilty. The rationale would be the woman must have dressed or behaved inappropriately that causes men to be tempted.
This law isn't going to happen ( or turn a blind eye ) to airlines such as Emirates, Gulf Air, Qatar, Air Arabia and a dozen others. Just saying.....



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