Chinese woman accuses Indian of sexual harassment on flight

  • Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times, Beijing
  • Updated: May 18, 2016 21:07 IST
The woman reportedly asked the flight crew to change her seat, but her request was turned down. (Representative photo)

A Chinese airline has launched an investigation into a woman traveller’s allegation that an Indian man sexually harassed her during an international flight earlier this month.

China Eastern, one of the country’s top airlines, issued an apology to the woman and assured her the matter will be looked into, state media reported on Wednesday.

The incident occurred on May 9 on a flight from Vancouver in Canada to Shanghai.

The complainant, Xiaoyan, identified as a Chinese student living in Vancouver, was allocated a seat at the back of the aircraft.

She was quoted by People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China, as saying that “foreign passengers sat around her, four of whom wore traditional Indian clothes”. Trouble apparently began after the flight took off.

She said a passenger sitting in front of her allegedly switched on a pornographic video on his phone and made lewd gestures at her.

“Xiaoyan claimed that a man sitting directly in front of her showed her a pornographic video on his mobile phone and made sexually suggestive gestures at her at least five times,” the report said, indicating the allegation was levelled against an Indian passenger sitting ahead of her.

She felt uncomfortable in asking for help from people around her "because all the passengers sitting near her were acquaintances of the alleged harasser”, the report added.

She asked the crew to change her seat but her request was turned down as the aircraft was packed.

“A male crew member said that he had not seen the Indian passenger using his mobile phone, and that if Xiaoyan saw him using it again she should tell him so he could remind the man to turn off his phone,” the report said.

Her complaint was apparently not passed on to ground staff and “employees on the ground did not follow up with any repercussions for the Indian man”.

The report did not say what led to the airline apologising to the woman and launching an investigation.

The airline was responsible for “Xiaoyan’s safety, according to the Law of Protection of Consumers’ Rights and the Law of Contract”. The report added the passenger had the right to seek an apology or even compensation from the airline if she could prove her allegations. 

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