An Airline Is Creating Women-Only Seating Because Of A Rise In Sexual Assault In The Air

Is the reservation of these seats a slippery slope to gender discrimination, or is it an unfortunate necessity in an unfair world?

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Air India has decided to create a women-only section on their planes.

As of the January 18th, six seats will be reserved for female passengers only.

The move follows two claims of assault on the airline, one of which lead to an arrest being made.

According to Chicago Tribune, a representative from the airline stated, 'We feel, as national carriers, it is our responsibility to enhance comfort level to female passengers.

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There are a lot of female passengers who travel alone with us and we will be blocking a few seats for them.'

Now, the sentiment here is fantastic.

It's excellent news to hear that an airline is taking immediate and practical measures to make travel safer and more comfortable for female travelers.

But is this the way to do it?

Creating female-only carriages is not an alien concept - many countries around the globe have successful and fully integrated single-sex carriage policies which obviously reduce incidences of female sexual assault because there are no men there to assault them.

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In fact, not long ago, our own leader of the opposition floated the idea in the UK to mixed response.

The idea itself was originally suggested by some women Jeremy Corbyn spoke to, who said they would feel safer on a night tube carriage if there were no men on it.

Now that concept is not so foreign to us, and that very real fear that many women feel when traveling alone is not an irrational one, and one that should be tackled.

The problem with the female-only seats is that they place the onus on the woman to move or take action for her own potential assault.

And therefore, by default, if she does not choose to sit in the female-only section, she is becoming in part responsible for the assault if it happens.

This can be said for so many attempted solutions, and one must decide personally where you draw the line at your own responsibility.

Lots of people take simple precautions, like texting a friend or partner when they are going to be home, or putting their thumb over their beer at a bar.

But there are more and more options to extend your safety.

You can now by a nail varnish that changes colour in a drink that has been tampered with. There is underwear available that cannot be ripped off. You can go to self-defence classes. Buy a rape whistle.

The list is actually endless and inherently problematic.

Although these are short-term and potentially effective solutions, they are dressing and preparing women for a war they did not start.

Air India - and other airlines, train companies, nightclubs, schools and so on - should be creating female-fronted policies that only hamper or punish the potential perpetrators, not potential victims.

Could the seating be more open and visible?

Could there be a specific button to alert staff?

Could the opening safety announcements that happen on all flights include the airline's policy on sexual assault?

We don't know, but cordoning some women off is a part-time solution to a much bigger problem.

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