In a move that seems almost impossible to believe, according to the AFP international news service, (as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald) women in South Korea who applied to be flight attendants for Indonesian airline Garuda Indonesia were required to strip down to their underwear and then were expected to hold still while their breasts were groped by so-called medical workers. A spokesmen for the airline said it was to ensure that the applicants didn’t have tattoos or breast implants.
Why Applicants Were Asked to Submit to Such an Invasion of Privacy
The airline says that that it has a policy of not allowing its flight attendants to have tattoos, which seems somewhat reasonable, but why would they care if the tattoos were in a location that passengers would never see? More disturbing of course is the policy of not allowing its flight attendants to have breast implants. On this, the airline says it’s a health issue for when air pressure drops quickly during flights.
In its defense, the airline points out that other Asian carriers have similar policies regarding tattoos, but also admitted that applicants for cabin crew positions in other countries such as Japan and China have submitted to both tests without complaint.
In South Korea, news of the breast examinations caused women’s rights groups to speak out in protest. Kim Da-Mi, of the Sexual Violence Relief Centre, urged the state human rights agency to take action.
A spokesman for Korean Air said he had never heard of such requirements for cabin crew members, and called the requirement by Garuda, bizarre.
Indonesia is the largest Muslim nation in the world, and its airline at least in this case, appears to be attempting to apply its adherents strict policies to women working aboard aircraft.
Fallout from the Airline Attendant’s Breast Exams
After reports of the breast inspections made international news, at least in the East, spokesman for Garuda, Park Sung-Hyun, said that the medical tests should not have included such procedures and said, “We are investigating the matter by questioning managers and the doctor who was in charge of the check-up … This is very embarrassing.”
It’s unlikely there will be any lawsuits, but the practice of checking for breast implants if not stopped already will soon come to an end. Airline attendant jobs in Korea are considered to be very desirable by young Korean women who desire the high pay and a chance to travel the world.
- “Anger over airline’s ‘breast check-ups’ ” Sydney Morning Herald, viewed August 24, 2011