For most of us, there are only two things we dread on an airplane: Screaming babies who make the flight a nonstop scream-along and drunk passengers who treat the plane as their personal living room. Sometimes, we also worry that our seat mates may want to talk to us, droning on and on about the declining bee populations.
Assault on planes is rare in the United States, but for women in India it’s becoming more and more an everyday occurrence. And that’s why the country’s national airline is designating two rows on each flight as “women-only” spaces, attempting to create at least the veneer of a safe space for their female passengers.
The Guardian reports that the move, which is unprecedented in flight but already common when it comes to train cars and auto-rickshaws, arose from an urgent need to protect women while they were flying. In the past month, Air India has been involved in two incidents of female passengers and cabin crew being harassed and groped by male passengers on the flight.
The new seating option launched this week on domestic flights and will soon become available on international trips. Planes will also begin carrying restraints for “unruly” passengers, allowing flight attendants and other airline personnel to secure passengers who have become unmanageable for the safety of everyone on board.