It seems like you can’t go online these days without hearing about reports of sexual assault and harassment.
Society is trying to reckon with these claims and figure out how to deal with them. But not all companies and individuals are taking a sympathetic tone when it comes to the alleged victims.
A young girl alleged that she had been groped by an older man on a United Airlines flight from LA to Sydney.
15-year-old Chelsea Schiffel claimed that the man in the seat next to her touched her breasts twice while her mother was at the rear of the plane, speaking to another family member.
Upon returning to her seat, Chelsea’s mother informed a flight attendant of the incident and asked whether she and her daughter could move seats. Her request was denied, and Chelsea and her mother were asked to return to their assigned seats.
Two years later, the airline finally responded to the Schiffel family’s complaints with a letter to Chelsea.
In the letter, obtained by News Corp, United Airlines denied Chelsea’s accusations, and also – for some reason – thought it was appropriate to mention that she was wearing “extremely short shorts”.
It’s funny, but I’m pretty sure you’re allowed to wear shorts no matter how “extremely short” in public and reasonably expect not to be violated by strangers. Particularly when you’re a teenage girl returning from what I’m sure was a sun-filled holiday in LA.
For Chelsea and many others who have read United Airlines’ response, the reply was inappropriate.
It seemed to indicate that the airline officials believed that Chelsea’s clothes were to blame for the alleged touching. Clearly, in the current climate of sexual assault claims, this was not a popular explanation.
While countless other alleged victims’ claims have been taken seriously by officials and the media, Chelsea’s case is different. The airline seems to be writing off her claims completely.
The letter also said that Chelsea and her mom had no evidence of negligence on the part of United Airlines. While that may be true, it was completely unnecessary to mention her choice of clothing in the explanation, which seems to indicate a problematic viewpoint.
The subtext, as always with victim-blaming, is clear: she deserved it. She brought it upon herself. She doesn’t have a right to complain afterwards, when she regrets the ramifications of her choices.
“For me it comes across, by them saying that, (it) feels like they were telling me that I was asking for it,” Chelsea said.
But let’s be very clear: Victims who are molested, sexually harassed, or raped are never at fault. Women never “invite” attacks.
Watch the video below for more details: