Indonesian airline in hot water over bizarre recruitment process
Flight attendant applicants take physical checkups half-naked, reports say
Is it a simple cultural difference or a sexual insult? Garuda Indonesia has come under fire for its flight attendant recruitment method of requesting palpation and semi-naked physical checkup. While the Indonesian flagship carrier insist the system is based on cultural and religious beliefs and conducted with the consensus of applicants, Korean flight attendants do not buy them, calling them sexist and insulting.
According to Yonhap news agency on Wednesday, a health check up for Garuda’s recruitment of female cabin crew candidates was conducted last month. There, the applicants were asked to remove all their garments, except for their underwear, and lie on a bed. Then an Indonesian male doctor began to palpate their breasts and elsewhere.
After the test, many applicants complained the procedure was embarrassing and that they have felt extremely uncomfortable about being naked and touched.
Garuda’s spokesperson did not answer The Korea Herald’s phone call, but earlier told a local newspaper that the examination was an ordinary process for all branches of the airline.
“The candidates have given their consensus to proceed with the process,” the spokeswoman was quoted as saying. “In case of the breast palpation, we conduct it to screen out those who have breast implants. We have a regulation to screen those persons because a sharp drop of air pressure inside the carrier could sometimes cause them health damage. Also, we conduct full examination of skin on the basis of the religious guideline prohibiting tattoos,” she added.
The company has also reportedly said that the same examination process is conducted in other branches including Japan and Australia, and argued that all other airline companies have similar examination processes.
However, many industry insiders said such all-over-the-body palpation is not common.
“I cannot believe that an international carrier has actually conducted a test in such way,” a domestic airline company insider confided. “Of course there is a medical test. But it never involves getting semi-naked and touched on the breasts. The checkup closer to revealing the skin is taking an X-ray with their gowns on,” he added.
A flight attendant of a foreign airline said the examination was “insulting and inhumane.”
Women’s rights groups were furious. “It is unconvincing in any situation. I cannot help but question whether it is a sexual assault,” LeeKoo Kyung-sook of Korean Women’s Association United told Yonhap.
“The ban on breast implantation sounds almost absurd. Does that mean people who have received plastic surgeries shouldn’t be on board? Taking into account all the cultural differences, there needs to be a clear explanation,” she added.
By Bae Ji-sook (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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