JAG: Strip-down interview only part of a larger problem

malindo-airPETALING JAYA: The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) has hit out at Malindo Air for “exploiting and commodifying” women’s bodies, saying it reflects a larger problem in the airline industry itself.

“The way Malindo Air treats potential female flight attendants is discriminatory, perverse and sexist.

“No potential employee of any airline should be subjected to such degrading treatment,” it said in a statement today.

JAG was responding to a recent report in The Malay Mail which said that female flight attendant candidates at Malindo Air’s walk-in interviews were told to strip down to their bras.

According to the report, they were also told to expose their chests, lift their skirts, fold up their pants or remove their pantyhose.

Malindo Air defended its interview procedure, saying that it was in accordance with its right as an employer. It added that grooming checks for visible marks were conducted privately and in a professional manner by female supervisors.

However, JAG pointed out that the airline could have told the women to put on the uniform to check if they had any visible marks. Alternatively, it could have simply asked them about it in the same way they asked male candidates.

“This act of Malindo Air reflects how the powers of a potential employer can be abusive, making discriminatory demands on those who seek employment,” it said.

Although Malindo Air was at fault in this incident, JAG added that the problem extended to the rest of the airline industry in general.

“From requiring female flight attendants to wear restrictive clothing – while male attendants wear the usual suit – to imposing constraints on their number of children, airlines have long freely violated women’s human rights by exploiting and commodifying their bodies.”

The group also criticised The Malay Mail over its choice of picture, saying the daily had “sensationalised” the story.

The paper had run the report with a stock picture of a woman’s back, clad only in a bra, as its cover photo. The report was accompanied by the headline “Stripped for job”.

“It is clear that they were tantalising readers by sensationalising this issue instead of focusing on the actual problem,” JAG said, stressing the irony of using the faceless body of a woman to sell a story about women’s bodies being commodified.