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More than a quarter of flight attendants ‘sexually harassed’

Most of the cases cited concerned physical contact such as 'patting, touching, kissing or pinching'

Published: Updated:

Shocking statistics have revealed that more than 25 percent of flight attendants responding to a survey reported in-flight sexual harassment in the past year.

The survey, drawn up by the Hong Kong-based Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), revealed most of the cases cited concerned physical contact such as “patting, touching, kissing or pinching,” while others included “non-verbal sex cues” such as “staring in a sexual way.”

The results are based on 392 responses to 9,000 questionnaires distributed between November 2013 and January 2014 among employees of the HKFAA's member airlines, including Cathay Pacific, Dragonair, British Airways and United Airlines.

86 percent of the respondents were female and 14 percent were male.

In comments to CNN, EOC spokesperson Mariana Law said the percentage of respondents was low likely for two reasons.

"Most HKFAA flight attendants are not based in Hong Kong, so it may be difficult for them to respond," said Law. "Another reason is that some people may consider sexual harassment an embarrassing or difficult subject and they may not feel comfortable disclosing this information to others," Law said.

The survey also found that about 59 percent of the sexual harassment came from customers, about 41 percent from fellow workers, including senior cabin crew and cockpit members

While the report focused on the HKFAA's member airlines, Gulf airline Qatar Airways has recently been under fire from Norway’s anti-discrimination ombudsman after it posted an advert telling women to wear short skirts to a cabin-crew recruitment day in the capital, Oslo.