Air India is introducing a small "women-only" section on its domestic flights in an attempt to combat on-board sexual misconduct.
The new seating arrangements are being rolled out after two women reported being groped on Air India flights within the space of fortnight, the Times of India reports. Following the reports, the airline has already announced plans to provide flight crew with plastic handcuffs.
Now, from the 18th of January, female passengers will be given the option to book seats within a small women-only section comprising six seats in the third row of economy.
Air India's Meenakshi Malik said in a statement: "We feel, as national carriers, it is our responsibility to enhance comfort level to female passengers. There are a lot of female passengers who travel alone with us and we will be blocking a few seats for them."
Though the move is presumably well-meaning, critics are calling it patronising and sexist. D. Sudhakara Reddy of the Air Passengers Association of India said the new, women-only section is "impractical" and "will lead to gender discrimination," the Chicago Tribune reports.
This isn't the first time Air India's gender equality credentials have been called into question. In 2015 the airline was criticised for announcing plans to ground 125 mostly female flight crew for failing to meet the company's body-weight standards.
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