Air India, the country’s national airline, announced this week that it will soon set aside two rows on every flight for women passengers who are traveling solo in an effort to combat harassment and sexual assault. The six seats located at the front of the planes will be offered for no additional fees.
The move from the airline comes after two incidents this winter. In December, a male passenger groped a woman seated next to him on a flight from Mumbai to Newark. In January, a flight attendant reported a male passenger who exhibited similar inappropriate behavior towards her. Both men were arrested.
“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,” Air India general manager Meenakshi Malik told The Hindu.
The airline is following the lead of other transportation providers in India, such as buses and trains that have created female-only spaces.In recent years, there have also been a proliferation of Indian startup ride services by and for women.In 2013, SheTaxi, a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week taxi service for women was launched in Kerala. At the beginning of last year, nearly 550 women in Mumbai got permits to be drivers of pink auto rickshaws made to safely transport female passengers. As of this fall, pink rickshaws were also available in Noida, a city about 16 miles from New Delhi.