Joanna Chiu, Bureau Chief at the Toronto Star and The Star Vancouver, put up a thread on Twitter yesterday about an incident that happened during on a flight she was on. Sitting behind her was a teenage girl and an older man the girl didn’t know.
At some point in the flight the man asked the girl, who was separated from her family, to send him a “dirty” picture.
What followed is an example of bystander intervention done right.
A man appearing in his late thirties was obviously delighted to be seated next to a teenager separated from the rest of her family. He started off by asking about her career plans and laughed when she said she wanted to be CEO and kept giving her ridiculous advice.— Joanna Chiu 趙淇欣 (@joannachiu) March 25, 2019
She was friendly and he seemed to take that as a welcome cue to get very familiar and started teasing her and kept saying that he wanted to take her out to eat, which she was ignoring. At this point I had to stay awake in case anything went further than that.— Joanna Chiu 趙淇欣 (@joannachiu) March 25, 2019
It did, and as soon as he asked for a “dirty” photo while leaning close to her I turned around and rage-whispered exactly what I thought of that and he didn’t say anything back and went off to use the washroom.— Joanna Chiu 趙淇欣 (@joannachiu) March 25, 2019
Another woman seated behind him was listening and monitoring too and while the man was gone she let the teen know that she had the right to change seats and that she was just behind her if she needed any help. I went to get a flight attendant and informed her of what was going on— Joanna Chiu 趙淇欣 (@joannachiu) March 25, 2019
They checked other witness accounts and the head of the flight service (a woman) asked the man to move. He resisted then started swearing at me and asked to talk to the boss and the head flight attendant said “I’m the boss, this is really serious and we could land the plane.”— Joanna Chiu 趙淇欣 (@joannachiu) March 25, 2019
He moved. The attendants checked in with the young woman and wrote up a report. They handled the situation well as far as I could tell, and it’s good to know other adult women passengers on the plane were paying attention and taking action while trying not to embarrass the teen.— Joanna Chiu 趙淇欣 (@joannachiu) March 25, 2019
But none of the male passengers seemed to show they noticed what was going on. Maybe fellow women are more likely to pick up on warning signs early on in the conversation because we used to be teenage girls too?— Joanna Chiu 趙淇欣 (@joannachiu) March 25, 2019
Just walked off the plane and security was ready to pull him aside to talk to him and he looked like he was sweating bullets.— Joanna Chiu 趙淇欣 (@joannachiu) March 25, 2019
I don’t want to say name of airline because journalists have to be careful not to make endorsements but just want to say that this Canadian airline crew handled the situation so well. Workplaces, schools, sports teams etc. can take note. They even gave me and other woman a card. pic.twitter.com/6irPimuRZb— Joanna Chiu 趙淇欣 (@joannachiu) March 25, 2019
Oh, and I also caught his name and the company he works for. I’ll be sending a private note to them.— Joanna Chiu 趙淇欣 (@joannachiu) March 25, 2019
Now Joanne Chiu has her Tweeter feed full of women sharing similar stories of being creeped, harassed, and assaulted. Usually with little or no intervention from bystanders.
If you are unsure of how to intervene in a situation like the one described in this thread, Hollaback has a great resource page on what you can do.