Garuda Indonesia and alleged breast check-ups for their flight attendants

Well done Garuda Indonesia! What a (bizarre) way to gain publicity with your alleged breast check-ups. Perhaps it's just a matter of time before such curious practice is extended from not only to the would-be flight attendants, but also to the passengers? Snigger. Snigger.



Would-be flight attendants in South Korea have accused Indonesia’s national airline of making them strip nearly naked and have their breasts handled in medical check-ups, provoking a storm of criticism.



Several dozen candidates for 18 highly-coveted female flight attendant positions with Garuda Indonesia were required to strip down to their panties to screen out those with tattoos or breast implants, one applicant told AFP.



She declined to be named, saying she was still waiting to hear whether she had got a job after the tests last month.



“The hand examination on breast was held since those with implants can have health issues when air pressure falls during flights,” Yonhap news agency quoted an airline official as saying.



Cabin crew are banned from having tattoos and workers hired in other countries such as Japan and Australia were also subject to a similar process, the agency quoted the official as saying.



But the move baffled industry peers and angered women’s rights groups, which called the process unnecessary and intrusive.



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Kim Da-Mi, a Seoul-based activist with the Sexual Violence Relief Centre, urged the state human rights agency to take action, telling AFP: “I wonder if such a practice is acceptable in Indonesia.”



Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim-majority population.



“We’ve never heard of or done such checkup on flight attendants,” said a spokesman for South Korea’s flag carrier Korean Air, calling the Jakarta-based airline’s tests “bizarre”.



“I wonder if that means passengers with breast implants should not fly also,” he told AFP.



A spokesman for Garuda Indonesia’s Seoul office said the medical tests should have followed routine procedures, which do not include such examinations.



“We are investigating the matter by questioning managers and the doctor who was in charge of the checkup... This is very embarrassing,” Park Sung-Hyun told AFP.



Competition for flight attendant jobs is fierce in South Korea, where the role is seen as offering high pay and travel opportunities, and thousands of young women prepare for years before applying for vacancies.


From Relax, "Indonesian airline Garuda under fire for near-naked interview".



“A” had a shocking experience recently when she sat for an employment examination for female flight attendants on the state-run Indonesian carrier Garuda Airlines. The airline instructed her and all the other applicants to strip to their underwear and submit to a health examination by a male physician.



“It was really embarrassing,” A said. “I was practically naked.”



“Even though I was humiliated, I could not protest under the circumstances” of the test, she added.



According to accounts from applicants and an official with the airline, Garuda received hundreds of applications after advertising for flight attendant positions in South Korea in late June. The company had been recruiting South Koreans for flight attendant positions. The airline conducted the physical examination in July after selecting a group of 100 or so applicants through a document screening and initial interview. Applicants underwent the examination dressed only in brassieres and underpants, with an Indonesian male doctor and female airline employee present.



In particular, the process included an examination in which the applicant removed her brassiere while covered in a blanket, lay down, and had her chest palpated with a medical instrument by the male doctor.



An official with Garuda Airlines explained that rigorous examinations are conducted to check for tattoos for religious reasons in Indonesia, a majority Muslim country. The official said the chest palpation was carried out because of the danger that women with breast implants could suffer health problems under circumstances of a drop in air pressure within the cabin during flight.



The official added that the procedure and its purpose were explained to the applicants, and that their consent was obtained before the examination.



“Although the procedures vary from airline to airline, physical examinations are a necessary process, and our branches in countries like Japan and Australia conduct similar examinations,” the official said.



But A said that she merely submitted to the examination because she was told it was a requirement for applicants, and that she did not receive information beforehand about what it would entail.



“Had I known what kind of examination it would be, I would not have agreed to it,” she said.



South Korean airlines called Garuda’s physical examination “unacceptable.” An official at one domestic carrier said, “During the hiring process, we measure an applicant’s swimming ability to see if he or she can help passengers in cases of emergency, but we did not have any physical examinations that involve feeling for breast implants.”



At another domestic airline, an official asked, “If there is a danger of health problems, then wouldn’t that mean you cannot let female passengers with breast implants on the plane?”



A said the problem is not restricted to Garuda Airlines.



“There have often been cases where foreign airlines have presented ridiculous conditions during the employment examination process, saying things like, ‘We have to check for tattoos while we are testing your swimming ability, so put on a bikini.’”



“The applicant is in a vulnerable position, so she really has to grin and bear it no matter how unpleasant it is,” A added.


From The Hankyoreh, "Garuda Indonesia airline’s invasive hiring practices in S.Korea denounced".



Garuda Indonesia yesterday denied allegations by a South Korean woman that a group of aspiring flight attendants were asked to take off their clothes and have their breasts examined for implants.



The unnamed applicant told AFP that several dozen candidates for 18 female flight attendant positions were required to strip down to their panties for the check-up last month.



The women were told to lie on a bed while an Indonesian male doctor examined them, reported Yonhap news agency.



But Mr Pudjobroto, Garuda Indonesia's corporate secretary, told Jakarta Globe that "it is not true that we had hired a male doctor to do a breast examination to check whether the applicant had a breast implant or not".



He added that "it needs to be understood that all doctors are assisted by female Korean staff during the examination".



Yonhap earlier quoted a Garuda official as saying that "the breast examination by hand was held since those with implants can have health issues when air pressure falls during flights".



Cabin crew hired in other places such as Japan and Australia were also subject to a similar process, the official said. They are also banned from having tattoos.



But the move baffled industry peers and angered women's rights groups, who called the process unnecessary and intrusive, reported AFP.



"We've never heard of or done such check-ups on flight attendants," said a spokesman for South Korea's flag carrier Korean Air, calling the Jakarta-based airline's tests "bizarre". "I wonder if that means passengers with breast implants should not fly also," he was quoted as saying.



A spokesman for Garuda's Seoul office said they are investigating the matter.


From Today, "Garuda in hot water over alleged breast check-ups".



Is it a simple cultural difference or a sexual insult? Garuda Indonesia has come under fire for its flight attendant recruitment method of requesting palpation and semi-naked physical checkup.



While the Indonesian flagship carrier insist the system is based on cultural and religious beliefs and conducted with the consensus of applicants, Korean flight attendants do not buy them, calling them sexist and insulting.



According to Yonhap news agency on Wednesday, a health check up for Garuda’s recruitment of female cabin crew candidates was conducted last month. There, the applicants were asked to remove all their garments, except for their underwear, and lie on a bed. Then an Indonesian male doctor began to palpate their breasts and elsewhere.



After the test, many applicants complained the procedure was embarrassing and that they have felt extremely uncomfortable about being naked and touched.



Garuda’s spokesperson did not answer The Korea Herald’s phone call, but earlier told a local newspaper that the examination was an ordinary process for all branches of the airline.



“The candidates have given their consensus to proceed with the process,” the spokeswoman was quoted as saying. “In case of the breast palpation, we conduct it to screen out those who have breast implants. We have a regulation to screen those persons because a sharp drop of air pressure inside the carrier could sometimes cause them health damage. Also, we conduct full examination of skin on the basis of the religious guideline prohibiting tattoos,” she added.



The company has also reportedly said that the same examination process is conducted in other branches including Japan and Australia, and argued that all other airline companies have similar examination processes.



However, many industry insiders said such all-over-the-body palpation is not common.



“I cannot believe that an international carrier has actually conducted a test in such way,” a domestic airline company insider confided. “Of course there is a medical test. But it never involves getting semi-naked and touched on the breasts. The checkup closer to revealing the skin is taking an X-ray with their gowns on,” he added.



A flight attendant of a foreign airline said the examination was “insulting and inhumane.”



Women’s rights groups were furious. “It is unconvincing in any situation. I cannot help but question whether it is a sexual assault,” LeeKoo Kyung-sook of Korean Women’s Association United told Yonhap.



“The ban on breast implantation sounds almost absurd. Does that mean people who have received plastic surgeries shouldn’t be on board? Taking into account all the cultural differences, there needs to be a clear explanation,” she added.


From Jakarta Post, "Garuda in hot water over bizarre recruitment process".



Garuda Indonesia, the country's flag carrier, is facing strong criticism after reports claim it is conducting near-naked physical checks for South Korean flight attendant jobs, local media reported on Wednesday.



During last month's recruitment, Garuda Indonesia is said to have required female flight attendant candidates in South Korea to strip down - with the exception of their underwear - and lie on a bed. An Indonesian male doctor would then proceed to physically check the candidates' breasts, the Korea Herald reported.



Some of the candidates complained about the checks, resulting in strong criticism against the airline's application procedures. However, Garuda officials argued that the procedure is part of a 'screening regulation,' adding that similar examinations are carried out at other international airlines.



According to reports, a Garuda spokesperson said breast palpation was conducted to check for breast implants because of health risks caused by sharp changes in air pressure inside the aircraft. In addition, a complete skin examination was carried out to check for tattoos, which are prohibited due to religious guidelines. Furthermore, the spokesperson said the same procedures are conducted in their Japanese and Australian branches.



LeeKoo Kyung-sook of Korean Women's Association United called the situation unconvincing and questioned whether Garuda's procedure qualifies as sexual assault. Regarding breast implants, she said the ban is absurd and called for clear explanations.



Garuda, which was founded in January 1949, has a staff of more than 5,800.


From Channel 6 News, "Garuda Indonesia faces criticism for semi-naked breast checks".


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