Malindo Air flies back to the 1950s with sexist hiring procedure
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Malindo Air flies back to the 1950s with sexist hiring procedure

MALAYSIA’S Malindo Air is in hot water after an account of their hiring procedure for flight attendants was made public through a story on Malay Mail Online.

According to Malindo Air public relations and communications director Raja Sa’adi Raja Amrin, the airline required female candidates to remove their tops – down to their innerwear – to check for visible marks like scars or tattoos.

Raja Sa’adi said the strip-down was important because of the “partially see-through” nature of the attendants’ uniforms.

Candidates were also asked to bare their thighs because “the uniforms had long slits”.

“We need to know if there are scars or any marks you can see their legs when they walk,” he said.

The slits were said to have been tailored in such a manner that enable flight attendants to move around easily, particularly during an on-board emergency.

Raja Sa’adi said, “It is not an issue. We have the right to conduct such body checks on them. I think most airlines do the same.”

In a separate story, an anonymous AirAsia attendant told Malay Mail Online it was unacceptable for any airline to ask their female candidates or employees to remove their clothes.

“This is the 21st century. No organisation should be asking their employees to remove their clothes. It is extremely derogatory,” he said.

Meanwhile, a Singapore Airlines attendant told the publication job interviews for flight attendants should be treated like that of any other job.

Several opposition Members of Parliament condemned Malindo’s archaic procedures.

Local MP Siti Mariah Mahmud told New Straits Times, “This [grooming check] is disgusting and unacceptable. It insults and outrages the modesty of women.

“I hope more Malaysians will stand up to this, and that Malindo Air will abolish this barbaric move.”

MP P. Kasthuriraani piped in: “The applicants should be picked based on qualities of being calm in times of crisis, handling difficult passengers, and for being articulate and kind.”

In a statement posted on their Facebook page, Malindo responded to the backlash by saying it strictly adhered to regulations in all its recruitment processes.

The statement said: “Grooming checks for visible marks are conducted privately by female supervisors in a professional manner and is part of the interviewing process.

“Herein candidates are briefed ahead and consent from each candidate is required prior proceeding to ensure there is no prominent marks visible while wearing the uniform.”

Despite increased awareness about sexual awareness and gender equality in the workplace, female flight attendants still seem to have the short end of the stick.

Earlier this year, Trippy.com, a crowd-sourcing travel site, received flak for publishing a rather incongruous ranking of “most attractive” flight attendants based on airline.

LinkedIn profile photos were extracted – possibly without the women’s consent – for the ranking while users rated the women by attractiveness.

The site used suggestive lines like “you may want to avoid some of the smaller carriers… if you’re looking for a nice smile when you ask for an extra bag of pretzels”.

On top of that, Asians were deliberately ruled out of the rankings after suggesting “Asian women can’t be equally compared to women of other races”.

After outrage on social media and other travel sites, the post was taken down.