In 2014, a young girl alleged that she had been groped by an older man on a United Airlines flight from LA to Sydney.
Fifteen-year-old Chelsea Schiffel claimed that man in the seat next to her touched her breasts twice while her mother was at the rear of the plane, speaking to another family member.
Upon returning to her seat, Chelsea’s mother informed a flight attendant of the incident and asked whether she and her daughter could move seats. Her request was denied, and Chelsea and her mother were asked to return to their assigned seats.
Two years later, the airline has finally responded to the Schiffel family’s complaints with a letter to Chelsea.
In the letter, obtained by News Corp, United Airlines denied Chelsea’s accusations, and also – for some reason – thought it was appropriate to mention that she was wearing “extremely short shorts”.
It's funny, but I'm pretty sure you're allowed to wear shorts - no matter how "extremely short" - in public and reasonably expect not to be violated by strangers.
Particularly when you're a teenage girl returning from what I'm sure was a sun-filled holiday in LA.
It sounds as though United Airlines is suggesting that Chelsea's clothing choice contributed to, or maybe even caused, her molestation.
The subtext, as always with victim-blaming, is clear: she deserved it. She brought it upon herself. She doesn't have a right to complain afterwards, when she regrets the ramifications of her choices.
"For me it comes across, by them saying that, (it) feels like they were telling me that I was asking for it," Chelsea told The Daily Telegraph.
But let's be very clear: Victims who are molested, sexually harassed or raped are never at fault. Women never "invite" attacks.
Watch the Mamamia Team discuss whether rape is a male or female issue.
Chelsea could have whipped off her shirt, thrown her bra in the air and danced the hula in the aisle of her United Airlines flight, and it still wouldn't be an invitation for anyone to touch her breasts, her legs, or any part of her body.
As if to highlight the absurdity of their claims, United Airlines also accused Chelsea of "crawling over other passengers while they were sleeping", which, as we all know, is absolutely unheard of in economy air travel and should be regarded with the utmost suspicion.
United Airlines may think they aren't liable for Chelsea's attack. They may not believe her story.
It doesn't matter.
Suggesting that a young girl "invited" her own molestation, under any circumstances, is inexcusable.