Female flight attendants employed by Air France are absolutely furious about new dress code policies that will be enforced when flights resume from Paris to Tehran next month. According to a Mashable report, female Air France flight attendants are going to be required to wear loose clothing and headscarves when working flights to and from the Iranian capital. Several unions are getting involved in the fight against the rules, and at least one union is reportedly reaching out to a government minister for help.
The Union des Navigants de l’Aviation Civile (UNAC) calls the new “modesty rules” that order headscarves and pants to be worn by female Air France flight attendants who fly to Iran “true threats to their dignity.” The union made the comments in a letter sent to Laurence Rossignal, France’s minister for women’s rights and families, on Friday.
Syndicat National du Personnel Navigant Commercial (SNPNC), another French union, similarly called out the new dress code order, calling the “modesty rules” (which are applicable only to women) “an attack on freedom of conscience and individual freedoms, and invasion of privacy.”
France is a highly diverse, secular nation, and has banned women from wearing full body veils and hijabs in public. In Iran, women are required by law to cover their hair.
Union representatives working on behalf of Air France’s female flight attendants are not asking that the airline allow female flight attendants to violate Iran’s religious laws during flights within the country’s borders. They are, however, asking Air France to make service on all flights to Tehran completely voluntary for female crew members who do not choose to be forced to submit to Islamic religious law as part of their employment with Air France. The unions are demanding that Air France allow female flight attendants who don’t want to fly to Tehran to opt out of doing so “without repercussions related to pay or schedules.”
“It is not our role to pass judgment on the wearing of headscarves or veils in Iran. What we are denouncing is that it is being made compulsory. Stewardesses must be given the right to refuse these flights.”
Air France cut flights to Tehran eight years ago as part of international sanctions against Iran related to that nation’s controversial nuclear program. In 2015, France, the United States, Iran and multiple other nations reached a “nuclear deal”; in response to this agreement, Air France announced it would reinstate flights to Iran. Air France’s flight service from Paris to Tehran will resume on April 17.
“Iranian law requires that a veil covering the hair be worn in public places by all women on its territory. This obligation, which does not apply during the flight, is respected by all international airlines which fly to Iran.”
It has also been reported that Air France has asked its female flight attendants not to smoke in public while in Tehran. Male flight attendants were not asked to do the same, according to the union letter sent to France’s minister for women’s rights and families.
Not surprisingly, people have taken to Twitter to share their thoughts on the headscarf matter.
While Air France formerly required its female flight attendants to adhere to Iran’s strict Islamic dress code when flying to Tehran, recent terror attacks and changes to French law in the interim may work in favor of Air France’s female flight attendants. France’s nationwide burqa ban was not introduced until 2010, after Air France discontinued flights to Iran. That ban was upheld by the European Court of Human Rights in 2014.
On November 13, 2015, Paris was rocked by devastating terror attacks that killed 130 people. ISIS, claimed responsibility for those attacks. ISIS continued its religiously-motivated attacks on the Western way of life on March 22 in Brussels, Belgium, killing 32 more innocent people.
Air France has declined to further comment on the indignation of their female flight attendants, but it is possible that employees and unions could have some legal foundation to resist the “modesty rules” or opt-out of flights to Iran.
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