THE HAGUE--Member of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party (SP) and a member of Parliament’s Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations, has taken a case of discrimination while in flight on Royal Dutch Airlines KLM, to the Human Rights Council.
Van Raak announced on Sunday that he has turned to the Human Rights Council because of an incident that took place in May this year on board a KLM flight from New York to Amsterdam that involved his wife.
Van Raak’s wife was assigned a seat next to an Orthodox Jewish man. However, the latter refused to sit next to a woman. The man was travelling with a group of Orthodox Jewish men and together they created quite a fuss about their refusal.
“The atmosphere turned ugly,” said Van Raak, who explained that eventually he and his wife decided to take different seats in the aircraft, but under protest. He said the situation was also very uncomfortable for the crew. According to Van Raak, KLM should have given the man a choice: to take a seat next to his wife or leave the aircraft.
Back in the Netherlands, Van Raak got in touch with KLM and wrote a column about the incident on the news/opinion website ThePostOnline. So far, KLM management has not apologised.
Van Raak said his decision to go to the Human Rights Council was justified. “This is the result of five months back and forth with KLM, which allows discrimination on its flights. Let the Council take a look at whether men can refuse to sit next to a woman for religious reasons and whether airlines should allow this,” he said.
It should be noted that after a Court case of a woman with a similar experience against the Israeli national airline El Al, the airline now has a policy whereby male passengers who refuse to sit next to a woman are removed from the aircraft.