LAHORE-– Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) airhostesses are being harassed by senior pursers who have been asking them to keep their headscarf (dupatta) down, though its Grooming Standards Manual (GSM) permits an airhostess to cover her head, sources said on Wednesday.

According to the GSM Book, a senior purser said, a dupatta would be in a multicolour floral print on a beige georgette background shaped with the following dimensions: 16 to 17 inches circumference at the face and 28 ½ x 32 ½ inches at base.

Sources in the national flag carrier said there was a second option for the airhostesses and female cabin crew of carrying the scarf round the neck with specified dimensions. But why the pursers were harassing and forcing them to only exercise the second option when most of the airhostesses were not willing to go for it, they questioned.

A senior PIA officer seeking anonymity said female staff of all other airlines of Muslim countries like Qatar Airways, Ittehad and Emirates was carrying their headscarf on head while conducting service and those airlines were getting more business than that of PIA.

Sources disclosed that GSM was being looked after by Assistant Manager Grooming Cell based at Karachi and it was her duty to ensure such things. On other stations like Lahore, Peshawar and Islamabad the grooming officers were also posted.

A senior purser on the condition of not to be named said: “we carry ethnic passengers from certain routes and they do not like such dressing and unveiled staff so such instructions not only create harassment to airhostesses but also not a service to airlines.”

He said most of the airhostesses belonged to the middle class and they felt demoralised by downing their dupatta, especially when they left home for duty or when they reached home after closing their duty. A hostess said that they could not make complain to the department concerned to save their job. She said most of us did not know about the GSM and their rights.

When contacted, the PIA spokesperson said that dupatta was part of the airlines uniform and how could it ask some airhostesses to not take duptta on their head. He said a passing out ceremony of airhostesses was held at Karachi last week which was attended by all airhostesses carrying the scarf. He said it could be personal wish of any senior purser who could be interrogated if any airhostess complained to authority concerned.