Boulder, CO- A new survey shows that close to a quarter of female flight attendants are subject to various forms of sexual harassment. The study provides solid proof of what many people expected; flight attendants are still objectified by passengers and crew members alike and subjected to unwanted sexual attention.

The survey was conducted by Hong Kong-based Employment Opportunities Commission and found that 29 percent of female flight attendants and 17 percent of male flight attendants admitted they had been sexually harassed with the last year. Additionally, 47 percent said they witnessed a coworker being sexually harassed.

According to the findings, reported by CNN, 59 percent of the harassers were customers while the remaining 41 percent were crew members including those in the cockpit.

The harassment included physical contact such as “patting, touching, kissing or pinching,” and other inappropriate behaviors such as sharing “pornographic images,” “staring in a sexual manner,” and requests for sexual behavior.

Of the flight attendants who were harassed, only half reported the incidents which Mariana Law of the Equal Opportunities Commission explained to CNN is partly because most of the flight attendants are “not based in Hong Kong.” And since the incidents are sexually based, the victims feel embarrassed and are reluctant to share that information with others.

EOC surveyed 9,000 flight attendants with HKFAA’s member airlines, including Cathay Pacific, Dragonair, British Airways and United Airlines.

“There is currently no legal provision protecting providers of goods, services and facilities against sexual harassment by their customers,” said Dr. John Tse Wing-ling, who is the head of the EOC’s Policy and Research Committee. “In this connection, the EOC urges the (Hong Kong) Government to extend the coverage of the Sex Discrimination Ordinance to protect service providers against sexual harassment by customers, which the EOC has long recommended.”

Even though this survey was conducted in Hong Kong, it is likely reflective of how often flight attendants in other countries including the U.S. are subjected to sexual harassment. The low rate at which the incidents are reported is similar to other workplaces as many victims are afraid to report harassment because they fear they will be ignored, disregarded or punished. Those fears are not unfounded and there are many people who are not taken seriously or lose their jobs because they dared to speak up.

In the U.S. an employer has a duty to protect their employees from sexual harassment whether the harasser is an employee or a customer. Some employers are more reluctant to call out a customer who sexually harasses their employee, but this can expose them to liability of they don’t stand up for their employee.

If an employee reports sexual harassment, and their employer doesn’t take the appropriate action, the victim has another course of action they can pursue. The victim can retain a sexual harassment attorney and file a formal lawsuit against their employer. In most cases, the victim can get a settlement that covers their lost wages and other expenses they incurred as a result of their abuse.