They say a picture says a thousand words – in the case of a recent homophobic and sexist attack on two women on a London bus, the photo that went viral spoke volumes.
The two women, covered in blood, had been viciously attacked on a London night bus by a group of young men who had demanded they kiss and ‘perform’ for them. When Melania and her partner Chris refused to be treated as sexual objects, the men began throwing coins at them.
As Chris stood up from her seat to protest, they were both savagely beaten – Melania, who works as a cabin crew member for Ryanair, suffered a broken nose that later required surgery. Chris’ jaw was also broken. And while they may recover from their physical injuries soon enough, the emotional scars left by the incident will likely take much longer to heal.
Shocked by the attack, a Unite Ryanair branch decided to take action.
“When we heard about the news, we were stunned and saddened,” explained Unite FRUnite branch secretary Laszlo Marothy. “It’s shocking that in 2019 two people who have chosen to be together are attacked like this because of their sexuality.”
The Unite branch has since set up a fundraiser coordinated by branch chair Sarah Miller, which, in a matter of days raised more than £4,000, thanks in large part to generous support from other Unite cabin crew branches.
The funds raised will be given to Melania and Chris for them to use as they see fit, whether that’s to pay for counselling, to support a potential legal case against the perpetrators, or simply to have a financial cushion if they need to take extra time off from work.
“We decided to set up the fundraiser because we felt that we must stand up for one of our own – Melania is our colleague and we felt inspired to help,” Laszlo explained.
He noted that the FRUnite branch was disappointed that neither the agency Melania works for, which supplies labour to Ryanair, nor Ryanair itself were willing to do anything more for their employee besides the bare minimum.
“It was just a tick-box HR exercise for them. Melania is getting some time off from work but nothing beyond that. That’s why we decided to step in to fill that void,” he said. “A union is more than simply work insurance. It’s a collective of people who stand with you when you need them. We’re here to build a community.”
Unite national officer for equalities Harish Patel hailed the FRUnite branch’s support after the attack on Melania and Chris.
“We are very proud that Unite members are standing up against such vile homophobic and misogynistic attacks,” he said. “Rooted in our union’s values is a commitment to equality and diversity – as trade unionists we have a duty to stand up for our sisters and brothers and stamp out hatred and prejudice wherever we see it.
“This fundraiser is a great way to support our member Melania and her partner Chris and we urge everyone to contribute what they can,” he added. “We will also be consulting our LGBT committee to provide any additional support. We must continue to highlight cases like these to show that racist, homophobic and sexist violence is still alive and well, even in cosmopolitan London in 2019. We must always remain vigilant and challenge the hate-filled ideologies that fuel such attacks in the first place.”
You can donate to help support Melania and Chris at the FRUnite Go Fund Me page here.