The United States is contemplating electing the first female president with the candidates focusing much of their campaign ads on so-called “women’s issues” of equal pay, paid maternity and child care, and securing the all-important “women’s vote.”

Women make up 51 percent of the U.S. population – they are doctors, lawyers, mothers, CEOs, senators, representatives, Supreme Court justices and work in every sector of the workforce.

In the United States, at least, women can drive, vote, own property, file for divorce and do, pretty much what they want.

Except, apparently, when their simple presence offends Pakistani “monks.”

That’s the lesson learned by a California woman when United Airlines bumped her from her pre-booked seat assignment because… she was female.

Mary Campos, an oil and gas consultant, was handed a new boarding pass by a United gate agent who told her, “The two gentlemen seated next to you have cultural beliefs that prevent them for sitting next to, talking to or communicating with females.”

What? On a flight from Los Angeles to Houston on an U.S.-based airline?

Campos was stunned, but had no choice but to accede to the wishes of the two unidentified men who found her mere presence offensive.

“I thought I lived in a culture where females were equal to men,” she said.

A letter to United’s CEO about the incident noted, “Any belief that prevents individuals from interacting with females should not travel on commercial aircraft.”

After an initial reply from the airline promising to “look into it,” there was only… silence, but after Campos took her story to a CBS affiliate in Los Angeles, a United spokesman issued a standard, boilerplate – in other words, meaningless – response.

“We regret that Ms. Campos was unhappy with the handling of the seat assignments on her flight. United holds our employees to the highest standards of professionalism and has zero tolerance for discrimination.”

When asked if she will file a discrimination suit against United, Campos said she said she would be satisfied if the airline apologized to every female on the plane, including the flight crew and changed its policy.

In today’s world of heightened sensitivity to the “cultural” concerns of those who, like the Pakistani monks on the flight who couldn’t be contaminated by sitting next to a woman, Campos shouldn’t expect United to take action on her request any time soon.

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