I got a pat down as I went through an airport security checkpoint a couple of weeks ago. Can’t remember where, but it was overseas. This has never happened to me before. Usually, if I set off the alarm as I step through the scanner they pull me aside and wave the wand thing over me. Not this time however. Bloody gold bangle that I never take off. I always forget it’s there until it sets off the alarm.
So this is what happened. As soon as the alarm went off I knew immediately what happened. “Bracelet” I said to the security office while showing it to him. I offered to put it through the xray machine but they said no and pulled me aside. I know the drill, I stood arms outstretched and leg apart waiting for the wand waving, but no. A female security officer approached me, pulling on blue rubber gloves like I haven’t seen since I had my last pap smear test and she told me she was going to do a pat down.
So I got felt up. Up my legs, brushed my crotch, down my legs. Felt my bum, up my back, across my shoulders, full cupping of my boobs with a quizzical look. “Underwire bra” I offered by explanation (what was she, an idiot) and then down my waist and across my belly. It wasn’t pleasant but I’m not inclined to make a fuss when I have a flight to catch. And then I read about this pat down as conducted on blogger Erin Chase.
She instructed me, “Spread your feet apart and hold your arms out to the side.” I obliged.
She patted my left arm, my right arm, my upper back and my lower back. She then said, “I need to reach in and feel along the inside of your waistband.”
She felt along my waistline, moved behind me, then proceeded to feel both of my buttocks. She reached from behind in the middle of my buttocks towards my vagina area.
She did not tell me that she was going to touch my buttocks, or reach forward to my vagina area.
She then moved in front of my and touched the top and underneath portions of both of my breasts.
She did not tell me that she was going to touch my breasts.
She then felt around my waist. She then moved to the bottoms of my legs.
She then felt my inner thighs and my vagina area, touching both of my labia.
She did not tell me that she was going to touch my vagina area or my labia.
She then told me that I could put my shoes on and I asked if I could pick up the baby, she replied Yes.
She then moved back to my belongings to finish scanning them with the paper discs for explosives. When she finished she said I was free to go.
While I felt mildly invaded, actually I more annoyed than invaded, I had nothing on this poor woman. She touched her vagina and labia. That’s horrific. She’s pursuing them for sexual assault. There was no facility for use of the full body scan equipment in either of our cases.
I understand the need for vigilance against terrorist threats, but I am concerned about the powers that are being given to airport security staff. Let’s be frank, some of them don’t exactly inspire confidence. Most of them are employed by private security concerns. The training required is hardly comprehensive. A security check is done on them, but this not comprehensive either. Let’s be frank, any whack job could wriggle their way into the job and if they were a whack job with a propensity for touchy feely then they would be in seventh heaven.
That all said I’m sure that most of the security staff are upright citizens who get no pleasure out of touching random stranger’s genitalia, but really is this going too far? We had the boss of British BA saying that airport security was rubbish. I’d have to agree after watching the security staff at one international airport have a lengthy discussion, all the while talking and laughing while bags flowed willy nilly through the xray machine. Needless to say there was no pat down happening there. Lucky no random bombers were out that day.
Every time a new security measure is introduced it is a reaction. It’s not proactive–it’s reacting to something that has already happened. The baby bottle bomber means we can’t have liquids, the shoe bomber means our shoes have to be scanned and the genital hiding bomber means we all are now to be touched up at will.
Never mind that it has been 11 months since he tried to blow up a plane with bombs hidden in his genitalia. No one else has tried to do it for the last 11 months, but all of a sudden it seems that action should be taken right now. Image