Security checks at airports have largely been accepted by the public as an essential exercise to ensure the passengers own safety. However high handedness by over zealous and at times perverted customs and police personnel often leads to a justified outcry and condemnation. A 33-year-old Indian-origin Singaporean woman has said that she was “humiliated” by German police when was told to squeeze her breast at Frankfurt airport to prove she was lactating, a media report said today.
Gayathiri Bose, a manager at a transport company who has a three-year-old child and a seven-month-old baby, said she has filed a complaint with German police alleging she was told to squeeze her breast at airport security to prove she was lactating.
She told the BBC she was “humiliated” and “very traumatised” by the experience and would explore formal legal action.
She said police at Frankfurt Airport were suspicious because she was carrying a breast pump but travelling without her baby.
German police declined to comment on the specific allegations, the report said.
But they said such measures were “clearly” not part of routine procedure.
Bose, who was travelling alone, said she was on her way to board a flight to Paris last Thursday when she was stopped at the security screening station.
She said that after her carry-on bag, which contained her breast pump, went through the X-ray machine, she was taken aside for questioning.
“[They had] an incredulous tone. ‘You are breastfeeding? Then where is your baby? Your baby is in Singapore?’,” she said about the 45-minutue episode.
They kept her passport and she was then led to a room by a female police officer for further questioning, she said.
Inside the room, “She asked me to open up my blouse and show her my breast… She wanted me to show her by hand- expressing a little.”
Bose said she complied and squeezed her breast. “I was just in shock, I was going through the motions. I was all by myself as well, and wasn’t sure what would happen to me if they decided to make trouble for me.”
“It was only when I came out of the room that I began to slowly understand what had just happened. I just started to cry, I was terribly upset.”
She said officials then tested and cleared the pump before returning her passport, and she was allowed to board her plane to Paris.
“When they finally cleared me of the matter, I told them that this is not the way to treat someone. I said ‘Do you know what you just did to me, you made me show my breast.’
“The officer just said, ‘Okay it is over now, please go’.
Christian Altenhofen, spokesman for the German federal police unit at Frankfurt Airport, told the BBC that he could not comment on the incident “for reasons of data protection”.
He added: “If a suspected explosive is detected at an air safety control point, the baggage and the person must be searched. The measures you have described for a breastfeeding mother are clearly not included.
Aviation expert Ellis Taylor from aviation publication Flightglobal said asking a mother to show she was lactating was “pretty ridiculous”.