Eeeyikes. The furor against the TSA is growing and we can all feel it. The thing is, many people think that the new searching procedure is simply going too far. This November 24th has been declared (by online communities) TSA Opt Out Day and if successful, it’s going to be hell in the airports.
New backscatter body scanners are being implemented around the world, and citizens of all countries are well aware that these scanners not only show you naked to strangers watching the monitors (and people have been caught sexually exploiting the images), but that they emit a level of radiation that has pilots being urged to avoid for their health. In the US, passengers can opt-out* of being scanned and undergo a new full-body search that is reported as being extremely invasive. How invasive?
Two disturbing stories have just surfaced on blogs: today Our Little Chatterboxes popular mommyblogger Erin just put up the entry TSA – Sexual Assault. It is very disturbing.
(…) 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.
I stood there holding my baby in shock. I did not move for almost a minute.
I stood there, an American citizen, a mom traveling with a baby with special needs formula, sexually assaulted by a government official. I began shaking and felt completely violated, abused and assaulted by the TSA agent. I shook for several hours, and woke up the next day shaking. [Link]
Clearly, the new search technique was not invented by a woman, or any kind of a survivor of sexual trauma. A week ago, PNC – Minnesota posted an account of another female traveler, Rape Survivor Devastated by TSA Enhanced Pat Down:
(…) “This was a nightmare come to life,” Celeste says, “I said I didn’t want them to see me naked and the agent started yelling Opt out- we have an opt here. Another agent took me aside and said they would have to pat me down. He told me he was going to touch my genitals and asked if I wouldn’t rather just go through the scanner, that it would be less humiliating for me. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I kept saying I don’t want any of this to happen. I was whispering please don’t do this, please, please.”
Since Celeste didn’t agree to go through the scanner, the enhanced pat down began. “He started at one leg and then ran his hand up to my crotch. He cupped and patted my crotch with his palm. Other flyers were watching this happen to me. At that point I closed my eyes and started praying to the Goddess for strength. He also cupped and then squeezed my breasts. That wasn’t the worst part. He touched my face, he touched my hair, stroking me. That’s when I started crying. It was so intimate, so horrible. I feel like I was being raped. There’s no way I can fly again. I can’t do it.” [Link]
* UK passengers do not have the Opt Out option and are required go through the scanners. Image credit: via.
Update 11.29.10: Here is another one – TSA Groin Searches Menstruating Woman (blog.gladrags.com)