Well, here’s a heaping bag of awful: A new study found that women are disproportionately singled out for strip searches at London Gatwick Airport. And the “reasons” for the strip search may not have been exactly legit.
The report, released by the British chief inspector for borders and immigration (see report PDF here), showed that while men were more likely to be called aside for routine searches at security stations, women were way more likely to see those “routine searches” turn into strip searches. In fact, more than half of the women who were stopped and inspected by border patrol ended up in some kind of strip search -- a figure rendered even more staggeringly absurd when compared to the rate of strip searches among guys stopped at the border. Just 20 percent of dudes held by border agents were asked to disrobe. Ick.
But before you say, “Oh, they were probably doing something sketchy!” take a quick look at some of the “reasons” the women were strip searched, according to the report: Carrying more than $300 in cash and buying a ticket the day prior to travel. Another woman subjected to a strip search was reportedly singled out because she told agents that she was in Britain “to look for hair and beauty products,” according to the Telegraph. Because nothing says “menace to society” quite like volumizing mousse. Riiiight.
Other completely slimy goings on: A gay man stopped by agents on suspicion of pedophilia (despite absolutely zero evidence of that) and statistical evidence showing that Afro-Caribbean women were targeted more often women of other races. Discrimination reigns across the board.
It should go without saying that while this report focuses on just one airport, it’s reasonable to assume similar behavior occurs elsewhere. And while arguing that airport security is racist/sexist/homophobic/etc. is hardly anything new, the Gatwick report adds even greater legitimacy to those complaints.
Anyone want to take a wager on whether this report changes anything?
Reprinted with permission from The Jane Dough.