Women seek more protection from abusive airport screeners

Zoe Koplowitz calls the Transportation Security Administration's new guidelines for airport searches of women "baby steps" in the right direction. Koplowitz is one of dozens of women to complain about the searches. In September, Koplowitz, a middle-aged New Yorker with multiple sclerosis, was singled out for a pat-down all over her body in Kansas City. She says she felt "violated." Attorney Norman Siegel, who has collected many of the women's complaints, says it's a common reaction. He'll be meeting next week with officials of the T-S-A, which now tells screeners to keep their hands away from women's breasts unless something sets off an alarm.

Siegel says close searches without cause are illegal.


Breasts out of bounds in air security checks

AIRPORT security staff in the US were ordered yesterday to avoid touching women passengers between their breasts when searching for weapons. Many women had complained that a new “patdown method”, introduced in September after two Chechen women were blamed for blowing up flights in Russia, killing 90 people, was too intrusive. Airport screeners will revert to checking around the “chest perimeter” unless the passenger sets off an explosives alarm. This can include checks under the bra but not hand searches between the breasts. “We’ve made it more of a perimeter patdown, but we’re still getting the security value,” Mark Hatfield, director of communications at the Transportation Security Administration, said.

Between 400 and 500 women had lodged formal complaints that they were touched inappropriately after being randomly selected or setting off metal detectors, he said.


Airport searches of women's chests revamped

Airport security screeners this week will be instructed not to touch women passengers between their breasts as part of new pat-down procedures, the Transportation Security Administration said Wednesday. The agency said it is making a modification to its searching methods that began in September after more than 400 passengers, mostly women, formally complained that the experience was invasive, humiliating and akin to being molested.
Screeners had been instructed to use their hands to touch women between and underneath their breasts to inspect for explosives that might be hidden beneath clothing.

Now, the agency said, security screeners will be directed to pat down only the "chest perimeter" of female passengers and not to touch women between their breasts unless they set off a hand-held metal detector in the chest area. Female screeners perform the procedure on female passengers.


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December 26th, 2004


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