'Humiliated': Female passenger subjected to patdown 'because her sanitary towel showed up on body scanner'
26th November 2010
Ordeal brought back memories of previous sex assault
Doctor warns agents' gloves could spread infections
Obama: I understand passengers' anger at patdowns
A female passenger has claimed that she was assaulted by TSA agents when she was ordered to be patted down because her sanitary towel showed up on the body scanner.
The woman was wearing a flannel panty liner, that evidently aroused suspicion, causing her to endure what she described as a 'horrible' experience.
Humiliated by her experience, the unidentified Army vet wrote to women's health company Gladrags to detail what happened.
She said the invasive patdown was additionally humiliating because it brought back memories of a previously suffered sexual assault.
She wrote: 'The TSA agents were doing their job, they were as delicate as they could be, etc., etc.
'But what ultimately happened is that I was subjected to a search so invasive that I was left crying and dealing with memories that I thought had been dealt with years ago of prior sexual assaults.
Her email added: 'Because of my flannel panty-liner. These new scans are so horrible that if you are wearing something unusual (like a piece of cloth on your panties) then you will be subjected to a search where a woman repeatedly has to check your 'groin' while another woman watches on (two in my case – they were training in a new girl – awesome)'.
Invasive: An increasing number of women are querying if the use of feminine products will subject them to greater security screening
The woman said that she was speaking out because she didn't want another woman to face the same humiliation.
'I just don’t want another woman to have to go through the 'patting down' because she didn’t know that her glad-rag would be a matter of national security.'
A increasing amount of woman have apparently requesting information from the TSA, regarding if sanitary products are picked up by the body scanners and by all accounts it does.
Doctors are also now questioning the hygiene of TSA agents who conduct hundreds of patdowns daily.
Although they wear gloves, it is being reported that viruses like syphilis, lice, gonorrhea, chlamydia, strep and papilloma viruses can be transferred from passenger to passenger during the body searches.
Alarmed travellers have noted that the TSA agents do not change gloves in between patdowns and were actually patting down dozens of passengers or more wearing the same gloves.
The TSA nor federal agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control have yet commented on the possibility that infections and other afflictions could be spread.
Dr Thomas Warner from Wisconsin told WND: 'There is no doubt that bacteria (staph, strep, v.cholerae etc.) and viruses (noro, enteroviruses, herpes, hepatitis A and papilloma viruses) can be spread by contaminated vinyl or latex gloves'.
'If a traveller has diarrhea and is soiled, as can and does happen, the causative agent can be spread by this method since bacteria and viruses in moist environments have greater viability', he added.
'The traveler readjusting clothes can easily get the infectious agents on their hands and therefore into their mouth, nose and eyes.'
'How come if we as doctors have guidelines, we must wear gloves and have oversight, it's very different [for the TSA]'.
Dr Warner said that at the very minimum, gloves should be changed between patdowns, 'especially if the gloved hand is inside clothes or in the genital area... even if clothed. Travelers should be advised of this and hand-wash and change clothes ASAP after these intimate examinations.'
The CDC have said that passengers should request the TSA agent use fresh gloves before conducting their body search.
'If you are traveling and are going to be searched, you can request that the TSA agent change his or her gloves,' their statement read.
Privacy-invasion claims like Eliana Sutherland's have become increasingly common since the TSA introduced the full body scan.
She complained that she was singled out by agents because of her large breasts.
She said she was flying from Orlando International Airport and felt objectified by security workers, claiming two male TSA workers had been staring at her chest and picked her out for additional screening.
'It was pretty obvious. One of the guys that was staring me up and down was the one who pulled me over', she said. 'Not a comfortable feeling'.
President Obama waded into the TSA row today by insisting patdowns are essential to keeping passengers safe.
He tells ABC's Barbara Walters in an interview to be screened tonight: 'I understand people's frustrations with it.
'But I also know that if there was an explosion in the air that killed a couple of hundred people...and it turned out that we could have prevented it possibly...that would be something that would be pretty upsetting to most of us - including me.'
The TSA has stressed that people are chosen for additional screening at random and strictly for security reasons.
TSA Administrator John Pistole has pledged to review security procedures but says the TSA must balance people's demands for privacy with the need to protect passengers from terror threats.
He said that only a small portion of the 34 million people who have flown since the new procedures have taken effect have had the body patdowns.