Indian-origin mom ‘told to prove lactation’ at Frankfurt airport
Berlin, Jan 31 (IANS) An Indian-origin Singaporean woman has said she was “humiliated” by the German police who told her to squeeze her breast to express milk at Frankfurt airport to prove she was lactating, the media reported.
Gayathiri Bose, 33, who has a three-year-old child and a seven-month-old baby, told the BBC that she was exploring the possibility of taking formal legal action. Bose has already filed a complaint about the incident.
Bose said the incident, which lasted for nearly 45 minutes, was “humiliating” and “very traumatising”. She said the police at Frankfurt Airport got suspicious because she was carrying a breast pump but travelling without her baby.
The German police, according to the BBC report on Tuesday, declined to comment on the specific allegations. But 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 week 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?'”, Bose said.
Bose said the officers did not seem to believe her when she insisted the device was a breast pump. They kept her passport and took her to a room by a female police officer for further questioning, according to the report.
“Inside the room, she (the police officer) asked me to open up my blouse and show her my breast. She then asked how come I didn’t have anything attached to my breast, if I was lactating. She wanted me to show her by hand-expressing a little,” said Bose.
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,” she was quoted by the BBC.
“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.
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”.