Airline Accused Of Strip-Searching Crew: It Was Just A ‘Pat Down’

Female crew members allege that the company strip-searched them, violating their privacy. But the airline now says that the procedure was just a "pat down."

An airline in India is under fire for reportedly strip-searching female crew members, and folks on Twitter are demanding the company put an end to the practice. 

Between March 28 and 29, crew members allege they were strip searched over accusations that crew members were taking cash from customers in exchange for food and other items during a flight.

The female employees told SpiceJet management about the incident in a letter in which they accused the company of “targeting and degrading” them.

“We were treated like criminals the moment we stepped out of the aircraft. Two male staff escorted us to a room where [four to five] female ground staff were waiting. They opened our bags and checked everything from our clothes to mandatory items and all the personal and private belongings of ladies even they were new and sealed," they wrote.

After having their belongings searched, the women continued, “we were treated in an inhuman way. The staff forced us to take off our undergarments and we were frisked maliciously and in an inappropriate manner. They unzipped our uniforms, put their hands inside it and frisked our private body parts violating our fundamental right to privacy to the core."

When asked to address the incident, the company explained in a statement that they were aware of the occurrence but that the procedures were not strip searches, but "pat downs."

They also claimed that the security procedure was deemed necessary after the firm received a “security tip-off.” As a result, “SpiceJet's Security team undertook searches at [a] few of our stations on the night of 28/29 March,” the company added.

According to the airline, these searches follow the rules set by the country’s security agencies and that only well-trained female security employees performed the searches.

"One of the objectives of this search is to ensure that there is no pilferage of company moneys/goods, smuggling or any illegal activity that an employee may be lured into. This also ensures security and safety of our passengers, our employees and our assets," the firm’s spokesperson concluded.

Claiming that this type of search is the same that passengers are subject to while going through security checks at Indian airports, the company justified the move by saying that the “pat downs” were random and that several employees are subject to them every now and then.

Despite the company’s justification, many social media users were horrified that female airline employees would be exposed to this type of search.

Whether the searches are allowed by the Indian government’s security agencies or not, it’s incredible to think that it’s 2018 and a company would expose anybody to this type of treatment.

It’s important to keep pressing companies like SpiceJet as well as government agencies to let them know that this type of behavior is not acceptable.

Hopefully, public pressure will help the airlines as well as the federal agencies to change their policies.


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