“The New Norm?” Indian Woman Forced to Strip at Frankfurt Airport

For 30-year-old Shruthi Basappa, it was a normal trip from Bangalore to Iceland gone terribly wrong.

Travelling with her Icelandic husband and 4-year-old daughter, Shruthi was told to strip (“remove her dress”) by Frankfurt airport security officers on 29 March. She had cleared the body scan, but the officers still had some doubts.

Hearing of the incident, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has asked for a report on the incident from the Consulate General in Frankfurt.

Since Shruthi had just undergone abdominal surgery recently, when asked by the airport officials, she agreed to a pat down search but requested officials to be gentle.

Instead, she was asked to “remove the dress she was wearing.” In a Facebook post (which now appears to have been either taken down or made private), Basappa narrates her ordeal:

I was asked to remove the dress I was wearing. Yes. Remove my clothes. Is this the new norm? Isn’t it enough to always be the one random person picked out of line that now I need to wrap my head around the fact that I might be asked to strip? Do I need to wax my legs? Do I need to carefully put together a special ‘for travel lingerie’ set that has nothing to do with seducing my husband but more about hiding the outrage, anger, humiliation and disgust that is an inevitable part of travelling through airports?

(Photo: Screenshot of Shruthi’s post on Facebook)

A Case of Racial Profiling?

Shruthi Basappa, an architect by profession, has been living in Europe for six years and states in her Facebook post, that she is used to being singled out for ‘random’ checks. However, in this case, the tone of the security guards changed when Basappa’s husband came in; he is Icelandic. It was only after his intervention that the officers agreed to let her go after a pat down.

While a verified account of Frankfurt airport responded to Shruthi’s post on Facebook stating that forcing to strip is not “standard protocol”, they haven’t yet taken any action.

Speaking to NDTV, Shruthi said she has a filed a complaint but there hasn’t been any response yet.