Singaporean mother made to squeeze her breast in order to prove she was lactating by German police at airport

Felicia Choo
The Straits Times
Tue, Jan 31, 2017

A Singaporean mother was stopped by Frankfurt Airport police and asked to prove she was lactating after a security check showed a breast pump in her carry-on bag when she was travelling alone.

Ms Gayathiri Bose, 33, told the BBC that she has filed a complaint with German police and added that an airport security officer had told her to squeeze her breast to prove that she was lactating.

Ms Bose was on her way to her Paris-bound flight on Jan 26 when the "humiliating" and "very traumatising" incident happened.

According to the BBC report, Ms Bose was taken aside for questioning at the security screening station, after her carry-on bag, which contained her breast pump, went through the X-ray machine.

Police officers asked her where her baby was, and seemed doubtful that the device was a breast pump.

They kept her passport and a female officer led her to a room for further questioning.

The officer then asked Ms Bose to prove that she was lactating, and Ms Bose had to open her blouse and show the officer her breast.

When asked why she did not have anything attached to her breast, Ms Bose replied that the pump did not work by being permanently attached.

The officer asked Ms Bose to show she was lactating by hand-expressing, and Ms Bose complied.

She told the BBC: "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 added that she cried and "was terribly upset".

Her breast pump was tested and cleared before being returned to Ms Bose and she was allowed to board her plane to Paris after nearly 45 minutes.

The manager at a transport company is exploring the possibility of taking formal legal action, saying that while she acknowledge the need for security checks, "to outrage a person's modesty is definitely crossing the line". She has a three-year-old child and a seven-month-old baby.

German police declined to comment to the BBC about the incident, but said that the security check that Ms Bose underwent was not part of the usual procedure.

Mr Christian Altenhofen, spokesman for the German federal police unit at Frankfurt Airport told the BBC: "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."