By Maya Palit
Gayathiri Bose, a Singapore-based woman, was on the way from Frankfurt airport to Paris when she had a harrowing ordeal.
According to a BBC news report, security nabbed her in Frankfurt, feeling that something was amiss because she had a breast pump in her hand luggage but did not have her baby with her. And if things couldn’t get any more ridiculous, she was taken aside by security personnel, and asked to squeeze her breast to prove that she was lactating.
She was quoted by the BBC saying that she agreed to do this, but later broke down after feeling humiliated: “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. 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.”
The German airport has completely denied the allegations. But her story prompted the BBC to invite other women to narrate similar experiences, and the stories aren’t cheer-inducing: a few recounted that their breast pumps unnerved security, who were not hostile in the least, but appeared unconvinced by mothers needing to carry the devices even when their babies weren’t around.
Perhaps it’s about time that airports got up to speed, or at the very least, had a briefing on breastfeeding devices, to ensure that women like Bose don’t have to deal with extreme skepticism.