We live in a world of fear and hate, so much that a young Muslim woman in the US was forced to show her bloodied sanitary napkin to airport security. It was part of a thorough pat-down, they claimed. No, that is discriminating, misogynistic, and bordering on sexual harassment.
As reported by Huffington Post, 27-year-old Harvard graduate student Zainab Merchant was about to travel from Boston to Washington D.C. when the incident happened. She had prepared herself to be pulled aside by Transportation Security Administration officers for inspections and screenings due to her ethnicity and religion. What she didn’t expect was being told that they needed “a deeper look” after patting down Zainab’s groin area to see if she’d brought any contraband.
Zainab refused, saying that she had her period and was wearing a pad. However, she was told that officers would intervene if she didn’t comply with the TSA. She was told to go to a private room and wasn’t even allowed to call her lawyer to assist her. She pulled down her pants and underwear to show the pad to the officers. When she asked for their IDs and badge numbers, they reportedly covered their badges and walked away—like they didn’t intrude on someone’s privacy.
This also isn’t the first wherein Zainab was subjected to “intrusive, humiliating searches.” As of writing, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a formal complaint with the Department of Homeland Security in behalf of Zainab.
This is an example of extreme racial profiling in the US, as well as a disgusting act against a woman. We can’t imagine how scary it must’ve been for her to be alone in a room with two men who can pin her down in an instant if she doesn’t do as she’s told.
If she were a man, she probably wouldn’t be told to pull her pants down in a private room. More so if she was white. She wouldn’t be inspected longer than other people because of her race if that was the case.
This type of racism and discrimination affects all people under that race and religion. If this doesn’t stop, more will suffer, especially women like Zainab who are being deprived of the right to defend themselves. We must do better and we must help others seek out the justice they deserve.
Art by Marian Hukom
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