An American Muslim woman has said she was forced to show her bloody sanitary pad to US airport officials.
Zainab Merchant, 27, from Florida, was travelling to a speaking engagement when the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) patted her down.
She told HuffPost that when as she was being checked by a TSA officer at Boston airport, they touched her groin and announced that they needed to take “a deeper look.”
She explained it was her sanitary pad they could feel, as she was on her period. Two TSA officers took her to a private room and demanded she pulled down her underwear to reveal the bloody pad.
After complying with the intrusive demand, she asked for the officers’ names and badges – she claims they covered their badges with their hands and walked away.
The American Civil Liberites Union (ACLU) believe she had been placed on a government watchlist and have filed a formal complaint on her behalf due to the “intrusive, humiliating searches” she has been subjected to over the past two years.
The ACLU complaint details incidents where Zainab has been searched by an explosives unit, been questioned about whether she is a Shia or Sunni Muslim, and asked what her thoughts on ISIS are – stating in the complaint that this “raises concerns about discrimination and unlawful profiling”.
The Department of Homeland Security has said it can “neither confirm or deny” whether Zainab has been placed on any kind of watchlist.