Airport staff order mum to squeeze her breasts to prove she's lactating

Gayathiri Bose and her breast pump.
Gayathiri Bose and her breast pump. 

A Singaporean mum of two has spoken about her humiliation at the hands of German airport security guards who ordered her to prove she could breastfeed.

Gayathiri Bose, who has a three-year-old and a seven-month-old, told the BBC that police at Frankfurt airport were suspicious because she was carrying a breast pump but travelling without her baby.

Bose, 33, said that she had been on her way to board a flight to Paris when she was stopped at a screening station. When security staff found her breast pump she was taken aside for questioning.

"[They had] an incredulous tone. 'You are breastfeeding? Then where is your baby? Your baby is in Singapore?'" she said.

Her passport was taken and she was taken into another room by a female police officer. Once inside she was asked to prove she was lactating.

"She asked me to open up my blouse and show her my breast. She then asked how come I didn't have anything attached to my breast if I was lactating and expressing breast milk," said Ms Bose.

"And I said, there is no such thing that is [permanently] attached, we usually place the pump to our nipple and the machine does the job.

"She wanted me to show her by hand-expressing a little."

Although Bose complied with the request she found the experience traumatising.

"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."

Before returning her passport, airport officials tested the pump. She was then allowed to board her flight.

"When they finally cleared me of the matter, I told them that this is not the way to treat someone. I said 'Do you know what you just did to me? You made me show my breast.'

"The officer just said, 'Okay, it is over now, please go'. She was totally nonchalant, she didn't seem very remorseful or empathetic," Bose recalls.

A spokesperson for Frankfurt's airport police told the BBC that Bose was stopped at security and that her breast pump was checked as a possible explosive. However, he denied that the mother of two had been asked to squeeze her breast.

"The federal police has been aware of the allegation since Friday. The investigation revealed that a necessary follow-up was carried out by the policewoman, who is a mother of two children herself," said the spokesperson in a statement emailed to the BBC.

"We deny the allegation that the passenger was asked to prove her ability to breastfeed."

Bose says that she is considering taking legal action. "While I do respect the need to do security checks on items that may seem suspicious, to outrage a person's modesty is definitely crossing the line," she said.