THE AMAZON XOCIETY
Our Sisters in Bondage:
BLACK WOMEN STRIPPED
Copied From: FEMNET BLACK WOMEN FACE MORE SEARCHES
More black women stopped for airport searches, report says
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Black women returning to the United States from
abroad were disproportionately singled out for strip searches by U.S.
Customs Service inspectors at airports, the Washington Post reported in
Monday (April 10) editions, citing a new congressional report.
The General Accounting Office report, scheduled for release Monday, found
that black women were nearly twice as likely to be strip searched on
suspicion of smuggling drugs as white men and women, and three times as
likely as black men, according to the Post.
The report found the intrusive searches were not justified by a higher rate
of discovery of contraband among minority groups.
Only about 102,000 of the roughly 140 million U.S. citizens returning from
abroad were subject to special searches in fiscal years 1997 and 1998. The
GAO said 95 percent of those were given simple pat-downs and were not
required to disrobe.
Another 4 percent underwent strip searches, and 1 percent were X-rayed, the
Post cited the report as saying.
African-American men and women were nearly nine times as likely as white men
and women to be X-rayed, while Latin American men and women were nearly four
times as likely, the Post quoted the report as saying.
"The most pronounced difference occurred with black women who were U.S.
citizens," the Post quoted that GAO report as saying. "They were nine times
more likely than white women who were U.S. citizens to be X-rayed after
being frisked or patted down in fiscal year 1998.
"But on the basis of X-ray results, black women who were U.S. citizens were
less than half as likely to be found carrying contraband as white women,"
the GAO said.
The GAO report followed two years of criticism by minority women in Chicago
and other cities who have complained of "racial profiling" and humiliating
treatment by inspectors at airports.
U.S. Customers Commissioner Raymond Kelly told the Post the agency had
tightened up search procedures and put its lawyers on 24-hour duty to advise
inspectors who detain travelers suspected of smuggling drugs or other
But he said the agency did not condone racial profiling.
"We have made it clear to our people that racial profiling will not, cannot,
be tolerated," the Post quoted him as saying.
Customs officials told the Post the number of intrusive searches has dropped
by about half, and those that are conducted are far more likely to turn up
But GAO found that some passengers were more likely than others to be forced
to undergo an intrusive search.