Screening bodies, mobilising consent

security check 1

Undergoing the process of having to screen our bodies invaded by an external touch also makes us vulnerable to unidentified sexual perversion. But does having to undergo the same if exercised by people of our respective genders make us any less vulnerable? Established heterosexual foundations so far has led to the screening of women and men bodies by their gender respective people since the hetero interaction has always been classified as sexual.

This conclusion is from a personal experience at metro checkpoints in UG years wherein a lady guard harassed me into widening my legs and unabashedly ran her hands down into my privy areas. Immediately past this happened despite the discomfort I couldn’t identify it as sexually provocative. But down the months I became more conscious of crossing these checkpoints and that is when I realised that the same was sexually offensive. I wondered how many amongst us had to undergo similar violations for sake of security purposes.

Homosexual touch could be erotic too. But the society has been rejecting homosexuality so far it tends to overlook the possible vices and considers heterosexual touches to be more threatening. In reality however both scenarios could be challenging. Respective gender screenings are done on the basis of het convenience, what about the gender fluid, and non-conforming identities would they be comfortable in letting hetero people screen their bodies. If guards at checkpoints are deployed in correspondence to the gender binary people shouldn’t there be respective non-conforming guards for the non-conforming people? Or else this would be similar in a case of cis-het women unwillingly letting cis-het men to screen their bodies. Further it becomes problematic when one does not realise that they are being sexualised and hence, not being able to identify those aggravators normalises such behaviour and its scale. Alternative mechanised screenings outline the human body with the privy parts highlighted which consequently leads to a manual search and is a major flaw; this has been reported in an incident covered by Even at the noising of metal detectors often caused due to the underwired bras, in cases people are asked to lift their apparel or are being touched upon to confirm the same. Documentation or reportage of such cases is rare given that such misconduct is often ignored for security purposes letting multiple offenders to function in disguise.

Better ways to ensure individual’s safety would be body sensitisation by adequately training security personnel deployed at checkpoints and  having more conversations in and around this would minimise experiences. Our bodies are privy to each one of us and no violation should be encouraged, not only do such challenges get in the way of free movement but spaces which ought to be safe too could be unsettling.

Daibee Das is a graduate in English literature from IPCW,DU



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