Zainab Merchant. Photo: www.zrights.com
The Transportation Security Administration, an organization that has a long and marked history with subjecting travelers to horrific experiences, remains steadfast in their efforts to be considered the absolute worst. Zainab Merchant, a Muslim woman, was reportedly forced to show TSA officers the bloodied maxi pad she was wearing during a pat down at a Boston airport.
Merchant, 27, was traveling from Boston to Washington, D.C., for a speaking engagement, according to HuffPost. Merchant said that she was patted down, and that the officer touched her groin area, then called for a “deeper look.” Merchant attempted to explain that it was her pad, because she was on her period.
Merchant was then reportedly coerced into going into a private office alone with two TSA officers who asked that she pull down her pants and underwear. She did, and after, when she asked for the names and badge numbers of the officers who took who to the room, both TSA officials left, and Merchant said that they covered their badges with their hands as they did.
Over the past two years, Merchant claims that she has been stopped and extensively searched every time she has traveled. She is a journalist based out of Orlando, Florida, and a Harvard grad student who runs the website Zainab Rights.
The ACLU believes that Merchant is on a government watchlist, and has filed a complaint against the Department of Homeland Security on her behalf. They have also requested an investigation into the officers involved with searching Merchant. The organization describes the constant searches as “intrusive, humiliating,” and “unnecessary.”
DHS said that they could “neither confirm or deny” whether Merchant is on any sort of watchlist.
“I just want them to give us answers as to why this is happening and what I can do to rectify it,” Merchant told HuffPost. “Because I haven’t done anything wrong. Just give us some answers.”