A woman in Australia was asked by police to remove her tampon during a strip search outside a Sydney casino – one of a series of degrading and humiliating encounters with women detailed in a law enforcement review.
The shocking incident occurred in January 2019 when cops strip searched two women, including the woman who was told to remove her tampon, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission said in a report Tuesday that its investigation “revealed a lack of clarity for frontline officers regarding the lawfulness of such a request,” the news outlet reported.
“In response to this and other factors, the [New South Wales Police] produced the person search manual in August 2019 to ensure police officers are appropriately instructed as to how searches are to be conducted,” the watchdog said.
The investigation uncovered five controversial searches across the city last year, most of which took place at music festivals.
In another case, a young woman working at the Secret Garden Festival a month later was ordered to pull down her underwear and bend over while male police officers laughed at her, the report said.
Her parents complained about the “degrading act,” which found no illegal drugs, to New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian, according to the Morning Herald.
And in another incident, a young woman said she was made to cough and squat when she was searched during a music festival at Olympic Park in March 2019.
No drugs were found on her, either, the report found, and yet she was evicted from the event and issued a six-month ban from the Sydney Showgrounds, the outlet reported.
There was “insufficient lawful basis” for the strip search and the ban, the investigation found, and action was recommended against two of the cops involved, according to the report.
The commission also recommended that police consider issuing an apology to the woman.
Under Australian law, a strip search can be carried out if an officer “suspects on reasonable grounds that the strip search is necessary” and that “the seriousness and urgency of the circumstances make the strip search necessary.”
“Many of the people who experienced a strip search investigated in Strike Force Blackford described their experience as humiliating or degrading,” the commission said. “Persons searched stated they were requested to cough and squat or to bend over.”
The commission said that officers reported that they felt under pressure to conduct the intrusive searches.
An updated version of the search manual is being prepared, though police do not plan to reverse “their current instructions,” which say officers may, “amongst other things, request that a person squat, lift their breasts, part their buttock cheeks or turn their body.”
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