This morning, female flight attendants working with SpiceJet were allegedly strip-searched at the Chennai airport by the airline's security personnel. The flight attendants have complained that they were subjected to the strip search since the past few days, after de-boarding from their flights.
According to NDTV, the news of the search surfaced after a video of flight attendants complaining about being strip searched came out. Some even complained that one security personnel asked them to remove their sanitary pads from their handbags. As per the news report, in the video, one woman said that "Someone touched me inappropriately, made me feel very uncomfortable. I was naked."
The search was allegedly carried out because the airline suspected the flight attendants of duping cash collected on board for items that were on sale. During the strip search, they were not only manhandled but also not allowed to the washroom after deboarding. One of them told NDTV "We air hostesses are stripped naked over the last three days and women personnel touch us inappropriately. A colleague in her period was asked to remove her sanitary napkin."
"Is this the policy to remove your sanitary pad, touch private parts? We cabin crew are hired majorly for safety reasons of the fellow passengers but what about our respect and safety? We talk about rape and molestation, is this any less?" one woman said.
"On informing the base official that I wasn't comfortable and I'm on my menses she still checked my panty; they pressed my breasts. I've lost my self-respect... Cabin crew is the brand ambassador. We are humiliated as if we have done some robbery," another person added.
SpiceJet's senior vice president, Kamal Hingorani, who heads in-flight services, said the strict search was performed on the suspicion that cabin crew was taking cash and company material. In a company email, he said, "We have therefore been compelled to carry out spot checks, which in any case is a company policy. It is in all our interests that the 'black sheep' amongst us is identified and removed so that honest employees are not blamed."
In a statement, the airlines said, "the search essentially is the same as what any passenger goes through at any of the Indian airports while going through security check". They have also confirmed that the airline's security team did carry out searches at some of its stations on March 28 and 29, after a tip-off was received by them.
A senior Spicejet official from Chennai told NDTV that it's a "baseless allegation." We'll update you if there's any further information on this.