Montreal woman files complaint after her curly hair was searched 3 times at airports |

A Montreal woman with curly hair says airport security has checked her locks several times when she travels, for no specific reason.

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Christine Rodriguez says she has been traveling regularly for work, but claims that in the last month and a half, her hair has been searched three times at different Canadian airports.

He says that at first he did not give it much importance.

“It was the first time in my life that they asked me if we wanted to check your hair and I said yes… And I laughed a little bit,” says Rodríguez.

The third time it happened, it was no laughing matter.

“I said, ‘Okay, this is ridiculous,’ I was a little upset,” Rodriguez explained.

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That’s when he says he decided to file a complaint with CATSA, the Canadian Air Transport Safety Agency.

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Rodriguez says she has been searched at airports in Calgary, Toronto and Montreal.

She says the searches always happened after she went through the body scanner at security, while wearing a ponytail.

“It’s absurd in the first place, because I can’t hide anything in my hair,” Rodriguez said.

She believes the practice is discriminatory and triggering, because there is a history of discrimination or unwanted touching of people with curly hair.

“So the idea of ​​people with Afro hair having their hair touched becomes a very touchy subject, and in this case, it just doesn’t seem necessary,” Rodríguez explained.

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Rodríguez would like CATSA to offer more sensitivity training to its employees.

The Center for Action-Research on Race Relations agrees.

“Many authorities have always treated black women’s hair as problematic, unprofessional, unsightly and therefore unprofessional,” Niemi said. “We have had cases in the past where black women’s hair has become an issue in the eyes of employers and security officers.”

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Niemi recommends that anyone who is subjected to a hair search at a Canadian airport and feels it is discriminatory should file a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, since CATSA is under federal jurisdiction.

“It is about finding ways and means to protect one’s human rights, especially when one feels that the search is intrusive and biased, but also through reporting seeking remedies to prevent the situation from happening again in the near future. ”, Nimi. additional.

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Meanwhile, CATSA claims that it has not received Rodríguez’s complaint and cannot launch an investigation without it.

They say they’ve received another five complaints in the past two years related to pat-downs after a person’s hairdo triggered an alarm on the full-body scanner.

“In the event that a passenger raises an alarm during the full body scan process, the alarm must be resolved before the passenger is allowed to proceed through security,” wrote Suzanne Perseo, spokeswoman for CATSA. “There are several options available to passengers, one of which is a private search. For security reasons, we are unable to comment on dangerous items found during the screening process.”

Perseo went on to say that when an issue is identified, they work to investigate and review the passenger screening process and ensure procedures are followed and additional training is provided for screening staff, if needed.

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As for Rodríguez, she says she will be traveling again this weekend and is concerned that she will be searched again.

“I think that every time it happens I will continue to file a complaint,” Rodríguez said.

She says that the goal is for it not to happen to her or anyone else.

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