Devyani Khobragade row: What is body cavity search?

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New Delhi, Dec 18: Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade was made to undergo strip and body cavity searches on grounds of visa fraud in New York, leading to a massive protest in India. But what is the body cavity search?

The body cavity search is a visual or manual inspection of body cavities for prohibited material like illegal drugs, money, jewellery or arms/weapons. It involves putting fingers or inserting hand into the suspect's rectum (the final section of the large intestine, ending at the anus).

Body cavity search can be either visual or manual.

The first involves checking of body cavities like nostrils, mouth, vagina, rectum, ears and penis with the help of a flashlight.

The modesty of the detainee should be protected during the examination

The second involves, as said earlier, examination of body parts using the entire hand. This search is conducted when the suspect refuses to cooperate or when there is evidence that the suspect is carrying illegal material.

Prisoner Operations Service Directives

The Prisoner Operations Service Directives are the protocol documents of the US Marshals Service which have a separate section for the body searches, said a Hindu report.

Four types of body searches:

As per the document, the marshals are authorised to carry out pat-down search, in-custody search, digital cavity search and strip search.

Guidelines for search:

1. Strip search should be done in private location where only authorised people will carry out the examination.

2. The search should be conducted by a member of the same sex (unless it is a physician or nurse) and the modesty of the person should be protected.

3. The examining official can ask the suspect to take off all loose things and conduct a thorough visual examination of the latter's body.

4. The official can examine the prisoner's ear canals, behind the ears, nostrils and mouth (under the tongue, roof of the mouth and between lips and gums).

5. The official can examine the front part of the body, particularly armpits, breats and genital area.

6. The detainee can be asked to spread his/her legs and bend forward to check the anus area and private parts from the rear.

7. The examination can be concluded with an examination of the bottoms and between the toes of both legs.

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