Strip searches are merely justice, American-style

I was shocked when I read how Devyani Khodbragade, India’s deputy consul general in New York City, was handcuffed and strip-searched after being arrested on a charge of underpaying her maid.

She hadn’t been convicted of any crime, so why subject her to this degradation and humiliation?  What did they think she was concealing on her person?  Why not simply serve her with a summons to appear in court?

But it turns out that she was not singled out for bad treatment.  Strip searches and body cavity searches are now standard operating procedure for anybody arrested on a criminal charge, no matter what.    She merely experienced simply the impersonal working of the American criminal justice system as it now is.  We Americans should ask ourselves whether this is the kind of criminal justice system we want.

I do not think the charge is trivial.  If she brought a servant from India and kept her in virtual servitude, this is a serious matter.  But the facts in this case are in dispute, so I stick to the legal principle of presumption of innocence unless there is proof of guilt.


Protests in India


India escalates diplomatic row after consul’s arrest and strip-search in US by Jason Burke in The Guardian.   Imagine the U.S. reaction to a female American diplomat in India being handcuffed and strip-searched in India, and you can understand the Indian reaction in this case.  Shouldn’t the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, which filed the charges, have foreseen this reaction?  Did the DSS care?

Indian Consul’s Arrest Controversy Keeps Escalating by the Skeptical Bureaucrat, a blogger in India.  His post explores the complexities of the case in great detail.

India Flap derives from American’s Gulag practices and far-right Supreme Court by Juan Cole for Informed Comment.   Many Americans are treated just as badly as the Indian diplomat and for even less reason.

I think there is reason to be concerned about exploitation of immigrants, especially unauthorized immigrants, who work in the United States as servants, and I think that rich foreigners who bring poor servants from their own countries are part of this problem.  But I don’t think it is clear that Deyvani Khobragade is part of this problem and, even if she is, there is a better way to confront her.

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One Response to “Strip searches are merely justice, American-style”

  1. The Grey Enigma Says:

    Reblogged this on The Grey Enigma.


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