Medical doctor Wendell Rosevear, who works on the front-lines of the War on Drugs, explains the hypocrisy of state-sanctioned strip searches:
When individuals continue to use drugs in prisons, the system feels loss of power and face and with ‘mud on their face’ [and] wants to justify ‘coming down harder’ with strategies such as locking individuals in indefinite solitary confinement after overdoses or drug use and justifying forced internal body cavity searches, strip searches and observed urine tests which make individuals feel degraded and ‘raped’. To deny someone a choice in relation to protecting their body is rape even if you use the power of the state to justify it. The ‘Tough on Drugs’ strategy justifies rape, the very crime our society imprisons individuals for committing. To use the same strategies that cause the problem is to discredit oneself. Strip and Internal Body Cavity searches can happen to ordinary citizens coming through an airport as well as people in prison.
I never thought about invasive searches this way before, but on reflection, it makes a lot of sense. Especially since the courts have always held that rape, in criminal law, does not require penetration of the penis but can also include insertion of any other object into the vagina or anus. In its futile quest to protect people from their own harmful vices, the government is encouraging its agents to do despicable things.
Invasive searches are one way of being raped. Another is to arrest drug users and send them to prison - where prisoners and guards have been known to sexually abuse. Needless to say, this is ineffective in helping addicts. Would we treat alcoholics the same? Would you treat family members the same if they had a drug problem? What a shame that when the government does something, otherwise decent people think it’s acceptable.