Australia: 12-year-old girl strip-searched
Sydney - The mother of a 12-year-old girl strip-searched by police during a drug raid said on Thursday she was outraged in a case that has sparked a public outcry and calls for a review of the law.
The girl was strip-searched twice in the Tasmanian state capital Hobart last week and her mother, Kristy Gobbey, said her child felt humiliated.
"She was strip-searched and embarrassed; she was treated like a criminal when she shouldn't have been. She feels completely humiliated basically," Gobbey told ABC television.
"We're not anti-police or anything like that, [my daughter] was even going to be one," she added. "She was asking me last week, 'mum can I be one', and 'I said it's up to you', but now, no."
The home raided by police was reportedly owned by the 12-year-old's grandmother who is due to be released from Hobart's Risdon Prison this week after serving a drug-related sentence.
Her mother, who is planning to lodge complaints with the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal and the state Ombudsman, has also spent time in jail on drug charges, ABC said.
She told local media her daughter was forced to squat naked and was reduced to tears, although police deny this and a police review found the two female officers who strip-searched the girl acted lawfully and appropriately.
Tasmania's Sexual Assault Support Service and the Australian Lawyers Alliance called the practice unacceptable while the state's Commissioner for Children Aileen Ashford demanded an urgent review.
"I'm calling for an urgent and comprehensive review into the Tasmanian legislation governing strip-searching of minors," she told reporters, adding that children should only be strip-searched under a court order.
"It can happen to any child. It can happen to your child, anybody else's child and I would think that any child should be protected."
State law in Tasmania currently does not differentiate between searching adults and children. The law varies across Australia's other states and territories.