Australian women invasively examined at Doha airport sued Qatar authorities

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Qatar QatarThe women were bought off a plane and examined whether they had given birth to a baby found in a bin at Hamad Airport in October 2020. They described the accident as state-sexual assault, and their case sparked widespread outrage. Doha later apologized, and one airport official was condemned to a jail sentence. But the women who were invasively searched say their issues have been ignored and now ask for compensation.

In October 2020, armed guards took them off the Qatar Airways plane before being taken into ambulances on the tarmac, where nurses examined them. The women affirmed they did not consent to the intimate exams and were not given explanations for what was happening. According to the BBC, one of the women told she was “subjected to the most horrifically invasive physical exam.” She told the American emittent that she was sure that she would be killed by one of the many men who had a gun. Her lawyer referred that her client also thought that her husband on the plane would be killed.

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The intimate exams lasted about five minutes before they were conducted back to their flight. After landing in Australia, several women reported the incident to police, sparking public attention and condemnation from several nations. The women were checked for whether they had given birth to a baby found in Hamad Airport on 2 October 2020. Eighteen women were taken off one plane, including two British women and 13 Australian citizens. Qatar’s government apologized and said the baby was safe in medical care.

Qatari officials said the baby girl had been found in a plastic bag, buried under rubbish, prompting an “immediate search for the parents, including on flights in the vicinity of where the newborn was found.” A spokesperson from the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office said they were “providing ongoing support to two British women” following the incident. “We have formally expressed our concern with the Qatari authorities and Qatar Airways and are seeking assurances an unacceptable incident like this cannot happen again.” Qatar’s Prime Minister Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani tweeted an apology saying: “We regret the unacceptable treatment of the female passengers. Unfortunately, what took place does not reflect Qatar’s laws or values.”

But Damian Sturzaker, a lawyer for seven women, referred they had been “met with a wall of silence” despite trying to interlace with the Qatari governments. They want a formal apology from Qatar and the airport to change its procedures to make sure the incident does not happen again, the lawyer continued. The women seek damages and allege assault, battery, trespass, and false imprisonment by Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority and Qatar Airways.

One of the women – who said she had recurring nightmares about the incident – said the alleged lack of action from the Qatari authorities had spurred the women to take action. The incident has raised many doubts about women’s rights in Qatar when international passengers are inspected like animals. The issue has also alarmed FIFA and questioned several times whether the tiny Gulf country could host the World Cup and receive millions of tourists, including women who love to go to the stadium. As a result, many countries are wondering whether to advise their citizens against traveling to Qatar. That could be dangerous for women, and they asked the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority to prevent any form of violence and ill-treatment against women.

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