Qatar pulled up over “inappropriate treatment” of women passengers

Boeing 777-FDZ A7-BFE of Qatar Airways Cargo

On Friday, October 2, several Australian women travelling aboard a Qatar Airways flight from Doha to Sydney were asked to disembark, whereupon they were subjected to an invasive medical examination to determine if they had recently given birth. This had occurred after authorities had discovered a prematurely born infant in one of the toilets at the airport.

With this incident having come to light, the Australian government has demanded answers from Qatar over this “offensive, grossly inappropriate treatment” of its citizens.

The foreign ministry spokesperson said they were “deeply concerned” about the circumstances, which were beyond those where “the women could give free and informed consent”. They said they have registered their concern with the Qatari authorities through diplomatic channels and are expecting a report on what exactly happened at the airport.

The Australian government has formally protested the incident in which 13 of its female citizens were strip-searched at Doha airport after a newborn was found abandoned.

Passengers on the flight reported that they were made to wait on the flight for nearly four hours, after which some of the women were asked to disembark. They were reportedly taken to a non-public area on the runway where ambulances were waiting to give them an inspection. There were at least 13 Australian women from the flight and none of them were informed about the newborn child.

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One passenger who was taken to the ambulance but spared the examination because of her age said the whole experience was traumatic and it was not something she expected happening under any circumstances. Another male passenger on the plane told the press that the women were visibly upset when they returned and a younger woman was even crying. Qatar Airways is yet to release a statement regarding the incident. Hamad International Airport said that they were attempting to find the mother as they were worried about her welfare considering she had just given birth. It is not clear how many women were subjected to the examination considering the airport said that they had asked individuals with access to that specific area to “assist in the enquiry”. The airport authorities also said that the child is safe and asked people with any information about the mother to come forward.

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