World Australia concerned over ‘grossly disturbing’ strip searches of female passengers at Qatar airport

16:55  26 october  2020
16:55  26 october  2020 Source:   washingtonpost.com

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Qatar faced widespread criticism and a potential Australian inquiry on Monday after several women said they had been strip-searched at a Doha airport earlier this month, following the discovery of an abandoned newborn infant in a terminal bathroom.

Marise Payne wearing glasses and smiling at the camera: Australian Foreign Minister Marine Payne speaks during a news conference in Canberra on Oct. 26. (Lukas Coch/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock) © Lukas Coch/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock Australian Foreign Minister Marine Payne speaks during a news conference in Canberra on Oct. 26. (Lukas Coch/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

On Sunday, Australian broadcaster Seven Network reported that Qatari authorities had asked women on an Oct. 2 Sydney-bound Qatar Airways flight to disembark amid preparations for departure at Qatar’s main airport, Hamad International. Officials ordered searches of more than a dozen women, in one or more ambulances parked on the tarmac, according to Australian media outlets. A woman reportedly conducted the searches.

Qatar 'forcibly examined' women, drawing angry diplomatic response

  Qatar 'forcibly examined' women, drawing angry diplomatic response Female passengers flying from Qatar were subjected to invasive searches after a premature baby was found abandoned in an airport bathroom, in an incident labelled "offensive" and "grossly inappropriate" by Australia's government. Airport officials have not denied the incident, saying women passengers "were asked to assist" with inquiries to locate the mother of the baby, who they say is still alive. Qatari authorities have launched an appeal to trace the infant's family.

Speaking to the Australian Broadcasting Corp., two of the Australian women said the procedure was involuntary and the reasons for it were not made clear.

One of the women said a staffer told her that she “needed to examine my vagina,” according to the ABC.

The incident has been referred to the Australian Federal Police and the ABC reported that at least one of the women is weighing legal action, even though Australia has only limited options to launch an investigation.

It is unclear how many passengers were searched in total and if passengers from other flights were also affected.

The Oct. 2 searches have sparked outrage in Australia, where Foreign Minister Marise Payne has called them a “grossly disturbing, offensive, concerning set of events.”

Women on Qatar Airways flight strip-searched, given invasive exam

  Women on Qatar Airways flight strip-searched, given invasive exam Women on a Qatar Airways flight bound for Sydney, Australia, were made to disembark and undergo a strip search and physical examination after a newborn was discovered in a bathroom at Hamad International Airport, according to a report in The New York Times.The women on the flight were sent to ambulances where they were strip-searched and given invasive exams to determine if one of them had recently given birth, according to accounts from some of the women and officials from the Australian government. The Australian government has described the incident as unacceptable, according to a report in The Guardian.

“It is not something I have ever heard of occurring in my life, in any context,” Payne said.

Her ministry — which was informed about the incident earlier this month — has issued a complaint to Qatar. In a statement to 7 News, the ministry added that Qatari authorities had promised “detailed and transparent information on the event,” expected later this week.

In a response to 7 News, the Australian director of human rights group Amnesty International on Sunday called the incident a “gross violation of these women’s human rights.”

The airport, Australia’s foreign ministry and Qatar’s government communications office were not immediately available to comment.

In a statement issued to multiple media outlets, Hamad International Airport said the searches were carried out in concern “about the health and welfare of a mother who had just given birth."

The baby, the airport said, is under care in Qatar. It did not specify what group or agency had taken in the infant.

In Qatar, sex between the unmarried is illegal, according to a law that largely targets women and marginalized migrant workers, which sometimes leads to secret pregnancies, Deutsche Welle reported. Until saying it would abandon the practice five years ago in the face of criticism from international labor groups, Qatar Airways would fire women who became pregnant in their first five years of employment.

This report has been updated.

Qatar Government Apologizes for Strip-Searching Women at Airport .
(Bloomberg) -- The government of Qatar apologized for its treatment of women at Hamad International Airport earlier this month after invasive searches of Australians prompted a public uproar and recriminations from the country’s politicians. “His Excellency the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior expressed the Government of the State of Qatar’s sincerest apology for what some female travelers went through as a result of the measures,” the Government Communications Office said in a statement Friday.A preliminary investigation of the incident had found standard procedures were violated.

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