Qatar: Women ‘got forcibly removed underwear’ at Doha airport

Qatari airport officials expose female passengers to invasive medical examinations (Image: Getty / AsiaPac)

Qatar airport officials expose female passengers to invasive medical examinations (Image: Ni)

A group of 13 Australian women claim they were forcibly searched after a baby was left at Doha airport last year.

They were ordered away from their Qatar Airways plane when authorities claimed to be on the hunt for the mother of the newborn, who was found in an airport bucket.

The women are now seeking compensation, claiming assault, violence, assault and false imprisonment by the Qatari government, Qatar Civil Aviation Authority and Qatar Airways.

All 13 women said they had their underwear taken off before enduring invasive gynecological examinations, calling it a ‘humiliating and traumatic’ human rights violation.

A woman named Anna told CBS’s 60 Minutes: ‘I was afraid we would be raped and that my child would be taken and that we would never see the family again. It was the scariest moment of my life. ‘

When she was inside the ambulance, she said a nurse gave nothing but a brief explanation before ordering them to lie down.

Medical staff carrying the baby (pictured), which was found at the airport, leading to an invasive strip search (Photo: Ni)

Officials carry a baby after finding it in an airport bucket (Photo: Nine)

“She grabbed my pants and my underwear and she took them off,” Anna said.

She added: ‘No one is allowed to touch me, no one is allowed to strip me naked without my consent, and that is what happened to me in a major airport, one of the largest airports in the world with a large airline.’

Another passenger, Sophie, said the experience left her with severe trauma and said she alerted Australian police as soon as she landed.

“We were taken into these ambulances with no choice but to have a choice now and we will take action,” she said.

Sophie told 60 Minutes that the experience has left her with severe trauma and said she notified the Australian Federal Police of the incident as soon as she returned to Australia (Photo: Nine)

Anna told CBS’s 60 Minutes that she was ordered to lie down (Photo: Nine)

The Australian woman, Sophie, who was searched at Doha airport after a premature baby was found in a rubbish bin, has spoken about the moment she was asked to pull her underwear down (Image: Nine)

Sophie was also searched at Doha airport (Photo: Nine)

Lawyer Damian Sturzaker of the law firm Marque said: ‘The incident was in violation of many international conventions and openly in violation of human rights.

‘One can see that it was a massive overreaction to the circumstances in which the airport authorities found themselves. One can certainly never imagine it happening in Mascot or Tullamarine (airports in Australia).

“We want a fair result and that positive steps are taken to guarantee the safety of women and more generally people traveling through Doha.”

The women are now taking legal action over what they believe was a violation of human rights.

After the incident sparked global outrage, Qatar’s prime minister tweeted an apology, saying “We regret the unacceptable treatment of the female passengers … What happened does not reflect Qatar’s laws or values.”

A criminal prosecution was initiated by the Gulf state, leading to a suspended prison sentence for an airport official.

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