Australia says women in 10 flights were subjected to body searches in Qatar Australia


Women passengers on 10 planes departing from Doha were forced to undergo invasive physical exams after a newborn baby was found abandoned in an airport toilet, Australia’s foreign minister said on Wednesday, increasing significantly the number of women believed to be affected after the Qatari government said it had started an investigation into the incident.Foreign Minister Marise Payne told an Australian Senate hearing that women aboard “10 planes in total” had been searched, which she described as “extremely disturbing” and “Offensive”.

“We became aware of this yesterday thanks to the advice from our post in Doha,” she said.

Payne added that other countries were also concerned about the incident that occurred on October 2.

The New South Wales Transport Workers Union, whose members serve Qatar Airways planes at Sydney Airport, said on Tuesday it was considering industrial action against the carrier for “the brutal attack on the human rights of Australian airline passengers ”.

It was revealed on Sunday that women were removed from a Qatar Airways flight from Sydney to Doha on October 2 and forced to undergo invasive inspections after a newborn baby was found abandoned in a toilet at a airport.

Payne said 18 Australian women on the Oct. 2 flight to Sydney were affected, along with “other foreign nationals”. AFP news agency reported that a French woman on the flight was among them.

Payne did not detail the destinations of the other flights.

The women said they were removed from the plane and strip searched in an ambulance parked on the tarmac.

Ongoing investigation

Qatar’s prime minister has ordered an investigation into the incident, the government’s communications office told Reuters news agency on Tuesday in a statement.

The newborn, a baby girl, was found in a plastic bag in a trash can in “what appeared to be a shocking and appalling attempt to kill her,” the statement said, adding that the action was a “flagrant violation. and potentially fatal law ”.

Doha Hamad International Airport is a hub for global flights [File: Deepa Babington/Reuters]

Payne said Australia had expressed “serious concern” over the treatment of women.

“The other affected countries absolutely share Australia’s views and Australia’s force of views,” said Frances Adamson, Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. “This is not normal behavior and the Qataris recognize it and are appalled by it, they do not want this to happen again.”

Australia was alerted to the incident by an Australian diplomat who was on board the flight and was “shocked by what happened,” Adamson said. The diplomat was not searched.

“The Qatari investigation is about determining which laws could have been broken, being responsible for them and recommending disciplinary action and prosecution if necessary,” a source familiar with the investigation told Reuters.

Hamad International Airport in Doha had previously confirmed a general overview of events, without providing details of the procedures, nor the number of women and flights involved.

He also appealed on Sunday for the child’s mother to come forward, saying the baby remains unidentified but is “safe under the professional supervision of medical and social workers.”


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