“Gross violation of their rights”: Australian women invasively strip-searched at Doha Airport, Qatar after newborn was found

© Bram Botterman

On Friday 2 October, Qatar Airways flight QR908 was due to leave Doha Airport, Qatar destination Sydney, Australia, but was delayed for four hours after a newborn infant was found abandoned in one of the airport toilets. 

Qatari officials immediately started an investigation to determine who had recently given birth. Women at the airport, including 13 Australians who were deboarded from flight QR908, were detained without an explanation and were forced to take off their underwear and undergo an internal examination in an ambulance.

The Australian women spoke of a “gross violation of their rights“. According to Australian press, these women were not asked for permission, nor had they been told about the discovery of the newborn baby.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) filed a complaint with the authorities in Qatar about alleged invasive physical searches of Australian women without their consent.

In another statement on Sunday DFAT said the Australian government had “formally registered our serious concerns regarding the incident with Qatari authorities and have been assured that detailed and transparent information on the event will be provided soon”. Australian authorities are now waiting for an explanation from Qatar.

Qatar Airways told Guardian Australia it had not been contacted by any of the passengers on the flight and said it could not comment.

We appreciate the concerns and distress expressed to you by the Australian passengers who you have spoken to, and will be investigating these matters with the relevant authorities and officials,” a spokesperson said.

Bart Noëth: Since 1996, I have been working in the Belgian airline industry, from a weekend job as a cabin aircraft cleaner to a flight attendant. After the demise of Sabena - in 2001, I created a website called www.luchtzak.be, originally a meeting place for plane spotters and aviation freaks. Since 2017, the website changed into a professional news site. Next to aviation, I love to travel, wine and dine and enjoy my time off(-line) with my girlfriend, friends and family. My favourite football squad is KV Mechelen, I am an Ironman 70.3 finisher and my ambition is to complete a full Ironman.
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