Qatar has said it will launch an investigation over the allegations that women booked on 10 flights were subjected to invasive examinations at a Doha airport. The women went through invasive checking to examine whether they had given birth after a baby was found in a bin at Hamad Airport on Oct 2, 2020. At least 18 Australians got checked along with women from other countries, the Australian government reported.
Qatar’s government apologized for the incident and said the baby girl was safe in medical care in Doha. It said the infant had been found in plastic bag, buried under rubbish, prompting an “immediate search for parents, including on flights in the vicinity of where the newborn was found”.
“While the aim of the urgently-decided search was to prevent the perpetrators of the horrible crime from escaping, the State of Qatar regrets any distress or infringement on the personal freedoms of any traveler caused by this action,” a statement read.
Qatari government had initiated a “comprehensive, transparent investigation” into the incident, and said it would share the data with other countries. Australia said it was receiving information from Qatar and would share the results with other two or three other countries whose citizens had to face the unfortunate situation.
Australian Concern and Response
The reports about invasive searching surfaced this week after passengers contacted authorities in Australia. Foreign Minister Marise Payne on Wednesday confirmed a total of 18 Australian women had been checked, five more than reporter earlier this week.
Australian media earlier reported that all adult women onboard form Doha to Sydney were disembarked from the set flight.
Australia’s foreign ministry, on Monday, said the incident was “beyond circumstances in which the women could give free and informed consent”. However, it declined to call it a sexual assault from Qatari officials. Opposition leaders in Australia have slammed the incident as sexual assault.
On Wednesday, Australia’s foreign department secretary Frances Adamson in a Senate hearing revealed that an Australian diplomat (woman) was also onboard but was not subjected to the invasive examination. She though reported the incident to the ministry immediately.
“I was incredulous that this could have happened,” Ms. Adamson told the hearing.
“This is not – by any standard – normal behavior and the Qataris recognize that, are appalled by it, do not want it to happen again.”
In a statement issued by Qatar, the government said it was committed to play its role to ensure the safety and security of passengers travelling in and out of the nation. Doha’s Hamad International Airport has remained operational as a key transiting facility for International travelers during the COVID-19 pandemic.