A group of Australian women are filing a lawsuit against Qatari officials after being forced out of an airplane and “subjected to the most horrifically invasive physical exam”.
The women said they were forced off of a Qatar Airways flight at Doha airport and taken to an ambulance on the tarmac where they were strip-searched by nurses. They described the incident as a state-sanctioned assault.
Apparently, they were being checked for whether one of them had given birth after a baby was found in a Hamad Airport bin in October 2020.
According to the women, no explanation was given as to why they were subjected to this and none of them consented to the invasive examinations, which lasted for about 5 minutes before they were allowed back on the plane.
In a statement made by her lawyer, one of the victims told BBC News:
“I was certain that I was either going to be killed by one of the many men that had a gun, or that my husband on the plane was going to be killed.”
I'm really glad they're not letting this go. BBC News – Australian women sue over Qatar airport strip-searcheshttps://t.co/PjcaxtSMEE
— Victoria Scott (@Toryscott) November 15, 2021
After arriving in their home country, some of the women reported what had happened to them to the police, and the case has attracted furious reactions from people worldwide.
Qatar’s Prime Minister Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani made an apology on social media, saying:
“We regret the unacceptable treatment of the female passengers… What took place does not reflect Qatar’s laws or values.”
The Qatari government later apologized for the situation and one of the airport officials received a suspended prison sentence.
Seven Australia-based women to sue Qatar over invasive gynaecological examinations at Doha airport ⤵️ https://t.co/rX6e4byggm
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) November 15, 2021
The women, however, say that their case is being largely ignored.
Damian Sturzaker, an attorney who represents the victims, said that, despite attempting to engage with Qatari authorities, they had been “met with a wall of silence”.
The women are now seeking a formal apology from Qatar and demand the airport implement changes in its procedures to ensure nothing of this sort happens in the future.
The women are seeking damages and have made allegations of battery, trespass, assault and false imprisonment by the country’s government, Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority and Qatar Airways.
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