Sunday, December 5, 2021

British woman in the group suing Qatar for “invasive” body searches at Doha Airport

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Displaced women say they have undergone physical exams, supposedly to determine if they were connected to an abandoned newborn

A group of seven women, including one British woman, are planning to sue the Qatari government for invasive body searches at Doha airport.

The incident is believed to have occurred on October 2, 2020, when armed guards ordered women from Qatar Airways flight QR908 from Doha to Sydney and into ambulances waiting on the tarmac at Hamad International Airport.

Several of the 18 women on the flight, including one with a five-month-old child, said they had undergone invasive physical exams to see if they were linked to a newborn baby abandoned in the airport. The baby is said to have been taken into care.

Australian lawyer Damian Sturzaker said I The flight took place amid Covid-19 restrictions and the group it represents includes a British woman who has since returned to London.

A year after the incident, Mr Sturzaker wrote to the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani, the country’s civil aviation authority and Qatar Airways.

He intends to bring a case to an Australian court alleging the women were falsely detained, assaulted and violated and entitled to compensation for the ordeal.

Some of the women have spoken out about what they think has happened. One of them, just called Anna, told the story Age She was body searched, even though she was traveling with her own baby at the time.

“[The nurse] said ‘you have to lie down on the bed’ … and she grabbed my pants and my underwear and took them off. And for a second I just think my head is about to explode, ”Anna said.

“It is a humiliation and abuse of power, the violation of my human rights. Nobody can touch me. Nobody is allowed to strip me naked without my consent … And that happened at a large airport, one of the largest airports in the world with a large airline. “

At the time, the Emir of Qatar tweeted: “We regret the unacceptable treatment of female passengers at HIA … What happened does not reflect the laws or values ​​of Qatar.” Qatar is set to host the football World Cup in 2022.

Australian leaders referred the matter to federal police and an investigation was conducted. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently said he was “very pleased” with the outcome and said there had been a “significant change” to Qatar’s processes Age.

However, Mr Sturzaker said the women involved “have no confidence” that things have changed and want to make sure that it never happens again.

A fellow traveler, Dr. Wolfgang Babeck, set up a GoFundMe page to support the case.

“They are now at a stage where, having left the shock and sadness of the current behind them, they are now angry and disappointed and want something to change,” said Sturzaker.

“At a time when Qatar is hosting the World Cup and many hundreds, millions of people are traveling through the airport, including many, many women, they should expect better.

The government of Qatar, Qatar Airways and the Civil Aviation Authority have been asked to comment.

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