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13 Women Removed From Flight, Strip Searched

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“Thirteen Australian women were taken to an ambulance on the tarmac and told to remove their underwear before being examined.”

UPDATE: 

Qatar Airways Faces Protest Over Examination of Australian Women

October 27, 2020

Bloomberg – Qatar Airways faces an effective grounding of its planes in Sydney as workers consider striking over the treatment earlier this month of some female Australian passengers in Doha.

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The union representing Sydney airport workers is considering refusing to service, clean or refuel Qatar Airways jets. Members “are angry at the brutal attack on the human rights” of the women, the Transport Workers’ Union in the Australian state of New South Wales said in a statement Tuesday.

The escalating dispute follows medical examinations of some women who were departing Qatar on Oct. 2 bound for Sydney. According to Australian media reports, staff at Hamad International Airport in Doha discovered a premature baby abandoned in a toilet at the airport. Women on the plane, including 13 Australians, were then taken off the flight and subjected to invasive, naked inspections in an ambulance without their consent.

In Qatar, it is illegal for women to have sex or become pregnant outside of marriage … Read more. 

Earlier:

Women on Qatar flight received ‘inappropriate’ treatment after abandoned baby found at Doha Airport

Oct 26, 2020

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CNN – A group of women on a recent Qatar Airways flight received “grossly inappropriate” treatment after an abandoned baby was discovered at Hamad International Airport, according to the Australian Government.

[Qatar is a tiny Arabian Peninsula nation smaller than Connecticut. As in most Muslim nations, women’s rights are limited. Qatar has the highest per capita income in the world and is ruled by the Qatar Royal Family. ]

CNN affiliate Seven News reported that women at the airport, including 13 Australians, were “allegedly removed from flights, detained and forced to undergo an inspection in an ambulance on the tarmac.”

“Reports indicate that the treatment of the women concerned was offensive, grossly inappropriate, and beyond circumstances in which the women could give free and informed consent,” an Australian Government spokesperson told CNN.

The flight, Sydney-bound Qatar Airways Flight QR 908, landed for a transit stop in Doha, Qatar, on October 2, CNN affiliate Nine News reported.

Hamad International Airport confirmed an abandoned newborn baby was found at the airport on October 2, adding that medical professionals were concerned “about the health and welfare of a mother who had just given birth and requested she be located prior to departing (the airport).”

“Individuals who had access to the specific area of the airport where the newborn infant was found were asked to assist in the query … ” Read more.  

“Women [in Qatar] continued to face discrimination in law and practice. Family law discriminates against women, including by making it much more difficult for women than men to seek a divorce, and placing women at a severe economic disadvantage if they seek a divorce or if their husband leaves them. Women also remained inadequately protected against violence, including within the family.” – Amnesty International

Australia seeks Qatar response after female passengers strip-searched

Oct 26, 2020

BBC – Australia says it has raised “grossly disturbing” reports with Qatar that women were strip-searched and examined before a flight from Doha to Sydney.

The women were checked for signs of having recently given birth after a newborn baby was found abandoned in a toilet at Hamad International Airport.

The unidentified baby has been cared for since being found on 2 October.

The searches came to light when Australian women spoke out. Women from other countries were also examined.

All adult women on the Qatar Airways flight were required to disembark to be body-searched, two of the women told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

Thirteen Australian women were taken to an ambulance on the tarmac and told to remove their underwear before being examined, reports said.

Kim Mills told the Guardian she was among those taken off the flight and led into a dark car park, where three ambulances were waiting to perform medical examinations.

However, officials did not subject her to the examination due, she suspected, to her being in her 60s. Even so, she said, the experience was horrifying.

“My legs were just wobbling. I was terrified they were going to take me away somewhere. Why didn’t they explain to us what was going on?” she said, adding that airplane staff later told her they didn’t know what was happening.

“It was absolutely terrible. I can’t imagine what it was like for those poor young girls.”

Passengers had boarded the flight before women were told to get off, witnesses told Australian media.

Fellow passenger Wolfgang Babeck told the ABC that he watched as the women re-boarded the flight, noting “many… were upset, one of them was in tears – a younger woman”.

The Australian government said reports had indicated the treatment of the women was “beyond circumstances in which the women could give free and informed consent” … Read more. 

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