Women suing Qatar over 'traumatising' invasive searches 2 weeks ago

Women suing Qatar over 'traumatising' invasive searches

The incident occurred last year.

A group of women subjected to invasive examinations at Doha airport last year are suing Qatar for compensation.

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Women from 10 Qatar Airways flights leaving Doha experienced "traumatising" and "invasive" examinations at the airport as authorities searched for the mother of a newborn baby that had been abandoned in a bathroom.

The women's lawyers said that the incident raised valid concerns regarding the treatment of women in the region.

Lawyer Damian Sturzaker confirmed that seven of the women are planning to sue Qatari authorities to "send a message [...] that you can't treat women in this manner."

"The group of women have suffered enormous distress on the evening concerned, now just over a year ago, and they continue to suffer distress and ill effects and trauma as a result of what occurred," he said.

"They should be aware that - whilst there is a guise of a highly developed, highly modernised airport and national carrier - these events have happened and there's nothing preventing them from happening again."

In Qatar, both sexual activity and giving birth outside of wedlock are publishable by a prison sentence.

Following the incident, the country's Prime Minister issued an apology to the women subjected to the searches. The security officer who oversaw the incident was also reportedly fired and convicted.

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At the time, authorities said the discovery of the baby prompted an "immediate search for the 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 traveller caused by this action," a statement read.

The affected women have since said they have not been made aware of any changes to Qatar airport procedure.

Legal action comes ahead of the 2022 World Cup, which will next year be held in the region.

Sturzaker said his clients are seeking redress, a formal apology, and the assurance that travellers passing through the airport during the World Cup and beyond will be protected.