Qatar accused of ignoring girls after ‘traumatic’ airport searches


One of the ladies pulled off a airplane at Doha airport and compelled to bear an invasive gynaecological search informed AFP Wednesday that she feels “disrespected and disregarded” by Qatari authorities and remains to be “terrified” of travelling a yr later.

The French girl in her fifties, who requested to not be named, was amongst a gaggle who had been subjected to intrusive examinations in October 2020 as authorities tried to establish the mom of a new child deserted in an airport rest room.

Seven girls are actually launching authorized motion towards Qatar Airways and Qatari authorities, looking for redress for an ordeal that sparked condemnation and international consideration forward of the nation internet hosting the 2022 World Cup.

The girl mentioned she remained “absolutely terrified” on the considered travelling once more.

“I don’t think that there’s been a single day when I haven’t thought about it,” she informed AFP. “It’s still very much present in my mind.”

She was amongst a gaggle of feminine passengers escorted off a Sydney-bound airplane late at night time with out clarification.

The girl mentioned she grew more and more nervous as they had been led via Hamad International Airport and break up into smaller teams, earlier than being taken to the tarmac the place armed officers stood near a number of parked ambulances.

“It was intimidating because there were a lot of policemen around and they all (had) heavy guns,” she mentioned.

Finally, an official informed the assembled girls they might be checked to see if one in every of them was the mom, sending her into “panic mode” on the considered the gynaecological examination.

“I didn’t feel, and I think that none of the women felt, that we had a choice,” she mentioned.

“They didn’t ask for consent, they didn’t say ‘You have a right to say no’… They just said you do that, and then you go back to the plane.”

Women on 10 Qatar Airways flights from Doha had been subjected to the searches, together with residents of France, New Zealand and Australia, the place the authorized case is now being introduced.

The girl, who was travelling alone, mentioned the expertise was “traumatic” and left the affected passengers in shock.

‘We’ve been disrespected’

Facing probably devastating business and reputational injury when the incident grew to become public, Qatar final yr vowed to ensure the long run “safety and security” of passengers.

The nation’s prime minister issued a public apology, whereas an airport police officer who oversaw the searches was reportedly convicted.

But the girl mentioned she had not been contacted by the airline, airport or Qatari authorities within the wake of the incident, whereas fellow passengers had been equally ignored.

Qatar Airways directed AFP’s requests for remark to the Qatari authorities, whereas the nation’s embassy in Canberra didn’t reply.

The girl mentioned she needed a private, written apology in addition to compensation and proof that Doha airport had overhauled its processes.

“We don’t want retaliation, but we want to be acknowledged. Because so far we feel we’ve been disrespected and disregarded and we want someone to be accountable for that,” she mentioned.

Qatari officers mentioned apologies had been conveyed via direct channels with Australia, whereas coaching was rolled out to airport workers to make sure the incident was not repeated.

The girl mentioned she hoped the lawsuit would assist deliver her closure, and defend different travellers transiting via Qatar sooner or later.

“I would like women to know, especially women travelling on their own, that they have to make decisions about the best companies to use and the best routes to use, because there are parts of the world that I wouldn’t advise them to go,” she mentioned.

Qatar is an ultra-conservative Muslim monarchy, the place intercourse and childbirth outdoors of marriage are punishable by jail.

Ahead of the 2022 World Cup, the nation has struggled to reassure critics that its guarantees on girls’s rights, labour relations and democracy are credible.

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