Qatar has urged the safety of women traveling to the World Cup

Qatar has urged the safety of women traveling to the World Cup


Lawyers for a group of women who were subjected to an intrusive search at Doha airport two years ago called Qatar on Sunday to guarantee the safety of female fans traveling to next month’s World Cup.

Five women are suing Qatar Airways and Qatar’s state civil aviation authority after they were removed from flights in October 2020 for non-consensual gynecological exams.

“This group of courageous women were forced to go to court to send a signal to Qatar that what happened was wrong and must not happen again,” lawyer Damian Sturzaker told AFP.

“With the World Cup taking place in less than a month, female travelers are entitled to an assurance from Qatar that their human rights will be respected.”

Authorities in Doha conducted the searches in hopes of finding the mother of a newborn baby left in an airport toilet bin.

After the child was spotted, the airport went into lockdown and women on about 10 flights were herded into ambulances where they underwent invasive screening to determine if they had recently given birth.

The incident caused a major diplomatic incident and prompted the Prime Minister of Qatar to issue a “sincere apology”.

Two years later, a group of women are taking the Qatari authorities to court in Australia, demanding unspecified costs and damages for the trauma of the event.

– Aftermath –

The five women were aged between 31 and 73 at the time, according to papers filed with an Australian federal court earlier this month.

They were all passengers on flight QR908 from Hamad International in Doha to Sydney.

One was blind and another was accompanying her five-month-old child.

When the plane was on the tarmac, a cabin announcement instructed all women on board to exit the plane with their passports, and “persons in dark uniforms, armed with weapons, boarded the plane.”

Four of the women were then taken to ambulances, stripped of their clothing and subjected to invasive examinations of their genitals – in one case the breasts and abdomen.

A woman had her little son on her chest at the time.

The women are said to all suffer from post-traumatic stress.

They accuse Qatar Airways and the authorities of neglect, assault, assault, false imprisonment and a host of other violations of the law.

Qatar Airways and the Qatar government did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but authorities have previously announced that those responsible for the searches will be prosecuted.

Facing potentially devastating commercial and reputational damage, Qatar has repeatedly vowed to ensure the future “safety” of passengers.

The timing of the court case comes as Qatar prepares to host at least a million fans for the FIFA World Cup from November 20th.

The Gulf nation faced intense scrutiny of its human rights record ahead of the tournament and was concerned about strict local customs that foreign visitors might stumble upon.

Wearing a Muslim veil is not compulsory for women, but they must dress “modestly” in public and be covered from shoulders to knees.

Sex outside of marriage is illegal and punishable by flogging, although there is no record of when it was last practiced.

In November 2020, Qatari authorities said they had identified the abandoned child’s parents and the “fugitive” mother from an Asian country. If she is arrested, she faces 15 years in prison.

More to explorer