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Qatar airport security employees were charged with unspecified crimes for invasive searches of female travelers following the discovery of an abandoned newborn at the Doha airport.
Qatar prosecutors said in a statement Monday that security officers violated the law by “summoning female medical staff to conduct external examinations” of airline passengers in a hunt for a woman who had just given birth. Employees face up to three years in prison if convicted.
The announcement of the charges came on the same day that Qatar officials revealed they had located the baby’s mother. The infant girl, abandoned at Hamad International Airport early last month, is now in the care of social services.
Several women on a Qatar Airways flight headed to Sydney when the newborn was discovered — including citizens from Australia, New Zealand and Britain — were ordered to disembark before takeoff, led to ambulances on the tarmac, locked inside and told to remove their underwear for an examination, the BBC reported. They were given no other information.
Some of the traumatized passengers, including several Australians, reported that the exams were not external, and they did not consent to them. One of the women told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that a staff member told her that she “needed to examine my vagina.” One official called it “state-sanctioned sexual assault.”
We regret the unacceptable treatment of the female passengers at HIA. I assure you that we will hold those responsible for these acts to account. What took place does not represent Qatar’s laws or values. We will undertake all measures to prevent a recurrence.— خالد بن خليفة آل ثاني (@KBKAlThani) October 30, 2020
Women, particularly migrant workers, continue to face unacceptable discrimination in #Qatar. “Illicit” sexual relations out of wedlock is a criminal act, with women facing a maximum prison term of seven years. 3/4— Sam Klintworth (@Sam_Klintworth) November 24, 2020
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