A group of Australian women is planning to sue the government of Qatar after they say they were removed from their plane, detained, and forced to undergo invasive medical checks to determine if they had recently given birth after an abandoned baby was found in a terminal bathroom at the airport in the capital of Doha. CNN reports "more than 18 women from 10 different flights, including 13 Australians aboard a Sydney-bound plane, were involved in the incident" on Oct. 2, 2020. The women were removed from planes by armed authorities, then subjected to physical examinations in ambulances on the airport tarmac.
One woman says she was "subjected to the most horrifically invasive physical exam" and "was certain that I was either going to be killed by one of the many men that had a gun, or that my husband on the plane was going to be killed," per the BBC. Damian Sturzaker, a lawyer representing seven of the Australian women, says another woman who was accompanied by her 5-month-old child was forced to strip naked despite explaining that she could not have been the mother. Some women weren't even told that a baby had been found, reports Australia's 7News.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison decried the "appalling" incident before the government of Qatar apologized for what it described as illegal actions during an "attempted murder" investigation. Prime Minister Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani vowed to "hold those responsible to account" and "undertake all measures to prevent a recurrence." But "as far as we know, no steps have been taken to ensure that it won't happen again," Sturzaker tells 7News. The outlet reports one officer received "a suspended sentence, but no jail time." The women plan to seek compensation for emotional harm, loss of income, and medical treatment. (Read more Qatar stories.)