Genitals of female Australians searched at Qatar airport

More than a dozen Australian women due to depart an international flight from Qatar were allegedly forced to remove their underwear and submit to a humiliating search without being told why.

The federal government has registered "serious concerns" with Qatari officials after 13 Australian passengers were yanked from planes at the Hamad International Airport and searched as part of a local investigation into the origins the of a fetus, believed to be a premature baby, found abandoned in a bathroom at the terminal.

After discovering the fetus in a toilet at the airport, The Daily Telegraph understands Qatar authorities ordered all women off flights, including the Australians, and onto ambulances waiting on the tarmac. 

The Australian women were on flight QR908 bound for Sydney when the incident occurred in Doha on October 2, with the flight landing the next day.

The women were allegedly subjected to a humiliating search, including a visual examination of their genitalia and having their abdomens touched.

It is understood none of the women were told why the search was occurring, and consent was not obtained.

The women were not given an option to avoid the search.

Upon arriving in Australia, the women went into hotel quarantine, and then made a complaint.

A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman said the Australian government "was aware" of the "concerning reports" regarding the treatment of female passengers at the airport in Doha, Qatar.

"We have formally registered our serious concerns regarding the incident with Qatari authorities and have been assured that detailed and transparent information on the event will be provided soon," he said. 

Australia has no authority to launch a police investigation into the incident, but the issue is being handled at a government-to-government level by DFAT officials engaged with their Qatar counterparts.

Amnesty Australia International Director Samantha Klintworth told 7 News the incident was a "distressing and disturbing" "gross violation" of the women's' human rights.

"There needs to be a thorough and independent investigation and all of those involved need to be held to account," she said.

Qatar Airways has been contacted for comment.

The airline has boasted of its COVID-19 safe credentials as one of the few international carriers to maintain consistent flights to Australian centres during the pandemic.

Qatar Airways has continued to bring Australians home to hotel quarantine in Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide and Sydney, as well as Melbourne prior to Victoria's lockdown.

Originally published as Genitals of female Australians searched at Qatar airport


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