- A group of women say they were searched when a baby was found at an airport.
- They are now suing for an apology, rule changes and compensation, their lawyer said.
- Officials said they were looking for evidence of someone who had recently given birth.
A group of women are suing Qatar officials and flagship airlines, saying they have been searched and subjected to invasive internal investigations after Doha airport staff found a baby in a bathroom.
The women, many of whom remained anonymous, said they were searched at Hamad International airport last October, Agence France-Presse reported.
Women from 10 different flights were wanted, AFP reported.
Some of the women said they were removed from their plane, and told that they should take off their underwear so they could be examined.
Officials said last year they were seeking to identify who had recently given birth.
Damian Sturzaker, a lawyer representing seven of the women, said they were taking legal action to “send a message to the Qatari authorities that women cannot be treated … this way,” AFP reported.
He said the women want an apology from Qatar, compensation and a rule change so the same thing does not happen again, according to AFP.
He said they have suffered hardship and trauma as a result of the searches.
The lawsuit is set to be filed in the coming weeks in Australia against the Qatari government, the airport, Qatar Airways and the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority, Sturzaker told AFP.
It is not clear how many women were searched and how many are involved in the trial, although AFP reported that the wanted group included 13 Australian women.
Australia cracked down on the searches last year, and Qatar’s prime minister apologized for the searches last October, calling them “unacceptable”.
“I assure you that we will hold those responsible for these actions accountable. What took place does not represent the laws or values of Qatar,” Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani said. tweeted. “We will take all precautions to prevent a recurrence.”
Sturzaker said the women wanted to highlight what happened to them before the 2022 World Cup, which Qatar hosts.
He said according to AFP: “They should be aware that – although there is the shape of a highly developed, highly modernized airport and national airline – these events have happened and there is nothing to stop them from happening again.”