Australia has condemned Qatari authorities’ treatment of female passengers on flights to Sydney who underwent internal checks after the newborns were found abandoned at Doha airport.
CANBERRA, Australia – Australia on Monday condemned Qatari authorities’ treatment of female passengers on flights to Sydney who underwent internal checks after a newborn was found abandoned at Doha airport.
The Australian department of foreign affairs has described the treatment of these women as inappropriate and outside of circumstances where they can give their consent without coercion.
“This is a very, very disturbing and worrying attack,” Foreign Minister Marise Payne told reporters. “This isn’t something I’ve heard happening in my life, in any context. We have made our views very clear to the Qatari authorities on this issue. “
Australia will wait for a report from the Qatari government before “we will decide what to do next,” Payne said.
The baby remains unidentified and is being cared for by medical and social workers, airport officials said in a statement sent to The Associated Press.
Medical professionals are concerned about the mother’s health and have requested that she be found, he said. “People who have access to the specific area of the airport where the newborn was found are asked to help with the question,” he added.
The statement does not recognize forced examinations.
The women were examined in ambulances parked on the runway, Seven Network News reported.
Wolfgang Babeck, who returned to Australia on the flight, said the women were taken off the plane regardless of their age.
“When the women came back, many of them or maybe all of them were upset. “One of them was crying, a woman who was younger, and people couldn’t believe what had happened,” said Babeck.
“They told me they had to remove their underwear or their clothes from underneath and then be checked if they had given birth,” he added.
Babeck said no explanation was given why departures were delayed for more than three hours or why women had to leave the plane. He said the check was done by a woman.
The passengers are now in hotel quarantine for 14 days in Sydney as part of the coronavirus measures.
Qatar Airways and the Qatari government did not respond to questions from the AP on Monday.
In Qatar, like most countries in the Middle East, sex outside of marriage is a crime. In the past, female migrant workers hid their pregnancies and tried to travel abroad to give birth. Others have abandoned their babies anonymously to escape prison.
Qatar, a small, energy-rich country on the Arabian Peninsula, is home to state-owned Qatar Airways, which together with Etihad and Emirates use its location to become a major East-West travel hub. The modern Hamad International Airport serves as Qatar Airways’ operational base and will soon direct travelers to the country for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.