LONDON – A group of seven women plans to sue the Qatari government over invasive strip-searches that took place at Hamad International Airport in October last year.
The incident in question is related to QR708 on October 2, 2020, when armed guards ordered women off the flight and onto ambulances waiting on the tarmac at the airport in Doha.
Several of the 18 women on the flight, including one carrying a five-month-old child, were subject to invasive physical examinations, allegedly to determine if they were linked to a newborn baby found abandoned inside the airport.
Damian Sturzaker, the lawyer representing the victims is planning to file the case in an Australian court, with him saying the following in a letter threatening legal action:
“Two of the younger women were subjected to an incredibly invasive gynecological examination. The incident was horrific for all women involved. All have experienced ongoing mental health difficulties and are fearful of flying again.”
Around 28 days after the original incident last year, the Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani came out with a statement, regretting the “unacceptable treatment of the female passengers at HIA”:
“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.”
According to the Australian Government, the Qatari Government has demonstrated that it has made the positive changes necessary to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
However, Sturzaker argues that the women involved have no confidence that things have changed and want to ensure even further that nothing happens again.
“They’re now at a stage where, having moved beyond the shock and grief of the current, they’re now angry and disappointed and wanting something to change,” Mr. Sturzaker said.
In all, Qatar Airways will be looking to come to the best solution as possible, and even more so the Qatari Government.
With the country set to host the FIFA World Cup next year in Doha, such treatment like this will not produce the correct public relations perspective it has been focusing on, particularly in tourism.