Australian women sue Qatar over alleged strip searches at Doha airport

Five Australian women allegedly strip-searched at gunpoint at Doha Airport after a baby was found in a bathroom have sued the Qatari government for assault and battery.
Hundreds of women were forcibly removed from aircraft at Doha on 2 October 2020 as officials searched for the mother of a newborn baby in a bathroom at the terminal.
The women were removed by armed guards, and many say they were forced to conduct non-consensual gynaecological or intimate physical examinations.
Out of the 18 Australian women involved in the incident, five have now taken their action to the Federal Court after failing to gain compensation from the Qatari government through other channels.

“Sometimes you need to deploy a legal remedy in circumstances where either moral or in fact even political or diplomatic pressure is getting nowhere,” said Marque Lawyers partner Damian Sturzaker who acts for the five women.

The women, who cannot be legally named, were passengers on a flight from Doha to Sydney and are seeking damages for the alleged misconduct of the government-run Qatar Civil Aviation Authority and Qatar Airways.
One passenger was forced to undergo a strip search holding her five-month-old son, the lawsuit claims. Another, who is elderly and legally blind, was directed out of the aircraft but was not subject to a search.
The incident was reported by the women to the Australian Federal Police upon their arrival in Sydney on 3 October 2020.

They say they were subjected to “unlawful physical contact” and now experience anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Qatari government has been accused of assault, battery, negligence and false imprisonment.
Qatar Airways also faces possible damages for negligence under the Montreal Convention, which states an airline is liable for death or bodily injury that occurs while embarking or disembarking.

Qatar’s embassy in Canberra and Qatar Airways did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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