New York: Seven Australian women who were strip-searched and forced to undergo invasive gynaecological examinations at the Doha airport last year are mulling to sue the Qatar government.
Damian Sturzaker, from Sydney-based Marque Lawyers, said that his clients were seeking compensation “for the fact that they were affected at the time and continue to suffer”.
The women alleged that they were ordered to disembark from the flight to Sydney and were checked whether they had given birth after a baby was found in a plastic bag bin at Hamad Airport in October 2020.
Describing their experience as “state-sanctioned assault”, the women said they did not give consent to the examinations and were not given explanations for what was happening to them.
The women, aged from their early 30s to late 50s, claimed that the examinations lasted about five minutes before they were escorted back to their flight.
The incident came to the fore when the women reported the matter to police after landing in Australia, sparking public attention and condemnation from several nations.
After the Australian government decried the incident, Qatar apologized and handed a suspended jail term for one airport official.
“I was certain that I was either going to be killed by one of the many men that had a gun, or that my husband on the plane was going to be killed,” a woman, who didn’t wish to be named, said in a statement from her lawyer.