Qatar Neglects Women After 'Traumatic' Airport Searches
An incident at Qatar airport sparked global outrage because of their treatment of women.
A woman was left feeling "disrespected and disregarded" after an invasive gynecological search at Doha airport on Wednesday, according to AFP.
The French woman was among a group who were also forced to be intrusively examined in October 2020, because authorities were trying to identify the mother of a newborn baby that was abandoned in an airport bathroom.
Qatar Airways and Qatari authorities are now faced with legal charges by seven women who are seeking redress for an ordeal that sparked condemnation and global attention ahead of the country hosting the 2022 World Cup.
The woman expressed her fears when the thought of traveling crossed her mind again.
"I don't think that there's been a single day when I haven't thought about it," she told AFP. "It's still very much present in my mind."
She was escorted off a Sydney-bound plane late at night without explanation.
The woman was taken through Hamad International Airport then escorted into the tarmac where armed officers stood near several parked ambulances.
"It was intimidating because there were a lot of policemen around and they all (had) heavy guns," she said.
An official informed the women that they would be checked to see if one of them was the mother, causing her to go into "panic mode" at the prospect of a gynecological exam.
"I didn't feel, and I think that none of the women felt, that we had a choice," she noted.
Women on 10 different Qatar Airways flights from Doha were searched, including citizens of France, New Zealand, and Australia, where the legal case is now being brought.
The woman, who was traveling alone, said the experience was "traumatic" and left the affected passengers in shock.
'We've been disrespected'
When the event became public, Qatar promised last year that it would ensure the "safety and security" of passengers in the future.
The country's prime minister apologized publicly, and an airport police officer in charge of the searches was reportedly held liable.
However, the woman said that she had not been contacted by the airline, airport, or Qatari authorities following the incident and that other passengers have also been neglected.
Qatar Airways forwarded AFP's requests for comment to the Qatari government, which did not react, and the country's embassy in Canberra did not respond.
The woman demanded a personal written apology, as well as compensation and proof that Doha Airport's protocols had been revised.
"We don't want retaliation, but we want to be acknowledged. Because so far we feel we've been disrespected and disregarded and we want someone to be accountable for that," she said.
Qatari officials said apologies had been expressed to Australia through direct channels, and that airport workers had been trained to ensure the situation does not happen again.
Ahead of the 2022 World Cup, the country has struggled to reassure critics that its promises on women's rights, labor relations, and democracy are credible.