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Current Affairs

Australian women sue Qatar

Date: 19 November 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

The Qatar government is being sued by a group of seven Australian women for forcing to undergo an invasive medical examination.

 

Background

The incident took place in October 2020 in Doha when the women were strip-searched inside Ambulances stationed on the tarmac.

 

Details

  • The women say that their consent for strip search was not taken and the reason was also not stated to them.

  • The incident received public outrage after the women called the incident “state sponsored assault”, forcing the Prime Minister of the country to apologize publicly.

  • The country had launched an investigation into the incident and many staff of the airport were charged. However, women argue that enough action was not taken.

 

Reason for the searches

  • A new born baby was found near trash bin of the airport bathroom, forcing the authorities to launch investigation to determine the mother.

  • Eighteen women from different planes were taken for strip searches after the baby was discovered. All women were however not strip searched.

  • Invasive gynaecological examinations in ambulances were conducted by Qatari authorities for finding the mother of the baby.

 

Response

  • Qatar apologized for the incident but justified such a move citing immediate need for preventing the mother from escaping.

  • The move was denounced across the globe. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the incident “appalling” and “unacceptable”.

 

Lawsuit filing

The victims have alleged to have experienced mental trauma post the incident. They face post-traumatic stress disorder forcing them to seek psychiatric help.

 

Legality of strip searches

  • There needs to be laws for such searches as it involves security personnel inspecting body cavities.

  • Such incidents occurring in Australia would have amounted to assault and battery. Invasive check is only conducted as a last resort.

  • It can only be undertaken if there is ‘reasonable suspicion’ of illegal possession. There has to be factual basis for the suspicion.