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Australia condemns nonconsensual examination of women at Doha airport

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    Kyodo News

Melbourne, Australia   /   Mon, October 26, 2020   /   10:20 am
Australia condemns nonconsensual examination of women at Doha airport Travelers wearing masks walk past a giant 23-foot-long canary-yellow sculpture of a teddy bear sitting inside a lamp, at Hamad International Airport in the Qatari capital Doha, almost empty due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, on April 1, 2020. (AFP/Karim Jaafar)

Australia raised concerns with Qatar on Monday after female passengers -- including 13 Australians -- who were ready to leave Doha for Sydney aboard a flight were reportedly subjected to invasive internal examinations without consent.

The examinations, which reportedly occurred earlier this month, were triggered after a premature baby was found in an airport bathroom at Hamad International Airport in Doha, according to Australian media.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne described the reports as "grossly disturbing" and "offensive," and said Australia is waiting on a report from Qatari authorities before taking further steps.

"It is not something that I have ever heard of occurring in my life, in any context. We have made our views very clear to the Qatari authorities on this matter," she said at a press conference in Canberra.

According to a statement from Hamad Airport, published by the Australian Broadcasting Corp., the baby is safe and receiving medical care. The mother of the baby has not been located.

Passengers told the ABC that all women on board the plane were told to disembark and underwent the examinations in an ambulance parked on the tarmac without being told why.

"When the women came back, many of them or probably all of them were upset -- one of them was in tears, a younger woman," passenger Wolfgang Babeck told ABC radio.

The women went into 14-day hotel quarantine on their arrival in Sydney and have received mental health support.