CANBERRA – Australia on Monday condemned Qatar authorities’ treatment of female passengers on a flight to Sydney who were subjected to internal examinations after a newborn baby was found abandoned at a Doha airport.
The women, including 13 Australians, were examined at Hamad International Airport on Oct. 2 after Qatar Airways Flight 908 to Sydney was delayed.
Australia’s foreign affairs department described the treatment of the women as inappropriate and beyond circumstances in which they could give free and informed consent.
“This is a grossly, grossly disturbing, offensive, concerning set of events,” Foreign Minister Marise Payne told reporters. “It's not something that I've ever heard of occurring in my life, in any context. We have made our views very clear to the Qatari authorities on this matter.”
Australia will await a report from the Qatari government before “we will determine the next steps,” Payne said.
She said the matter was reported to Australian Federal Police, but did not explain what action police might take. Police said in a statement they are working with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on the matter and that further comment would be inappropriate.
The baby was still unidentified and was being cared for by medical and social workers, airport officials said in a statement sent to The Associated Press.
Medical professionals were concerned for the mother’s health and had requested she be located, it said. “Individuals who had access to a specific area of the airport where the newborn infant was found were asked to assist in the query,” it added.