The treatment of 13 Australian women subjected to an “internal search” at Qatar’s airport earlier this month has been described as an “outrageous violation” by Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong.
Ms Wong said she was “genuinely horrified” after hearing about the incident as is calling for the government to take action to ensure the safety of future passengers.
“It is a dreadful thing to have occurred, and can I just say to all of those women, we are with you and understand how appalling and distressing this must have been.” she told Today.
The women were among a number of female passengers “searched” by Qatari authorities when a premature baby was found in an airport bathroom on October 2.
The Federal Government is still awaiting a report on the incident from Qatari officials.
“We need to know why this happened, what happened, who is accountable for it, and there needs to be appropriate response from the Qatari government,” Ms Wong said.
Ms Wong is demanding an apology from Qatari officials as well as action by the Australian government to identify those responsible for the incident.
“There should be an apology for what has occurred, as well as people fronting up as to who made the decision to engage in such outrageous behaviour, such an outrageous violation of Australian citizens,” she said.
She also raised concerns about the FIFA World Cup to be held in Doha in 2022, saying the government should “go beyond words” and ensure the safety of all passengers travelling with the airline.
“What the Foreign Minister should be doing is ensuring Australians who do travel for the World Cup are safe, and making sure there are agreements and arrangements in place with both Qatar and also people on the ground to make sure people are safe, because no Australian, no person should ever have to be treated in the way these women were treated,” Ms Wong said.
“I do understand from reports that airline staff were horrified and were sympathetic to the women when they came on board, but I think what this demonstrates is that we need to ensure that there are answers to how this occurred.”