AUSTRALIA’S Foreign Minister has revealed more women than first reported were subjected to “grossly disturbing” invasive strip searches at Doha airport.
Minister Marise Payne told a parliamentary hearing on Wednesday that 18 Australian women were involved in the searches which spanned across 10 different flights.
The examinations occurred after a newborn premature baby was found in a terminal bathroom at Hamad International Airport, although none of the women were told about that before the examinations.
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“The matters which are being discussed in relation to this matter are very concerning and very distributing and the Australian government has been clear about that,” Ms Payne told the hearing.
Ms Payne also revealed there were a number of women of other nationalities involved in the incident but the full total remains unclear.
“There have been a series of meetings continuing in Qatar as late as yesterday. Australia is not the only country affected,” she said.
A Department of Foreign Affairs official, who was among women affected but not searched, was the first to raise the alarm with Australian authorities on October 4.
Ms Payne said there were meetings occurring with the Qatari government, Qatar Airways and the airport involved.
“We have made our views very clear to the Qatari authorities on this matter,” she said.
The Australian government is still awaiting a report from the Qatari government.