Qatar prosecutors have identified the parents of a baby girl dumped at Doha airport which sparked “invasive” internal examinations of innocent female passengers in a bid to find the mother.
The abandoned newborn’s mother, whom the statement described as a “convict”, faces up to 15 years in prison and has been charged with attempted murder. Police are currently attempting to arrest her.
The woman apparently texted the father to say she was abandoning the baby as she flew out of the country before the baby was discovered in a bathroom bin.
Prosecutors said DNA helped them identify her and the baby’s father, who has been charged, but they did not give any further details.
In Qatar, sex and childbirth outside of marriage are criminalised.
The incident made international headlines after 13 Australian women on a flight bound for Sydney came forward claiming they were forced to undergo “invasive” internal examinations after the premature baby was found in an airport bathroom.
A Victorian woman, who used the pseudonym Jane, spoke to 60 Minutes about her traumatic experience at Doha Hamad International Airport and said she felt like a criminal.
“I had to pull [my underwear] down and it was just incredibly invasive. I was terrified and I was humiliated,” she said.
Jane described female passengers being removed from the plane with no explanation.
“At that point scenarios were going through my mind being like, ‘Are we getting kidnapped? Are we being taken somewhere?’” she said.
The incident was labelled as “appalling” by Prime Minister Scott Morrison when news broke.
“Individuals who had access to a specific area of the airport where the newborn infant was found were asked to assist in the query,” airport management told the ABC.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese described the reports as disturbing and said the government was right to demand answers.
“The idea that women could be subject to these very intrusive searches is, in my view, an absolute disgrace,” he told reporters.
“The government needs to really make the strongest possible protest to the government of Qatar.”
Federal opposition frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon said the government should be robust in its response.
“If true, this effectively amounts to state-sanctioned sexual assault and we should all be very, very concerned,” he told the Seven Network.
Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce said it was outrageous and completely unacceptable the women were subjected to such humiliating examinations.
Prosecutors in Qatar say the airport police officers who ordered internal medical examinations of female passengers on October 2 face possible three-year prison sentences.
“Extensive investigations revealed that some employees of the Airport Security Department acted unilaterally by summoning female medical staff to conduct external examination to some female passengers, thinking that what they had done was within the law,” a statement from prosecutors said.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.