Qatar yesterday apologized after authorities forcibly examined female passengers from a Qatar Airways flight to Australia to try to identify who might have given birth to a baby found abandoned at the airport earlier this month.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the treatment of the women as “appalling” and “unacceptable.”
“As a father of a daughter, I could only shudder at the thought that anyone would, Australian or otherwise, would be subjected to that,” he said.
The Qatari Government Communications Office said that the newborn was a girl and had been “concealed” in a plastic bag and buried under garbage in a bin at Hamad International Airport.
“The baby girl was rescued from what appeared to be a shocking and appalling attempt to kill her. The infant is now safe under medical care in Doha,” it said.
Under pressure after Australia condemned the searches, Qatar said that it had begun an investigation into the treatment of the women who were taking Qatar Airways Flight 908 to Sydney on Oct. 2.
In Qatar, like much of the Middle East, sex outside of marriage is a criminal act.
Migrant workers in the past have hidden pregnancies and tried to travel abroad to give birth, and others have abandoned their babies anonymously to avoid prison.
The Qatari office said that officials searched for the baby’s parents, “including on flights in the vicinity of where the newborn was found.”
“While the aim of the urgently decided search was to prevent the perpetrators of the horrible crime from escaping, the state of Qatar regrets any distress or infringement on the personal freedoms of any traveler caused by this action,” the government said in a statement.
Additional reporting by AFP
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