Update: Legal proceedings commenced (21 October 2022)
Thank you to everyone for your support so far. I can confirm that all donations received were used to cover legal expenses incurred by the women.
Despite their best efforts to seek a resolution outside of court processes, the women now feel that they have been left with no other choice but to pursue their legal rights and have commenced proceedings against Qatar Airways and the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority in the Federal Court of Australia. You may have seen new media coverage from the BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-62072074
We have setup a new fundraising page to assist the women with their legal costs in running the proceedings and this site is now closed.
The new fundraising page can be found here: https://chuffed.org/project/qatar
We would be incredibly grateful for any donations to ensure that the women are heard, and to ensure that Qatar Airways and the QCAA are held to account for their actions.
Dr Wolfgang Babeck
Hello, my name is Dr Wolfgang Babeck and I am raising funds on behalf of women who were passengers onboard Qatar Airways flight QR908. I was a fellow passenger on the flight and for good reason the women wish to remain anonymous for the time being.
In early October last year, in the midst of the pandemic, many Australians were desperate to return home. Qatar Airways was one of the few airlines still offering flights. On 2 October 2020, 18 women onboard Qatar Airways flight QR908 from Doha to Sydney (and countless women on other flights that same day) were taken off their aircraft by armed Qatari authorities. They feared for their lives and were concerned they were being held hostage or caught up in a terrorist incident. Most of the women were then channelled into ambulances on the airport tarmac and subjected to invasive non-consensual strip searches and examinations by Qatari authorities.
The reason for these extraordinary breaches of human rights was that a newborn baby had been sadly abandoned in the airport toilets earlier that day. The Qatari authorities were searching for the mother, likely not in order to reunite her with her child but to arrest her.
After the initial firestorm of worldwide media coverage and promises of action by PM Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne there has been little actual support for the women affected. Frustrated by the lack of action the women have spoken with Australian 60 Minutes and the media to outline their plans to take court action.
You can find out more about the incident:
- on 60 Minutes: https://www.instagram.com/p/CWFqJeMj70B/?utm_medium=share_sheet
- and in the following articles
https://www.smh.com.au/national/australian-women-invasively-examined-on-qatar-flight-are-suing-after-being-ignored-20211114-p598qe.html and https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-54714472 and https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/nov/18/australian-women-say-qatar-has-not-contacted-them-since-invasive-doha-airport-examinations
Since the terrible events of 2 October 2020 the Qatari government has done practically nothing other than a token prosecution of the police captain allegedly responsible for the incident. He received a six month suspended sentence (without incarceration) and a small fine. None of the women have received any direct contact nor an apology from the Qatar government or Qatar Airways nor any compensation in relation to the traumatic incident.
A year on, these women are still looking for answers and assurances that women will not be subjected to the same appalling treatment when travelling through Qatar. The Australian government has done little to advance the women’s cause. Under questioning on 12 November 2021, PM Scott Morrison claimed that procedures at the airport have changed but the government refused to provide any details.
I was a fellow passenger on the flight and have been working with the women for the past year. I am not related to the women. With my assistance , a number of the women have now engaged Sydney law firm, Marque Lawyers, to represent their interests. Marque Lawyers have been working with a leading international law barrister and have written to Qatar Airways, the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority and the Qatar government demanding responses. Qatar Airways have rejected the claims outright. Copies of that correspondence and excerpts of the legal opinion are available in the article by the Sydney Morning Herald.
It now seems that the women will need to pursue their claims before an Australian Court and in the international media. This is a mammoth and intimidating hurdle.
This fundraiser has been created on behalf of women passengers on Qatar Airways flight QR908 with their full consent. The purpose is to raise money to cover legal expenses and litigation funding for the group of women. At least $150,000 in legal fees would be required to run this complex litigation.
The donations will remain with GoFundMe until the women receive invoices for their legal fees and at that time I will withdraw the funds, with their written consent, and facilitate payment of their legal bills.
In the event that more money is raised than is required for the litigation (including if the women are successful in the proceedings and are able to recover a portion of their legal costs from the defendants or the claims reach any early settlement) all surplus funds will be donated to a suitable charity for the protection of women and children.
The women do not wish to be publicly identified at this time which is why they haven’t been named on this page. Instead, they wish to focus their energy on pursuing this claim and achieving a positive outcome and respect for the rights of all women and girls.
The women are most grateful for your support and hope that through these claims the safety and security of female passengers in transit in Qatar is ensured.