do the women subjected to medical examination at Doha airport have any legal options?

Australian women who were subjected to a compulsory intimate medical examination at Doha airport may have limited options for redress unless the government of Qatar agrees to provide compensation to avoid protracted public criticism of its human rights record, an international law expert has said.

a large passenger jet sitting on top of a runway: Photograph: Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images

© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images

The women had boarded a Qatar Airways flight bound for Sydney at Hamad international airport on 2 October when they were ordered to disembark, escorted by security staff to a non-public lower level of the airport, and ushered into waiting ambulances. They were then told to remove their underwear and subjected to a medical examination to see if they had just given birth.

a group of people standing around a plane: The women were ordered to disembark a Qatar Airways flight then subjected to an intimate medical examination after a newborn baby was found in a bathroom at Doha airport.

© Photograph: Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images
The women were ordered to disembark a Qatar Airways flight then subjected to an intimate medical examination after a newborn baby was found in a bathroom at Doha airport.

Related: Women from 10 flights were taken for medical examinations in Qatar, Australian foreign minister says

The searches were prompted by the discovery of a newborn baby in one of the airport bathrooms. One woman, who was not examined because of her age, told Guardian Australia that the experience had been “terrifying”. Another woman told the ABC she would consider legal action.

“If the other 12 women came forward with a class action, I would definitely be part of that,” she said.

But avenues for legal redress for foreigners subject to unconscionable treatment by government officials in another country are limited. That is particularly the case in a country like Qatar, where the legal system has its grounding in sharia law and it is illegal to give birth out of wedlock.

Nick Kaufman, a former international criminal court prosecutor based in Israel, who represented Malka Leifer in fighting an extradition claim brought by the Australian government, said the most immediate outcome might be for the women to use diplomatic channels and the threat of litigation to obtain compensation directly from the Qatar government.

“The government of Qatar, in my opinion, will be eager to settle this matter quickly and in a fashion which will maximise its human rights credentials,” Kaufman said. “Qatar is very sensitive to international criticism as to its record on human rights, as evidenced by its attempt to deal with allegations of the exploitation of foreign workers.

“Qatar will not want the commercial potential arising out of its hosting of the [2022 men’s football] World Cup to be harmed by this incident and, accordingly, will be eager to settle. Any diplomatic pressure or legal action will be used as leverage to force just such compensation.”

Legally, he said, the women could pursue a civil claim against either Qatar Airways, which could be launched in Australia against its Australian offices, or against the government of Qatar.

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Big Gains in India Seen From Higher Legal Marriage Age of Women

(Bloomberg) — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan to raise the legal age for marriage of women carry “enormous” economic and social gains for the world’s second-most populous nation, according to the State Bank of India.


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The benefits range from lowering maternal deaths and improving nutrition levels in the near term to putting more girls in college and enabling women to achieve greater financial independence in the long-term, Soumya Kanti Ghosh, an economist with SBI, wrote in a report to clients Thursday.

“This is clear from the data,” Ghosh said. “The working age population increases with high marriage age.”

While the mean female marriage age in India is already above 21 years, about 35% of are married before then, with the current legal limit at 18 years, according to SBI. India is home to every third child bride in the world, with more than 100 million getting married even before turning 15, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund.

Marriage at a young age means not even a quarter of women in India get into the labor force despite accounting for almost half of the 1.3 billion population. Women earn 35% less on average than men, compared to the global average of a 16% gap.

A government panel is looking at the right marriageable age for women in India, with Modi saying a decision would be taken soon. This would be the first revision in more than four decades and put India in the league of Asian peers such as China, Japan and Singapore.

The marriage age for women in India might be raised to 21 years, the same as for men, according to Ghosh, who sees the number of women graduates rising as much as 7 percentage points from 9.8% at present.

“The move will have other legal and psychological benefits also,” Ghosh said. “Any ground-level change will only happen when the psyche of people alter.”

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How Women in the Legal Field Can Overcome Stress and Anxiety

Everyone in the legal field faces a certain amount of pressure, regardless of the nature of the practice. Those who work as public defenders or paralegals in a criminal law firm may find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer number of cases and clientelle.

Those who work the same positions in the field of immigration will experience various pressures, from monitoring multi-year cases to differentiating the dozens of forms that accompany each case. In addition to the pressures that affect every legal employee, women face their own unique challenges in the workplace.

Women often feel they must prove themselves above and beyond their existing education and experiences. They may also believe they must hide their emotions in order to be taken seriously.

However, there are a couple unique methods of natural stress and anxiety relief that will help women manage their mindsets in the legal field: maintaining a list of strengths and accomplishments, keeping an active social life outside of work, and taking productive lunch breaks.

Maintain List of Strengths and Accomplishments

Maintaining a list of strengths and accomplishments is useful in many ways. For one, it can help an uncertain woman remind herself of her capabilities, especially when faced with criticism from supervisors.

In addition, it can be useful during a routine performance evaluation. Often times, women are afraid to discuss their accomplishments. They may feel a sense of impostor syndrome, or that they are not truly qualified for the positions they are assuming. Thus, the list of strengths and accomplishments will speak for itself when a woman cannot find her own voice.

Keeping an Active Social Life Outside of Work

Keeping an active social life outside of work is critical to stress maintenance. When one's life revolves around work, he or she begins to believe that failure in work equates to failure in life. Pairing each work day with its own extracurricular experiences rids women of the mindset that their work performance specify how valuable they are as members of society.

It should be noted that an active social life is not the only solution to this dilemma. Simply having hobbies such as exercise, shopping, or outdoor activities will enrich an individual's life beyond the workforce.

Taking Productive Lunch Breaks

As women are often convinced that they have to prove their capabilities in the workforce, they may spend their lunch breaks getting ahead on their work assignments. However, this behavior may actually prove detrimental to their overall performance, as they will have had less time away from their screens to recharge.

Taking productive lunch breaks is just as important as taking them in the first place. In a productive lunch break, a woman takes advantage of the full break instead of halving it for the sake of appearances, gets to step away from her desk, and may even go outside to escape the confines of the office for a moment.


Overall, though women do face unique stressors in the workforce, they are fully capable of managing these stressors. …