Thursday, 29 October 2020
I want to do something a little unorthodox this morning. I invite and encourage my parliamentary colleagues and anyone who's listening to these proceedings at home or at work to close their eyes for a moment if it's safe to do so. Picture that you are with your family on an aircraft in the Middle East. You're not told the reason for the delay, but hours have gone by and your aircraft that's due to fly to Australia hasn't left. No-one is telling you why. All of a sudden authorities come on board the aircraft and demand that your wife and your daughters leave the aircraft with them. The women are required to accompany them. No-one explains why. Nothing is said other than that they're required to go with them.
Once off the aircraft the women are subjected, against their will, to invasive searches of their genitalia. No explanation whatsoever is given to them as to why. The invasion of the privacy of those women is unspeakable, but imagine if you were a 14- or 15-year-old girl. No explanation was given. They're taken to an ambulance, told to lie down and take off their panties. This is in 2020 in Qatar. These unspeakable actions have been taken against 13 Australian women and I understand another five women from other countries. This reprehensible behaviour by someone—and we don't know who yet; we don't know whether it was the Qatari authorities—that happened on 2 October cannot go unchallenged or unpunished. Australian women have been violated. We need to do more. We need to find out what happened. These women deserve apologies and so much more.