The women were strip searched and checked for signs of having recently given birth after a premature newborn baby was found abandoned in a toilet at Hamad International Airport, per BBC.
According to an Australian government spokesperson who spoke to CNN, women at the airport, including 13 Australians, were "allegedly removed from flights, detained and forced to undergo an inspection in an ambulance on the tarmac."
"Reports indicate that the treatment of the women concerned was offensive, grossly inappropriate, and beyond circumstances in which the women could give free and informed consent."
The women were reportedly told to remove the underwear for the genital examination, but were not told about the baby beforehand or provided a reason for their detainment. The Guardian reported that an eyewitness said the Qatar Airways staff on the flight were "absolutely horrified" and were also in the dark as to what was happening. The women were eventually returned to the plane. The flight was reportedly delayed by four hours.
"My legs were just wobbling,” Kim Mills, one of nine women removed from the Sydney-bound flight and subjected to an examination, told The Guardian.
"I was just so pleased to be back on the plane because I was terrified they were going to take me away somewhere … Why didn’t they explain to us what was going on? It was horrible, not knowing, to me that was one of the worst parts of it."
"[The head steward] said the captain and the pilot don’t even know why we’ve been held and what’s going on.” Mills said the staff told her: “We knew nothing, they gave us no reason at all why you had to be taken off the plane."
In a statement released on October 2, a representative for Hamad International Airport said medical professionals were concerned "about the health and welfare of a mother who had just given birth and requested she be located prior to departing (the airport)."
"Individuals who had access to the specific area of the airport where the newborn infant was found were asked to assist in the query," the airport said in a statement provided to CNN.
According to the outlet, airport authorities are still searching for the mother, but the newborn is "safe under the professional care of medical and social workers."
On October 26, Australian Foreign Minister Marisa Payne said it was "not something I have ever heard of occuring in my life in any context."
"This is a grossly, grossly disturbing, offensive, concerning set of events... We have made our views very clear to the Qatari authorities on this matter," she said at a press conference in Canberra, before adding that report has been submitted to Australian Federal Police.
They are now awaiting "to determine the next steps" following a response from Qatari officials.