Women who had their genitals 'invasively examined' after a premature baby was found alive in the toilets at Qatar airport revealed the ordeal left them shaking in fear.
Kim Mills was on the Sydney-bound flight from Hamad International Airport in Doha on October 2 when she was hauled off the plane with 13 other Australian women.
The confused group were led through the bowels of the terminal until they arrived at a dark car park where three ambulances were waiting to perform medical checks to determine whether they had given birth.
Kim Mills was on the Sydney-bound flight from Hamad International Airport (pictured) in Doha on October 2 when she was hauled off the plane with 13 other Australian women
Ms Mills, who boarded the plane and immediately changed into her pajamas and went to sleep, was woken hours later by air host asking her to get her passport and follow police, she told The Guardian.
She realised it wasn't a routine passport check when she was told to follow guards downstairs with other women from her flight.
The grandmother assumed they were being tested for Covid-19 when she saw medical facilities, adding that she would have been 'an absolute mess' with fear if it weren't for the pandemic.
While Ms Mills was ruled out on arrival because she's in her 60s, she recalled the horrifying moment a young woman emerged from the vehicle in tears.
'I said "what's wrong, what's going on?" and she told me that they'd found a baby in the bathroom at the airport and they were examining all the women.'
One of the women who was strip searched told the ABC she would take part in a class action if the 12 other women came forward.
Two of the 13, who wanted to remain anonymous, said no one at the airport spoke English or tried to explain the situation.
Qatar airline staff strip searched the women without their consent after allegedly discovering an abandoned baby in an airport bathroom (stock image)
One said she saw a masked lady inside the ambulance and when she was ordered to step inside, authorities closed the door behind her.
'She told me to pull my pants down and that I needed to examine my vagina,' she said.
'I said "I'm not doing that" and she did not explain anything to me. She just kept saying "we need to see it we need to see it".'
The woman said she tried to escape, but there was nowhere to run and she eventually relented.
'I was panicking. Everyone had gone white and was shaking,' she said.
Ms Mills said the women were then brought to an interview room and told to provide their flight information.
By the time she arrived back on the plane, she said her legs were 'just wobbling' and asked why they weren't told what was going on.
'I can't imagine what it was like for those poor young girls, it must have been horrendous,' she said.
'I'm a mother of three daughters and when I got back on the plane and reflected on it and thought, I am so glad it wasn't any of my girls.'
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it had registered 'serious concerns' with Qatari authorities over their handling of the incident. Pictured: Qatari police
When plane staff were told about the situation, they were horrified and said the pilots did not know why the aircraft had been delayed for three hours.
The mother of the baby was not found and the women were allowed to depart before serving hotel quarantine in Sydney.
Wolfgang Babeck, who was on the flight, said many of the women were distressed when they returned to the plane.
'When the women came back, many of them or probably all of them were upset - one of them was in tears, a younger woman,' he told the ABC.
'People couldn't believe what had happened.'
A source in Doha briefed on the incident said: '[Officials] were forcing women to undergo invasive body searches - basically forced Pap smears.'
Foreign Minister Marise Payne has expressed 'serious concerns' to Qatari officials and is awaiting a report to find out exactly what happened.
She said the events were 'grossly disturbing, offensive and deeply concerning'.
Hamad International Airport management said the baby was safe and being cared for by medical and social workers.
The Australian government has formally registered serious concerns with Qatari authorities
Medical professionals were concerned for the mother's health after the infant was found and had requested she be located.
'Individuals who had access to a specific area of the airport where the newborn infant was found were asked to assist in the query,' airport management told the ABC.
An Australian federal government spokesperson said the treatment of the women was offensive, grossly inappropriate and beyond circumstances in which they could give free and informed consent.
'The Australian government is deeply concerned at the unacceptable treatment of some female passengers on a recent Qatar Airways flight at Doha Airport,' the spokesman said.
'The government has formally registered our serious concerns about this incident with Qatari authorities. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is engaged on this matter through diplomatic channels.'