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Abyan needs help, not harassment: bring her off Nauru

A media release from the Refugee Action Coalition

The aggressive attempts by the Nauruan police to interview Abyan reveal their complete lack of concern for the privacy and welfare of a sexual assault victim.

The actions of the Australian Government and the Nauruan police have left Abyan exposed to retribution and vulnerable to further harassment and abuse.

The police and media visit to Abyan’s accommodation on Nauru left her in such a distressed situation that she asked if she could be taken into the detention compounds to gain some protection and security.

Such police harassment of a victim of sexual assault would not be tolerated in Australia. “Abyan’s safety on Nauru has been further compromised by the actions of the Nauruan police,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

Nor should the foot-in-the-door ‘journalism’ that has was inflicted on Abyan and her friend on Nauru, be tolerated. “It is impossible to describe the distress, and even terror, inflicted on Abyan and her friend when they were photographed on Nauru.

“This new round of distress has only been possible because, against all expert professional advice, the Australian government returned Abyan to the place of her sexual assault; something that can only add to the anguish that surrounds her situation,” said Rintoul. (See below for statement by Professor Louise Newman, Professor of Women’s Mental Health, University of Melbourne).

“It is clear from everything that Abyan has said, and now from media reports from Nauru, that she has never declined having a termination. She continues to be a victim of the Australian government’s political agenda.

“It is imperative that the Australian government acts urgently to provide the medical care that she needs. Her mental and physical well-being remains at risk as long as she remains on Nauru.

“She should be brought to Australia, this time, with the sympathy, care and consideration that she was previously denied.”

The Refugee Action Coalition has called a further protest Friday, 23 October, 5pm, Sydney Town Hall.

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713


Professor Louise Newman

Professor of Women’s Mental Health

University of Melbourne

The treatment of a 23 year old pregnant rape survivor from Namur highlights the profound lack of understanding of the psychological impact of rape and trauma. Blaming the victim – assuming that she is misusing the system to come to Australia and is not “genuine “in her request for termination does nothing to help us understand her torment and respond in a compassionate way

Rape if a significant psychological trauma. Pregnancy as a result of rape is always confusing for the woman who is often unclear about how to proceed and deeply troubled. We know that this young women AM has been distressed and withdrawn, not eating and has been suicidal. She has been asking for termination since around 4 week’s into the pregnant. She has not been responded to until around 14 weeks and the question of how to proceed has become even more complicated. She is still distressed and has stated that she needs time to consider her options. She requests counselling and this has not been provided. Instead she is blamed for her indecision and seen as misusing a care system

This response on the part of Government sets women’s rights back 50 years to a time when rape victims were dismissed, denigrated and belittled with huge social and psychological consequences. To treat any woman in this way is wrong bad this is magnified whin we treat a vulnerable and powerless refugee with such contempt.

From a mental health perspective, this young woman is in urgent need of clinical assessment and care. She needs specialist sexual assault trauma counselling and time to consider her options. The decision about t whether to proceed with the pregnancy is hers alone and needs to be made with full support and awareness. Discourse of her medical details and private information on the media is inappropriate.

The risk of not providing mental health support is significant and she has already been despairing and suicidal about her situation. Blaming and shaming by Government Ministers is something we should never sanction. The prospect of becoming a parent on Nauru and let alone the difficulties of parenting as child who is a product of rape is extremely high risk and should not be ignored for some perceived greater political need.

Compassion for rape survivors is a core Australian value. It has been hardly fought for and needs to be protected. Respect for all women regardless of their visa status is a social responsibility and standing in opposition to any violence towards women is at the heart of this issues.

Professor Louise Newman AM


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  1. paul walter

    If it isnt Nazi, I don’t know what is and I dont care who Godwins me.

  2. paul walter

    No doubt many readers have visited Richard Ackland’s article at the Grauniad on this subject :

    Take a look through the comments section and discover how people can actually exist on subzero IQs. Yes, I commented there, of course, but the more mentally cognizant amongst you will divine my meaning if they choose to follow through with this exercise.

  3. mars08

    “There’s no decency in how Australia has treated Abyan…” And that’s a key point, isn’t it? The government did it in OUR name. Australia is responsible for what happened. Yet I’ve noticed just the slightest hint of unease. I fear our nation has travelled too far down a horrible path and cannot even consider turning back.

  4. Kaye Lee


    We got rid of Abbott. That is the sliver of sanity to which I cling. We must drag our country back….one ignorant person at a time if that is what it takes.

  5. Bronte ALLAN

    Sadly brought to a head by that inept excuse for a journalist, Chris Kenny! He should be “dealt with” by the Broadcasting Complaints Authority, or whatever they are called! Australia used to stand for a “fair go for all”, but sadly, not anymore. I wonder how all these male politicians & journos would react if their wives, daughters or female relatives were raped?

  6. Florence nee Fedup

    The real question must be asked, how did he get into the country. Decent people are been denied entry. Why did he take the police with him.

    Wouldn’t surprise me, if these women were terrified of Nauruan police.

  7. mars08

    @Kaye Lee… The Coalition got rid of Abbott because heis behaviour was putting the ALP ahead in the polls. Where is Shortens passionate and compassionate statement about Abyan’s plight? Or are we just being treated to more of the same?

  8. paul walter

    EXACTLY Florence nee fed up..utterly petrified of burly guards and police thugs..Dutton and his friends KNOW this and proceeded ON that basis, you suspect to unnerve some Australians as well as the asylum seekers. But the curtain (pun?) dropped for a minute through the sheer heavy handed overkill that has accumulated through several refugees being raped or killed in a short period and has got the horses spooked, back here in OZ.

    After Bonhoeffer, they think, If they can do that to these people, how long before they get at us as well: they have already reemed small groups of Mossie lads for hot airing about jihad, so the writing is on the wall and very unnerving it is.

    So Kenny, a lackey, is sent in to sanitise the mess before too many Australians wake up and bring to a premature end Turnbull’s honey moon. I also beleive Abbott’s old allies may be reminding Malcolm that if push came to shove, they could well set him up for egg on face if he offended certain interests also.

  9. Kaye Lee

    This is beyond party politics. It is up to us to demand change. Both major parties are despicable in their complicity which is enabled by an ignorant populace. Every decent person must fight every day in every way possible to bring sanity and humanity back to this country.

  10. paul walter

    Actually mars, I wonder if Shorten playing small target has actually focussed attention more on Dutton, the ugly underbelly of this government. It could be tactical.

    I could be giving Labor too much credit for acumen, of course.

    Any way, Shorten is under pressure from a number of quarters, including the unions witch hunt and is possibly hoping he might avoid drawing attention to himself while the Coalition is getting bogged down with the Nauru and Manus Island issue. Kicking that quadraplegic New Zealander out over the weekend had a filthy look about it also, btw.

  11. paul walter

    Colin, Nazaneen bears a striking resemblance to yet another victim of all this, Mogjan Shamsalipoor. So many ugly, ugly stories abound as to what goes on in these sealed off concentration camps, yet so few people seem to sense the intensity of the brutality or recognise the danger in the precedent set.

    It comes on like something out of the Deep South of the USA, say as In Heat of the Night or Mississippi Burning, sinister and creepy to a severe order of magnitude.

  12. Loz

    Thank you for this article. We must keep writing and commenting about this disgraceful affair.

  13. keerti

    In thirty seven years living and voting in Australia, I have never been so regularly disgusted, dismayedand incredulous of government or opposition as I have been in the last two years.

  14. Deanna Jones

    It seems the majority of australians are just so stupid, selfish and immature that they actually believe this cruelty is a good thing, done for our own safety. They are spoon fed the unbelievably illogical idea that raping, killing and otherwise torturing people is necessary to prevent some other people from drowning, and what do they do, they swallow it up and open their mouths for more. I have never been more deeply ashamed to be associated with this lot.

  15. Matthew Oborne

    This evil policy is the dog whistle to those they can make afraid, to those who hate to those to ignorant to see. It is so powerful governments trying to even soften it are subject to fear and racist based attacks. The heart of this cruel murderous policy was pandering to the far right who were leaving the Libs for Pauline Hanson. Now we have a system outside our jurisdiction with a paramilitary group whose only purpose is to strike fear into the hearts of refugees and be a visual reminder of how strong our government is.

    Their strength is inhumane, heartless and criminal.

    One major Party has to grow up or this will continue for as long as there are votes in it.

    Sickening to see racism costing human life as a policy. How are we different than the many countries who cost human life pandering to nationalists, racists and bigots?

  16. mars08

    @Deanna Jones… “They are spoon fed the unbelievably illogical idea that raping, killing and otherwise torturing people is necessary to prevent some other people from drowning… “

    So you really believe that those who support this cruelty actually give a damn about asylum seekers drowning in transit? They just don’t want them to reach the mainland. Nothing else matters.

  17. Deanna Jones

    That’s an odd interpretation, mars; no I said they swallow the lies. Nowhere did I speculate as to the level of genuine concern regarding people fleeing by boat. You are inferring something from my post that just isn’t there.

  18. mars08

    @Deanna Jones… You are right. That is just my interpretation. I believe that the vast majority swallow the lies because they WANT TO. It allows them to justify their hatred and sadism.

  19. diannaart

    No doubt our brand new leader is telling himself that refugee smugglers are taking note and really care that people they load on boats are raped and tortured.

    Is this what is meant by ‘leadership by example’?

  20. Deanna Jones

    I do agree, mars. The selfishness and immaturity that I referred to, I believe, enables these stories that people tell themselves about themselves. I see homeless people are now being appropriated in the same way that people drowning at sea are. The bigots have just discovered that there are homeless people in australia and that homeless people should come before refugees. They don’t give a damn about homelessness, most have probably never even considered it. But now it has become a useful way to justify the torture camps.

  21. mars08

    @Deanna Jones…. I’m waiting for the usual stupid stories that pop up every Christmas… about Muslims and lefties persecuting real straaayns….. by banning this and that.

  22. Colin

    Yes mars08 if I receive another Facebook post that claims that the Cassowary Coast Regional Council in Cardwell, Queensland, has banned Christmas lights because of objections from Muslims I will scream

  23. mars08

    @Colin… the crazy thing is that these myths can be proven wrong with just a few minutes on Google. I suppose the point is that those spreading the rumours DON’T want to know that it’s bullshit.

  24. helvityni

    We are an extremely punishing society; in our way of thinking Abyan most likely wanted to have sex with that horrible rapist…she is a liar according to our redneck way of seeing things. Now we’ll punish her, she can keep her rapist’s baby… We’ll teach her a lesson.

    It’s always the woman’s fault, yes?

  25. mars08

    helvityni… I think the angle is that she is an asylum seeker so…. a) she’s a liar, b) it’s all a scam, and c) she brought it on herself by wanting to enter Australia illegally. Above all else Australia doesn’t want her.

  26. paul walter

    Footnote…A Bob Ellis piece on this issue involving a tabloid jourrnalist has mysteriously disappeared at Ellis’ site. Does the New Censorship even apply at current affairs blogsites?

    Terrible when one is so scared of discourse that one employs powerful friends and censorship to block out a variant viewpoint.

  27. Florence nee Fedup

    The woman he spoke to on the phone was forced to withdraw her statement as well.

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