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