Refugee raped in offshore detention centre begs Australia to let her enter for abortion
A 23-year-old refugee who fell pregnant after being raped at Australia’s migrant detention centre in Nauru has begged Malcolm Turnbull, the Australian prime minister, to let her enter the country to have an abortion.
The Somali woman, who is about fourteen weeks pregnant, is apparently not eating properly and has not left her room since the rape, aside from visits to the doctor.
Lawyers acting for the woman said the Australian government had failed to respond to requests to allow her to enter for medical assistance.
“We are extremely worried about her health and welfare,” George Newhouse, a lawyer representing the woman, told The Telegraph.
“This poor woman needs urgent medical treatment. She needs a termination of this awful pregnancy as soon as possible, with culturally appropriate support systems. She is desperately ill – today she was so sick she was unable to come to the phone or the computer to connect with us.”
Abortions are not permitted for cases of rape on Nauru.
A spokesman for immigration minister Peter Dutton said he could not comment on individual cases but victims of sexual assault can receive support from Nauru officials.
“The department [of immigration and border protection] works with health service providers to ensure appropriate treatment and support is provided to alleged victims of assault,” the spokesman said.
“All pregnant women receive professional and coordinated health care.”
Australia has adopted one of the world’s toughest approaches to asylum seekers, sending all those who attempt to arrive by boat to remote offshore facilities in Nauru or Papua New Guinea.
Human rights groups and the United Nations have denounced the facilities as cruel, inhumane and unlawful.
Nauru has insisted the centre on the tiny island is safe following numerous allegations that migrants have been raped and physically assaulted.
The Nauru government said refugees are in no physical danger and “stories of locals attacking them are largely fabricated to further political agendas and influence the Australian government”.
“In some ways Nauru is safer than Australia,” said David Adeang, Nauru’s justice minister.
“There is no gun violence in Nauru, people are not dying from domestic violence and our police don’t even have to be armed, so let’s get some perspective into this discussion.”
Nauru this week announced it would open up the migrant centre and process the remaining claims of the 600 asylum seekers within a week.
Officials in Australia and Nauru denied the announcement was prompted by a case in Australia’s High Court which began this week and will consider the legality of the nation’s offshore detention facilities.
Since deposing former prime minister Tony Abbott last month, Mr Turnbull has indicated he will largely maintain the ruling coalition’s “harsh” approach to migrants but admitted he was concerned about conditions in the offshore facilities.