Pregnant Somalian refugee “Abyan” (pseudonym name used), who has stated that she was raped while she was held in one of Australia’s controversial detention camps, will be flown back to Australia for an abortion and psychological support, the Australian Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton said on Wednesday.
As regulations are heavily restricted, it is forbidden to have an abortion in Nauru and Papua New Guinea, even in the case of rape.
The 23-year-old refugee was brought to Australia when she claimed that she was raped at a camp in Nauru early in October. However, she was soon returned back to Nauru.
The Australian government’s refugee policy states that refugees who reached the country by boat are not accepted. Once refused by Australia, they are detained and kept in Nauru and New Guinea while their claim for refugee status is processed including, “genuine” refugees complying with the country’s refugee policy criteria’s.
The United Nations urged Australia on Wednesday to provide a decent option for the refugee woman, who needed to obtain mental and physical care stating that she had a “very fragile situation and [was] deeply traumatized by her experiences.”
According to a press briefing by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, she chose not disclose her attacker, over safety concerns, but she did state that the attacker was still living on island state Nauru, which only has a population of 10,000 people.
“I cannot go back to where this happened to me; I cannot go to where I was raped. What happened to me there [in Nauru] is what caused me to run away from Somalia. What happened to me in Somalia is what happened to me there [in Nauru],” she told friends and advocates in early October.
The Human Rights organisation also expressed deep concern over the increasing number of sexual assaults in the country.
Dutton said that Australia was not prompted by the UNCHR call on Wednesday and stated that plans for Abyan were already “in the making for some days.”
"She will travel to Australia and will seek some expert assistance from medical staff in Australia," Dutton told media.
On the other hand, Australia has been strongly criticized after the claims that officials in the country denied the abortion and secretly send the pregnant refugee out of the country.
Before she was deported from Australia, Abyan’s lawyer wrote senior officials at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to clarify the situation.
“Our client has not decided to refuse a termination and you have completely misunderstood or misconstrued her position which is as set out in my letter ... of October 14 2015,” the lawyer said in the letter.
“Our client has the right to counselling before a termination and to understand the procedure, that is all we have been seeking and to represent her position as a refusal is disingenuous and cruel.”
Despite the refugee women and her lawyer clearly denying the Australian official’s claims, Dutton has been insisting since earlier this month that she has changed her mind and will leave the country willingly.
Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition said, the Australian’s decision was should have been earlier.
“The action that the government has taken now is because of significant public pressure that has shone a light on her situation. But the way they have treated Abyan is the way all asylum seekers and refugees in offshore processing are treated, and the government surrounds their actions with secrecy, a total lack of transparency and accountability, so the public cannot know,” he said.