Comments from Peter Dutton and Malcolm Turnbull suggest the woman will be brought to Australia soon, but both refuse to comment on the case directly.
|Further reports of sexual assault have emerged publicly. Photograph: Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images|
(The Guardian)- A Somali refugee raped on Nauru, who is pregnant as a result, appears set to be brought to Australia to terminate the pregnancy at her request.
Speaking in Canberra on Friday, the immigration minister, Peter Dutton, seemed to suggest the woman would be moved when it was medically appropriate.
Asked about the woman’s case, Dutton stressed that he would not comment on an individual refugee’s circumstances, but said: “If people require medical assistance, they will receive it. Whether it is on Nauru or in Australia, they will receive it.
“But I have been very clear also about the fact that people aren’t going to settle in Australia if they have sought to come by boat. People – at the appropriate time – will return back to Nauru, that is the government’s policy.
“If they can’t receive medical assistance on Nauru or Manus, then we will look at what options are available to them, including coming to Australia.”
Dutton said in certain cases other medical issues had prevented people from travelling. “When the doctors advise us they can, they will then travel.”
The prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, also said the Somali woman’s “needs are very well understood by the government”.
George Newhouse, who is acting for the Somali woman, told Guardian Australia her legal team was “in continuing discussions with the commonwealth government. We are not at liberty to say anything further at this stage.”
The woman’s case has attracted significant attention because she has been requesting a termination for several weeks, but without resolution.
The woman cannot have the pregnancy terminated anywhere in Australia’s offshore detention network.
According to the UN, abortion is illegal on Nauru except in circumstances to save the life or preserve the health of the mother. There is no clause for the termination of a pregnancy resulting from rape.
In addition, an abortion on Nauru requires the approval of two physicians and the written consent of the woman’s spouse.
On Papua New Guinea, abortion is legal only earlier than 12 weeks into a pregnancy. The Guardian understands the Somali woman is already beyond that threshold.
Evidence continues to mount of systemic sexual abuse of asylum seeker and refugee women – in and outside of the detention centre.
Two Somali women were reportedly raped in recent weeks, and the mother of another refugee, who was allegedly gang-raped and has been transferred to Australia’s for medical care, continues to be separated from her daughter and attempted to kill herself last week.
Further reports of sexual assault have emerged publicly. Another woman has detailed being sexually assaulted three times on the island.
In a translated statement obtained by Guardian Australia, she said a male guard in the detention centre came into the shower block and turned the water off, telling her that if she wanted it turned back on “I must show him my body. I refused.
“Another time I was in the shower and an officer came in and grabbed my arm. He ran off when I screamed.”
The final assault occurred when the woman was walking outside her tent. She said an officer followed her while masturbating.
“I will never feel safe around these officers again,” she said. “These inhumane behaviours that have made me hate myself.
“My days are unbearable, especially since my only love, my [husband] is facing psychological breakdown and has been hospitalised due to severe depression.”
Another woman reported to police that she was accosted after she accepted a lift in an informal taxi.
She said she was grabbed by a male passenger while sitting in the back seat of the car.
“He strongly took hold of my hand and repeatedly kept holding and massaging … and saying to me, ‘Come to my home and be my girlfriend. I love you, I’ll take you to Fiji for a trip [because] you are a refugee and you cannot go anywhere.’
“The man also touched my left arm … start rubbing from my triceps to my left side breast and then reached my left hip and on to my left leg. I try to get away from him by seating [sic] near the door but he kept on coming close to me.”
The woman told police the man was drunk, and that the driver of the car and a woman sitting in the front seat had not intervened.
A Senate inquiry into conditions on Nauru this year found the detention centre was “insupportable” and that all children should be removed because it was unsafe. It reported widespread allegations of child abuse, violence against asylum seekers, deprivation and sexual assault, and said the Australian government did not know what wa happening on the island.
Nauru’s justice minister, David Adeang, has this week sought to counter reports of abuse on the island, saying accounts of locals attacking were “largely fabricated” and that “in some ways Nauru is safer than Australia”.
“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,” he said.