From the women of Nauru to the women of Australia – thank you!

After thousands of women called on Prime Minister Turnbull to allow Abyan the dignity of choice in her traumatised life, she has now been bought back to Australia.

Abyan has only ever asked for two things: a counselor to support her as she negotiates this difficult path and time to think and physically recover her health. She had been denied both by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton when he spent over $100,000 to fly her back to Nauru last Friday because she wasn’t moving quickly enough for his liking.

Fortunately, the women of Australia heard her cry for help and thousands of men and women demanded her return and took action to protect her right to choose.

To all of those who took up the fight on her behalf Abyan has said “thank you.” 

Abyan told a friend in Australia to let people know she is very grateful, as are the other Somali women on Nauru. They know that they have friends here.

Australian Women in Support of Women on Nauru will continue to seek the truth about the situation for women, children and men on Nauru. We are continuing to apply for visas, book flights and accommodation for Wendy Bacon, Carmen Lawrence and Claire O’Connor S.C.

We do so because while Nauru is a very small and struggling island nation, we believe the people of Nauru wish to live with the same dignity and same principles of freedom of expression, as does nearly every other nation. And one of the most enduring and fundamental principles of civil society and good governance is an open and transparent society. 

The government of Nauru has suggested that wanting to investigate the situation for refugees on the island is somehow racist. We reject that. We believe that far from being racist: everyone, regardless of race or wealth, has the right to live free from violence in every form. Just as Australians want to end violence against women, we believe that Nauruans would want the same outcome. In fact to turn away and say there is no need for investigation, suggest some human beings are of less value than others - in other words less deserving of investigation. That could well be seen as racist.

Malcolm Turnbull's honeymoon is over

Abyan has shone a light on the chaos and cruelty that is Peter Dutton’s administration of the Immigration portfolio – now the real question is what will Malcolm Turnbull do about it?

Having been removed form Australia on Friday, without access to her lawyer, counseling or the termination she had come to Australia to undergo, Abyan wrote a statement of fact about what had happened to her while she was in the custody of Border Force in Australia. 

Even for the party that gave Australia, "children overboard", this is a new low.

Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, seriously argued on Radio National earlier today that Abyan had elected to return to Nauru, have the baby conceived through rape and hope the man who raped her in the first place would not continue to rape her while she was pregnant.

Is there a woman in Australia who would willingly put herself in that situation?

This man is so out of touch with the reality of women’s lives that he seriously argued his version was more believable than hers. Of course many women would also recognise that argument.

Never has it been more vital to get the media and civil society onto Nauru to illuminate this black site. The Prime Minister must let Australia know what the hell is going on in this poor, broken island state. As both major parties have agreed to pass the gag laws on everyone who works there, independent journalists and observers are the only way we will ever establish the truth.

Right now Abyan is frightened, sick and feeling like she has been kicked from pillar to post. Time is running out and she hasn’t had the most basic support of independent counseling, a friend to hold her hand and a place of safety where she can think through what small choices remain for her.

We must ask if she would be willing to come back to Australia, and if she is, this time she is to be met at the airport with a counselor, her lawyer and her friend. She is to be given the same care and respect every woman has a right to.

The Prime Minister recently spoke about creating a culture of respect toward women in Australia. Well Prime Minister you can’t have it both ways; it is not possible to respect Australian women and systemically abuse non-Australian women, culture doesn’t work like that.

The honeymoon is over and this is where the rubber hits the road in your Prime Ministership.

- Julie Macken, Media Executive and Member of the Board of Directors AWSWN