Nauru refugee rape victim sent home after hesitant decision about abortion

Australia has failed yet another refugee pleading for help, reports Bridie O’Shea. 

The Somali refugee known as “Abyan” who said that she was raped and impregnated on Nauru has denied claims by the Minister of Immigration, Peter Dutton, that she changed her mind about wanting an abortion in Australia after she had been flown back to Nauru. At 15 weeks pregnant, the 23-year-old reportedly told The Australian that she does want to terminate her pregnancy, just not in Australia anymore.

Abyan was originally flown to Australia to consider the termination of her pregnancy, but after only five days and not fully committing to the difficult decision, she was secretly rushed out of the country on a $130,000 RAAF flight late on Friday, 16th.

Dutton claims that Abyan was seen to by counsellors, nurses, doctors and interpreters, and then decided she didn’t want to embark on a procedure to terminate her pregnancy. And while Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stands with Dutton on the issue, this version of events differs from the one Abyan describes.

In a chilling handwritten statement sent to her lawyer George Newhouse, she explains, “I have been very sick. I have never said that I did not want a termination. I never saw a doctor. I saw a nurse at a clinic but there was no counselling. I [also] saw a nurse at Villawood but there was no interpreter. I asked, but was not allowed to talk with my lawyer.”

Abyan’s statement.

According to, “In a dramatic Federal Court appearance on Friday, Abyan’s lawyers attempted to win a short-term injunction preventing her from being returned to Nauru, only for government lawyers to inform the court she had already been deported. With no earlier flights to Nauru available, she had been sent to Honiara before the matter could be heard, and has now been returned to Nauru.”

However, Dutton is now saying that Abyan may still be able to return to Australia to terminate her pregnancy if she still wishes, despite his criticisms against her advocates of twisting the truth.

Human Rights Commission president, Gillian Triggs, told Lateline, “It’s extraordinary that she was expected to reach a decision in such a short space of time, and when the answer wasn’t given immediately, she’s literally air lifted back to Nauru.”

She also continued to say that the series of events around this situation described by Dutton, Abyan and her lawyers simply don’t add up.

“It makes a much broader point that the lack of transparency, the secrecy with which we conduct these detention centres and what goes on in them and of course in our own detention centres in Australia, that is really a core problem and why we really need some form of independent monitoring,” she said.

The Guardian journalist, Richard Ackland, also vented his disappointment in the way Abyan’s case has been handled, saying, “There’s an even stronger inference that once again Australia has failed not only in its duty of care, but its decency. And here we are seeking membership of the UN Human Rights Council.”

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