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Bill Shorten says refugee raped on Nauru should be allowed to come to Australia for an abortion

Wednesday October 7, 2015

By Latika Bourke 

"This is a black-and-white matter": Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says a woman raped on Nauru should be allowed to come to Australia for a termination. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says he is "deeply shocked" by reports a 23-year old Somali refugee who says she was raped on Nauru cannot come to Australia for an abortion and has described her case as a "travesty of justice".

Lawyers acting for the woman, "Abyan" (not her real name) say she is 11 or more weeks pregnant and wants a termination.

Last week the ABC's 730 broadcast distressing footage of Namja calling police for help after the alleged sexual assault. Namja told the ABC it took police stationed on the tiny island took more than four hours to respond.

Abyan's Sydney based lawyer George Newhouse has written to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton pleading for Abyan to be allowed to come to Australia for a termination and post sexual assault care. It is illegal to have an abortion on Nauru.

Mr Shorten on Tuesday said that after speaking to Abyan's lawyers there was no question as to whether she should be allowed to come to Australia for medical care.

"Frankly I'm deeply shocked at reports that a 23-year old person, indirectly in Australia's care in Nauru, cannot get medical treatment they require urgently," he said.

"For me this is a black-and-white matter, it's not a matter of governments acting like robots with no hearts.

"If this woman requires medical treatment - I've spoken to her lawyers today, she does - if she's gone without medical treatment for four weeks she should get the medical treatment in Australia and anything else is a travesty of justice," he said.

Mr Turnbull has previously described the alleged rapes on Nauru as "very alarming" and said the Australian government is working with the Nauran authorities to ensure the security of refugees resettled on Nauru.

Mr Newhouse is urging the Prime Minister to make good on his strong condemnation of violence against women by granting Abyan permission to come to Australia for medical care.

"The Prime Minister wants Australia to be known as a country that respects women, well, we can start with start with this poor soul," he said.

Mr Turnbull's office referred the matter to Mr Dutton who said through a spokesman: "All pregnant women receive professional and co-ordinated health care."


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