Dutton stands by sending pregnant rape victim back to Nauru

IMMIGRATION minister Peter Dutton is standing by the decision to send a pregnant Somali refugee rape victim back to detention on Nauru without the abortion she desperately wanted.

Mr Dutton says the woman, who became pregnant as a result of the sexual assault, was returned to the tiny nation because she did not want the abortion to be done in Australia.

The procedure cannot be done in Nauru because abortions are illegal there unless the mother's life is at risk.

Mr Dutton on Monday outlined the 23-year-old's medical assessments during an interview with  ABC's Radio National.

The embattled politician is under fire from the Australian community, human rights organisations, women's groups, media commentators and other politicians over the issue.

He flatly  rejected claims by the victim and her lawyer, George Newhouse, that she client did not receive counselling or access to interpreters.

READ MORE: Government claims refugee no longer wanted an abortion

The 23-year-old refugee, who is about 14 weeks' pregnant, was returned to Nauru on Friday.

"We provided assistance to airlift this lady which showed our clear intent to provide support," Mr Dutton said.
"We provided that support, she came to Australia, saw numerous doctors, mental health nurses, and then made a decision.

"We've demonstrated that we were to provide support, that we were in a position to provide support and we did.
"We provided that support, we allowed the lady, facilitated a number of visits to health professionals.

"After the health professionals consulted with the lady, the lady made a decision and she was sent back to Nauru."
Mr Newhouse re-iterated that his client did not receive counselling and that she did not change her mind about the abortion.

Mr Newhouse rejected claims the abortion was a ploy for the woman to win Australian residency. 

"We had no instruction to keep her in Australia under a migration scam," he said.

"When we heard an hour before she was being removed from the country without treatment that that was going to happen, of course we tried to stop her going back without treatment.

On the weekend Mr Newhouse released a letter to the media, which he says was written by his client.

In the letter, the victim stresses she did not change her mind about the abortion.

" I have never said that I did not want a termination," the victim wrote.

"I never saw a doctor.

"I saw a nurse at a clinic but there was no counselling.

"I saw a nurse at Villawood but there was no interpreter.

"I asked but was not allowed to talk with my lawyer."

Opposition MP Andrew Leigh called on the Immigration Department to "look after" the woman.

"I've found this story gut wrenching to be watching," the shadow assistant treasurer said.

"I would like to see every effort made by Immigration Department officials to make sure that this woman, in such awful circumstances, is looked after." 

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said she wanted to see "politics put aside" for the victim's sake.

"This poor young woman has been through enough, she is scared and traumatised," she said.

"It's time the minister put his own politics aside for a moment and allowed (the victim) to make her own decisions about her body and future, free from pressure and bullying."

- APN NEWSDESK



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