Sunday, August 23, 2015
Nauru rapes: ‘There is a war on women’
Martin McKenzie-Murray The Saturday Paper August 22, 2015
One woman lies catatonic in hospital after being raped and beaten. Another was raped and immolated. This is the world awaiting refugees released from detention on Nauru.
Supplied. Nazanin, an asylum seeker who was raped and beaten on Nauru.
They say God never gives you anything you can’t handle, but Dabal is not so sure. When I call him, he’s just returning from the Nauruan hospital where his 23-year-old sister lies catatonic, entering her second week being sustained only by nutrients pumped intravenously into her. Her kidneys are shutting down; her body has shrunk.
In May, Nazanin left the Nauru refugee camp one morning on a day pass, happy to be visiting some friends who had been settled on the island – she and her family had been in detention for 26 months. ‘She used a bus, and I called a friend and he said she was there,’ Dabal tells me. ‘My sister was happy to leave this camp for a day.’
She never returned. At 6 o’clock that evening, Dabal and his mother reported her absence to security guards. Something wasn’t right. In response, the guards floated theories of missed buses or an innocent loss of time, benign explanations for what the family felt was a sinister disappearance. By 7pm, several hours past Nazanin’s curfew, the camp authorities began to wonder, too. ‘They realise it was bigger than the things they thought,’ Dabal says.
Dabal joined two security guards as they drove to Nazanin’s friends’ house. The friends confirmed she had been there, but that she had left some time earlier to return to the camp before curfew. At this point, no one knew where she was. Dabal felt sick. This wasn’t like his sister……………
To this day, no convictions have been recorded for assaults on refugees.
Police found Nazanin naked, bruised and disoriented, about 9pm that night. She was alive, but badly beaten and numb with trauma. She couldn’t speak much……..
Much of the reporting of Nauru focuses on the camps, or regional processing centres. But there is another reality lived outside it, once refugees are settled. For many months now, hostility towards refugees has grown among Nauruans……….
Refugee women say the local men know where the vulnerable ones live, and speak about the ‘50 dollar man’ – a man who serially molests women in their homes, then drops a $50 note on them afterwards. ‘There is a war on women there,’ a source tells me……….
In Australia, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, and the minister’s office, did not respond to detailed questions about the sexual assaults reported in this piece and conditions on Nauru for settled refugees…………..