Turnbull: women must be respected but only if they are of our tribe.

10 Oct



If you can take away the freedom of one man [sic] you strike at the liberty of all.

I don’t think the truth of that statement has struck me quite as forcefully as it has since I learnt of the young Somali refugee who was raped and left pregnant on Nauru some fourteen weeks ago.

Since her ordeal began, the woman has repeatedly appealed to the Australian government to allow her to travel to this country for termination of the pregnancy. Abortion is illegal in Nauru. A termination can only be performed in Papua New Guinea prior to twelve weeks. There is no option for this young woman, other than being brought to Australia.

While Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull patronisingly assures us that his government is in tune with the Somali refugee’s needs, and while Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has assured us that any asylum seeker in off-shore detention will be brought to Australia for medical treatment if deemed necessary, the reality is that a pregnancy waits for no man, and fourteen weeks is more than enough time for a woman to be flown to this country and receive the treatment she is owed, and so desperately needs.

It’s starkly apparent that Nauru is a most unsafe environment for women and children, in detention and out of it. Both the Labor and LNP governments bear the entire responsibility for attacks on women and children they’ve imprisoned in a country that has virtually no rule of law, and whose aid has been revoked by the New Zealand government precisely because of its lack of an adequate justice system.

Malcolm Turnbull’s politically opportunistic proclamation that women in Australia deserve respect and must be respected is entirely undermined by his government’s attitude towards women in off-shore detention. If you do not respect women other than those who are of your tribe, then you do not respect women at all. Your respect for women is conditional, and the condition is that they are women you consider worthy, (or of calibre) according to your own criteria.

The government’s ongoing willingness to subject women in off-shore detention to abuses, sexual assaults, intimidation, fear, and hopelessness tells me that its respect for me is subject to its approval of me as a member of the accepted tribe. Were I to fall outside those criteria, I would no longer be considered worthy of respect and protection.

This isn’t good enough. If you take away respect from one woman, you take away respect from all of us. Respect for women should have no boundaries, political, geographic, ethnic or national.

In this instance, what Turnbull’s government perpetuates, as has every government since Paul Keating built the first detention centres, is the patriarchy’s favoured myth of the madonna and the whore: there are women you respect, and there are women you rape. Men decide which of us is which. In the case of asylum seekers who arrived here by boat, their very situation has placed them in the latter category as they are perceived by the hegemony as other. Other means not quite as human, because not of our tribe.

What Turnbull is doing to refugee women in off-shore detention is a variation of what men who sexually assault us always do: dehumanising those they consider of less value than themselves, and the women they choose to protect.

No, Mr Turnbull, you do not respect me and you do not respect Australian women, and as long as you permit the ill-treatment of women in your off-shore concentration camps, your proclamations of respect will ring as hollow as a clanging cymbal.

Bring the Somali refugee to Australia for the medical treatment you owe her. She is suffering as you never have and never will suffer. Show her some respect.



32 Responses to “Turnbull: women must be respected but only if they are of our tribe.”

  1. John Samuel October 10, 2015 at 9:37 am #

    Well said.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. kristapet October 10, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

    A strident argument that makes a whole deal of sense – and so well put.
    Precisely – no more ‘bull’ from Mr Turnbull, we have had too much of it.
    I wholeheartedly agree with you.
    I have heard the tape and made my comment, on that post, on FB.
    This woman, or any other person, or child, should never been put in that position in the first place – even worse, to not respond to the heart breaking plea was heinous, and is a horrible human rights violation.
    This article and that tape should go viral.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. hudsongodfrey October 10, 2015 at 6:07 pm #

    These actions once more make me ashamed of my country.

    You want to write a thousand words about this, struggling in vain to rationalise anything about it according to theories about Madonna Whore victimisation and why this disrespect seems to deliberately target women. I think it speaks volumes for itself.

    The main goal of it is to deliberately disrespect human rights with a view to posing a credible threat of as many kinds of deterrent as they can co-opt others into committing in our name.

    In looking for logic you may have to use reverse psychology to presume purveyors of disrespect who share our values may simply have assumed that refugees will respond with equal revulsion to their apparent heartlessness.

    In other words it would be the obvious work of somebody who generally loves and respects women to express their contempt though inverting the standards they apply to the female members of a group they’ve taken permission to hate. Hater’s aren’t just going to hate! In this case they’re reading the Golden rule in reverse by doing unto others as they would not like done to themselves.

    Sobering to think about, and just as shameful either way.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. doug quixote October 10, 2015 at 9:06 pm #

    I don’t like differing with you, but I think it was fair enough to wait to see if there would be a spontaneous miscarriage. I looked for the odds, and here they are:


    The ‘risks’ are even higher for “smoking, excess alcohol intake (even low amounts), illicit drug use, uterine surgery or abnormalities, connective tissue disorders (e.g. systemic lupus erythematosus) and uncontrolled diabetes mellitus”

    Now at 14 weeks, an abortion has become a proper option despite its expense (special flight, security arrangements, procedure, getting media to fuck off, flight back). She should now be treated.



    • Marilyn October 10, 2015 at 9:18 pm #

      WEll Doug when you are raped and get pregnant let’s hope you abort before you lose 10 kilos, live in terror on a mound of birdshit for years with your fucking rapists and be denied medical care because you are as evil and callous as the fucking bastards who trafficked this woman by force to Nauru.

      Rape is the war weapon of choice in Somalia, this young girl was probably raped before she got here to ask for help before we shoved here away like garbage but hey, what the fuck do you actually care.

      At the risk of raising the ire of the ALP luvvies who think I am some sort of fruit loop – IT WAS GILLARD AND ROXON AND THEIR RACIST MATES WHO INFLICTED THIS HELL ON THIS YOUNG WOMAN AND OTHERS.

      Luckily for Doug so he doesn’t have to face the facts 3 of the 6 pregnant women trafficked to Manus by Gillard did miscarry, the problem is they didn’t fucking want to.
      There are 114 female hostages jailed with 436 men on Nauru, he rapist, racist guards from Australia and the thugs from Nauru.

      But fuck, she might have had a miscarry so it’s all fucking OK isn’t it.

      Sometimes Doug your cruelty takes my breathe away.

      Liked by 1 person

      • doug quixote October 10, 2015 at 9:38 pm #

        I call it as I see it.

        You are entitled to your opinion.


        • Anonymous October 11, 2015 at 6:22 pm #

          No, you don’t get to have that fucking ”opinion” ever. Would you have that opinion if the girl lived in Sydney and was fucking white.


          • doug quixote October 11, 2015 at 11:55 pm #

            For fuck’s sake! My opinion is that she should be allowed to have the abortion.

            (eyes roll)


    • Michaela Tschudi October 10, 2015 at 10:30 pm #

      DQ, as someone who has been raped several times as a child/teen, I find your comments to be very ill-judged.

      I’ve had 3 miscarriages, one at 14 weeks which required total anaesthesia and an operation after which I was told I couldn’t and shouldn’t get pregnant again (yet I did, and now have a beautiful 18 yo daughter). The operation and the aftermath were horrendous. I wanted to die too. But I went back to work, cared for my toddler son and elderly inlaws, and kept going thanks to the support of a loving partner and an understanding employer.

      In stark contrast, this young Somali woman is pregnant by a rapist, lacks basic resources and support, is being held in detention as if she is a criminal…I could go on. I cried inside when I read her story. I’m sure there are many others we simply haven’t heard about.

      I know from reading your many posts in this blog that you are a compassionate person. I’m sad that you didn’t think more carefully before posting your comment.

      I’m not a doctor or a nurse, but I’ve worked in sexual and reproductive health. I’m sad to say that many women still die in childbirth every day around the globe, and not only in “developing” countries.

      The basic principle which applies here is “First do no harm”, and yet this woman has already endured more harm than most women will ever endure. She’s just 23.


      Liked by 3 people

    • Jennifer Wilson October 11, 2015 at 7:45 am #

      DQ, I could not disagree with your take on this matter more.

      In Australia a woman pregnant as a consequence of rape would be offered an abortion immediately, or the “morning after pill” before a pregnancy was even determined. She is not forced to wait and hope for the possibility of a spontaneous abortion due to one of any number of circumstances. I can’t think of one reason why the Somali refugee should be treated any differently.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. doug quixote October 11, 2015 at 11:54 am #

    Sorry girls, but I think you are being too emotionally involved. I get it that you have personal reasons for being so involved.


    1. She says she was raped. Easy to say, harder to prove or disprove.

    2. Is she legally able to have an abortion, given that it is illegal in Nauru?

    3. If not, then perhaps in PNG – where it is illegal after 12 weeks term?

    4. She is not an Australian citizen; is she entitled to a free medical procedure in Australia, at enormous expense to the Australian taxpayer? Should she be deported, presumably to a place where such operations are also illegal?

    These are valid issues.

    I am still saying that she should be able to have an abortion upon request. I am just saying that there are issues to be considered.


    • Michaela Tschudi October 11, 2015 at 12:32 pm #


      1. I’m not a ‘girl’. I think I made that transition about 35 years ago lol.
      2. My personal experience counts as much as my professional experience in the health sector over the past 20 years.
      3. If a woman says she was raped, why doubt her?
      4. Noticeably absent from your list of ‘valid issues’ is the health and wellbeing of this young woman, who is reportedly quite ill.
      5. I am reminded of another woman who came to Australia by boat, after capsizing her yacht off the coast of Adelaide: Isabelle Autissier. A wealthy woman, she was competing in the 1994-95 BOC Challenge when her yacht was dismasted and she was injured. She was rescued by Seahawks helicopter launched from HMAS Darwin at huge expense to the Australian taxpayer. Ok, she wasn’t seeking asylum or an abortion, but Australia came to her rescue because she asked for help.

      Let’s cut to the chase. Prolonging the time that this woman has to wait for an abortion will only compound the suffering and post traumatic distress.

      Humanity comes first.

      Liked by 1 person

      • doug quixote October 11, 2015 at 2:46 pm #

        1. Used informally, as between friends (yes, even Marilyn!) No offence intended.

        2. Fair enough.

        3. Why doubt her? Because it serves her own interest, in bolstering her case for an abortion.

        4. I only mentioned the negatives; the article and your posts set out the positives, which I acknowledge as persuasive.

        5. We have international obligations to save persons in danger at sea. We have no international obligation to perform abortions.

        I reiterate:

        “She should now be treated.”

        “I am still saying that she should be able to have an abortion upon request”

        I am agreeing with you!


    • Jennifer Wilson October 11, 2015 at 2:44 pm #

      1. It’s my understanding the Nauruan authorities do not investigate rape allegations made by refugees, therefore the question of proof or otherwise is irrelevant.
      2. Abortion is illegal in Nauru.
      3. The Somali refugee is now 14 weeks pregnant. It’s illegal to terminate a pregnancy in PNG after 12 weeks.
      4. She is a refugee for whom Australia is responsible.
      5. You are in no position to judge if “girls” are “too” emotionally involved or not. What are your criteria for arriving at such an assessment?
      Guinevere is pissed with you.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Marilyn October 11, 2015 at 6:24 pm #

      None of your statements are true, go the fuck away. I have been raped brutally and dumped at my door step when I was 1, luckily for me I did have a spontaneous miscarriage but I then swallowed 50 Panadol.


    • hudsongodfrey October 11, 2015 at 7:08 pm #

      My understanding is that it is illegal in Nauru so people had been petitioning Dutton to let her come here for the procedure.

      Apart from anything else its showing up the jurisdictional loopholes our government is exploiting to subvert its own humanitarian obligations for the fiction that they really are.

      If she says she was raped then that’s one thing but immaterial to the fact that she says she doesn’t want to carry this child to term. That is her decision which people strongly feel we’ve a moral obligation to respect even under these most trying of circumstances.

      We might lamentably be forced to concede that we can’t help every woman in the world whose reproductive freedoms are impinged upon, but there’s every reason to believe we have a duty of care that implies responsibility for her medical needs of which this is quite simply one.

      BTW something seems to be shifting in Nauru with moves afoot on their part to process all the detainees suddenly and at once. Could it signal their desire to shut down the facility and wash their hands of the problem we’ve brought them?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) October 11, 2015 at 9:06 pm #

        You could be on the money there, HG.

        I’m surprised not to have seen anyone making the connection as to the medical and allied professions in Australia having, seemingly spontaneously, and perhaps subliminally, deciding it is an opportune time to put a shot across the bow of the present Australian government, against the background of yet another attempt to fundamentally change Medicare without effective consultation with those who deliver the service.

        I think the present government is probably surprised to find itself at near war with this group of related professions. This, in turn, I find utterly unsurprising. How politically inept! Almost without exception the going to war against the medical and related professions is a precursor to governments being thrown, one way or another, into the dustbin of history.

        Liked by 1 person

        • hudsongodfrey October 11, 2015 at 11:18 pm #

          Against Bush Michael Moore said it was the librarians you didn’t want to get on the wrong side of. Maybe the common thread is anyone who has a front desk and serves a broad cross section of the community. That little bit of activism at a local local level might go further than the politicos think!

          Anyway I thought they’d long since backed off on the co-payments. What if anything are they still at loggerheads about?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) October 13, 2015 at 1:21 pm #

            The co-payments issue was a smokescreen for the really significant issue of the sneaky attack upon the medicare rebates, one that was going to impact medicare recipients much more significantly than the much more publicised proposed co-payment.

            The more recent issue at which they are at loggerheads is over a ‘situation of the appreciation’ in the government’s commencement of a review of medicare benefits, one encapsulated fairly well in the link within this tweet:

            Liked by 1 person

        • Michaela Tschudi October 11, 2015 at 11:20 pm #

          Well said Forrest


      • doug quixote October 11, 2015 at 11:40 pm #

        Turnbull would probably like to do so, but he had to agree not to frighten the horses, to get rid of Abbott.


        • doug quixote October 11, 2015 at 11:53 pm #

          The same thing happened to Gillard, to get enough support to remove Rudd.

          The left just cannot muster enough votes, or MPs, to get their own way.

          And a task as a devil’s advocate is a thankless one.

          (DQ sighs)

          Liked by 1 person

        • hudsongodfrey October 12, 2015 at 1:12 am #

          We shall watch with interest. Malcolm has been known to try and precipitate events designed to seemingly fall in his favour in the past. Let’s hope this time he doesn’t get caught with his fingerprints all over it.

          I refer of course to the Grech debacle, wondering that is whether the Nauruans have been encouraged to force a resolution to an issue with their facility that has most of the hallmarks of somebody else’s political nightmare fixing to puke its bilious contents into his lap. So…. Anyone brilliant enough to find a politically face saving way to shut it down while taking credit for avoiding an international incident ought to be recast in the role of a modern day Blackadder.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. hudsongodfrey October 12, 2015 at 9:31 pm #

    Well it looks as if this one may have ended up in the right outcome…..

    “Good news: we’ve just heard that Abyan – the refugee who was alleged sexually assaulted on Nauru – has arrived in Australia for medical treatment.”

    From one of the organisations whose petitions on this I signed last week.

    Liked by 1 person

    • doug quixote October 13, 2015 at 12:10 am #

      Entirely as expected. And rightly so.

      Liked by 1 person

      • hudsongodfrey October 13, 2015 at 1:36 am #

        And I hope we all agree, not a minute too soon.



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