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(Image via @OzEquitist)

Contributing editor-at-large Tess Lawrence says there is another side to the tragic story of Abyan that needs to be discussed. 

SOMALIAN WOMAN ABYAN has been raped twice.

Firstly, by an unidentified rapist whilst imprisoned at the dysfunctional detention centre in Nauru.

Secondly, by the Australian Government.

Impregnated by her rapist, the beleaguered 23 year old was flown to Australia, ostensibly for an abortion, but in murky and disputed circumstances was instead deported back to the notorious off-shore prison for asylum seekers where, presumably, Abyan's rapist can resume access to his victim.

The lack of empathy for Abyan by the Government machine and, in this instance, the oily men and shamefully mute handmaidens who help drive it, is yet another example of the callous rigidity of politics by rote, devoid of compassion and compromise and lacking in any understanding of cultural and religious mores.

I understand that Abyan – not her real name – had "the cut" when she was a little girl.

Genital mutilation is rife in Somalia, the world's capital for this centuries old widespread patriarchal imposition and physical dog-tag of male domination.

Genital mutilation was also prescribed by some doctors in Victorian England as a cure for insomnia for little girls.

Genital mutilation is performed in Australia and, every year, hundreds of girls are taken overseas to have their clitoris removed.

Sometimes, not only is the clitoris lopped off – often with crude and filthy implements, like razors, tin can lids, barber cut-throats, kitchen knives and bits of glass – but other parts of your genitalia can also be damaged.

If your labia is also sewn up, these days, things like fishing wire, electrical wire thread and string are used.

Marauding rapists and terrorist thugs like Somalia's Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahidin, better known as al-Shabaab (the Youth) score extra special manpoints and notches on their gunbelts when they rape girls and penetrate with their penis without first cutting the fishing wire.

Inevitably, the labia, as well as the girl's broken heart, is ripped to pieces.

The shredding of the flesh can be so severe that it does not properly heal and the child grows into a woman with an escoriated labia and genitalia that looks like the marker tabs on a research folder, labelling her as soiled goods.

The mental and physical damage of such an experience is beyond harrowing.

Sex and childbirth can be excrutiatingly painful, bearing the shame of it all too.

Yes, the shame she feels and the blame that is still inflicted upon the victim in so many societies and, in Abyan's case, our Government included.

Some women I know who have been mutilated are too shy and embarassed about it to see even a female doctor.

What if all of this had some relevance to Abyan's predicament? 

Surely she needs someone in her corner — another woman to talk with, that she could trust and confide in, and with whom she could talk over the pros and cons of having an abortion; of what it is like having her rapist's baby growing inside her.

Surely she deserves an an advocate like the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre's extraordinary humanitarian Pamela Curr, a ceaseless champion for asylum seekers and the underdog.

It would be intimidating and frightening to be surrounded by "health practitioners" who themselves might feel bullied by Peter Dutton, the autocratic Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, who oversees a Department still reeling from the dopey but dangerous border farce the other week, when the Austasi police planned to rumble into Melbourne to arrest everyone in sight in the CBD.

Yesterday's so called apology was yet another attempt by Dutton to avoid responsibility for his Department and to apportion blame upon hapless individuals rather than on the leadership.

Disturbing emergency call from woman raped on Nauru

Dutton's silly attempts to deride activists – a habit of governments – is pathetic. We are entitled to be activists, to be dissenters, to peacefully protest. Not all of us within the masses are opiated automatons.

Successive Australian governments have outsourced the warehousing of our refugees and collective conscience.

The likes of Nauru, Manus and Christmas islands are our satellite versions of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. 

Regardless of the malicious and immoral legal impediments put in the way of humanitarians, advocates, refugees and asylum seekers and the media – all designed to act as speed humps on the harrowing roads to safety, freedom and citizenship – the fact is that ultimately, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is responsible for the safety and well being of all the children, women and men we transport to Nauru, and other detention centres.

He is the legal guardian of those children.

Abyan is my sister. She is as a sister to us all, if one believes in the notion of the human family and a shared humanity.

She should at least be able to freely talk with a female counsellor – in Australia rather than Nauru – in case her alleged rapist happens to be close by and terrorising her.

She is too scared to make a statement to the police about the rape for bleeding obvious reasons.

It is intolerable that Minister Dutton has not sent the Federal Police to Nauru to investigate the rape allegations.

Abyan is all we women who are raped and who are blamed for being the victim.

We are all Abyan.

There but for the grace of …

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