Gendered Violence 7b - Gendered Violence: Women


Gendered Violence

In 2016, Australian Women in Support of Women on Nauru released a report ‘Protection Denied, Abuse Condoned: Women on Nauru at Risk’ which details cases of sexual violence perpetrated against women imprisoned on the island by the Australian government. In instances where rapes have been reported, Nauruan authorities have often failed to investigate or cast doubt on allegations and women have been blamed, discredited or disbelieved.

Abortions are illegal in both Nauru and PNG; however, Australian authorities have increasingly resisted transferring women to Australia to have the procedure and in some cases women have been refused terminations despite doctor’s recommendations. Several other pregnant women who expected complex births that could not be adequately supported on Nauru have also been placed at risk when medical transfers have been refused. Publicly reported cases like those of Nazanin and Abyan highlight the gendered effects, in particular the extreme violence, that women are subjected to as a result of Australia’s offshore policy. This withholding of reproductive rights and freedoms for refugee and asylum seeker women bears some resemblance to the treatment of pregnant women and girls at the border by U.S state and federal officials and their contractors.

In 2015, a former Save the Children worker alleged that Wilson security guards were abusing their positions of power by soliciting sexual favours from refugee women and in some cases recording them. The gendered violence associated with Australia’s detention camps also extends to local Nauruan women and girls who former head of ABF, Roman Quaedvlieg, suggests were being prostituted near one of the detention camps.



A photo shows the figure of a woman partially obscured by a shower curtain. She is turned away from the camera and looking down.[imagecaption] All We Can’t See: Illustrating the Nauru Files, 2018. Artist: Pia Johnson. Based on the Incident Report: “I was asked on Friday (26-9-2014) by a fellow teacher [REDACTED 1] if I would sit with an asylum seeker [REDACTED 2] who was sobbing. She is a classroom helper for the children. A secondary teacher assistant [REDACTED 3] was present. She talked about several situations, some from Christmas Island, some from RPC3. She reported that she has been asking for a 4 minute shower as opposed to 2 minutes. Her request has been accepted on condition of sexual favours. It is a male security person. She did not state if this has or hasn’t occured. The security officer wants to view a boy or girl having a shower.” The Moss Report (A review into recent allegations relating to conditions and circumstances at the Regional Processing Centre in Nauru) found evidence of rapes, sexual assaults of minors and an instance of a guard demanding to see a woman naked in return for allowing her an extra 2 minutes in the shower with her young child. A poem written by Arezo and Janet Galbraith highlights the daily, routine violence that women are subjected to as their bodies are screened and searched.  [/imagecaption]


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