I was asked to speak at the Hobart “Bring Back Abyan” Rally yesterday…..
I am aware that we as intelligent people, understand the UN Refugee Convention, and Australia’s obligations towards vulnerable individuals such as Abyan* (Abyan’s name has been changed to protect her identity). I am aware also, that we as intelligent people understand basic laws relating to rape and sexual assault, and of the needs a woman who has undergone such an ordeal needs to have met. Our challenge as intelligent and compassionate Australian’s is to ensure that our leaders live up to these obligations and ensure the needs of this woman are met – and that Australia does not permit inaction on this issue set a precedent that violence against women is acceptable in Australia. My speech took the form of two letters to Mr Turnbull, MP – one from me, and one that Abyan may write in the future.
Good morning everyone, thank you for having me here today. I would like to start by acknowledging the original owners of this land and pay my respects to their elders past and present.
As a woman raising a son, I am absolutely furious at the example extended by our political leaders….. I hold hope that each generation of Australians we will improve in our compassion towards each other and humanity – however, when our PM is willing to brush aside the rape of a traumatised woman under the care and protection of Australia, what hope does a future generation of young men have of learning how to treat women?
As I cannot rely on our leaders to be a positive example to my son, I am using their incompetence as a means through which I can teach my son to participate in democracy when he is unhappy with the results of his vote. I have been teaching him that I believe that as citizens of a free and democratic nation we have an obligation to actively participate in guiding and shaping the future of our nation. We have also a responsibility to take responsibility for the government that we elected (regardless of how small a margin they may have scrapped into leadership with). As we have the right to vote for our government, based on the information they give us prior to elections, then we also have the responsibility – the obligation – to ensure that we firstly, ensure we have heard and understood all the information, and secondly, to hold our governments accountable for their actions and ensure they keep their promises. These responsibilities and obligations go both ways – our elected leaders are obligated to fulfil promises, and to represent the wants of the Australian people, locally, nationally and internationally. As such, it is with absolute rage that I watch our current leaders break promise after promise and fail to protect the innocent, while we sit by without taking action.
In response, I have drafted a letter to Mr Turnbull which I hope encompasses our feelings on the topic.
Dear Mr Prime Minister,
Rape is a very uncool word, Sorry about that. But if you didn’t use my tax dollars to employ rapists, then lie about it, then I wouldn’t need to talk about it with you.
I would like to apologise for the inconvenient nature of our protest today, I would like to apologise for the black mark the high rates of violence against women in Australia leaves on your reputation internationally – as a woman however, there isn’t much I can do to stop this violence against me, other than to raise my son to treat women with respect. This becomes increasingly difficult when my national leaders flat out refuse to do so.
Mr Turnbull, I am sorry that Australian’s will not accept you using your weak support of women by tacking on a white ribbon to distract us from your support of the rape and assault of a young woman under Australian care – yes, I said you are supporting the rape – because you sure as hell didn’t condemn it!
I’m sorry Mr Turnbull, I do get it – Politics are often about scape-goating – Hitler demonstrated this disgustingly well in World War II, he blamed the Jews for problems, and so his cause (however mislead!) gained a following.
Sadly, it seems, you our “leader” like this tactic. It appears that you, like the leaders before you to believe that it is more important for you to gain a political following by scapegoating asylum seekers in the same way – blaming them for our problems, and leading people to believe they are the risk to us than it is for you to protect us.
Sadly you don’t seem to believe that anyone will benefit from either helping victims, or by naming, blaming and shaming those paid by Australian tax payers who in the course of their work in detention commit daily abuse, misuse and rape women.
Not even the Australian women who are raped every day and now understand that the government of Australia does not take rape seriously. Thanks for that, Bruh.
Howard, Rudd, Gillard, Abbott and now Turnbull, blamed boat people, refugees, illegal immigrants…. Non-white, non-Christian folks, for Australia’s perceived insecurity and financial burdens. The fact that no economist or international law expert ever agreed that the greatest economic or security risk facing Australia was asylum seekers was not relevant. The perpetrator of our perceived risk was an alien – they looked and sounded different to us, and although they weren’t hurting anywhere near the number of people as the white guys who kill 2 women per week in Australia (with numbers rising) it suited various Australian political leaders to bring this “issue” into the public forum.
Far be it for us women to further tarnish your reputation as the PM of a developed and progressive nature Mr Turnbull, I am sorry that your political loyalties maybe inconvenienced by this but we EMPLOY (yes, I said it – you work for us) You. And we require you and all our leaders should be doing all you can to ensure the safety of women, men and children in Australia from ACTUAL RISKS.
All Australian’s should be outraged that so little is done to combat the real risk to Australian security – the risk that has killed two women every week this year, and sees tens of thousands of women raped every year. YES the stats ARE that high.
This is not a vague risk of terror, this is real terror. Terror which is being inflicted on Australians, by Australians, ever year. It is terror that follows you into your home, your work place, your school life, your mind…. and your subconscious after you escape it.
Violence against women is a risk to Australian security. The fact that violence against women has become so acceptable that we blatantly blame its victims is a real threat to Australia’s future.
This is not a refugee issue. This is a human issue. This is a woman’s issue.
This is a men’s issue. This is an issue which will handicap Australia into the future.
If Australia is ed by a man who thinks – or tells us through his actions and inactions that he thinks rape is OK. Violence against women is okay. – then what does this mean for our women? Our mums, our sisters, daughters and our sons who will one day be men???
I am sorry to ask the hard questions mr turnbull – but WTF. Don’t you want a better future? I sure as hell do.
It is bad enough that due to gender representation in the popular culture and the way women can be treated in the workplace regardless of their level of expertise may seem like minor issues to the men and women who have never called victim to them.
IT is bad enough that rape happens daily.
It is bad enough that women are judged by their bodies and not their brains, and that we are dismissed as annoying man hating feminists by well idiots when we point it out, but do we need our government sanctioning this mal-treatment of women?
Domestic violence, sexual assault, and any other form of violence towards women however should enrage each and every one of us – but does it?
This year in Australia two women have been murdered every week by a partner, husband, jilted x-boyfriend, father or other male. This is more per year than the total number of Australians who were killed in the war in Afghanistan between 2011-2014. Are we outraged? No. But we are concerned about men, women and children who seek asylum in Australia being a risk to us.
Surely, if men were being bitten by sharks at half this rate we would have drained the goddamn ocean by now!
And Mr Turnbull I am sorry that this is inconvenient for you to hear.
I apologise for the egg on your face when you realise the whole country knows your pledges to white ribbon day are nothing more than lip service, when you pin on your ribbon with one hand whilst condoning violence against women with the other.
I am sorry to every single woman in Australia today, yesterday and tomorrow for whom your actions and abhorrent treatment of Abyan have set the president that violence against women is okay.
In 2005 approximately 72,000 sexual assaults and rapes occurred in Australia, approximately 66,960 of these attacks were against women. Many of these rapes went unreported, but why? I can tell you it was not because women feel that they did not believe they were wronged, or because they could “cope” but rather because due to the sexualisation of women in the mainstream and a widespread belief that a woman is somehow to blame for rape due to her attire or behaviour prior to an attack. This leads to victims not reporting the assault either because they blame themselves, they fear the perpetrator, or worse fear everyone – they fear that no one would believe them and the would be dragged through the court system like a criminal, only to see their attacker walk free.
JUST LIKE YOU WANT TO DO TO ABYAN.
Mr Turnbull, I am sorry that it is necessary for us to have nationwide protests in order to let you know that ignoring a woman’s medical, emotional, psychological and physical needs after rape is not okay – because that, well that means Australia is not the country I thought I was.
Dear Mr Turnbull
I’m sitting here, thinking about how you raped me
many years on and I am still reminding myself that it wasn’t my fault
I know I was a refugee, but you hurt me. I told you to stop – you didn’t listen to me.
It was all about you – fulfilling your need – I was nothing more than a tool, a means to an end. An object for you to use. I don’t know if you remember – but I do.
I remember every day, every cry of my baby – the one you made me keep. The one you wished to deport with me – this baby reminds me.
Every moment of silence becomes filled with my failure, my failure to protect myself,
to accurately judge your intention. My failure to report – no wait YOUR failure to accept my report, perhaps i wore the wrong dress – or followed the wrong religion.
Perhaps I was wrong to assume you would protect me – but you signed the Convention – you promised to protect me.
Maybe i shouldn’t have asked for help? Perhaps I should have died at home – perhaps you wanted me to die in Somalia? Like so many thousands before me – whose names you will never have to learn.
The bruises on my back, and on my skin, a stench reminding me of what you took.
It was nothing, they told me, it didn’t happen – you don’t exist.
With no English – I had no one in whom to confide, would it have mattered if I were white? You would have cared if I were not a refugee?
In Australia harm matters when it happens to a football player – one who hurts his foot while drunk. It matters when an Australian man is punched out by his peers, but not a woman.
A judgement on my worth was made – where was my defense my lack of Australian-ness, my lack of manness – equaled lack of worth – even in Australia.