Australia’s Catholic Bishops have condemned victimisation of women in detention and offered the Church’s support to help Somali refugee Abyan who was said to be a victim of rape and sexual assault. Bishop Vincent Long, Bishops Delegate for Migrants and himself a refugee, made the offer of support on behalf of the Church.
“The Church wants to offer trauma-related counselling and practical support to Abyan, to help her feel supported during and after her pregnancy, and to other women who find themselves in the same horrific situation,” Bishop Long said.
“Given Abyan was raped and that it was Australia who released her into the community in Nauru, we have a duty to provide her the appropriate services and care in Australia.”
The bishops want to honour the human dignity of Abyan and her child, he said.
“Both Abyan and her child are victims of an unjust and immoral system.
“Mandatory and indefinite detention for asylum seekers who come by boat and banishing people to overseas detention fails to uphold justice and mercy and is immoral.
“One way Catholics demonstrate God’s mercy and love on earth is through the services our agencies provide in healthcare and social welfare to look after our fellow Australians. We want the opportunity to be able to help Abyan and her child too.”
The Catholic Church teaches that human life is sacred because each person is created in the image and likeness of God. The human dignity of each person is inalienable. The human dignity and human rights of asylum seekers must be upheld at all times, regardless of their citizenship, visa status and mode of arrival.
The bishops have repeatedly called for the end of mandatory detention and for the closure of offshore processing centres like Nauru. The Catholic Church advocates for just and rapid procedures to determine each person’s claim for protection.