Psychiatrist Warns of Risk to Raped Asylum Seeker and Family



PDF File // Press Release Nazanin Fina lRABS

Nazanin, a 23 year-old asylum seeker detained on Nauru was airlifted to Australia on August 20th , on the point of kidney failure. Following two failed suicide attempts (by slashing her wrists and by ingesting insecticide), she had refused all food and water until she relapsed into a catatonic state and was at risk of cardiac arrest.

Why did Nazanin want to kill herself so badly?

In May she was  raped, a brutal attack that left her severely physically, emotionally and psychologically traumatised. The fact of her rape was belatedly confirmed by Nauru police, who, after three months are no closer to bringing any offender to trial.

Researchers Against Pacific Black Sites is concerned that in the 14 days since Nazanin’s arrival in Australia there has been no information imparted as to her condition.  Independent visitors, lawyers, advocates and medical doctors – who have received a signed request from Nazanin to review her medical records – have all been frustrated in their attempts to access Nazanin.  This isolation has caused huge distress to her family and raises fears that Nazanin will be returned to Nauru, as per current policy,  as soon as she is deemed physically able to travel.

The isolation of Nazanin has been a constant since she was assaulted. Following Nazanin’s rape, she was not taken to hospital, but to Nauru police station.  It was days after that her family were allowed to see her for short periods, accompanied by many guards. Nazanin was moved back and forth between Nauru hospital, IHMS Clinic and OPC 1 in the 3 months following the rape. Nazanin’s family tell us that during that time she was subject to taunting about her rape by guards when made to walk to the clinic in order to receive medication for her tormented mental condition.

The IHMS mental health team is also said to have insisted that it would be ‘therapeutic’ to force Nazanin to leave the tent and the camp to overcome her ‘avoidance behaviour’.Internationally recognised psychiatrist and trauma specialist Dr Helen Driscoll MBBS FRANZCP, raises concerns about her treatment: ‘Physical and psychological safety is the first imperative in the treatment of trauma.  Establishing personal control is the next imperative, when control has been so violently taken away. The context for treatment is dignity and connectedness with caring family and social support.

Since her arrival in Australia, at an undisclosed location, Nazanin has had no access to a lawyer or to any other visitor. Not only has she been denied the necessary comfort of her mother and brother, but her family has been subject to high levels of harassment and Nazanin’s mother has developed diabetes.

We write this media release as information comes to hand that raises fears that Nazanin is to be returned to Nauru.  ‘To return Nazanin to Nauru violates every foundation imperative in clinical and human responses to her life threatening trauma and consequent impact . .. To return her is dooming her to die. No ethical clinician in the field of trauma would support a return to Nauru’, says Dr Driscoll.

We therefore urgently call on the Minister not to return Nazanin to Nauru and to reunite her with her mother and brother who are both at serious risk on Nauru.

We call on all political, community and religious leaders to urgently seek the protection of  Nazanin and her family.

We call on all members of the Australian community to make your voices heard and refuse the brutality that is being permitted in our name.

RAPBS: Professor Suvendrini Perera, Professor Joseph Pugliese, Janet Galbraith.

MEDIA CONTACT: Janet Galbraith 0418 399 646