Shocking stories have emerged from refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, as part of a new report by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
The first hand accounts were a horrific collection of mistreatment and abuse, with one young refugee claiming she felt she had no choice but to marry a man 15 years her senior in order to have any sense protection on the Pacific Island. "I felt very unsafe I could not go out,” she said. “If you are alone, everything is a struggle.”
Of the 84 people interviewed, every one reported intimidation, harassment or violence directed at them or family members.
Six women described sexual assault or harassment, demands for sex, and attempted rape. Another woman said that on two occasions Nauruan men tried to drive her to the jungle when she was catching a ride with them, clearly intending to rape her. She also revealed that she had to quit her job working in a shop on the island after just one day because other male employees kept touching her.
Additionally, the report found there is a “wall of secrecy” around the treatment of refugees that is driving them to “breaking point”. Amnesty and Human Rights Watch were forced to send investigators incognito after requests for official visits were ignored. “Driving adult and even child refugees to the breaking point with sustained abuse appears to be one of Australia's aims on Nauru," Human Rights Watch senior counsel Michael Bochenek said in the report.
The organisation said the report will now be used as part of a global campaign to have Nauru closed and those transferred there resettled