Desperate mothers on Christmas Island: How did it come to this? | Women's Agenda

Desperate mothers on Christmas Island: How did it come to this?

Australia will not give in to “moral blackmail”, according to Prime Minister Tony Abbott. No “thinking Australian” can expect the government to give-in to the asylum seekers, regardless of how much self harm they might threaten to commit.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, more than 10 mothers have attempted suicide on Christmas Island, believing their babies would have better opportunities to reach Australia if they were dead. Their lawyers have told Fairfax Media that they would rather die than see their children sent to Nauru or Manus Island. 

They are said to have been experiencing “utter despair” since being told they would not be settled in Australia, due to arriving after July 19, 2013 when former prime minister Kevin Rudd enacted new rules on boat arrivals.

When pressed on the reports on breakfast television this morning, Abbott expressed concern over the suicide attempts but said that, “No Australian government should be subjected to the spectacle of people saying, ‘unless you accept us, I am going to commit self harm’.”

As a women’s publication and one that we believe has plenty of “thinking” readers, we have long been concerned about the plight of asylum seekers, especially the continued reports regarding the treatment and health concerns of new mothers and their children.

We’re deeply concerned about these latest developments, as well as confirmation in the High Court earlier this week that a boat carrying 153 asylum seekers is currently being held on a Customs vessel, and may potentially be returned to Sri Lanka.

We believe ‘thinking’ women, especially those with children, can understand and relate to the utter desperation these mothers must feel.

Abbott said today he won’t discuss “on-the-water operations” in order to avoid giving “aid and comfort to people smugglers.” But for the aid, comfort and safety of these desperate mothers being held in legal limbo — with the rules being made up around them — something needs to give.

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