Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Indigenous rights and wrongs

For those expecting a laugh, you may want to change channels...

Surfacing now, in mainstream media in Australia, at last, is the issue of sustained and widespread domestic and sexual violence against women and children as young as seven months. Dribs and drabs have variously been reported but the size of the epidemic is now becoming known.

First a snapshot = some stats and facts provided by Louis Nowra in his Article in The Australian - ALR - March 2007
* The rate of domestic assault in indigenous communities is 8-10 times that of non indigenous communities
* The sexual abuse of girls is so widespread that one-third of 13 year old girls in the Northern Territory are infected with Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea.
* Last year, Alice Springs crown prosecutor, Nanette Rogers, reported a case where a woman was bashed and stabbed by her husband throughout her marriage. Eventually, her husband beat her to death, tied up the corpse and left it on an ant's nest.
* A seven month baby was taken from its home and raped. She needed surgery under general anaesthetic. A six year old girl was playing in a waterhole when an 18 year old petrol sniffer grabbed her, pulled her under and simultaneously anally raped her and drowned her.

I have no slick comment to make, no glib retort. My mother's heart says get the women and children away from these hellish situations. Yet this is hard to do when "traditional (customary) law" is given precedence over "white man's law" and (false) claims made by the perpetuators that tribal law allows them to rape.

And if that is the case and we do separate the victims from the aggressors - do we end up with another stolen generation - disenfranchised from their culture. Given what their culture and the extreme poverty of their circumstances has delivered to a large majority of women and children, is this a bad thing ?

If you are interested in learning more about this subject, I refer you to Louis Nowra - Bad Dreaming


Fuff said...

Shocked but alas, not flabberghasted.

The Phosgene Kid said...

Pretty sad. Can anything be done or is anyone doing anything to reverse the trend?

Eternally Curious said...

Very disturbing but, as you say, also very complicated. These are the true tests of mankind, the ones that truly matter, I think. I won't presume to answer or solve, but I do thank you Mummy for educating us...