Monday, May 22, 2006

Aboriginal men attacking aboriginal women & children

The cartoon isn't funny at all. But it does make a sad point that people tend to treat the terrible violence described in the press recently against aboriginal women and children as an 'aboriginal problem' that can be excused in cultural terms. It isn't - it is a human problem and a problem in white as well as black society - misogyny (in particular) is pervasive. Indeed there is something intensely racist about dismissing the current situation as an 'aboriginal problem'.

ALP President Mr Warren Mundine made sensible statements yesterday on the issue of sexual violence against women and children perpetrated by aboriginal men. Mr Mundine rejected as ‘a total load of nonsense’ the defence that this physical abuse was ‘customary law’ or ‘secret men's business’.

‘When you're talking about sexual abuse of children, you're talking about sexual abuse of women, you're talking about domestic violence, these are criminal changes and they need to be treated with that full length of the law’.

Mr Mundine also rated yesterday as ‘not a bad idea’ suggestions that the army should become involved in building infrastructure in run-down communities.

Women or children at risk from abuse should be separated from that risk - it is their welfare that is paramount. There are at least two ways of doing this. If the perpetrator is a family member that person should be removed from the household and their crime addressed . For those facing more general community risks where women or children cannot be protected there is the need either for more effective policing or – in the limit – for removing at-risk parties from the risk. Safe houses provide a solution and I am sure there are others. But it is wrong for people to dismiss this as an intractable 'aboriginal problem'.

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