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Preventing Violence Against Indigenous Women in Australia

Updated on July 2, 2021
Nyamweya profile image

Nyamweya is a global researcher with many years of experience on practical research on a diversity of topics

Violence, both covert and overt has been significant in the lives of many aboriginal women in Australia. The reality of this violence has not been fully disclosed until today for various reasons. First, aboriginal women in Australia are openly intimidated by the men folk in their communities who rape, batter and bash them without the law taking cause on them as required. Second, the subtle use of racial solidarity arguments has seemed to succeed in alienating these women from accessing feminist resources within the wider community. The constant oppression and violence, which aboriginal women are facing in Australian context, have been privileged by a free public debate on racism. This privilege has resulted into an enormous cost in silencing the voice of these women where their experiences of bashing, incest, rape and murder are made invisible. This translates that, while the aboriginal region has been a haven for male chauvinists in Australia, it is more than a prison for women and children.

Indigenous women in Australia have been marginalized for long through lack of education, poverty and an adherence to cultural practices that make them to be discriminated upon by the society. Study findings indicate that Australian women are 80 times more likelihood of being hospitalized for injury or assault related case. It should be considered that the size of indigenous committees in India is approximately one third and consists of .0002 of India's population. A report by Dr. Howard Bath, a children’s commissioner in the Northern Territory indicates that, in 2013 alone, the number of indigenous females who were hospitalized in the Northern Territory’s five main hospitals was 24.1 per thousand, or 80 times more than the number of non-indigenous females. Many of these violence acts are perpetrated by the women’s partners. They include rape, assault, injury, bashing by blunt objects and even murder. Such statistics cannot be accepted in the current society, and we must pay a closer attention in stopping the vice.

It becomes sadder that women from indigenous communities in this great nation have a likelihood of being criminalized for their involvement with the available systems. It should be noted that there are various systems which are mandated to protect them from these violent acts, but which are biased in performing their functions. This has made many of these women become cynical on the existing remedies when they fall victims of these violence acts. Experience shows that the existing mainstream systems and services for dealing with violence is rigged with racist undertones that accompany the way violence is dealt with among the indigenous people. Further, the existing specialized services are also underfunded.

There is a common mentality of by the relevant authorities of ‘‘leave ’em to it, it is their way’’ by which indigenous women have been working against for them to be taken seriously. This is as if victimhood is in a way, part of the cultural legacy in this place while in real sense, it is not. The consequences of these attitudes and vice have been immense. For example, we have seen how the abuse of women has resulted into many cases human rights violations, single parenthood, and neglecting of children. Aboriginal men bear the greatest blame for perpetrating violence against women. Study reports blame unemployment, drug abuse, alcohol and overcrowding as the reason these men batter women in this region. Sixty- five percent of children in rural areas attend school less than three days a week. In addition, 60% of them fail to meet the early developmental index, which is used to measure a child’s capability of coping with starting schooling. This is because of the emotional trauma and psychological effects from their violent homes. The social effects of violence to children may be in various forms, ranging from their relationship with their peers, older adults, teachers, their own parents and so on. Their mental life is also affected greatly.

To make these matters worse, many of these cases are not even reported to responsible agencies. This is because these women are forced to remain with partners, or return to them after separation since they do not have a place they can turn to. These women may not afford to pay rent leave alone meeting the basic needs on their own.

Solutions to this problem

Within the Aboriginal community, the rate at which men march into prison for committing violence acts on women or abandoning children is appalling. We, therefore, want the men to become part of the solution in preventing this phenomenon. We would like to see a possibility where women and children are safe. Our men must confront the reality of the condition in which these women and children are living in. On their part, women must also be brave enough in tackling this issue. Our political figures must also be brave enough in supporting appropriate, long term funding, and community based solutions, which recognize a one-size model as not befitting for all.

While the effect of this violence to Australia’s indigenous women is a complex phenomenon, a number of strategies could be deployed to control and possibly eliminate the vice. Key strategies in this perspective may include, but not limited to involving women to offer culturally and practically suitable prevention, community involvement in violence prevention programs, awareness programs, and promoting respect among family relationships as well as communities. Women are also encouraged to establish connections with their regional domestic violence, and services that support them in dealing with violence.

Just like their non- indigenous counterparts, indigenous women should be supported and protected accordingly. The government and politicians must listen to our message since it concerns our lives and the lives of our families. What we want in the end is the escalating rate of violence to stop at all costs. If the problem within the indigenous communities is not resolved with immediate effect, then the stake of the next general is jeopardized. We should realize that everyone in our country, irrespective of his or her social, economic, religious or racial affiliations has a right to live safely and protected from violence. It is everyone’s obligation to ensure that this cause is achieved.


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