Culture of violence in remote communities drives attacks on Aboriginal women

The article below is very instructive.  It shows how gross the problem with Aborigines is and how insoluble it is. Governments have tried all sort of approaches to improve the Aborigine lifestyle but nothing works.  The article below shows why.  You would have to transform an entire culture.  And how do you do that?

And I haven't even mentioned the different range of cognitive skills among Aborigines

A high-profile crown prosecutor says a major factor in the domestic violence epidemic afflicting Northern Territory Indigenous women is an “enculturation of violence” on remote communities.

In a rare and candid interview, Victorian Senior Crown Prosecutor Nanette Rogers, one of the nation’s most experienced criminal barristers, said resolving the Territory’s family violence crisis required “profound change’’ to address such violence, which was “predominantly male-on-female”.

“It’s really trying to change that enculturation of violence; that culture of entitlement to assault or using violence on any person.’’

Ms Rogers also said some “remote communities tend to be very punitive towards a victim or someone who has helped a victim or sought help from the police’’.

On such communities, victims of domestic abuse had sometimes “been punished by their family members as well as the perpetrator’s family members” for reporting such crimes.

Ms Rogers is the former Central Australian prosecutor who stunned the nation in 2006 when she spoke out about horrific cases of physical and sexual abuse of Aboriginal children and women. She also spoke about how a male-dominated Indigenous culture and kinship connections had helped to create a conspiracy of silence.

READ MORE:‘Epidemic of violence’ plagues women: judge
Her revelations led to the 2007 report Little Children Are Sacred, which was followed by the Howard government’s contentious NT Intervention.

Ms Rogers, who left the NT almost nine years ago, said she was shocked by how little things had changed for Indigenous women from remote Territory communities in recent decades.

“What is disappointing for me is that nothing’s changed,’’ she said. “That is the takeaway point for me. I find it shocking that nothing has changed.

“… My understanding is that the violence towards Aboriginal women and children by Aboriginal men continues unabated.’’

Remote communities, Ms Rogers said, could be “extremely unsafe” for Indigenous women.

She was responding to comments by NT Supreme Court judge Judith Kelly, who said last week that Aboriginal women in remote communities remain trapped in an epidemic of violence caused by disadvantage and intergenerational abuse, and a culture that privileges the rights of perpetrators over those of victims.

Justice Kelly wept as she described cases in which women who had tried to flee violence were effectively kidnapped and endured beatings and rape on outstations.

“I just want people to know what’s happening to Aboriginal women,’’ she said, as she argued they were bearing the “absolutely dreadful” brunt of society’s failure to address high levels of welfare dependency, substance abuse and other problems on far-flung Indigenous communities.

Ms Rogers agreed that better education and more jobs for men and women on remote communities were needed to help build individuals’ self-esteem. She added: “On top of that you’ve got this enculturation of violence that is predominantly male-on-female.’’

Ms Rogers has conducted successful prosecutions against Victorian murderer Adrian Basham, who killed his estranged wife in 2018, and sexual sadist Jaymes Todd, who raped and murdered aspiring comedian Eurydice Dix-on in Melbourne in the same year.

Ms Rogers said that since she left the Territory, she had noticed a change in “the judicial language” used there, with some judges and magistrates more likely to call out “toxic” relationships between perpetrators and victims, especially if a perpetrator had abused his partner for years before severely injuring her. “Judicial officers are much more prepared to say it doesn’t matter whether you are an Aboriginal person or not; this is unacceptable,’’ she said.

“It must be really soul-destroying as a judge from the bench to see time and time again these horrific acts of violence that never stop.’’ She said that for such judicial officers “there must be a point at which you go ‘This is outrageous, no matter how liberal my attitude is towards Indigenous people and the Indigenous cause’.’’

According to a 2017 NT government report, Indigenous women in the Territory are 40 times more likely than non-Indigenous women to be hospitalised following family violence assaults. The same report quotes an NPY Women’s Council estimate that Aboriginal women from the NT, South Australia and Western Australia border region are about 60 times more likely to be murdered than non-Aboriginal women.

In a three-part series, The Australian recently revealed how a young Aboriginal woman, Ruby, was raped and bashed by her father in Yuendumu in Central Australia, and then forced to leave the desert town after he was jailed.

Last year, another NT Supreme Court judge, Justice Jenny Blokland, called on the NT government to address a potential, emerging pattern of sexual assault victims “being incidentally punished in their home communities through a form of banishment’’.

She made this remark while sentencing 32-year-old Simeon Riley, who pleaded guilty to raping an adolescent girl he had kidnapped and kept as a sex slave for several weeks in 2005. During that time, the girl, then aged 13 or 14, was kept in one room, sexually assaulted and forced to urinate and defecate through a hole in the floorboards.

The judge added that the victim of this “chilling” crime, who came forward to police in 2018, had been further punished as she felt she could not return home. The judge urged leaders from the girl’s otherwise “well-functioning” community to “seriously” reflect on that.

Justice Kelly also described a culture within some remote Indigenous communities that protected perpetrators of violence rather than their victims, and Ms Rogers said this was a longstanding problem. She said courts had traditionally assumed that when a victim of violence left the NT “that it’s a choice’’. But she said often, “their lives have been made so unlivable’’ and so “horrible and difficult” they have no choice “but to leave”.

In the wake of Justice Kelly’s remarks, Indigenous academic Marcia Langton called for a permanent group of experts to advise the federal government on how to improve safety for Indigenous women and children. Professor Langton argued that “lives are being lost while people in the women’s safety sector dither about irrelevant issues’’.

Ms Rogers said that like abuse victims in the wider community, some Indigenous women were torn between love and hate for an abuser. They could also have mixed feelings about their own relatives, whom they loved but who might have banished them for reporting abuse.

“It’s a double burden for those who have to leave,’’ she said, as they dealt with their violence-related trauma and being exiled from close relatives – sometimes including a mother or grandmother. “It’s an enduring situation – the woman has to leave, never the man … in that way, it’s not unlike any other culture.’’

Ms Rogers said domestic violence on remote NT communities was often intergenerational, with a father being sentenced for acts of violence and his son coming before the same judge for similar crimes 15 years later.

She said the unacceptably high levels of abuse endured by Indigenous women on such communities was not adequately acknowledged by the wider community.

Most people who live in Sydney or Melbourne “have never been to the Northern Territory. Most people have never been to a remote community. Most people have never met an Aboriginal person.’’


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