Culture of violence reported in central Australian Aboriginal communities

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Australian media reports that a recently leaked Northern Territory police briefing paper exposes “shocking” cases of sexual abuse and violence against women and children in remote Australian Aboriginal communities.

Central Australian Crown prosecutor, Dr Nannette Rogers, alleged a range of “dreadful” cases she has heard of. Her paper claims details of abuse (over a 15-year period), including the rape of a seven-month-old baby, and the sexual assault and drowning of a girl by an 18-year-old man. The report refers to a disturbingly abusive and secretive Indigenous male culture. She says a “web of kinship” has helped to create a “conspiracy of silence” and that Aboriginal communities were suffering from “tragedy fatigue,” allowing horrific crimes to appear unremarkable.

“It doesn’t augur well for Aboriginal people to be functional human beings with the attributes of turning around and caring for children themselves,” she said. “The child grows up seeing violence done to him or her and having violence done to him or her.”

Tangentyere Council chief executive William Tilmouth says it is appalling behaviour. “It’s a behaviour that’s got to stop, it’s behaviour that denigrates the family, as well as the women,” he said.

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