Feminism needs to advocate for ALL women – including ATSI victims of domestic violence

Former chairman of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council and Order of Australia, Warren Mundine wrote an piece in “The Australian” highlighting the pandemic of domestic violence in Aboriginal communities. He condemned the Aboriginal leaders for being silent on the epidemic and also punishing anyone who does speak out. Women who dare speak out about violence are shunned by their tribe and are often blamed for what happens to them. The perpetrators are often protected. For those who don’t know, this isn’t coming from a “white” columnist. Mundine is from the Bundajulung tribe – traditional inhabitants of of far North – East New South Wales and southern Queensland.

Mundine highlighted a number of cases, (which are really hard to find on Google, I might add), of where women were brutally attacked or killed by partners. One was near Bill Bell Park, Darwin and another incident was a woman who was constantly stomped on and kicked by her partner in Alice Springs. According to Mundine, the Bill Bell  Park murder occurred the same time Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull demanded an Royal Commission after ABC’s “Four Corners” aired a segment with concerning footage of events in the Don Dale Detention Centre in Alice Springs. These were not heard of in mainstream media. The only exception was Sky News’ (Australia), Matt Cunningham. Since then, Andrew Bolt from the Herald SunABC Radio National (RN) have spoken about Mundine’s article.

Nothing on Mamamia even though they have spoken about the domestic violence rate in Aboriginal communities last year… that article took me a while to find, by the way. From what I saw, there was nothing about the more recent murder near Bill Bell Park. Nothing from Clementine Ford’s site (should I be surprised?). I didn’t watch “Studio 10” today. Whether the panel mentioned it, I’m not sure.

This is quite an appalling record by many in the Australian media, especially by those who claim to champion the rights of women and children. As Mundine asked rhetorically:

Are people outraged only when white women are abused? Do only white children deserve protection from pedophiles? (sic)

 

So, why is there a lack of reporting? Most likely “cultural sensitivity” gone mad, not wanting to rock the boat and risk causing offence or demonise Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people collectively. Mundine had a blunt message about that in the article too:

Frankly, if Indigenous people remain silent we deserve to be tarnished. When communities protect abusers they are complicit in abuse.

 

Maybe a part of the problem is that Australia, maybe out of guilt, has over – romanticised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. But Mundine pointed out failings in Aboriginal communities in regards to domestic violence. For example, women who are abused are too often afraid to speak out because she runs the real risk of being blamed and ostracised by her own family, as well as the supporters of the perpetrator because the abuser and victim are often from the same tribe. Brave women have risked backlash by speaking out. These include: Jacinta Nampijimpa and Bess Nungarrayi Price, who condemned the number of children being abused in Aboriginal communities.

 

Yes, there is a lack of commentary and reporting from feminist bloggers/ journalists. I must admit, I’m not innocent in this. This is the first post that I’ve dealt with the issue of violence in Aboriginal communities in any sort of depth. It hasn’t been a topic that has entered my mind a lot. And, admittedly, the fear of seeming like stigamatising the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities has crossed my mind. But this can’t be seen as acceptable by anyone. It’s appalling and should be called out. I do commend Warren Mundine for speaking out about this. I doubt this would’ve been easy for him to expose, either. Hopefully, he’s sparked a much needed discussion about violence within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. A discussion that is long, long overdue.

 

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Feminism For Everyone – Where Are The Voices For Minorities?

I was watching “Studio 10” this morning and they were giving away DVDs to the audience of the movie “The Suffragettes”, which is based on the true story of the Suffragettes that demanded women have the right to vote. The protests started in 1897 when Millicent Fawcett formed the “National Unit for Women’s Suffrage”. Her argument was that women, who could be involved in school boards at the time could be trusted to vote. To read more about it, go here.

It made me think about how far women in Western countries have come. Common focuses for feminists now are things like equal pay, paid parental leave and domestic violence. The problem I have is that the voices that are often heard in the media are those who, apart from being women, if you like, are generally quite privileged.  They are: cis, able – bodied, Caucasian and middle/ upper class. I’m not saying that these women don’t face problems. But, because of a lack of representation, other issues are too often ignored or not properly advocated for by feminists in the mainstream media.

Where are the voices for:

  • Aboriginal women – who are victims of domestic violence at a much higher rate than non – Aboriginal women
  • Disabled women, who again, are much more likely to be victims of domestic violence than the general population
  • Women who can’t get employment and live in impoverished conditions, making them more vulnerable to domestic violence
  • What about women who are abused by other women.
  • In the workplace, where is the demand –  not just a “feel good” charity case here and there – that people with a disability aren’t discriminated against by employers, or potential employers
  • The rights of trans – identified women and other gender minorities.
  • Justice for women who have been subjected to violence based on religion or culture, such as FGM, honour killings, etc.

 

True, feminists, such as those who write for blogs like Mamamia, have addressed issues such as domestic violence in same – sex relationships. What I’m saying is that the fight for the rights of women need to extend beyond us – beyond the “average” or “upper – class” Australian. Let’s fight for ALL women’s rights. Frequently. And without political correctness. Saying that domestic violence is a problem in Aboriginal communities does NOT mean that ALL Aboriginal people should be branded as a domestic abuser. Saying that domestic violence is a problem in many same – sex relationships does NOT tarnish the whole LGBTQ+ community.

It’s time we stood and fought for ALL women. All voices need to be able to be heard. No one deserves to suffer anything in silence, regardless of any labels (gender, sexuality, socio – economic status, etc).