Human First, Aboriginal second.

I moved away from Australia in the early 2000’s. It was right as the government was taking it’s first steps to say sorry to the Aboriginal people for the stolen generation.

As I’ve watched Australia from afar, it seemed like the country was taking great steps to right past wrongs, to embrace the indigenous community, and provide more assistance for Aboriginals to go back to a more traditional way of life in their communities, or provide them with education in the cities if they chose.

As someone who had been gone for about 15 years, I was impressed at how much things had changed when I returned home last year, and at a Film Festival, each person stood up to speak, and the first thing they said was they wanted to acknowledge the traditional holders of the land, named the local tribe, and then moved on. At first, I was like “Wow. I could not have imagined this when I left all those years ago. We’ve really changed.” But as three people spoke in a row, and all recited the same verse, it felt a little less genuine, and more like people feeling the need to be PC and grandstand about how enlightened they were. Or were afraid if they didn’t also say it, they would be seen as somehow racist. It’s not really a change in mentality if it’s not genuine, you’re just saying something because you have to.

Then, more recently, there was discussion about child abuse issues within Aboriginal communities, and whether children should be placed with other indigenous people, or if they could be fostered by white people. (Or anyone outside the Aboriginal community) I noted that several networks discussed the topic, but it seemed to go under the radar until Sunrise had the discussion of how to tackle it. They asked whether it was better to leave a child with an abusive community, or whether it was better to take a child and move them to a place outside the community, and the whole thing blew up into people protesting that Sunrise was advocating for another Stolen Generation.

With the news this week that another young child has been raped in Tennant Creek, and my own interest in preventing child abuse, I went down a rabbit hole of trying to work out how you can try to help prevent child abuse in Aboriginal communities, while not provoking another stolen generation.

As I read further about sexual assault against children in places like Alice Springs, and the amazing amount of violence against women in the Aboriginal community, (Aboriginal women and children are 45 times more likely to be victims of domestic violence than non-Aboriginal women, and eight times more likely to be murdered.) what struck me was the amount of times an offender was let off because it was a “cultural issue”. Countless times, when an Aboriginal man raped a child or beat a woman, he got off by claiming it was his right as an Aboriginal Man to do so.

Judges have been scared to interfere with the community, especially given the terror over black deaths in custody, or to be seen as being unfairly biased against black men.

But what about Aboriginal Women? Why are we saying it’s OK for Aboriginal Men to beat women because it’s “their culture” and we don’t listen to the Aboriginal Women who say it’s not part of the traditional culture, it’s just that their men or drunk or high, and violent?

Are we really telling Aboriginal women that they don’t count when it comes to culture or traditions. That it’s only what the men say it is? Are we really dismissing an entire half of a race?

Can you look at a child who has been gang raped, and tell her that you’re sorry she was beaten, raped, given an STD, but there’s nothing you can do about it because the men who did it told you it was OK because it’s just their way? That you’re not going to move her to a safer place to live, or provide her with any protection because it’s just a part of being an Aboriginal? Or if you do move her, it’s going to be to another community with the same problems, but with different people to abuse her? That she should just get used to it, because he whole life is going to be the same?

Aboriginal culture hasn’t always been violent. Yes, there has been a tradition of arranged marriages, and like any culture, there has always been incest, rape and murder. However, back then, young women in marriages were protected by co-wives and other family members. Before current housing styles, camps were open air, and other people could see violent acts, and step in and protect women and children. Communities self policed.

Now, Aboriginals are policed by white man’s laws, which have traditionally been favourable to the men, and not women or children. Double that down with a white judge who doesn’t know what is truly acceptable in traditional Aboriginal culture, and it’s never going to end well for indigenous women and children.

I honestly have no idea what the answer here is. I don’t know whether Aboriginals should have their own tribal justice system separate to that of the white man, like many Native American communities. I don’t know whether there should be a court system that has judges trained in Aboriginal ways, or whether we need to do more training with the women so they can educate us on their version of Aboriginal culture, that doesn’t give men a free pass to rape and murder. I don’t know how we protect Aboriginal women and children without moving them out of their communities, or how we create equality and education within it. I really don’t know what the answer is, but I think the first step is to have a conversation about it.

However, I’m not sure in the current climate we can even discuss what the appropriate actions should be, since any time the subject is brought up, it creates a war for the SJWs who think being PC is more important than protecting a child from rape, disease and murder. It’s racist to treat people differently because of their colour, but that’s exactly what we’re being when we have a different set of rules on how we police them.

I think the best course of action is to remember that these are people. It shouldn’t matter what color, religion, race or culture someone comes from. If they’re in danger, we need to help them. Being a human should count before being any other designation.

Something has to be done. It’s going to be uncomfortable for a lot of people, and I’m sure many will be offended. But if we don’t go through the hard part of having discussions, and that means discussing ALL options, we can never find a solution. Right now, people aren’t even able to talk about how to deal with it, for fear of backlash. That’s not helping anyone.

If you truly care for the Aboriginal people as much as you say you do in your little speeches, you’ll accept that we all need to stop treating them as a special category, and recognizing that Aboriginal women and children should be protected just like white women and children. (Which isn’t nearly as good as it should be, but it’s still a step above what they’re getting.)

So next time someone brings up a subject you think might not be PC, or is uncomfortable, before you shut it down, ask yourself whether that’s really helpful. Or, ask yourself if your discomfort is more or less than the child being gang raped….

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Victim Impact

If you haven’t read the Victim Impact Statement yet that was written by the woman who was raped by Brock Turner, please, take the time to do so. It’s on the BuzzFeed Site. Yes, it’s long. 7000 words in fact, but it’s incredibly well written, and very moving. I challenge anyone to read it and not feel some kind of new found empathy for rape/assault/molestation victims. It should be required reading for all people charged with rape, and all their families who try to defend them.

I read some pretty shitty comments on articles related to the Stanford Rapist, Brock Turner. I had written a piece about him yesterday, after his father released a statement, saying his poor son just didn’t feel like eating steak anymore. The Daily Mail picked up my blog post, and while I was reading other articles about him, I was simply amazed at some of the comments. I was amazed at how many rape apologists there were out there, and how many people thought that the victim should just move on. Many thought that since she was unconscious during the assault, and she couldn’t remember the attack, that she was being a cry baby, and shouldn’t be upset at all in the first place. Isn’t that kind of like saying that if your house in robbed, but you’re not home when it happens, that it’s ok, and you shouldn’t really care? Or that when you’re under anaesthetic during surgery, and they amputate your leg instead of removing an appendix, you weren’t awake, and didn’t feel it happening, so it’s all good? No? Don’t think those are good analogies? In each case, something fucked up happened, and you lost something you shouldn’t have. Oh, you think your material possessions are worth more than someone’s dignity or self worth? It’s ok, most people simply can’t comprehend the effect of sexual assault until they’ve lived it.

What I personally connected with in the letter written by the victim was the process of what occurred after the event. She was taken to a hospital, and was subjected to hours of rape kit testing. Her whole body photographed. Her body entered again with instruments. Having to speak to multiple people about the ordeal. Thankfully, I didn’t have to do that. I can’t imagine how hard that would have been. I did experience what happened after that though.

What people don’t tell you when you finally find the balls to start the legal process of getting some kind of justice from your attacker, is that it isn’t just going to be them that is on trial. The victim is also on trial. Maybe more so.

We all know the phrase “Innocent until proven guilty” and the courts, rightly, treat the defendant that way. Even people who have been caught in the act, maybe even on tape, but who plead not guilty, and drag their victims through court, are given the presumption of innocence. Not so the victim. The defendants lawyers will spend an insane amount of time, effort and money to dig up every piece of dirt on a victim. They will research your entire history, looking for anything that could possibly make you look less than trustworthy. They will read your entire FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram feeds, looking for the smallest thing they can bring up. Dare to post a smile on Instagram a month after your attack? Well, shame on you. How could you possibly ever smile again after such an alleged event? Go to a party? Busted! Oh, there’s a picture of you on the beach four years before the attack, and you’re wearing a bikini? Well, you’re just going around scantily dressed and inviting people to hit on you.

What’s your sexual preference? How many people have you been with? Any one night stands? Be prepared to share those details with a courtroom full of people. What color shoes were you wearing two weeks before the attack? You can’t remember? Well, if you can’t remember that, how come you can remember all the other details of what happened that day you were raped? You must just be making it up. Had consensual sex once while drunk with your boyfriend? If you could consent with your partner, why couldn’t you consent with the person you had never met before?

It amazes me how the defence is allowed to badger victims on the stand. They’re allowed to completely emotionally assault the victims, calling them all kinds of names, insinuating all kinds of things, or just outright calling them money grubbing, attention seeking sluts. They don’t have to prove their client is innocent, they just have to prove you’re not believable. You’re not credible. You’re not worthy of being believed. Going to court is the most soul destroying experience. Assuming you even make it that far.

After going to the police, there’s the investigation. Which could take years. Some people find just that part to be so bad, they they rescind their statements. Often when people “take it back” it’s not that it didn’t happen, it’s just that they want it to all go away. They don’t think they’re strong enough to go through with the process. Especially when there’s a huge power balance between the perp and the victim. There may be outright threats, but it could also be small stuff, like your family disowning you, your friends all distancing themselves, the police asking you to make phone calls to your attacker to try to get a confession on tape. Everyone in town who has been questioned in relation to the event judging you. Even if you are able to make it through the initial investigation, it may never even lead to an arrest. If he is arrested, it could take years before a trial, during which time your life’s on hold, waiting, waiting. Court dates are constantly moved, and each time, emotions are crazy. You have to re-live the event over and over. Then, you get to court, and even if the bastard is found guilty, it’s still not over. You still have to live with what happened to you. You have to live with the process, and the trauma of court. If your case was public, you get to have it be the first thing people think of when they think of you. I hope this girl gets to keep her anonymity. People can read her powerful statement, and not have to know who she is. She sounds incredibly strong and brave, and I hope she finds some sense of peace. Others who are public will always live with it, publicly and privately. Two years after Robert was found guilty, and I should be enjoying peace, I’m still dealing with a high court appeal, and the occasional dickhead who decides to hero worship Robert and try to ruin my day by popping up on my social media accounts, applauding the pedophile, and threatening me for speaking up. Imagine if two years after you went to court, you still have to deal with this:

threat

So to all those idiots who think that victims of sexual assault should just be happy that their attacker got a slap on the wrist and should move on, get a grip on reality. The victim can’t just move on. Even if they were unconscious when it happened, they had to live with the trauma of getting through the court process, and they continue to live with the feeling they may never be safe again, or that their whole life is being judged, or that they may never just be their old selves again.

I hope none of those internet trolls have to learn empathy the hard way, or have to read the same type of comments about themselves that they once wrote about others.

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Bravehearts calls for Royal Commission into Sexual Assault

Bravehearts renews calls for
Royal Commission of Inquiry into child sexual assault

Bravehearts has received the full support of the National Child Protection Alliance in its reignited calls for Prime Minister Julia Gillard to hold a National Royal Commission into the sexual assault of Australian children.

A Royal Commission should examine all clandestine, cultural, illegal and systemic activities, policies, laws and practices which compound the actual and potential sexual assault of Australian children within all environments including churches, institutions, courts of law, government and non-government organisations.

Bravehearts Founder and Executive Director Hetty Johnston, said sweeping powers are needed to comprehensively investigate all allegations of child sexual assault and the wilful cover-up by people and practices that betray the duty of all adults to place the best interests and protection of children first.

“Our children deserve protection; they deserve decisive and immediate action from those with the power to protect them,” she said.

“Our politicians must step up to the plate. The evidence around the level of danger our children face is indisputable. The impetus to do this properly is with a Royal Commission that closely examines the issue, so that we can stop child sexual assault in our society. We are not content to continue to simply mop up the carnage, we need this to happen and it needs to happen now.”

Ms Johnston said an earlier call for a National Royal Commission in 2003 in the wake of the Peter Hollingworth Anglican Church debate almost succeeded. The Labor Party, then in Opposition and led by Simon Crean and Jenny Macklin supported the calls, as did The Greens. Since that time the threats against our children have expanded and the need for an Inquiry crucial.

It follows allegations this week by a senior New South Wales police officer who claimed the Catholic Church not only impeded inquiries into child sex offences but competent police officers were removed from investigations.

“Child sexual assault and the issues surrounding it are endemic, they are national and they demand a national response,” said Ms Johnston.

“The Catholic Church has a great deal to answer for but it would be wrong to suggest that it is the only institution with serious matters to explain and equally, it would be wrong to believe that these issues stop at the NSW border.

“There is no question a Federal Royal Commission is needed immediately. Child sexual assault is the largest crisis facing our children, not just in the Catholic Church, and not just in NSW or Victoria.”

Research shows that 1 in 5 Australian children will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18. They are boys and girls, black and white, rich and poor and they live in every nook and cranny of our nation. This heinous attack is happening in various degrees of complicity in churches, in institutions and in all communities.

The outcomes for children and families in terms of mental health are catastrophic while the economic outcomes can be measured in the billions every year.

In October, Bravehearts launched its breakthrough 3 Piers to Prevention strategy – Educate, Empower, Protect – solid foundations to making Australia the safest place in the world to raise a child by 2020.

It will cost an average of $8 million per year for Bravehearts to deliver on its strategy to initially prevent 28,000 children (pa) from being sexually assaulted by 2020. Australian governments will need to support these initiatives for the targets to be achieved.

These actions will save an estimated $5.2 billion in costs associated with the ramifications of child sexual assault on survivors, their families and the community.

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