Sunday, June 08, 2008

Aboriginal issues revisited

Northern Territory News

Go the link for a disturbing story of apparent cultural norms in remote aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. Short version: an Aboriginal community officer accepted his 13 year old daughter sleeping with a 20 year old bloke, who has since gone to jail.

The officer (who the newspaper calls a police officer, so I take it that is technically correct) will just face some internal discipline. As for the poor daughter:
The court heard the girl had contracted three sexually transmitted infections and that her baby had died in-utero.
What I also find irritating about the story is this statement by the NT Police deputy commissioner:
"Following the Chief Justice's comments that Aboriginal leaders in communities should demonstrate leadership to prevent the practice of tribal marriages to underage girls, the Northern Territory police are developing an internal information package to assist not only Aboriginal community police officers, but police generally in this regard,'' he said.
As I said back in June last year, what exactly is the insurmountable difficulty that any government has in making sure that aboriginal communities know a few basic laws? As I said then:
....this is an area where I think most people should rightly react along the lines: "forget cultural sensitivities when it comes to knowing what is child (or even adult) sexual abuse. They just need to be told in English (or if they don't understand that, their own language) a few key points: incest is illegal at whatever age; sex between adults and children is illegal. Sex without consent is always illegal too, no matter what age. No one who has an STD should have sex with anyone until it's cured. "

The basic rules just aren't all that complicated, surely.
Meanwhile, I've had some interesting talk with my relatives in Far North Queensland about how things are going in the Aurukun/Weipa area. The tavern at Aurukun now apparently only sells light beer, and this has not gone over well. Grog is smuggled in both overland and via boats. The police search vehicles driving into the township regularly, but grog is dumped in the bush for later retrieval when the residents can see that the polices cars are all back at the station. It is also smuggled in by boats (operated by aborigines, not whites.)

Meanwhile, I am told that Weipa is now not safe to walk around at night. The places that sell alcohol at Weipa cannot refuse to sell to aborigines, and in fact much of the alcohol that ends up in Aurunkun comes from there.

What a nightmare.

1 comment:

Mild Colonial Boy, Esq. said...

Sorry, this isn't relevant to your post - but did you know that Evil Pundit has returned to blogging fray (if only infrequently) at Evil Pundit?