Jacinta Nampijinpa Price
Claims that those of us who decry the violence against Aboriginal women and children are seeking the abandonment of indigenous culture are a straw man argument meant to deflect attention from the real issues.
Culture is an important part of indigenous life. But culture — every culture — changes. We no longer go about daily life in the traditional garb. We no longer eat only bush foods caught in the traditional way. And we should no longer allow the tradition of domination, violence, rape and assault to continue harming and killing indigenous women and kids.
Senior women in my family have told me, in whispers, of the spearing of women by their husbands and of the execution of a teenage girl for refusing to go to a middle-aged promised husband who had already killed a wife.
All my life I have been taught to fear the law and that I could be killed if I broke it. All my life I have seen our women beaten, seen their wounds, visited them in hospital, been to their funerals.
The cultural ‘law’ that terrifies women and allows for their rape, bashing and murder — in conjunction with the other terrible problems of substance abuse, under-education and lack of employment — enables the epidemic of violence that is killing our women and girls.
I am deeply concerned about the fact that 23 per cent of Australian partner homicides are indigenous (despite us being only 3 per cent of the population) and that in the Northern Territory 85 per cent of partner homicides are indigenous.
We Aboriginal people must take responsibility for our own law and be willing to keep what is precious and beautiful but abandon what no longer works and denies us our human rights as Australian citizens.
This is an edited extract of an opinion piece published in The Australian as Indigenous law: Fix it if it’s wrong.
Jacinta Nampijinpa Price,
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