In an environment centred on demonising our men, the voices of Aboriginal women who want to speak out against violence also become conflicted. Our experiences as women become secondary to defending our men – because we have seen, particularly in the case of the NT Intervention, how moral panics around the safety of women and children can lead to policies that perpetuate violence.
The NT Intervention, which stripped rights away from Aboriginal communities, did not solve the issue of child abuse, as we have seen most recently. It also led to increases in suicide and self-harm rates, and also jailing rates. It is well known that the justice system is violent, and that Aboriginal men who are incarcerated for violent, and even non-violent crimes often come out not healed but traumatised, resulting in anger and rage. This often manifests in further violence, wrought on the self, or on the most vulnerable – Aboriginal women, children and the elderly.
One of the most common critiques of white liberal feminism is how, when talking about violence, it rests heavily on solutions through the justice system and police. For many Aboriginal women, the justice system is structurally violent, and the police are aggravators rather than protectors.
One of the strong black women I look up to, Larissa Behrendt put it beautifully: “Black women will have to fight their own battles; after all, we have been doing so all along…. Black women have created a separate political movement. Our political future will continue to be one that is propelled by the strength of black women. “