This week’s Four Corners special How Many More? provided a much-needed investigation into the rates of First Nations women missing and murdered in this country. ABC Indigenous affairs editor Bridget Brennan and her team must be commended for their work.
The nation is in the midst of a national crisis of violence against Indigenous women. As Associate Professor Hannah McGlade puts it, this is “Indigenous femicide”.
The program highlighted a vital issue: the indifferent, uncaring nature and lack of urgency of many first responders. People requiring protection continue to be misidentified, with First Nations women punished for not conforming to the “worthy victim” stereotype.
Four Corners showed this in Roberta’s story, who was told by the attending police officer to “stop calling us”. No one helped her when she was being beaten in public. This all occurred in the lead-up to her death.
Given the widespread racism of police and their freqently apathetic responses and disregard to First Nations women’s safety, there is a reluctance to come forward and report violence. When women do report, they are criminalised, further marginalised, dismissed and dehumanised, as highlighted on Four Corners.
Given that new laws are being implemented around the criminalising of coercive control, we need to ensure both community and police understand what this actually is, and how it can present in a relationship.