Why do Aboriginal women in Australia experience such high levels of violence in their own communities? In this considered and carefully researched book, Joan Kimm discusses the extent and nature of the violence, its underlying causes, current policies that deal with it, and changes that might improve these policies.
Her work covers:
the devastating legacy of European colonialism on Indigenous culture,
modern anthropological evidence about patriarchy and violence in traditional Aboriginal societies,
beliefs held by Aboriginals, particularly men, about their cultural heritage,
the impact of cultural heritage upon modern Indigenous society, and
changing judicial attitudes to sentencing Aboriginal men for violence to Aboriginal women, shifting from emphasis on the men’s cultural background to emphasis on the women’s rights as victims.
Kimm shows how this multi-faceted environment, particularly the interaction of two patriarchal laws, has had, and continues to have, very real destructive effects on Aboriginal women.
Kimm argues powerfully that Aboriginal women, like all women, like all humans, have the universal right to lives free of violence. She contends that current law, policy and practice place too much emphasis on their rights as Indigenous people and too little on their rights as women. A shift in emphasis will be an important first step to safer lives.