Friday, June 29, 2007

Australian government "crackdown" on Aboriginal communities

In the Aboriginal communities of Australia, rumors are beginning to spread that the government is planning a "crackdown" on child abuse, including widespread sexual abuse, in these communities.
Aboriginal people are terrified, because it is well-known what happened last time the Australian government had such a "crackdown". Between 1915 and 1969, the Australian government terminated the rights of all Aboriginal parents, and forcefully took away many of their children. This became known as the Stolen Generation. The children were then raised in religious or charitable communities, or, in the cases of more fair-skinned children, placed adoptive or foster homes with white families. The children were not allowed to see their families, and were punished for speaking their native languages.
While the government claimed that this siezure was well-intentioned... supposedly they only wanted to give these children chances at having better educations, etc... many saw it as a form of genocide. By attempting to take all of the children from the Aboriginal communities, it seemed that the result would be the dying out of the Aboriginal culture. The culture managed to survive, though, and in the 1980's, a program called Link-Up was created to reunite the Stolen Generation with their families. The program provided counseling and attempted to transition the adult children back into their original culture.
Now, Aboriginal people are frightened that this is going to happen again. Some people are attempting to flee their communities with their children, to avoid being separated.
But the Australian government is trying to assure these people that, this time, the plan isn't to separate children from their families. Officials say that the abuse of children in these communities, especially sexual abuse, has become a national emergency. They site alcohol use, and "huffing", as the main reasons why this abuse happens. Other contributing factors are extreme poverty in these communities, lack of education, and lack of other services. The goverment says they will not take the children away, but they will take many other drastic measures, including:
- Putting restrictions on the purchase and use of alcohol.
- Creating welfare reforms that will ensure that welfare money is put towards healthy things, like food for the children.
- Requiring children to go to school, and providing meals for the children there.
- Giving medical examinations to all children under the age of 16, so that abuse can be identified and treated.
- Putting more police into the communities.
- Banning X-rated pornography and child pornography.

While these guidelines seem tame enough, many people... both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal... are outraged at this plan. They note that the problems happening in Aboriginal communities are largely the result of the abuse, prejudice, and neglect the rest of Australian society has dealt them in the past; and that the sexual abuse being spoken of is perpetrated not only by Aboriginal men, but by Australian white men as well. They point out that the compulsory medical examinations of children are most likely going to be the kind that must be done anally or vaginally... exams that can traumatize children just as much as any sort of abuse. They worry that all Aboriginal men will be seen as horrid, heartless child abusers, and treated as such, whether or not they are guilty of abusing children. There are even rumors that, although the government has been promising that they will not take the Aboriginal children away, there is already a facility set up for the children, which will be guarded by security guards.

It is clear that something needs to be done for the Aboriginal communities. A report entitled "Little Children Are Sacred", which recently came out, studied all of the Aboriginal communities and found that sexual abuse of children was definitely rampid in all of them. The report indicated that, when adults became intoxicated or high from sniffing "petrol," children are often sexually attacked by their adult family members or other adults. Children as young as seven months old have been assaulted. One 6-year-old girl was playing in a river with many other children, when an 18-year-old young man, who was high at the time, took her aside and raped her. He then drowned her, while her friends continued to play near by. The adults even brag about it! One reporter spoke of meeting two men who casually told him they were going into town to buy some plastic dinosaurs to repay a 12-year-old girl who had had sex with them. Another man boasted that, when he'd asked a 13-year-old girl to sleep with him and she'd refused, he'd raped her. And the abuse isn't limited to Aboriginal adults. White men often sexually assault both Aboriginal women and children.
Aboriginal girls are 28 times more likely than other Australian girls to be sexually assaulted by the time they're 18, and Aboriginal boys are 10 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than other Australian boys.
Perhaps what the Australian government should do is speak with the members of Aboriginal communities and ask them what they need... what would help them. Instead of sending social workers and police officers in to monitor the situation, perhaps they could train interested Aboriginal people to do these jobs. Perhaps they could launch a campaign to educate the Aboriginal children on sexual abuse... Some young girls have "voluntarily" had sex with adult men, simply because they didn't realize they had a choice in the matter. They could encourage the children to speak to someone, such as an Aboriginal social worker, if they'd been abused... instead of keeping it a secret. Aboriginal parents could also be taught how to protect their children. If children did need to be removed from their families, perhaps other Aboriginal families could become foster parents.
I don't know! What are your thoughts on this?

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