Four Corners - Shame, The
This life and death subject was taboo territory for decades. For Aboriginal people, it was a matter of shame. For non-Aboriginal people, it opened up accusations of racism. Now, finally, it is being discussed. Four Corners travels outback Australia to assess the impact of violence on Aboriginal communities and how those communities, governments and key agencies are dealing with it.
Reporter Liz Jackson finds Aboriginal women and children have a low premium in a system that offers them little protection but affords leniency to their abusers. Jackson meets victims like Rosemary, a regular at the Halls Creek safe house in the Kimberley. A week ago she sought refuge after her husband bashed her on the head. The next day he broke her arm. Now she's back again. How to tackle the crisis? Some ideas run counter to prevailing opinion: Should violent Aboriginal men be locked away, possibly increasing the risk of deaths in custody? Should the wider community get involved, or is this interfering in Aboriginal self-determination?
As Australia begins to debate physical violence against Aboriginal women, there is another, more sensitive issue to be confronted: child sexual abuse. It's a key concern for Aboriginal leaders, with evidence suggesting sexual abuse may be driving high rates of suicide among teenagers. The incidence of child sexual abuse appears to be horrific. Four Corners has obtained previously unpublished data showing unusually high rates of sexually transmitted diseases among Aboriginal children.
As a woman elder asks: "Who's going to be our next generation?"
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