The criminalisation of gender violence, though enormously important in validating women’s rights as human rights, has had particular and unintended effects in Aboriginal communities. In Alice Springs, Aboriginal women are known as ‘non-compliant’ and often discouraged from attending court by the prosecutors of domestic violence cases; being regarded as a hindrance to proceedings.
This seminar will explore some of the intersections between legal rights, local perceptions of social justice, and gender violence. Spousal or intimate partner violence exposes multiple sites of articulation with formal rights via the legal system while revealing, often in contradistinction, Aboriginal (Anangu) responsibilities in customary terms. By exploring the inter-subjectivity in these familial encounters, this seminar makes ethnographically visible why Aboriginal women tend to be ‘bad victims’ and why framing violence against women solely as a criminal issue, rather than a civil rights, human rights or public health issue, narrows the framework for understanding the scope, causes, consequences and remedies for violence against women. The seminar ultimately addresses the question; does the criminalisation of gendered family and domestic violence in the NT reduce the suffering of female victims?
Chaired by Mary Spiers Williams, ANU College of Law.