There has been an outcry this week both in Australia and in many other parts of the world. It concerns the pack rape of a ten year old indigenous girl. This is not news in itself since about 80 child protection cases are reported in just one North Queensland indigenous community every month.
But as I said, that wasn’t the news. What really upset the entire nation, except for one aboriginal activist, who is my subject today, is that the judge did not give a custodial sentence to any of the nine males involved explaining that the ten year old girl probably agreed to it.
The result of such an outrageous failure to administer an appropriate sentence to the rapists, is being reviewed as I write. The crown prosecutor has been stood down and the judge in question, is under a cloud.
What really blew my mind today was an opinion expressed by Michael Mansell who is the Legal director of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre. Now Mr Mansell has been around for many years and he has done for the indigenous cause what the Japanese are doing for whale protection.
By the way, Mr Mansell refers to his people as Aborigines and so I will follow suit in this post, lest he be offended.
He is an activist who apparently believes that common sense is not the way to go when it involves his people. It’s not as if Mansell is uneducated and ignorant either, but he seems to be stuck in the past. He is a barrister who has made a habit of being controversial and now he has become vocal about the rape of the child.
No, he is not asking for more severe sentencing for the rapists. On the contrary, as he writes in “The Australian” (13/12/07) “the offenders admitted their behaviour was wrong by pleading guilty…Imposing white rule over Aboriginal society creates the problem.” In fact, Mansell supports the judge’s leniency.
In other words, jailing rapists of a child is just more evidence of white rule. After all, the rapists did say they were sorry. Placing the child in care with foster parents who are either white or black so that she can be protected from further abuse (she was already being treated for syphillis) is evidence that whites want to isolate Aborigines from their culture.
Mansell ends his letter with “Isn’t it time to find real solutions?”
So here’s a letter of my own:-
Dear Michael Mansell,
You have been an activist for over thirty years and have achieved zilch. Your people are suffering alcohol and substance abuse. Toddlers have venereal diseases. Women and children are being bashed and raped constantly. Who is doing this? It is your people, Mr Mansell. We aren’t even allowed to enter Aboriginal communities without permission.
Isn’t it about time that your people took some responsibility for their actions?
Take a leaf out of the book of another Aboriginal leader, Noel Pearson, who realised that the blame game is unproductive. He is determined to work with the rest of Australia to improve the plight of his people.
On the same topic, the rape of the child, Noel Pearson says that children must be rescued from homes in which they suffer abuse. He will accept any help he can muster to save his people from misery and drug addiction. And if it means sending abused children away into caring families, then so be it. What chance does that child have of a safe life if she is left in a community that is so out of control? I invite you, Mr Mansell, to read what Mr Pearson has to say on the 7.30 Report (12/12/07) on the ABC TV web site.
Believe me, Mr Mansell, we didn’t create this problem. The folks who are responsible for it are resting in cemeteries. We are left with the legacy of British colonial rule over two centuries ago.
Isn’t it about time that you stopped blaming the current Australians for anything done by their ancestors?
For crying out loud, a majority of us come from other countries in the world. We weren’t even here in those bad days that you complain about, but we want to help. If you continue to accuse us so unfairly then don’t be surprised if we stop listening to you.
You should put the interests of your people ahead of all that pent-up aggro. Get over it and do something constructive for a change.