Essay: The sexual victimization of Australian Indigenous Women

The sexual victimization of Australian Indigenous Women has been continuously reoccurring since with 1960’s, which marks the beginning of colonization. Therefore, to understand the abuse experienced by the native women of this land, it is important to understand the context of Indigenous communities of this period. This will be achieved by addressing perspectives of early white feminist works on Australia at the beginning of this thesis. John Hunter (1968), a Royal Navy Officer, for example, presents a standpoint as a colonist who arrived in Sydney, Australia with the First Fleet from Britain. His account on the topic of sexual victimization of Indigenous women was composed five years arrived after landing on Australian soil. Hunter uses the word ‘beating’ to describe any form of affection received by Indigenous Women (1968, p.339). This historical account presents a brutal experience suffered by these women, which could have possibly influenced future discourse on the topic thus strengthening the perception of the Aboriginal woman to be disempowered within their community. In support of this historical account, Watkin Tench (1961) also accompanied Hunter in the First Fleet. He was a British marine officer recognized for publishing his first hand experiences in Colonial Australia. His literature ‘Sydney’s First Four Year’ published in 1961, also insinuates the sexual victimization of Australian Indigenous Women through descriptive words such as ‘barbarity’ recounting the abuse experienced by Aboriginal Women in colonial Australia. Generally speaking, the material documented by Tench is explicitly focused on the physical harm Aboriginal women faced by Aboriginal men. Both accounts refer to Indigenous women as ‘victims’ and ‘slaves’ to their male counterpart, which further confirms the social separation of gender amongst Aboriginal communities, controlled by the physical and symbolic oppression Aboriginal women experienced. Through the publishing’s of these colonial personalities we begin to identify a common theme in the narratives found.
Throughout colonial literature we are exposed to social and political issues, which are not always directly discussed, as evident in the diary entries of Hunter (1968) and Tench (1961). To understand these issues and deeply analyze their affects, we will employ Foucaults (1990a: 26,152) analytical framework allows us to gain insight into the construction of sexuality within a community. He claims it is the influence of political power that permits sexual violation and control of women in the Indigenous community. This is evident in the diary entries presented by both Hunter and Tench thus raising subjectivity towards the discourse used to represent Australian Indigenous women and their sexual victimization. To support the political and social issues raised, Atkinson & Woods (2008) recognize the use of violence that came through the colonizing groups of Australia. They acknowledge the use of sexual violence as a tool to control Indigenous societies (2008:1). Once again, aboriginal victims are recognized as ‘victims’ (2008:3).

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