Category Archives: Sexual abuse

The mainstreaming of domestic violence

Screen shot 2015-01-28 at 2.15.15 PMOn Australia Day 2015, domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty was named Australian of the Year. Rosie’s 11 year-old son Luke was murdered by his father in February 2014 and since then the bereaved mother has made many media and public speaking appearances shining the attention on the issue of domestic violence and calling for systemic changes.

Male violence against women and children in the home is not new of course. However it appears to me that the media, the government and the police have only recently caught up with the fact that this ‘epidemic’ exists. Until recently domestic violence was largely the concern of the women and children who were being abused, the women’s movement and the women’s refuges that are now being dismantled. Take the example of Elsie, Australia’s first women’s refuge which opened in 1974. Screen shot 2015-01-28 at 2.14.53 PM

Elsie Women’s Refuge is currently under threat from State Government reforms which mean that government funding could be put out for tender which may allow religious groups to bid and potentially put female-run refuges under threat.

Handing over the running of women’s refuges to groups such as The Salvation Army puts at risk the original feminist ideology of female-run refuges, according to feminist Anne Summers . Such changes mean “that men would not only be allowed to stay at the refuge, they could also be running it,” she said.

Julia who had endured four years of violence and threats at the hands of her de facto partner before escaping to Elsie Women’s Refuge with her two young children explains what Elsie meant to her: “Elsie was a lot more than just accommodation. They really helped me understand and grasp what I had gone through.”

Sadly the refuge as a place of protection and consciousness-raising seems destined to go. We are also in danger of finally losing the feminist analysis of the women’s liberation movement now that the various state governments, police entities, and men’s groups are speaking out publicly and organising royal commissions. The feminist analysis that is sorely needed and is no longer popular views domestic violence, and all male violence against women, as about male domination and power.

Congratulations must go to Rosie Batty for her wonderful award but we must be careful that in the mainstreaming of domestic violence feminist analysis continues to be heard. Late last year when Rosie Batty took to the witness stand at the inquest being held for her son Luke’s death she said: “It was to get at you… someone wants to make you suffer the rest of your life.” And of course this someone was her former partner and father of her only child. A man who had lost control and possession of Rosie and his child and couldn’t take it. So he killed her child to make her suffer. It is this male violence and power over women and children that must be stopped.

Male violence is the leading cause of death and disability in Victorian women under 45. Every week in Australia, a woman is killed by her current or former partner. In response to this crisis the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced that there will be a Royal Commission into Family Violence. But what does family violence mean? Who is being violent and who is the victim. The correct phrase should be ‘male violence against women and children’.

As for this commission-surely this is largely a waste of money for as a letter writer to The Age has written: Women’s services and survivors of family violence have been saying for years exactly what is needed to tackle the issue. They want more resources for refuges, affordable housing for women escaping violence, the proper administration of intervention orders and school programs stressing the importance of respectful relationships. The question is whether after this royal commission, which will tell us what we already knew, there will be funding to carry out the programs that women’s services have been asking for years?

– Sue Leigh, Fitzroy North

After the Royal Commission at the cost of $40 million there may be little money left for women’s services. And although the federal government is putting aside funds for a national action plan on tackling violence against women, the domestic and sexual violence peak bodies are calling for funds recently cut from service providers to be reinstated. The convenor of the national family violence prevention legal services, Antoinette Braybrook, said the government was giving with one hand and taking away with the other.“At the same time as making these supposed commitments, the commonwealth government has defunded critical services, including the NFVPLS program, which delivers vital legal services that ensure the safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children,” she said.

Today refuges such as Elsie are being defunded and the feminist analyses of the refuge movement that viewed domestic violence, and all male violence against women, as about male domination and power are not heard. The mainstreaming of domestic violence which includes the appointment of Rosie Batty as Australian of the Year can not be regarded as a progressive step for women.

 

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Australian politicians to study the Nordic model of prostitution

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The news that a group of Australian politicians will spend three weeks in France, Sweden and South Korea  studying prostitution law reform is most welcome. ACT Liberal MLAs Giulia Jones and Vicki Dunne will be joined by West Australian state Liberal backbencher Peter Abetz and Victorian Labor state member Christine Campbell. Continue reading

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Every gun is a theft from those who hunger

Screen shot 2013-10-12 at 5.38.36 PMAbigail Bray is the author of Misogyny Re-loaded. Recently I spoke with her about her explosive manifesto where she links the present era of sexual sadism to the rise of an authoritarian militarised violence.  Continue reading

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The betrayal of the single mother

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An angry, passionate and polemical book that draws connections between pornography, the pharmaceutical industry, self-help culture and social media to launch an inflammatory attack against patriarchal capitalism. –Rosalind Gill, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, City University London Continue reading

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From empowerment to Women’s Liberation


The tragic rape and senseless murder of Brunswick woman Jillian Meagher  reminds us that women are still  not free from male violence.   Continue reading

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Liberation not empowerment

My great, great-grandmother is 90 years old but still she holds the baby. Continue reading

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Why porn?

At the mention of Big Porn Inc,  grown men wriggled and squirmed uncomfortably in their seats. Big Porn Inc : Exposing the Harms of the Global Pornography Industry had made The Australian Education Publishing Awards shortlist as a Secondary Reference Resource and the winner was about to be announced. Continue reading

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Don’t do it!

This article was prompted by another woeful story of sex abuse committed by Catholic church priests. An episode of the ABC’s Four Corners,  Unholy Silence investigated the abuse involving many children such as altar boy Damien who was fondled and sodomised by Father F and whose life went off the rails precipitating a tragic, early death. For the following few days the program and its graphic material instigated and fed much of the media commentary. But that’s as far as it gets. Until the next story of abuse and then the next one.

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