Monday, June 9, 2008

Aborigines 'don't know rape is illegal'


MORE than 90 per cent of people in Arnhem Land do not understand basic legal concepts, with many Aborigines under the impression that white society is "lawless", a report has found.

But it's mostly the old people, right? I mean, the billions of dollars the government has spent to help the Aborigines has resulted in a younger generation more equipped to live in western society, right?

Ninety-seven per cent of Yolngu people born after 1967 fell into the lowest category of understanding.


And then there's this gem:

This has resulted in wrongful imprisonment and "massive confusion", with some communities still unaware that rape is considered illegal, says Richard Trudgen, CEO of the Aboriginal Resource and Development Services (ARDS).
Now, maybe I'm just a wild redstate American, with an opinion about crime shaped by a culture that loves Dirty Harry, "clings" to god and guns (and the silly notion of right and wrong), and considers rape only less than murder in severity. But, as far as rapists are concerned (real rapists, not the falsely accused), there is no such thing as wrongful imprisonment. To be crass, should a man decide to rape a woman I care about, he will be punished, hopefully by the criminal justice system, but either way, he will be punished. Whether or not he "knows" that rape is illegal is besides the point.

If anything, those who don't understand (to use the word "know" kind of implies that it's a bit of trivia, like the law making it illegal to mispronounce "Arkansas" in Arkansas) that rape is wrong (I don't care what the law is) are more dangerous. See, I, and I would like to hope most Americans, understand that rape is wrong. I don't care what the law is, if the supreme court suddenly decided that rape was OK, it wouldn't change my understanding of it. It wouldn't change how I would react if I saw a woman being raped. I'd argue that if you don't just understand, that rape is wrong, REALLY wrong, then you're not fit to exist in a free society.

How on earth is a white Australian woman supposed to behave, after reading this article, when encountering young Aborigine men in public?

It seems like there are two options:

1 Act "racist" (cross the street, get a good grip on your pepper spray, avoid eye contact and/or any attempt to engage in communication, etc.)

2 Put yourself in danger of being raped


Even more difficult, how is a white Australian man supposed to react when seeing a young Aborigine man and a woman having a disagreement?

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