THE SEX TRADE ►Prostitution ►Pornography ►Sex Trafficking TACKLING DEMAND RELATED ISSUES ►Rape ►Rape and War ►Sexual Denigration MEN SPEAKING OUT

Australia: Sex abuse of Aboriginal children

Publish Date: 01 Feb 2004


Horrific rates of child sexual abuse have blighted the Aboriginal community at Cherbourg in south-east Queensland for years, but today a group of women spoke out in a desperate appeal for help.

Until now, the subject of abuse has been largely ignored for fear of retribution, but the women - many of them grandmothers - today put an end to their silence. In a deeply emotional plea, the women appealed to Australia's politicians - both federal and state - to help them deal with a crisis they believe touches more than 80 per cent of children in the 2,000-strong community.

In one case, a two-year old girl had contracted syphilis, while other girls had been so severely raped they would never be able to have children. In a written statement released during a meeting with Queensland Opposition leader Lawrence Springborg, the women called for help in dealing with several areas, including in the courts, police, witnesses, pathology and the state's Families Department. "If we cannot grow up our kids better, as is the present situation, our communities will continue to implode and biological genocide will be complete," the statement said.

The women said there were currently 27 children involved in sexual abuse legal proceedings, including seven victims and 20 witnesses. Another case, involving 12 victims from a historical charge, was also tied up in the courts. "Some of the crimes are so severe, the children have to be repaired and rebuilt," one woman told the meeting. "We're bringing children into this world to be destroyed."

Another woman said: "We want justice as grandmothers because we've buried a lot of our mothers and daughters who went to the grave." Concerned grandmother Esme Fewquandie said without urgently-needed services, people would take the law into their own hands. "Our people are not going to be tolerant for too much longer," Ms Fewquandie said. "Our people are angry about what is happening to the children."

Lorian Hayes, who helped establish a task force several months ago to deal with the issue, said she believed at least four out of five children would be sexually abused sometime during their childhood in the community. "Every week, someone is sexually abused in some way," she said. "I could say ... it is one in 10 children every week."

Ms Hayes said since the task force was established, members of the community had started to open up. "They have the courage to speak up - people have been very afraid (in the past)," she said. A visibly shaken Mr Springborg, who met the women after they called for leaders to hear their story, pledged to do whatever he could to implement their requests.

AAP NEWS -- 02/01/04>>