I couldn’t resist writing this post. I just couldn’t. Because since well before the whole Destroy the Joint thing has started, Blak and Black has been fighting to draw attention to the plight of Ms. King, Australia’s most senior Indigenous female banking executive who was indecently assaulted in broad daylight in the political heart of the Australian Capital Territory, also know as Canberra in 2005. What happened to Ms. King was in no way provoked. She was not drunk. She was not dressed provocatively. She had not gone to the bathroom and left the door unlocked and she was in the company of friends. Ms. King was slapped across the face by a man whom she had never met but was known to others in her company. Her face was bruised, her glasses broken and she was racially abused. To top off the insult, her dress was deliberately torn to expose her breast. All this in front of the lunchtime crowd. It should have been enough for criminal charges to be laid against her attacker … that is, if she had not been an indigenous woman lunching with an indigenous man in Canberra.
When Ms. King, accompanied by two witnesses, approached the Australian Federal Police (AFP) station just one block away to make a report about her attack she was not only refused assistance, but threatened with being charged herself if she did not leave the premises. Ms. King subsequently made a statement to an independent legal counsel, but seven years later she is still waiting for justice. Ms. King was subjected to ongoing harassment after that attack with her house broken into and her animals poisoned by unknown attackers and AFP police cars sitting outside her home late at night with the lights flashing.
This is where not only racial harassment begins, but acceptance of sexual assault. If Ms. King cannot realize justice for an assault in which she was physically harmed and exposed to a crowd of people, what hope has any other woman in Canberra, especially an indigenous woman?
Australia looks to India’s daughter and wonders how such horrid actions can have been allowed to go unnoticed, why justice is not carried out. The caste system has been blamed, in which women in poorer and more remote areas are seen as essentially worthless. Compare that with Canberra, in which the treatment of Ms. King, Lucinda McMillan and Angelique points toward a caste system in which racism is the hallmark. It is acceptable to assault and harass an indigenous woman, to abuse a man or woman of darker skin colour, to alter, ‘displace’ and add documents to an indigenous man’s personnel file.
Castes exist in the wider Australian society too. The assault upon Bakchos which has left him with long term injuries was specifically designed to belittle and intimidate him, alluding to KKK ritual and hatred. The attack upon Mahmud a few weeks ago in which he was racially abused for his Arab heritage points to another example of caste racism. And anyone who associates with people of supposedly inferior racial heritage is fair game as well, be they indigenous, Muslim, white or black.
Destroy the Joint, I signed your pledge early on, because:
I want an Australia where girls and women, where men and boys, can take part in our society without enduring discrimination, sexism and violence.
I want an Australia where we respect each other; an Australia where no person experiences hate because of their gender, race, religion or sexuality.
And I will challenge anyone who uses sex, race, religion or sexual orientation to incite hatred or to demean or vilify any of us. I will not stand by and let others do so without speaking up.
It Stops With Me.
Yes, it does stop with me. That’s why I’m involved with Blak and Black, because I want my sons, daughters, nieces and nephews to be judged not upon their appearance or life choices, but upon the content of their hearts and their deeds, which always reflect the former. And I have to say unless the women of this country get behind sisters like Ms. King – a well educated, highly trained, very successful indigenous woman who holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Sydney and a Diploma in Law (SAB) NSW –whom the ACT Government and AFP have denied justice, then Australia will never Close the Gap between indigenous women and the rest of the population because the racial caste system that is so entrenched will never be broken.
Meditate on that, ladies and gents. Ain’t Ms. King a woman? Doesn’t she deserve to be treated as well as any white woman?