Instrumentalities of the Settler State 3b - Settler law as violence against Indigenous women


Settler law as violence against Indigenous women

This illustration depicts and Indigenous woman defiantly resisting her colonisers. She stands strong, with an Aboriginal flag pin on her shirt and holds leaves in her right hand which is raised behind her head. The hands of a white man, which are tattooed with an adaptation of the Australian flag which features a swastika in place of the union jack, points a gun at her head. The tip of the gun drips liquid. Above the gun, the words 'Still Here. Still Blak. We Won't Kneel, We Won't Salute' are written.

[imagecaption] ‘Still Here. Still Blak‘, digital illustration, 2018. “We won’t Kneel. We won’t Salute to whose who kill our youth, and the systems that let them.” Artist: Charlotte Allingham. [/imagecaption]


The gendered impacts of settler colonialism include the ‘dispersal’ and enforced removal or trafficking of people from country, the disruption of families and gender roles, the removal of children from families and the added vulnerability of women and girls to sexual violence from both within their communities and outside them.

From its inception the laws of the settler state position Indigenous women as different to both Indigenous men and non-Indigenous women. Carol Thomas, Aboriginal Women’s Policy Coordinator of the NSW Office of Aboriginal Affairs notes that ‘whilst all Aboriginal people experienced extremely high levels of physical and spiritual violence by the new non-Aboriginal population,  Aboriginal women also experienced high levels of sexual abuse by this new population’ (2017, 139-140).  Direct violence was accompanied by a legal violence that was directed towards women in specific ways: criminologists Eileen Baldry and Chris Cunneen note that in Australia while both Aboriginal men and women were ‘governed by various aspects of 19th century protection legislation … Aboriginal women were also subjected to colonial patriarchal control by being locked up in disproportionate numbers in women’s ‘factories’ and in mental asylums and punished further by having their children removed’ (2014).


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