State Violence, Forced Child Removals and DIC 4f - Suicide, sexual abuse and racism


Slow Violence: the relationship between suicide and gendered and racial violence

[imagecaption] Ground Zero INAC Toronto, 2017. Photo: Michelle Bui. [/imagecaption]


Dr Hannah McGlade has written on how the suicide of Indigenous girls have in some cases been linked to experiences of family violence and sexual abuse. Between January-March 2019 there were 35 suicides of Indigenous people several of whom were young women and girls. Racism is also frequently named as a factor in why young Indigenous people suicide. As several commentators, including Dr Tracy Westerman, have highlighted, the lack of media and public concern in relation to these deaths reinforces the feeling that the broader community does not value the lives of Indigenous children.

As Suvendrini Perera writes, in the recent inquest findings into the deaths of 13 children and young persons who died in the Kimberley region of Western Australia (3 of whom were girls) what unfolds are stories of lives lived in the shadow of state institutions – government bureaucracies, medical services, housing authorities, child protection services, schools – and their systematic failures. This chain of ‘missed opportunities’, everyday omissions, and actions incrementally ‘forgotten’ or neglected in the press of other demands adds up to something much more. It represents nothing less than the systematic imposition of a form of slow violence whose lethal consequences continue to unfold over time.

This slow violence is also experienced by First Nations youth in Canada whose suicide rates parallel those of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in Australia.



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