Girls and Children: Stages of Institutional Violence 4h - Slow Violence


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

A badge is pinned to a red piece of fabric. The badge reads '#SuicideIsGenocide' with a broken heart icon.

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


Noongar human rights researcher and advocate Hannah McGlade writes of how the suicides of Indigenous girls have in some cases been linked to experiences of family violence and sexual abuse within a broader context that also includes colonisation and the lack of self determination. This was a question raised following the suicides of Susan Taylor in Western Australia and Kunmanara Forbes in the Northern Territory, both aged 15. Between January and March 2019 there were 35 suicides of Indigenous people, several of whom were young women and girls. A number of commentators, including Najmal psychologist Tracy Westerman, highlight the lack of media and public concern over these deaths, reinforcing the sense that the broader community does not value the lives of Indigenous children.

‘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.’

 Suvendrini Perera on recent inquest findings into the deaths of 13 children and young persons who died in the Kimberley region of Western Australia

Slow violence also characterises the lives of First Nations youth in Canada whose suicide rates parallel those of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in Australia.



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