Targeting of Indigenous Women 2e - The ‘vaporous crime spree’ of rape and death


Put in harm’s way: the ‘vaporous crime spree’ of rape and death

[imagecaption] ‘Black days in the Dawson River Country – Remembrance gowns’, installation, textiles assemblages textile accessories neckpieces necklaces, textile, lace, wood, native flowers, 54.0 h x 500.0 w x 300.0 d cm, 2016. Purchased by the National Gallery of Australia in 2017 in recognition of the 50th Anniversary of the 1967 Referendum. Artist: Dale Harding. Photo: Dr Ryan Presley. [/imagecaption]

‘Discrimination takes the form both of overt cultural prejudice and of implicit or systemic biases in the policies and actions of government officials and agencies, or of society as a whole. This discrimination has played out in policies and practices that have helped put Indigenous women in harm’s way.


The 2004 report Stolen Sisters, compiled by the Native Women’s Association of Canada and Amnesty International, was one of the first to highlight national and international understandings of how the state ‘helps put Indigenous women in harm’s way’ through its historical and current policies and practices.

As highlighted in subsequent investigations  such as ‘Why are Indigenous women missing in Canada?’ and ‘Vanished’, across Australia, as in Canada and the US, violence is a large and lethal part of life for many Aboriginal women.

Indigenous women account for 16 per cent of female homicides in both Canada and Australia. The group Destroy the Joint, which was established in 2012, has attempted to document femicide in Australia through their ‘Counting Dead Women’ initiative. Following on from this, Celeste Liddle, an Arrernte community organiser and writer, attempted to identify what percentage of these women were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. The RED HEART campaign also maps Australian femicide and child death.

According to the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) National Homicide Monitoring Program (NHMP), during 2012-14, two in five Indigenous homicide victims were killed by a current or previous partner, compared with one in five non-Indigenous homicide victims (AIHW). 

Over three-quarters of all female Indigenous victims compared with almost two-thirds of all female non-Indigenous victims were victims of domestic or family homicides. Data from the NHMP 1989–90 to 2011–12, also suggested that Indigenous women were less likely to be killed by a stranger than non-Indigenous women. Homicides involving Indigenous people also occurred less frequently in a home setting (41%) than non-Indigenous people (51%) (Cussen & Bryant 2015).


Please Read

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are respectfully advised that this website contains images of and references to deceased persons.

All viewers are respectfully advised that the site contains images of and references to the deaths in custody of Indigenous peoples, Black people and refugees that may cause distress.