Deathscapes

Ms Dhu 4a - A Continuum of Violence

Deathscapes

A Continuum of Violence Against Aboriginal Women

Of the 99 deaths that were investigated by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC), eleven were of Aboriginal women, the majority of whom died in police custody. Three of the eleven women – Faith Barnes, Nita Blankett and Christine Lesley Ann Jones – died in Western Australia (WA).  Nita Blankett was at Bandyup Women’s prison when she suffered a serious asthma attack; like Ms Dhu she was disbelieved and denied life-saving care. Twenty years before Ms Dhu’s death, Janet Beetson died at Mulawa women’s prison. She was seriously ill but was dismissed as withdrawing from drugs.

Indigenous women now represent about 34% of the female prison population, despite making up only 2% of the total female population. In WA the ratio is closer to half. The deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in custody have been afforded little visibility.

[BREAK]


‘One of the points that hasn’t been really highlighted is that Aboriginal women have also died in custody, most of the publicity is centred around young Aboriginal men who have been in custody within a short few hours and have met their death. But there are Aboriginal women who have died in custody especially in Western Australia…’

Aunty Helen Ulli Corbett (Former Chairperson of the Committee to Defend Black Rights)


The official records rarely desegregate data to consider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women as a distinct, uniquely positioned group. Inquest reports, media articles and other sources must be cross-examined to determine the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who have died in prison or in police custody or police-related pursuits. Since 1990 we have counted 37 deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in prison or police custody or police-related pursuits across Australia. More than half of these deaths have been in WA and NSW.


Sharing

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.

Proceed