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Why the rape of an aboriginal child doesn’t seem to matter

A young child has allegedly been raped in the Northern Territory. But have you heard anything about it? No, of course not, which makes me wonder if ethnicity has anything to do with this radio silence.

When a child is abused and mistreated in this country, you expect for it to make the news in a big way. A toddler goes missing and it makes the front page and is reported for weeks. A man attempts to abduct a child and it’s on the nightly news and everyone’s talking about it.

But a child is allegedly raped and this is the only report that was filed by the Northern Territory Police media: “Police have arrested and charged a 29-year-old man following the sexual assault of a minor,” it read. “He was refused bail overnight, to appear in … Magistrates Court today (Tuesday).”

That was it. The end. No details about the perpetrator or the circumstances. Just a couple of lines stating that a 29-year-old man had sexually assaulted a minor. End of story.

The Northern Territory’s chief minister, Adam Giles, has raised the alarm and asks the question why the alleged rape of an Aboriginal child didn’t deserve more attention, saying that if the victim had been white, the report would have been very different.

“The saddest part is, it was a little blip on the media radar. It raised a few column inches and it disappeared,” he said.

“One can only think that if it was a blond-haired, blue-eyed little girl, it would have made the front page of media around the country.

“But a little Aboriginal kid in the Hidden Valley Town Camp… it’s just not been noticed and I think it’s quite disgusting.”

Disgusting isn’t even the word for it. It’s unfathomable and sad that a child could be so easily brushed aside. Forgotten.

Statistics are a bit sketchy when it comes to determining the actual number of indigenous children who are victims of sexual assault, but according to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, indigenous children are far more likely to be represented in statutory child protection systems.

From 2001-2002, 3,254 indigenous children under the age of 17 had experienced some form of abuse, 4.3 times higher than non-indigenous children nationally. But that figure rose to nearly eight times in both Victoria and Western Australia.

According to Dr. Kyllie Cripps, the acting director of the Indigenous Law Centre at the University of New South Wales, sexual abuse of indigenous children is increasing, with 935 incidents reported in 2011-2012.

The thing is, any sort of abuse that is experienced by any child, regardless of their age, gender or race, is disgusting and deserves the right attention, acknowledgement and respect to make sure these stories get told so social change and intervention can occur.

Northern Territory opposition leader, Delia Lawrie, said that the lack of reporting should instead be blamed on the government for its lack of transparency.

“Don’t blame people who weren’t provided information from the very government that is now seeking to blame them,” Lawrie said.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a lot of pressure on police in terms of what goes out in the media domain that fits with the culture of cover-up in the [Country Liberal Party].”

What do you think about how this incident was reported? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.

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