Monday, March 13, 2017

Inquiry: jail fewer Australian Aborigines for bashing wives

The head of a national inquiry into Indigenous incarceration has said that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people might need to be treated differently by the justice system in order to achieve equity under the law. Federal court judge Matthew Myers said that Indigenous incarceration statistics had become “so bad” that it was difficult to argue some laws did not disproportionately affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and that those laws might need to be changed to address the problem. One common reason for Aboriginal imprisonment is wife-bashing. For Myers' rule to work, an Aboriginal man should be no more likely to go to jail than a white. But for that to occur, an Aboriginal wife-beater should be no more likely than an white wife-beater to go to jail. Given that the rate of domestic violence in Aboriginal communities is so much higher than everywhere else, Myers' rule means a judge must treat Aboriginal wife-beaters unequally, by sparing them the jail they'd give a white. Aboriginal women are 34 times more likely to be hospitalized as a result of domestic violence than women in the rest of the community. In practice, Myers' rule means this: bashing an Aboriginal woman should not be considered as bad as bashing a white one, as long as the basher is an Aboriginal man. The Aboriginal wife-basher should not be punished as much as a white wife-basher. In fact, on these figures, an Aboriginal man should be 34 times less likely to be jailed for bashing his wife than a white man for bashing his. Only in that way do the imprisonment rates for each race match up. Great for men. Not so great for Aboriginal women.

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