Whilst this makes very harrowing reading, I couldn't help but get very angry at the article. It has long been known that many aboriginal men abuse alcohol heavily (of course there are many reasons for this and the Aus government, past and present, should hang their collective heads in shame here). However, to write this article with the general and somewhat misleading theme of "substance abuse" is downright criminal journalism. This appeared on the age.com today:
Aboriginal women 'set on fire'
By Russell Skelton and Selma Milovanovic
May 17, 2006
THE nightmare of substance abuse among Aboriginal men has taken on another deadly dimension, with an alarming increase in the number of indigenous women being set on fire by angry, violent partners.
The revelation came as the Federal Government last night threatened to intervene in the affairs of the Northern Territory to tackle the epidemic of sexual abuse and assaults against women and children in Aboriginal communities.
Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough said it was well known that some high-ranking indigenous community leaders were involved in pedophile rings and were using children "at their own whim".
He signalled Canberra could intervene if the NT did not take stronger action to curb the spread of sexual abuse and violence in remote communities.
"I would first and foremost want to work with the elected Government of the Territory," he told the ABC's Lateline. "If that fails... then we shouldn't close our minds to any alternative that is possible."
Mr Brough made the threat as The Age learned of new claims of a growing trend among Aboriginal men to set fire to women who refuse to have sex with them.
Police are investigating a recent incident in which a young man allegedly doused petrol on his 18-year-old girlfriend's stomach and genitals and set her clothes on fire after she refused to have sex. She sustained burns to 30 per cent of her body.
In another case, a man tossed petrol over his wife when she refused him $10 to buy alcohol. She suffered third-degree burns to 40 per cent of her body.
Jane Lloyd, who advises NT Chief Minister Clare Martin on Aboriginal violence, told The Age the attacks were part of an alarming new trend among indigenous men who used ignited fuel to disfigure women who defied them.
"Such assaults are not uncommon or unusual. Women are burnt, in the abdomen, genital and upper thigh areas also with fire sticks," she said. "They are deliberate assaults intended to disfigure and sexually mutilate women."
Ms Lloyd's claims have been backed by the co-ordinator of the Alice Springs women's shelter, Maxine Schulte, who said the shelter was offering asylum to a growing number of indigenous women with burns inflicted by men.
"The tragedy is that 80 per cent of assaults go unreported because the women often return to their partners because they have nowhere else to go. They cannot find or afford alternative housing," she said.