As reported in The Australian November 30,2018
Like most traditional cultures around the world, Warlpiri culture is deeply patriarchal; men are superior to women and more privileged, and the collective quashes the rights of the individual. These principles, thousands of years old, come together to oppress women now. If I misbehaved as a young girl, some well-intentioned family member might threaten me with forced marriage to a much older “promised husband”. I would obey out of terror.
Aboriginal children are rarely punished physically but are controlled psychologically. I recall when I was a little girl my female kin playing cards at Yuendumu. A Japangardi, one of my potential husbands, walked past. The women pretended he was coming to take me away. They teased me and huddled around, pretending to protect me from his clutches. He played along, pretending to grab for me. I was terrified. Everyone burst into laughter. Japangardi signalled it was all a joke and handed me a $20 note to compensate for the terror he caused me.
Girls are trained to be submissive from birth and their fear is laughed at. My mother was expected to join her middle-aged promised husband as his second wife at 13. She would have gone to her big sister’s household as her co-wife. Mum rebelled. Her father and promised husband relented and told her she could finish school first. They were good and thoughtful men who knew the law but also knew when not to enforce it and that the world was changing. Others of my mother’s age weren’t so lucky and were beaten senseless for daring to rebel.Read more...