Indigenous rights

Skyrocketing incarceration rates for Aboriginal women prompt call to action

A file photo shows a mural of the Aboriginal flag on a wall in Sydney. The number of incarcerated Indigenous Australians rose by 88 percent in the last decade. (TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP/Getty Images)

Lawyers, judges, and Indigenous leaders are pushing Australia’s government to address soaring rates of imprisonment for Aboriginal women. The number of incarcerated Indigenous Australians rose by 88 percent in the last decade, and the number of Indigenous women in jail has more than doubled since 2000. Chief Justice of the South Australian Supreme Court, Chris Kourakis, has called on the Federal government to address the issue, and the Law Council of Australia, the peak body representing lawyers in Australia, says incarceration is tearing Aboriginal families and communities apart.

Debbie Kilroy, CEO of women’s support group Sisters Inside, attributes the escalation in arrests to domestic abuse and a systematic failure by government to help the plight of impoverished and uneducated Aboriginal women. Police, she says, are putting domestic violence orders on both men and women and are increasingly arresting women when incidents occur. Once out of jail, the women are often left homeless and are susceptible to being swiftly returned to prison for failing to meet strict bail requirements. “If governments do not want to provide the fundamental basic human rights for Aboriginal women in this country,” says Kilroy, “well this is what happens.”

Read the full story at the ABC.

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