Saturday, May 15, 2010

What the missionaries damned as child "stealers" actually faced

So men taking very young girls - only 5 years old in this case - for sex is not a recent phenomenon.

(Okay, there is a legitimate cultural issue here, even if the proponents of the stolen generations myth wont face it themselves, preferring rather to find some way to always blame 'whitey.' For instance, the practice of taking 'boy brides' was not unknown in several aboriginal tribes. One in the east had a separate word to describe a boy taken by a man for sex if he was older than 11 to that used for a boy younger than 11. Aboriginal men offering their womenfolk to be used by visitors for sex was recorded by the very first British settlers of the continent.)

At some stage we are going to have to face the truth about the state of aboriginal society during the 20th Century and give up on the naive white middle class myth of the noble savage.

Certainly many mistakes were made and racism was real, but this shows that many so-called "stolen" children in fact were removed for their own safety and that, (just as today), the sad reality was that one of the chief threats to the health and well being of aboriginal children were their own families.

We've just seen the jailing of a woman over east for prostituting her 12 year old daughter. Sadly, this was apparently not uncommon in a number of aboriginal communities in the early 1900s, and surely the crime would have been for the state not to have intervened and removed these children from being exploited by their own parents in this way?

But these are the kinds of children that people like Robert Manne insist are proof of the Stolen Generations. Indeed, one of the children he cites by name was a 12 year old abandoned girl who had syphilis. Another, of a similar age, was seven months pregnant when "stolen" by the authorities.

The language and attitudes of the writers are problematic for us today, but this shouldn't blind us to the terrible and shocking reality they faced and recorded.
- A five-year-old half-caste girl was ‘taken’ by the Chief Protector in 1905 from the upper Fitzroy River. The local telegraph operator C.J.Annear had reported:

A few days ago she was out with the old woman, Mary Ann, when a bush black took her away for two nights during which time the blacks here said he made use of her. Such actions as that of Polly and the man are very common among the natives.

- In 1900 at La Grange Bay, another postmaster F.W. Tuckett reported how girls under ten years had been cohabiting with Asiatics for many months. The half-caste girls commanded the best prices and enabled the mother and so-called father to live without any exertion whatsoever on the proceeds of tucker received fortnightly in the creeks, where from 20 to 40 boats come in for food and water.

- Anglican lay missionary Mary Bennett in 1934 testified:

“The practice to which I refer is that of intercision of the girls at the age of puberty. The vagina is cut with glass by the old men, and that involves a great deal of suffering…If they (the girls) get wind of it they come to the mission till the danger is passed…I remember my old aboriginal nurse speak with horror of the suffering which she had been made to undergo.”

- In 1929 at Drysdale River, Pallotine monks were still appalled by families prostituting their daughters. One couple had been trafficking with their young daughter ‘in a big way’; she “must go wherever the father calls her. If only we had Sisters (nuns), she and the other girls could be saved from this life of perdition!”

- A constable at La Grange Bay reported that a quarter of 400 Aborigines in his remit had venereal disease caught from Asian lugger crews, and of one group of 30, 17-18 had died – mainly young women.

- Boys of 10-12 were being lured or forced onto Malay pearling boats for sexual use.

- In one graphic account, postmaster Tuckett reported in 1904 that at Cowan Creek mooring grounds, more than 50 Aboriginal females were mating with Asian crews on elaborate beds in the sandhills. He complained this was just one of many such mooring grounds, and VD was rampant.
The Protectors, far from being obsessed with ‘stealing’ children, were in fact obsessed for decades with the health crises. For example, annual reports in 1928 and 1935 spent 30-40 times as much space on health as on removals.

Windschuttle comments drily: “It is very difficult to reconcile this with the purported objective of eliminating the Aboriginal race.”
Follow the link above for more.

Posted via email from Garth's posterous

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