International Day of Action: Comm Responses to Sexual Assault

Via Firefly.

For Community Responses to Sexual Assault

November 30th 2007

We are calling for people to organise in their own towns and cities to
take action on this day. This means whatever it means to you – maybe
organising in your school, occupying an office or a court or a police
station, holding a rally, making a publication, talking to people, or
anything you can think of.

The government has used sexual assault to justify the military invasion,
removal of land permits, and denial of Indigenous autonomy in the Northern
Territory. But this is not a way of dealing with sexual assault – fear,
intimidation, and military and police presence as a “solution” shows no
understanding of sexual assault or ways of dealing with it. The police
and military have been perpetrators of sexual assault in communities
around Australia, in Iraq, around the world.

The Northern Territory intervention is a racist intervention. It is
ridiculous that our white government thinks that Indigenous communities
are unable to respond to sexual assault themselves, with their own
processes and understandings, especially when we look at the way sexual
assault is dealt with across the rest of Australia, by relying on an
alienating, adversary and difficult to access legal system.

Almost no sexual assaults are reported to police, and most reported cases
result in no conviction. This is not because they are “false claims” but
because the legal system forces someone who has been assaulted to try to
“prove” their claim, doubting them, disbelieving, pressuring them to
relive their assault and undergo invasive medical examinations. Most
assault happens in private – it makes it the survivor’s word against the
perpetrator’s. The court system is designed so that survivors of sexual
assault are attacked and broken by defence lawyers who only want to win
their case. In the rare case that a perpetrator is convicted, prison does
nothing to confront and challenge the behaviour and underlying assumptions
and understandings that foster a culture of sexual assault.

We want a day of action calling for community – not military, not legal –
responses to sexual assault. Our government shows no interest in trying to
engage with the real issues of sexual assault and how to confront it, so
we need to do it ourselves. We are calling for support for survivors of
sexual assault, and a process of community response that prioritises their
needs and safety. We are calling for processes that try to change the
underlying myths and power dynamics that lead to assault, before it
happens. We want processes that deal with perpetrators in a way that
challenges their beliefs and behaviours, and gets them to take
responsibility for their actions and trying to change.

For more information, or to add your own:

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