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NOW Australia: Bad Dreaming
Bad Dreaming: Aboriginal men's violence against women and children
by Louis Nowra
This is the third in the new series of NOW Australia - new journalism
on contemporary issues by Australia’s leading writers and journalists
and issued five times a year.
The sensitive issue of Aboriginal male violence against women and
children has only recently surfaced with disturbing media reports of an
epidemic of Aboriginal male violence by ABC TV’s Lateline program and the Australian newspaper.
The issue is such a culturally sensitive one and to write about it is
highly controversial but eminent Australian playwright and author Louis
Nowra strongly believes that the issue is so important that it must be
openly addressed and dealt with immediately.
In this NOW Australia, Louis Nowra goes behind the media headlines and
reveals the endemic male Aboriginal sexual and domestic violence
against women and children. He tries to answer the question whether
this violence is traditional or a product of two hundred years of white
settlement. He examines traditional Aboriginal life and cites
observations by early settlers, explorers and anthropologists. His
examination of the problem of male violence ranges right across the
country, including urban communities.
Louis Nowra has a profound interest and respect for Aboriginal culture
and said he was moved to write about the issue when he read of the anal
rape of a 13 year-old girl 'promised' to an Aboriginal elder and,
almost at the same time, he spent three days in the Alice Springs
Hospital surrounded by bashed women and girls and wondered why no male
had written about this problem although a few brave women had. It is a
man's problem and one that our society must deal with immediately.
A wide range of reports from various governments, health professionals,
the media and from Aboriginal women and men are examined.
Louis Nowra studies Aboriginal male culture and its attitude towards
women and girls before the coming of the white man then looks at the
terrifying reality of domestic violence and sexual abuse of young girls
in many Aboriginal communities and concludes that Aboriginal men are
the answer to the problem and that they have to face many important
questions, most importantly - has Aboriginal culture contributed
towards this situation and what does it mean when Aboriginal men defend
their violence or sexual abuse as 'traditional'?
Louis Nowra also takes on the ‘forbidden’ topic of Aboriginal
homosexuality and provides case studies that deal with the abuse and
corruption of young boys – the hidden world of male initiation and
This issue is one that the Australian nation and people can no longer
ignore and if Louis Nowra does one thing by writing this book it is to
bring the issue to public attention in such a way that the whole
community - Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal can take effective action to
stop a violence that should be unacceptable in any society that cares
about its women and the young.
Australia has never faced this issue in the way New Zealand did with
the book, Once Were Warriors, the film of which changed some Maori male
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Louis Nowra is a prize winning playwright and author.
His plays include INNER VOICES, INSIDE THE ISLAND, CAPRICORNIA, SUMMER
OF THE ALIENS, RADIANCE, COSI and the recent THE BOYCE TRILOGY.
His novels include: THE MISERY OF BEAUTY, PALU, RED NIGHTS and ABAZA.
He has written four non-fiction works, THE CHEATED, WARNE'S WORLD, WALKABOUT and CHIHUAHUAS, WOMEN AND ME .
His memoirs are THE TWELFTH OF NEVER and SHOOTING THE MOON.
His screen credits include MAP OF THE HUMAN HEART, COSI, HEAVEN'S
BURNING, THE MATCHMAKER, RADIANCE, K-19: THE WIDOWMAKER and BLACK
Louis Nowra’s work has been performed and translated into many languages. He lives in Sydney.
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