The Fairer Sex

Photo Courtesy Guillaume HERBAUT

A gang of six young females attacked two men and two women after the four refused their demands for money and cigarettes in Ipswich, QLD the other day. As the assault began a van with another two females arrived with the two women joining in before they all drove away leaving the victims injured and missing at least one wallet. It does not pay to underestimate the female of the species, especially when she is ‘mob handed’, ie: in a gang or group.

I guessed upon reading the first few lines that the women would be indigenous, we have a similar problem where I live with gangs of female Koori’s begging for cigarettes and money down at the local shops. If you refuse they have been known to turn on you. They can inflict very serious injury yet it is difficult for many of us to react with sufficient force in the first instance to dissuade them from escalating from verbal taunts to actual violence. Yet by the time you realise it is really happening it is often too late.

Of course it is not all one sided.  In Albury-Wodonga in 2008 there were a series of attacks on Koori teens by white teen gangs, purely based on ethnicity or race. Aboriginal community elders called for calm and restraint from their young people and the point was well made that we all bleed red blood. So, was the Ipswich attack racially motivated or simply a criminal act? It is all too easy to play the race card when there is a visual identifier in place, such as physical appearance that clearly identifies those involved as being of one ethnic group or another.

While the Albury attacks most likely were racially motivated, the Ipswich ones I would presume were only partially fuelled by skin colour. It is easier to hate those who are visually different to oneself, the greater the differences the easier it becomes. Being so visually different has been a survival aid since time began. If that other human did not look like you and your clan then there was a good chance they were from somewhere else and quite likely a threat. All very well 40,000 years ago but times have changed.

Times have changed for our indigenous citizens too, albeit not always for the best. However the status quo is what it is and we can’t turn back the clock to 1769 and send Cook off somewhere else. What we can do is listen to the words of Wiradjuri elder Nancy Rooke, “We’ve got to live in this world, we’ve all got to get on.” That goes both ways.

There is NO EXCUSE for assaulting other people. Race is not reason, nor is religion or orientation or any other ‘difference’. However, this is not a fair and just world and I suspect while there are human beings inhabiting it, it never will be fair or just to any great degree. So be aware other people may not like you or who they think you are. In the Cronulla riots of 2005 an Indian man, a Sikh complete with turban, was set upon by the ignorant crowd of thugs because they mistook him for a Muslim. In his mind he is not a Muslim and so was not at risk but he failed to take into account the fact that thugs are pretty thick to begin with, hence they run in packs and are easily riled.

I do quite a lot with the indigenous community in my area but I still give gangs of young ones a wide berth because I know they have the capability if not the intent to harm and they might think I am just another ‘white bum’. Being proactive and aware does not mean you are stereotyping or racially profiling, just prudent. But keep it to yourself or you run the risk of an assault of a different kind.

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