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Law lecturer to shine light into dark world of honour crime

By Patrick Nelson

Felicity Gerry … calls for end to “dishonour” violence Felicity Gerry … calls for end to “dishonour” violence

A Charles Darwin University law academic will shine a little light into the dark and largely under-researched world of “honour violence” at a public gathering in Darwin to mark International Women’s Day on 8 March.

Lecturer in Law Felicity Gerry said such violence was generally committed to defend the honour of a family, and justified in terms of culture or tradition.

“But there is nothing honourable about what are essentially crimes against women and girls,” said Ms Gerry, a Darwin-based barrister and human rights researcher.

“Most crimes committed in the name of ‘honour’ take the form of domestic, sexual or psychological abuse, forced marriages, assault and being held against your will.”

Ms Gerry said her experience of honour killings, honour violence, trafficking, rape, sexual abuse and violence against women comes from 20 years’ work in court dealing with serious criminal cases.

“I have seen every horrific injury and dealt clinically with every emotion,” she said.

“Sadly, what we see in the courts is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s a global issue of an enormous magnitude, but most of the world turns a blind eye.”

Ms Gerry said it was dangerous to presume such violence did not take place behind closed doors in the Northern Territory.

“There are people in Australia from cultures and communities that uphold such practices,” she said.

“The difficulty in the Northern Territory is a lack of data in this area.”

Ms Gerry said that while it was never a comfortable conversation to have, it was nonetheless a vital one.

“International Women’s Day gives our community an ideal opportunity to speak about the unspeakable,” the human rights advocate said.

Ms Gerry will be guest speaker at the community screening of the Honor Diaries, a film that breaks the silence on honour violence against women and girls.

The screening will be held on Saturday 8 March at 7pm at the Museum and Art Gallery of the NT in Fannie Bay. Tickets $12 plus booking fee at www.honordiariesfilmscreening.eventbrite.com.au