- On average, half of all ADVOs issued in NSW are breached by offenders
- But only 12 per cent were sentenced to prison in 2013
- Auburn has the most domestic violence-related murders in the past two years
- Cultural and language issues were often a barrier for women seeking help
Cultural acceptance of violence against women is stopping female victims from reporting abuse in suburbs like Auburn, which is Sydney’s domestic murder capital, police say.
Victims of domestic violence suffer in silence because they fear being deported or that their families will disown them, NSW Assistant Commissioner Mark Murdoch said.
“For people from some countries that come to Australia to start a new life, domestic violence is an accepted part of married life,” Mr Murdoch told The Daily Telegraph.
“Their families and support networks subscribe to that view, and we know from talking to women in cultural communities that a woman might find herself a victim and even her mother will pull her aside and say ‘listen, that’s just part of married life, suck it up and get on with it’.
“That is not the case, certainly not in Sydney, Australia, in 2015.”
A new domestic violence study has revealed a third of offenders brought before court for breaching an apprehended domestic violence order already have convictions for domestic violence offences.
On average, half of all ADVOs issued in NSW are breached by offenders, but the study by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research found only 12 per cent were sentenced to prison in 2013.
The majority were given good behaviour bonds or fines.
Mr Murdoch, who is leading the NSW Police’s fight against family and domestic violence, said breaking down cultural barriers was the “next battle” for police.
“That’s our next big frontier in the war against domestic violence — making greater inroads into our culturally diverse communities and our Aboriginal communities to get people to report,” Mr Murdoch said.
“Unless people tell us about it, we don’t know it is happening. Every woman has a right to live their life free from violence, and that’s the message we need to get out there to all sections of the community, not just in the mainstream.”
Mr Murdoch said he didn’t want to single out any particular cultures.
Auburn, in Sydney’s west, recorded the highest number of domestic violence-related murders in the past two years, with at least seven homicides reported to be as a result of family violence.
Hairdresser Leila Alavi, 26, was allegedly murdered by her estranged husband in the carpark of the Auburn Shopping Village earlier this year.
The suburb is among the most culturally diverse in NSW, with more than 80 per cent of residents’ parents born overseas.
Barnardos senior manager Rosemary Hamill said cultural and language issues were often a barrier for women seeking help.
“They may not have a strong understanding of their legal status and they are told by their partner they will be shipped off and sent back to their country of origin,” Ms Hamill told The Daily Telegraph.
“They have a real fear that their status as an immigrant will be put at risk by talking about the violence and exposing it.”
Muslim community leader Keysar Trad said women who were suffering from domestic violence should be “empowered and supported by the community”.
“We are completely against domestic violence,” he said. “We have always spoken out against it. It’s not our culture, it’s not our religion.”
(This article was written by Ashlee Mullany and was published in The Daily Telegraph on May 21, 2015.)