Aboriginal women in Australia are one of the most interesting and unusual attractions of the country. Here are the most curious facts about them.
Aboriginal Australian women are very extraordinary in their appearance and hardly can be called beautiful. The life of aboriginal women differs greatly from the life of typical women in Australia and other high developed countries in the world. When looking at them one can realize that innovative technologies and benefits of civilized life steered clear of them. They are very traditional in their beliefs and attitudes to life. It is difficult to believe that in such a developed country like Australia there can be women who are “completely deprived of feminine charms and are more masculine looking” (as some European men think). But anyway there are a lot of interesting and sometimes shocking facts about Australian indigenous women. Some of them are listed below.
7. Appearance as a distinctive feature of Australian aboriginal women
Beauty is the word which is not often used to describe aboriginal women of Australia. Unlike typical cute Korean women or Australian females, indigenous representatives have very coarse facial features which do not contribute to classical notion of beauty. They have very big and massive noses, chins and cheeks. And, of course, their distinctive feature is a mop of curly hair which resembles a hat.
6. Clothing and decorations
Actually, until the arrival of white people Australian aboriginal people did not know about clothes. This was partially due to the fact that Australia has a comparatively mild climate. And the second reason was, of course, low level of their culture and education (if to compare it to that of European that times).
In some regions of Australia women as well as men wore coats made from the skin of possum. Women used these coats for both keeping warm and hiding their small babies from cold.
In most regions of the continent aboriginal women mostly used grease for rubbing their bodies and in such way kept away from cold. So clothes were absolutely unnecessary for them.
In many tribes it was typical for both men and women to be completely naked, wearing no clothes. However, they really enjoyed wearing different accessories among which headbands, bracelets, necklaces were of particular importance. One more decoration widely used by aboriginal women in Australia was a stick which pierced the nasal floor.
As for hairdos women were very simple – they just cut their hair with stone scissors and unlike men who wore long hair had short curly haircuts.
Like in many African traditions, among Australian aboriginal women body painting was also popular. The patterns used for painting the bodies indicated belonging to a particular tribe. Also, it was quite common to use feathers for body decoration which were attached with blood or some other adhesives.
The situation with clothes changed when European settlers arrived to Australia. The cultural traditions and customs of the latter had a great impact on life of aboriginal people. Now aboriginal women prefer to wear t-shirts, jeans, skirts etc. They try to assimilate in a society and having an appropriate look and behavior is one of the ways to do this.
5. Arranged marriages as an indispensable part of Australian aboriginal culture
In early times aboriginal women did not have an opportunity to choose a husband by themselves. As a rule marriages were arranged by parents or close relatives of a bride and a groom. And it was usually done at an early age. When a girl became pubescent she began to live with her husband. So aboriginal women were not completely aware what they want in a man. This was decided by their parents.
Polygamy was not something extraordinary or unusual for aboriginal Australians. A man could have more than one wife depending on his status. But, interestingly, women usually welcomed a new wife as it meant that a newcomer would share a part of their responsibilities (Source).
The life of an aboriginal married woman was not easy. She took an active part in agricultural works, she carried heavy things when the nomadic tribe moved from one place to the other. And like in many other nations, aboriginal women in Australia were responsible for the household and gaining food. But still this did not make her desperate. On the contrary, she continued to smile, care about her husband and children.
4. The tradition of avoidance
One more striking feature of aboriginal people in Australia was the tradition of avoidance. In many Australian tribes, especially south-eastern tribes, it was prohibited for a man to speak with his mother-in-law, to approach her. Very often this arrangement concerned both of them. A woman could even close her ears when she hears the voice of her son-in-law. This custom was designed to prevent possible sexual relationships between people who were relatives and were not supposed to get married.
3. Imprisonment as a fast growing trend among aboriginal women
It has been reported that indigenous Australian women make up 34 percent of adult female population of the prison. The most typical reason is assault which is in its turn the result of family violence.
It is true that aboriginal women in Australia are greatly subjected to domestic violence. Women rarely report the crimes against them because they feel they are suppressed and humiliated. And instead of protecting their rights the police frequently send them to prison.
But the worst thing is that their children are taken away from them. That is the main reason why aboriginal women prefer not to report family assaults. They are just afraid of the repetition of the situation called ‘The Stolen Generations’ when the government removed children from aboriginal women in order to purify the Australian nation (Source).
2. Health issues
Life span of aboriginal women in Australia is generally lower than that of other Australian women. This is primarily due to exposure of family violence, their way of life, racism, forced removal from family. Aboriginal women are more likely to have lower health education, higher unemployment, inadequate housing and the lack of infrastructure than non-indigenous women.
Other reasons which contribute to poor health are drugs, high blood pressure, alcohol abuse, malnutrition, lack of physical activity, sexual violence (Source).
1. Education as a chance to acquire basic rights in Australia
Indigenous women in Australia realize that if they want to be equally treated with non-indigenous women they have to access education and be literate as this is the key to a better life and treatment of the society. This issue is constantly raised, but still much has to be done to improve the situation.
So the life of aboriginal women in Australia is not a fairy-tale. But again and again we see them smiling when they look at us from photos. Maybe their beauty is arguable, but their uniqueness is something that attracts and fascinates.
Do you agree? What do you think about Australian aboriginal women in the past and present times? Please, share this post in social media and write your opinion below!