Australia Slammed For Claiming Domestic Violence Is 'Not Torture'

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Australian government representatives had appeared before the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) as part of its current review of the country's obligations under an international treaty. Based on the government's submitted documents, it indicated that domestic violence does not fall within the scope of the Human Rights Convention. The government further argued that violence against women does not constitute "torture" or a form of inhuman, cruel or degrading treatment.

The controversial position has attracted negative reactions on social media earlier in the week. According to Rachel Ball from the Human Rights Law Centre, the government's interpretation of international law was "incorrect" as violence against family members and intimate partners is not considered a private matter. International law states that governments have the responsibility to implement measures to prevent such criminal behaviour.

Ball said Australia's failure to address domestic violence is a disappointing and "backwards step." The government's outdated view of domestic violence as a private matter continues to be one of the reasons why it is prevalent in Australia.

Kon Karapanagiotidis, CEO of Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, took to social media to express his anger about the government's view of domestic violence. In an email he sent to Daily Life, he said he is disturbed that the abuse and mistreatment of women does not concern the Abbott government. He mentioned that 789 women were detained in Australia's asylum seeker centres and one in three women has ethnic roots.

Meanwhile, the government has insisted that asylum seekers detained in offshore processing facilities receive healthcare comparable to that in Australia. Government representatives promised the UN committee that all but a few children will be released from detention within months.

The healthcare of asylum seekers on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island has been under scrutiny after two male refugees had died within the year. According to The Guardian, Reza Berati was beaten to death during a riot between the guards and other refugees in February while Hamid Kehazaei had died from a foot infection.  

Mark Cormack from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection told the UN committee that asylum seekers were not denied healthcare services, The Guardian reports. Although plans to move asylum seekers from Manus Island remain active, it is the responsibility of the country hosting them to look after their welfare. He said Australia is not responsible for asylum seekers detained in offshore centres since the country "only pays the bills."

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