Māori cultural definitions of sexual violence

Dr Leonie Pihama, Rihi Te Nana, Ngaropi Cameron, Dr Cherryl Smith, Dr John Reid, Dr Kim Southey

Exploring definitions of sexual violence in Aotearoa highlights that on the whole such definitions are located within dominant Pakeha frameworks that do not provide adequately for understanding the context of sexual violence for Māori. As such Māori working in the area of healing the trauma of sexual violence have been developing frameworks which are enabling of culturally defined understandings and traditional knowledge as a basis by which to understand sexual violence in Aotearoa. Informed by te reo and tikanga Māori (Māori language and culture) Māori healers, social workers and health providers have moved beyond western definitions and have highlighted the link between acts of sexual violence and the violence of colonial invasion. This article explores Māori perspectives of the origins and impacts of sexual violence for Māori and advocates for Kaupapa Māori and decolonising approaches to be more fully supported and engaged in dealing with these issues within our communities.


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