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Plenty of Australian celebrities have abused women. Why should Chris Brown be treated differently?

He’s a celebrity who horrifically bashed his female partner. But we have plenty of those in Australia already.

Local activists recently waged a war against American RnB singer Chris Brown on the basis of his history of domestic violence ahead of his pending Australian tour.

And this week the Immigration Minister gave the 26-year-old – who was convicted in 2009 of assaulting and threatening to kill then girlfriend Rihanna – notice he intended to refuse his visa to enter the country.

Case closed. Activists win, right?

Not quite.

These were the injuries Brown inflicted on his then girlfriend, Rihanna.

Activist group GetUp!, who led the campaign against the African-American singer, have now retracted their successful campaign and apologised for the “racist aspects” of it.

“The intention of the campaign against Chris Brown was to use a celebrity with a well-known history of violence against women to ignite a discussion about attitudes towards gendered violence,” a statement on their website reads.

“Aspects of this succeeded but we now understand the campaign also supported a racist narrative that sees men of colour unfairly targeted, and stereotyped as more violent than their white counterparts.”

Chris Brown abused a woman. So have a number of Australian celebrities who are still celebrated.

National director Paul Oosting told Fairfax the campaign inadvertently fed into a migration system that unfairly targets people of colour.

“I find Chris Brown abhorrent and it’s really damaging to society that men who commit domestic violence are granted celebrity status,” he said.

“There are wide range of white Australian men who have committed acts of domestic violence who enjoy celebrity status.”

And he’s right. We have successfully campaigned to keep woman-bashing boxer Floyd Mayweather and misogynistic rapper Tyler the Creator out of the country. If Chris Brown is banned, he will be the third black American we have prevented from entering our shores this year.

Brown’s tour posters in Melbourne were defaced with “I beat women” stickers.

The reasons behind why we don’t want men who commit (or rap about) violence against women to come here are perfectly valid and reasonable.

But why aren’t we up in arms about all the famous men who have bashed women and are already in the country? In fact, we’re not only not furious about it, but we’re perfectly happy to watch them on our TVs. They’re revered as experts in their field and hailed as heroes in our professional sporting teams.

Take Sydney Roosters player Shaun Kenny-Dowall. He is facing ten domestic violence-related charges for offences allegedly committed against his former partner, including assault, stalking and causing damage to property. But he’s still playing NRL.

Shaun Kenny-Dowall allegedly abused his former partner.

There’s Gold Coast Titans player and boxer Greg Bird, who was sentenced to jail for smashing a glass into his girlfriend’s face (an act that caused facial injuries requiring surgery) but acquitted on appeal after his girlfriend testified in support of him. He was also charged with assaulting another woman, but was cleared of those charges in 2009.

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South Sydney Rabbitohs player Greg Inglis also avoided conviction after admitting he assaulted his girlfriend, who he later married, in 2009. He still plays and even has his own clothing line.

Wayne Carey’s past indiscretions are long forgotten – he is now an expert AFL commentator, a permanent panellist on Talking Footy and regularly appears on other footy-related broadcasts. It seems we’ve forgotten about claims he hit his girlfriend at a New York hotel in 2006, then smashed a wine glass in her face causing lacerations to her mouth and neck in 2007 (she chose not to press charges). And that he once groped a passing woman’s breast on a Melbourne city street and has twice been charged with assaulting police officers. Instead, we hang on every word of the former footy great.

Greg Bird was sentenced to jail time before being acquitted after the alleged victim gave evidence in support of him.

Actor and domestic abuser Matthew Newton can come in and out of the country as he pleases, despite repeatedly facing court for assaults on his former partners, actors Brooke Satchwell and Rachael Taylor (as well as two separate assaults on men). He was accused of repeatedly punching Satchwell in the head and attempting to gouge her eyes and face and assaulting Taylor in the lobby of a Rome hotel, reportedly leaving her with neck injuries and bruising consistent with her having her “head bashed against the floor and walls”. But he has repeatedly avoided convictions due to mental health issues.

Rather than worrying about the revered Australian celebrities who have abused (or allegedly abused) their partners – sometimes repeatedly – but continue to appear on our TV screens week after week, we’re fixated on ensuring an American singer who physically abused his girlfriend at age 19 does not negatively influence our youth.

Brown, like the Australian offenders, is a man who committed a vile act of violence against his female partner. But at least he has offered to use his planned trip Down Under as an opportunity to educate young people about domestic violence.

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That’s more than the men who regularly feature on our TV screens have to say for themselves.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

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