Tens of thousands of women in Australia took to the streets this month to protest sexual harassment in the workplace. This was in response to the rape allegation made by 26-year old former government staffer Brittany Higgins, who publicly stated she was raped by a male colleague in Parliament House in 2019.
The “March 4 Justice” protests took place all across Australia as more allegations have come forth publicly. Government staffers came together in the form of a social media group to share their experiences of the toxic culture in the Parliament House.
Another allegation recently accused the current Attorney General Christian Porter of rape back in 1988. The claim, which Porter denies, came to light through an anonymous letter that was sent to several politicians including Porter and Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The letter claimed Porter was 17 years old when he allegedly raped the accuser who was 16-years old at the time. Last year, the victim was found dead after committing suicide. Since then, police have closed the case due to what they call “insufficient admissible evidence.”
Prime Minister Morrison has continued to stand by and support Porter while at the same time saying of the protests he’s just as concerned and frustrated about the allegations. He also called the protests a “triumph of democracy” because protestors were not harmed with bullets like protests in other countries, to which many criticized him as missing the point.
CEO of the advocacy group Women’s Safety NSW Haley Foster said the protests were a “turning point.” She continued, “Not only for Parliament, but workplaces and schools are going to be much more alert to this and much more responsive to disclosures after this past month.” She said Australia needs criminal justice reform and funding for women’s safety services.
The Realist Woman’s take:
Criminal justice reform is right. According to the Australian Human Rights Commission in 2018, about 39% of women said they had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace in the past five years.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics says 98.5% of sexual predators will not be held accountable for their crime in the eyes of the law. How disturbing. Australia has a lot of work to do in terms of criminal justice reform. Of Course, men are going to continue to harm women because the law looks the other way. They enable this behavior by not allowing perpetrators to face the consequences of their actions.
Hopefully, these protests are a sign of change to come for the women of Australia.