Enough is enough says, Australian women
Thousands of women rallied across Australia on Monday to protest against sexual violence and Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s handling of rape scandals roiling parliament, as a poll showed the issue has dented the government’s popularity.
More than 40 “March 4 Justice” protests took place across the country, calling for an end to sexism, misogyny, dangerous workplace cultures and a lack of equality in the nation.
The catalyst for the protest was the Feb. 15 allegation by Brittany Higgins, a former staffer for government minister Linda Reynolds, that she was raped by a male staffer in the minister’s office in 2019. The response by Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s conservative government has been perceived as callous and halfhearted by many women. The government is also under fire for refusing to hold an inquiry into claims that Attorney-General Christian Porter raped a fellow member of a school debating team in 1988 — allegations he denies.
Furious women across Australia are now opening up with their own experiences of sexism, sexual harassment and sexual abuse. And it’s begun conversations about inherent discrimination and mistreatment of women—both within the halls of Australian government, and across the wider society.
Australian journalist Karen Percy tweeted: “For too long we have been dismissed and belittled by those with privilege, power and patronage, it isn’t only about rape. It’s about misogyny, patriarchy and so much more.”
Female lawmakers have complained for years about a male-dominated and dis-empowering culture in the national capital, Canberra. Despite priding itself on being among the first countries to give women the right to vote and stand as candidates, Australia has plummeted to 50th in global rankings for the representation of women in parliament, from 15th in 1999. Sixteen of Morrison’s 22-member Cabinet are men.
“It’s not just a small gathering of militant feminists, and it’s not just a small gathering of women who have been outraged or abused,” she says. “It’s all kinds of women trying to express that we’ve had enough,” says Jane Underwood, a 52-year-old yoga teacher.
Who can forget the mistreatment of women in parliament that made global headlines in 2012 when Australia’s first female prime minister Julia Gillard accused then opposition leader Tony Abbott of misogyny.
What’s happening in Australia is the tip of an iceberg. Women are angry, furious in their shared trauma and experiences. They know the power of people coming together, uniting for a greater good and the possibility of making change in the process.
Australian WOMEN UNITE.
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