On March 15th, 2021, hundreds of people flocked numerous towns and cities in Australia to protest against various allegations of sexual assault and harassment against women perpetrated in one of the highest offices in the country.
The protests dubbed, the ‘March4Justice’ expressed many women’s frustrations and demands for justice over emerging cases of women allegedly being taken advantage of in the country’s parliament. One very vivid case was of Brittany Higgins, a former political advisor who came forward with allegations of having been raped in a minister’s office in 2019. Her revelation inspired many more women who have faced various sexual injustices to come out and share their stories too.
The March4Justice rally shed light on the anger of many women over a disturbing increase in sexual and gender-based violence against them. The ever-growing culture of toxic masculinity has given these perpetrators the audacity to harm women and promote these injustices. Furthermore, to add insult to injury, there seems to be a very high level of laxity in holding those responsible, accountable especially when they hold senior government positions.
A case that triggered the March4Justice involved the now former Attorney-General of Australia, Christian Porter, accused of allegedly raping Katharine Thornton in 1988, a case which had been closed by police. Many women in Australia are feeling unsafe in environments that are expected to be very safe for them normally. Sexual violence within parliament, a place where laws against this are discussed and made, is poignantly shameful.
A petition was tabled to lawmakers that entailed demands, focusing on enhancing equality. It highlighted the need to ensure that independent investigations are launched on numerous cases and the implementation of a report by the National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces (2020). Workplace violence against women seems to be on the rise in Australia. An increased tendency of victim shaming , particularly towards women had also inspired the March4Justice.
In light of these issues, the quota representation of women is needed now more than ever, since via this way, women’s voices will be elevated and heard at a national level.
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