Morrison apologizes after ex-staffer alleges rape in Parliament House
Sydney, Australia, Feb 16 (efe-epa).- Australia’s prime minister on Tuesday apologized to a former Liberal party staffer who alleges she was raped by a colleague in Parliament House two years ago.
Party leader and prime minister Scott Morrison also promised an investigation into the culture in Parliament House.
Brittany Higgins told local media on Monday that a colleague raped her in now-Defense Minister Linda Reynolds’ office in March 2019, when she was 24 and just a month into her role.
Higgins said she went to the police in April of the same year but eventually decided not to proceed with the complaint for fear that she would lose her “dream job.”
She recalled recounting the rape to a member of Reynolds’ team, but was then called to a meeting about the incident in the same room where the alleged rape took place.
“That should not have happened. And I do apologize. That shouldn’t have happened,” Morrison told journalists in Canberra Tuesday.
“I want to make sure that any young woman working in this place is as safe as possible,” he added.
The prime minister said that he has asked his team for an investigation to improve the process of handling complaints at work.
“It shatters me that still, in this day and age, that a young woman can find herself in the vulnerable situation that she was in,” he said. “I hope Brittany’s call is a wake-up call for all of us from that point of view.”
According to Higgins, after a night drinking with colleagues, one of them offered to drop her home. Instead, he took her to the then-defense industry minister’s office at Parliament House.
She said that she was drunk and fell asleep on the couch and woke up to find the man sexually assaulting her.
Last month, Higgins resigned from government.
The allegation has intensified pressure on Morrison and follows other women’s stories of inappropriate behavior they experienced while working at Parliament House. EFE-EPA