Sydney, Australia, Mar 15 (efe-epa).- Thousands of Australians took to the streets on Monday to protest against gender inequality and criticize the government for its handling of several allegations of sexual abuse in the country’s parliament.
Protest rallies, known as the “March 4 Justice,” were held in various Australian cities, including Sydney, Melbourne, and Hobart, with protesters holding banners calling for an end to violence against women, shouting slogans such as “Enough is Enough.”
More than 40 marches were held, including one outside the Parliament building in Canberra, where former Liberal Party adviser Brittany Higgins was present.
Higgins last month said she was raped in 2019 by a co-worker in former Defense Industry Minister Linda Reynolds’ office.
“We fundamentally recognize the system is broken, the glass ceiling is still in place and there are significant failings in the power structures within our institution,” Higgins said in her speech at the rally, public broadcaster ABC reported.
Following Higgins’ complaint, three other unidentified women later also claimed they were victims of assaults or inappropriate contact by the same man, who was fired over the accusations, and another complaint was issued against a Labor Party lawmaker.
Higgins’ complaint also brought to light an accusation against Attorney-General Christian Porter for the alleged rape of a woman 32 years ago in Sydney, when she was 16.
New South Wales State Police closed the investigation into the accusation over lack of evidence given that, among other reasons, the alleged victim did not make a formal statement before committing suicide last year.
Porter, who has denied the allegation, said Monday he would file a defamation lawsuit against ABC as the allegations aired in a program broadcast by ABC although without revealing the identity of the accused.
“I don’t believe people should be isolated, intimidated and ignored after traumatic incidents inside the workplace. I came forward with my story to hopefully protect other women,” said Higgins, adding that staying silent “would have made me complicit.”
“Men are not the enemy, corrupt behavior is,” sexual assault survivor and advocate Grace Tame, named Australian of the Year, told a “March 4 Justice rally” on Monday.
“Behavior unspoken, behavior ignored, is behavior endorsed,” she added.
In early March, the Australian government announced a probe into parliamentary work culture led by Kate Jenkins, sexual discrimination commissioner, who will deliver her final report in November with recommendations to change some internal work practices. EFE-EPA