Australia MeToo# movement: Alleged parliament rape case against Christian Porter has got women angry

For Prime Minister Scott Morrison, that was completion of the matter.

The supposed victim didn’t submit an authorities declaration prior to she passed away, age 49, in 2015. After cops closed the case recently, pointing out an absence of “admissible evidence,” Morrison declined to purchase an independent questions into the claims, which emerged after declarations by the supposed victim were anonymously sent out to the Prime Minister’s workplace and 2 female political leaders from other celebrations.

For numerous Australians, nevertheless, the case is not closed. Vice versa.

Throughout the nation, countless females are preparing demonstrations for March 15, when they will provide a petition to Parliament Home requiring the federal government to examine all claims of sexual attack and misbehavior by Members of Parliament and their personnel.

Yet their needs go far much deeper than parliament. They desire structural and cultural modification to accomplish equity throughout the nation, in schools, offices and the justice system.

“We don’t want another report, (or) someone saying, ‘Oh, we’ll look into the matter.’ This has to change, right here, right now,” stated Janine Hendry, a hesitant demonstration organizer behind the March 15 rallies.

“I didn’t think at 58 years old, I would be an activist,” Hendry included. “Nor did I think at 58 years old I would be taking to the streets to protest against this stuff. I thought we’d moved beyond it — but we haven’t.”

Hendry unintentionally used a well of anger when she typed a fast tweet last Sunday, venting her aggravation that females in Australia are still defending equality in 2021.

In simply 6 days, more than 22,000 individuals joined her Facebook group, March 4 Justice. The group now has an existence on numerous social networks platforms.

It’s not simply Hendry. In London, another Australian female, half Hendry’s age, is trawling through countless e-mails detailing supposed sexual attacks on schoolgirls in Australia. Chanel Contos’ motion began with a couple of good friends sharing stories of sexual attack. It’s given that changed into a site and petition requiring education and modification.

The 2 groups represent various demographics of Australian females — and both are upset.

‘White-hot rage’

It’s tough to identify the specific minute that tripped the wire on females’s fury in Australia, though it might have been 2 weeks back when Brittany Higgins, a previous Liberal Celebration staffer, declared she was raped in the defense minister’s workplace in 2019.
Higgins stated she was motivated to come forward by Grace Tame, a previous victim of grooming and sexual attack, who was called Australian of the Year in January for her work advising other females to speak up. They have actually listened.
Australian of the Year, Grace Tame, has inspired other survivors to come forward.
Higgins’ claims triggered an apology from the Prime Minister, who revealed a variety of examinations into the event and firmly insisted the culture in parliament would alter. Nevertheless, Morrison’s description of his decision-making procedure raised eyebrows.

“Jenny and I spoke last night,” Morrison stated, describing his spouse. “And she said to me, ‘You have to think about this as a father first. What would you want to happen if it were our girls?’

“Jenny has a method of clarifying things.”

It led one female reporter to ask: “What would occur if males do not have a partner and kids? Would they reach the exact same caring conclusion?”

Critics seized on Morrison’s choice of words as evidence he didn’t comprehend the issue.

The same was later suggested of Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who referred to Higgins’ allegations as “he stated, she stated.” His words were interpreted as an attempt to minimize Higgins’ allegation.
Since then, the level of discourse has disintegrated further, with Higgins threatening to sue Defense Minister Linda Reynolds for allegedly calling her a “lying cow.” Reynolds apologized for the comments, which Morrison said were uttered in private during a “extremely terrible week.”

Discussion over who said what and when soon shifted to reports of another bombshell allegation — that a cabinet minister was accused of raping a teenage girl more than 30 years ago. The woman wasn’t alive to tell her story, but her friends sent documents, including old excepts of the woman’s diary, to the Prime Minister and senators from rival parties. A cover letter urged them to act, according to one senator who received it.

Morrison waited three days to respond amid public speculation on whether he should sack or suspend the minister, perhaps during an independent investigation. He didn’t do either, and accepted Porter’s denial.

The reaction was swift. “I can state rather truly that I have actually never ever felt the profusion of white-hot rage from as numerous females, however likewise really several males, as I have in the last 24 hr,” said Georgie Dent, executive director of The Parenthood, a non-profit group for parents, on Tuesday. “The concept that they can continue with company as typical is totally illogical.”

Australia's Attorney General Christian Porter faced the press on March 3.

It begins in school

Australia did have a #MeToo moment, as women around the globe shared stories of sexual abuse in 2017. But it was severely curtailed by the country’s strict defamation laws.

Under Australian law, accusers have to prove their claim is true — unlike the US, where alleged offenders must prove the claim is false. Consequently, many women stayed silent, while other people who shared their stories anonymously ended up being named.

But recent events in parliament have set off an alarm that is ringing across the country.

“This is the start … this is Australia’s #MeToo minute,” said Jacqui True, professor of international relations and the director of Monash University’s Centre for Gender, Peace and Security.

Until recently, former Sydney high school student Contos hadn’t heard of Higgins or the other allegations at the top of Australian politics. She moved to London last September to start a master’s degree in gender, education and international development, but in the last three weeks she has been inundated with other stories of sexual assault from former students.

Chanel Contos moved to London last year but is still playing a pivotal role in raising awareness about consent.
It started with an honest conversation with friends about how they’d been assaulted by boys at school. The same names kept coming up, with similar stories of abuse, so they began listing them in a Google document and invited others to join. Now, there’s a website with more than 2,000 testimonies from students across Australia, and a petition urging Australian schools to start teaching sexual consent sooner, including what constitutes sexual assault and how to respond.

Contos said they were only taught about consent in their final years of school — and by then, for many, it was too late.

Names have been removed from the stories, so as not to defame anyone, but each entry is tagged with the author’s school. Overwhelmingly, the students say they didn’t give consent, and many times their alleged attackers didn’t seem to know what that meant anyway.

“They believe it’s fine to encourage a woman to carry out foreplay; they believe it’s fine to press her head down a little,” said Contos. “They believe it’s fine to guilt-trip them and state, ‘Why did you come upstairs with me if you do not wish to do this.’ They believe it’s fine to get a woman truly intoxicated on function and make love with them. They believe it’s fine to stroll in on their good friends doing sexual things and laugh and take images.

“It’s not okay, but they think it’s okay because it’s what everyone does, and it’s what seems normal.”

Contos does not understand Hendry, the March 15 demonstration organizer. However Hendry has actually become aware of Contos’ project.

Janine Hendry started a movement with an angry tweet on Sunday.

“The stuff that Chanel is uncovering is testament to the fact that (misogyny) is alive and well and we need to knock it on its head,” Hendry said.

Contos met with the head teachers of nine schools last week to teach them how to talk to their students. On Friday, the New South Wales Police announced it was working with school administrators to address the issue of sexual violence in schools across the state.

Equality gap

Australia is considered a wealthy country. Until the coronavirus pandemic hit, its economy had been expanding for nearly 30 years, driven largely by the export of resources to China.

However, its increasing wealth hasn’t translated to greater gender parity. Between 2006 and 2020, Australia’s place on the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index dropped from 15 to 44. While the country scores highly for access to education for girls and women, they’re not reaching parliament and boardrooms in the same numbers as men.

“What it means is that the returns to women’s education and educational achievements are actually lost, because they’re not translated into key positions and impact in the political and economic sphere,” said True, the director of Monash University’s Centre for Gender, Peace and Security.

True puts that down to structural issues, including the lack of affordable paid childcare to allow women to return to work. “The workforce is based on that male as the breadwinner norm in Australia,” she said.

Even during the pandemic, when one or both partners with children had to work from home, most women took on the main role as carer. A survey by of more than 7,000 Australians by the Australian Institute of Family Studies from last May to June found that even with both partners at home, women were five times more likely to take on the role as primary carer.
Women reportedly also lost their jobs faster than men during the pandemic.
According to government figures from February 2021, fewer Australian women work full-time than men, though they fill more part-time roles. After finishing university, women are paid less than male graduates, the research revealed — and by the time they retire, their median retirement savings are 21% lower than men.
From 2011 to 2016, the fastest-growing cohort of homeless people was women over 55 years old, according to the Australian Human Rights Commission. “And the number one reason for women’s homelessness is the experience of gender-based violence, particularly domestic violence,” said True, from Monash University.
So far this year, six women have died due to family violence, according to the Counting Dead Women Project, run by women’s advocacy group Destroy the Joint. Last year, 55 lost their lives — roughly one woman every week.
In the halls of power, women hold 31% of seats in Australia’s 151-member lower house, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union. In the upper house, the gender ratio is almost equal. But of the Prime Minister’s 22 key leadership positions, 16 are held by men and six by women.

“The culture of politics is highly masculinized and it is not conducive to gender equality, or to women’s participation; it’s a very tough woman who can make it in Australian politics,” said True.

“The perspective on what it means to be a woman in Australian society is lost … which means that we compound the problems, we continue not to address the gender inequality, because we simply do not have those who can voice and shape the policies in our government.”

Protesters walked through Sydney in 2019 for the "Women's Wave" march, but many say not enough has been done to address inequality and sexual assault.

Work to do

In 1984, the government sought to make Australia a more equal place when it passed the Sex Discrimination Act. The law made it illegal to discriminate based on gender and prohibited sexual harassment.
Yet last year, the Australian Human Rights Commission said the pace of the country’s efforts to address sexual harassment was “disappointingly slow,” and sexual harassment in workplaces was “widespread and pervasive.” According to its most recent survey in 2018, one in three people — women and men — had experienced sexual harassment at work in the past five years.
The situation in Australia was not wildly different from elsewhere, said Michelle Ryan, who begins a new role as inaugural director of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at the Australian National University in Canberra in July. The institute was founded by former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who famously called out misogyny in a speech to Parliament in 2012.

“This is not a recent phenomenon, nor is it one that is particular to Australia or to Parliament,” Ryan said, from the University of Exeter in the UK, where she’s working as a professor of social and organizational psychology.

“What these incidents do, however, is bring home the importance of the need for research, and evidence-based policy and practice, to address the sexual harassment in the workplace, and the other inequalities that women face in their careers.”

For others, they also bring the need for direct action. On March 15, women around the country are urged to wear black and join marches in their cities, if they can’t travel to Canberra.

They are preparing for a fight. According to an Essential Poll released on Tuesday, two-thirds of 1,074 respondents thought the Australian government was more interested in protecting itself than women. The survey was conducted between February 24 and March 1 — before Porter, the attorney general, came forward and stated he would not resign.

The Prime Minister says Porter should be afforded the presumption of innocence, along with everybody else, and that calling an independent inquiry would undermine the rule of law in Australia. “We are governed by that rule, not the rule of the mob or anybody else,” Morrison said. However he added that he would support an inquest if one was ordered by the South Australian coroner.

Support for the Morrison government grew during the pandemic — the country has actually recorded fewer than 1,000 Covid-19 deaths and vaccines are being rolled out. But on the issue of gender equality, the Essential Poll released Tuesday showed 76% of respondents believe there is “still a long way to go.”

“If the calculation has been made that this is an issue that won’t concern voters, I think they’re mistaken,” stated Dent, from The Parenthood.

True, from the Centre for Gender, Peace and Security, stated now is the time for the government to listen.

“The current cabinet do not understand, not only the degree of anger, but the degree of violence from men,” she stated. “And I think maybe this is a time where people actually need to learn a little bit more.

“They requirement to listen to survivors, they need to understand those stories.”

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long included to this report.