At least 40 rallies against gender inequality occurred across Australia on Monday (March 15). Thousands of women dressed in black took to the streets to call for justice for victims of sexual assault. In Australia, government officials have recently been accused of sexual assault and discrimination. The credibility of the Morrison government has been greatly affected.
The rally outside the Parliament House in Canberra, the capital, was the center of a series of demonstrations yesterday, with Higgins, a former Liberal Party employee, being the focus of the meeting. She broke the news to the media in February this year that she was raped by a male colleague in the office of Minister of Defense Industry Reynolds. She complained to her boss Reynolds about the matter, but instead of receiving support, she was humiliated. Reynolds and Higgins reached a compensation settlement last week and apologized to her “unreservedly”.
Another controversial incident was that Australian Attorney General Porter was involved in the sexual assault of a 16-year-old woman in 1988. The woman had committed suicide, but Porter insisted on denying the allegations of sexual assault. The police also stopped the investigation of Porter, but the protesters demanded an independent investigation. The demonstrators are preparing to submit a petition with more than 90,000 signatures, asking Congress to seriously address the issue of gender discrimination.
Morrison will meet with protest groups
According to Australian media reports, the convener of the large-scale demonstration had asked Prime Minister Morrison to have a direct dialogue with them, but Morrison stated that he would not participate in the demonstration. Under tremendous pressure, Morrison expressed on Sunday that he was prepared to meet with the protest delegation and that his government would be “very focused” on solving the problem of violence against women.
The Australian government and parliament have repeatedly criticized the workplace culture as “bad”, leading to persistent bullying, harassment and sexual assault. Morrison has ordered an independent investigation into the workplace culture of the government and parliament.
The latest poll released yesterday showed that the approval rate of the Morrison government was impacted by these sex scandals. The approval rate fell by four percentage points and was surpassed by the main opposition Labour Party; Morrison himself also fell by four percentage points.