Tens of thousands of women protest in 40 cities across Australia as outrage grows over rape allegations within country's parliament

 Tens of thousands of people took to the streets across Australia on Monday to protest against sexual violence against women in the wake of rape allegations that have rocked the government. 

The #March4Justice rallies were held in more than 40 Australian cities and towns, with a major demonstration taking place in Canberra where the nation's parliament is located.

Dressed in mostly black, the crowd gathered outside Parliament House holding aloft placards with slogans including 'You're Not Listening', 'How Many Victims Do You Know?' and 'I Believe Her'.

It comes after Brittany Higgins, a political adviser to the Liberal Party, came forward with allegations that she had been raped inside the parliament building in 2019 - saying she had been 'silenced' by party officials.

Her confession prompted other women to come forward with similar claims about the same man, and has also seen a rape allegation levelled at a different man who is now a cabinet minister. Neither have been publicly named. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has come under intense scrutiny after denying that he knew of Ms Higgins' allegations at the time - despite several senior advisers being aware - and for the way he has addressed her accusations since.

Tens of thousands of women took part in #March4Justice rallies across Australia on Monday amid a rape scandal that has engulfed the government and caused widespread public anger

Tens of thousands of women took part in #March4Justice rallies across Australia on Monday amid a rape scandal that has engulfed the government and caused widespread public anger

Thousands of women, clad mostly in black and carrying protest banners, are seen in Treasury Gardens in Melbourne during #March4Justice rallies on Monday

Thousands of women, clad mostly in black and carrying protest banners, are seen in Treasury Gardens in Melbourne during #March4Justice rallies on Monday

Protesters wave banners denouncing the government, affirming their human rights and denouncing 'rape culture' as they take part in a march in Brisbane on Monday

Protesters wave banners denouncing the government, affirming their human rights and denouncing 'rape culture' as they take part in a march in Brisbane on Monday

Protesters in Sydney wave banners on their way to the New South Wales parliament building after holding a rally outside the Town Hall and hearing speeches

Protesters in Sydney wave banners on their way to the New South Wales parliament building after holding a rally outside the Town Hall and hearing speeches

Public anger has been growing in Australia since a political staffer came forward last month to say she had been raped in parliament, and spilled on to the streets Monday in the form of mass protests

Public anger has been growing in Australia since a political staffer came forward last month to say she had been raped in parliament, and spilled on to the streets Monday in the form of mass protests

Thousands of people with placards and banners rally demanding justice for women in Sydney on Monday

Thousands of people with placards and banners rally demanding justice for women in Sydney on Monday

Women march from Sydney's Town Hall towards the New South Wales parliament building during demonstrations on Monday

Women march from Sydney's Town Hall towards the New South Wales parliament building during demonstrations on Monday

Protester Kathryn Jamieson, who travelled from Melbourne to take part, said she was 'fuming with rage'.

'I wanted to be at the heart of the matter, I've completely had enough,' she told AFP.

'We need immediate change - I'm sick of women not being believed.'

Former government staffer Brittany Higgins alleged publicly last month that she had been raped by a colleague in a minister's office in 2019.

And earlier this month, accusations were levelled against a cabinet minister that he had raped a 16-year-old girl in 1988 when they were both students. 

Local media also reported that women in the opposition Labor party had recently set up a Facebook page that details alleged sexual harassment by male colleagues and politicians.

The government has ordered an independent inquiry into parliament's workplace culture and established new support services for staff.

But critics say systemic change is needed - not just in politics but across Australian society.


Former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins, who accusations led to multiple women airing rape and sexual abuse allegations in Australia's parliament, speaks during a rally in the capital Canberra on Monday

Former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins, who accusations led to multiple women airing rape and sexual abuse allegations in Australia's parliament, speaks during a rally in the capital Canberra on Monday

Higgins accused the government of trying to discredit her and her loved ones after she went public with her allegations last month, amid mass demonstrations across the country

Higgins accused the government of trying to discredit her and her loved ones after she went public with her allegations last month, amid mass demonstrations across the country

A protester holds a banner proclaiming 'justice for women' outside Australia's parliament building in Canberra on Monday

A protester holds a banner proclaiming 'justice for women' outside Australia's parliament building in Canberra on Monday

Protesters rally outside Town Hall in response to the treatment of women in politics following several sexual assault allegations, as part of the Women's March 4 Justice rally in Sydney

Protesters rally outside Town Hall in response to the treatment of women in politics following several sexual assault allegations, as part of the Women's March 4 Justice rally in Sydney

Protesters march to the Liberal Party Office during the Women's March 4 Justice in Melbourne, Australia

Protesters march to the Liberal Party Office during the Women's March 4 Justice in Melbourne, Australia

Protesters rally in response to the treatment of women in politics following several sexual assault allegations, as part of the Women's March 4 Justice rally in Sydney

Protesters rally in response to the treatment of women in politics following several sexual assault allegations, as part of the Women's March 4 Justice rally in Sydney

Thousands of people with placards and banners rally demanding justice for women in Sydney on Monday

Thousands of people with placards and banners rally demanding justice for women in Sydney on Monday

Higgins told the crowd in Canberra her story was 'a painful reminder to women that it can happen in Parliament House, and can truly happen anywhere'.

'We fundamentally recognise the system is broken, the glass ceiling is still in place, she said.

'We are here because it is unfathomable that we are still having to fight this same stale, tired fight.' 

Organisers of Monday's rallies declined an offer from Prime Minister Scott Morrison to speak with them privately, saying attending a closed-door meeting would be 'disrespectful' to alleged victims.

'I think the prime minister, if he really cared about women, really cared about our voices... he (could) open the door, walk across the forecourt and come and listen to us,' organiser Janine Hendry told the ABC.

An estimated 10,000 joined the protest in Melbourne, with thousands more in major cities including Canberra and Sydney. Several thousand also rallied in Perth on Sunday.

'Evil thrives in silence,' sexual abuse survivor and Australian of the Year Grace Tame told the crowd in Hobart.

'Behaviour unspoken, behaviour ignored, is behaviour endorsed.'

Protesters march through Sydney on Monday demanding justice for women against sexual abuse and assault amid a rape scandal engulfing the government

Protesters march through Sydney on Monday demanding justice for women against sexual abuse and assault amid a rape scandal engulfing the government

A rally against discrimination and violence against women and justice for victims of sexual assault is held in Melbourne at the Treasury Gardens

A rally against discrimination and violence against women and justice for victims of sexual assault is held in Melbourne at the Treasury Gardens

Protesters gather during the Women's March 4 Justice in Melbourne, Australia

Protesters gather during the Women's March 4 Justice in Melbourne, Australia

Protesters rally in response to the treatment of women in politics following several sexual assault allegations, as part of the Women's March 4 Justice rally in Canberra

Protesters rally in response to the treatment of women in politics following several sexual assault allegations, as part of the Women's March 4 Justice rally in Canberra

Protesters rally in response to the treatment of women in politics following several sexual assault allegations as part of the Women's March 4 Justice rally in Melbourne

Protesters rally in response to the treatment of women in politics following several sexual assault allegations as part of the Women's March 4 Justice rally in Melbourne

The #March4Justice is demanding a raft of measures including independent investigations into all cases of gendered violence, a boost in public funding for prevention and the implementation of recommendations from a 2020 national inquiry into sexual harassment at work.

Australia's parliament has been repeatedly criticised for a 'toxic' workplace culture that has allegedly spawned persistent bullying, harassment and sexual assault.

The ruling coalition has been accused of not doing enough to support female party members, including after a spate of women quit parliament ahead of the 2019 election, with several citing bullying as a factor.

Several lawmakers, including Superannuation Minister Jane Hume, attended the Canberra protest but no senior government ministers took up organisers' invitation.

A group of independent and minor party female politicians on Monday announced they would attempt to amend a 'loophole' in legislation that shields members of parliament and the judiciary from liability for workplace sexual harassment.

'It seems crazy that we would be, in 2021, having to present an amendment to a legislation that is vital to ensure all workplaces in Australia are safe and secure and respectful,' independent MP Zali Steggall said. 

Allegations of a 'toxic' workplace culture within parliament and claims of sexual assault by senior male staff has struck a chord with many Australia women, who took to the streets on Monday

Allegations of a 'toxic' workplace culture within parliament and claims of sexual assault by senior male staff has struck a chord with many Australia women, who took to the streets on Monday 

Thousands of people with placards and banners rally demanding justice for women in Sydney

Thousands of people with placards and banners rally demanding justice for women in Sydney

Women protesting for respect and protection for abusive men march through the street of Sydney on Monday

Women protesting for respect and protection for abusive men march through the street of Sydney on Monday

Women wave banners reading 'enough is enough' and 'our kids deserve better' during a march in Sydney on Monday

Women wave banners reading 'enough is enough' and 'our kids deserve better' during a march in Sydney on Monday

Tens of thousands of women protest in 40 cities across Australia as outrage grows over rape allegations within country's parliament Tens of thousands of women protest in 40 cities across Australia as outrage grows over rape allegations within country's parliament Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 05:42 Rating: 5

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