Violence against women

Thousands march in Australia to call for an end to violence against women

Tens of thousands of people hit the streets across Australia to call for gender equality and justice for victims of sexual assault. Here,a variety of banners seen at the Sydney “March 4 Justice”, 15 March 2021.
Tens of thousands of people hit the streets across Australia to call for gender equality and justice for victims of sexual assault. Here,a variety of banners seen at the Sydney “March 4 Justice”, 15 March 2021. © Richelle Harrison Plesse

From bustling cities, to regional outposts, tens of thousands of people hit the streets across Australia on Monday to call for gender equality and justice for victims of sexual assault. The country is still reeling from multiple rape allegations against members of the government and March4Justice says time's up.

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Clad head-to-toe in black, protesters at the Sydney “March 4 Justice” event hold aloft banners and placards, despite sweltering in the midday sunshine.

Women and men, young and old, from all walks of life, have gathered in front of the city's Town Hall to demand an end to gender-based discrimination and violence.

Australia is still reeling from multiple rape allegations in Parliament House, with simmering anger boiling over into an outpouring of rage.

Anna, a survivor of sexual assault, says the last month has been “utterly traumatic,” as the revelations hit the headlines, one after the other. “I don't think I've ever felt so furious consistently, every morning I wake up and I feel angry.”

Young women holding placards at the March 4 Justice rally in Sydney, Australia, 15 March 2021. "Enough is enough" was the rallying cry, as thousands expressed anger over violence against women.
Young women holding placards at the March 4 Justice rally in Sydney, Australia, 15 March 2021. "Enough is enough" was the rallying cry, as thousands expressed anger over violence against women. © Richelle Harrison Plesse

A no-brainer

“I'm almost 70 years old and we're still fighting this shit,” sighs Jane, who is attending the rally with a group of friends. “Enough is enough; stop raping, stop killing, stop bullying, stop harrassing. It's a no-brainer - just stop, now!”

"And stop wriggling out of everything!" adds her friend Liz.

Liz refers to the shocking allegations against Australia's Attorney General Christian Porter, as chants of “hey hey, ho ho, Christian Porter's got to go” ring out among the crowd. The cabinet minister has been accused of raping a 16-year-old in 1988 when he was aged 17, (the alleged victim took her own life last year) but staunchly denies any wrongdoing.

Porter is refusing to step down, and also has the full support of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who has dismissed calls for an independent inquiry.

 

"Our government is sexist and corrupt and we need to let them know that we won't stand for it any longer" says Cindy, one of the participants at the March 4 Justice rally, Sydney, Australia, 15 March 2021.
"Our government is sexist and corrupt and we need to let them know that we won't stand for it any longer" says Cindy, one of the participants at the March 4 Justice rally, Sydney, Australia, 15 March 2021. © Richelle Harrison Plesse

 

Inadequate response

The government's handling of the situation has added fuel to the fire, and according to Sydney march coordinator Jaime Evans, its response has been “poor” and a “failure”.

"The comments about not wanting to engage with it, that it's somebody else's issue, I think that's unacceptable and the fact that so many people are coming out all around the country today means that they know it's not acceptable either” she says. “There should be real leadership.”

 

"It's important that men support the women here in the community, whether or not they're partnered with a woman, it's really important from a community sense to make sure the rights of all people, including women, prevail equally," says George (in blue) at the March 4 Justice rally in Sydney, 15 March 2021.
"It's important that men support the women here in the community, whether or not they're partnered with a woman, it's really important from a community sense to make sure the rights of all people, including women, prevail equally," says George (in blue) at the March 4 Justice rally in Sydney, 15 March 2021. © Richelle Harrison Plesse

 

The demonstrators march towards Sydney's Hyde Park in “Covid-safe” groups of 500, their cries of “women united will never be defeated” echoing through the streets.

As they file past, some say that stamping out the toxic treatment of women starts with institutional and cultural change. Others suggest that this is the country's #MeToo moment.

The "March 4 Justice" movement has been dubbed a tipping point, with Australian women insisting they'll no longer be silenced.

“For us it's a time of global reckoning”, says Jaime. “People around the world have seen what's happening in other places and said 'no we're not taking this anymore' so as long as the movement is still out there I think it's gonna be harder and harder for it to be swept under the rug and brushed aside."

Click below for more photos of the Sydney rally: (arrow on right hand side)

March 4 Justice rallies across Australia condemning violence against women

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