Thousands march in Australia to call for an end to violence against women
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.
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.”
“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.
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.”
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)
Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morningSubscribe