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When Will the Fight be Over?



The story that has unfolded in Canberra over the last few weeks has been horrific by anyone's standards. To date, four women have alleged sexual misconduct against the same liberal staffer who is alleged to have raped Brittany Higgins in the parliament house office of Linda Reynolds in March of 2019.

 

The women I know are angry. Not just about the current set of facts but that we are still having the same conversation. Every time a woman is raped and/or murdered in this country, there is a chorus of "what she might have done to bring this on herself." Some more subtle than others, but it's always there.


It was announced there would be March4Justice protests all over the country, and although there was a rally being held closer to home, I felt this overwhelming urge to be there within shouting distance of the Prime Minister's office. I wanted to join my voice to the thousands of others to tell the current government that playing duck and cover is not good enough this time.

A friend whose opinion I value (and who falls on the opposite side of the political spectrum to me) told me in no uncertain terms that the abuse of women - be it physical, mental or sexual - is unacceptable and needs to stop. But he doesn’t feel that it needs to be a political debate, as my side of politics has its own share of predators. A point I don’t disagree with - someone's sexual trauma is not a political football.


As we stood on the grass in the shadow of parliament house, the human cost of that game was represented in a young, unscheduled speaker who took the stage in front of a sea of people to share her experience. Brittany Higgins explained how things changed once she reported what had happened to her.


“I wasn’t a person who had just gone through a life-changing traumatic event; I was a political problem.”


She told of the pain of watching our current PM publicly apologise about how her complaint was handled while his team privately tried to discredit and undermine her loved ones. The aftermath of the alleged assault is now subject to a government inquiry, and the incident itself is the subject of a police investigation.


As a mum, that day was a double-edged sword. I wanted the Kid to see brave, amazing women step forward and fight. But she also saw that there is a need to fight and that it’s been ongoing for way too long.


This was the Kid's first time in Canberra, so despite the reason for the visit, I still wanted her to see the sights, including Questacon and Parliament House. After the insurrection in Washington, I thought better of taking her straight from the protest to the tour, so the decision was made to do the tour the next day.


On the second floor of this taxpayer-funded building is a giant Lego model of Parliament House. It is a work of art. Commissioned in 2018, it took 750 hours to build, and the attention to detail is sensational.


Christopher Pyne can be seen running through the building with a toolbox because he was “the fixer”, someone throwing a democracy sausage from the balcony and protestors out the front (which made me smile). But then we noticed two offices in the model. One has two people kissing in the corner of the office and a tiny Lego staffer running away in horror.


The other has someone sitting at their desk with a skeleton clearly visible in the closet. Everyone on the tour glanced sideways at each other and rolled their eyes. Given the recent revelations, I think that is what they call hiding in plain sight.


* This article discusses violence against women. If this content raises any issue for you please reach out to

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