Sexual Assault Survivors Share Why They’re Marching Against Sexism In Government Tonight

Hundreds are expected at 'March Against Sexism! Sack The Politicians!' outside Sydney Town Hall at 6pm tonight.

Sexual Assault March Sydney

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A rally against sexual assault and gendered violence is taking place in Sydney tonight in response to a slew of allegations across federal and state governments in the last couple of months. 

Content warning: This article contains discussion of sexual assault and harassment.

March Against Sexism! Sack The Politicians!’ is a collaborative effort between local branches of Women’s March, Pride in Protest, and the Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union. 

Their goal is simple: challenge those in the highest positions of power for their treatment of women and survivors. In the lead up to tonight’s march, Junkee spoke to two survivors about why they’re attending.

A National Disgrace

“I’m going to the protest because the last six weeks have been incredibly frustrating and disheartening for me,” Charlie Regan, 24, told Junkee. “I am a survivor of sexual assault. I was sexually assaulted when I was 16 years old.”

Hearing our national leaders dismiss allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment is infuriating, but unfortunately I’m not surprised. As survivors, we are consistently dismissed. It feels like we’re screaming into a void sometimes,” she said. 

The march is centred around kicking out the politicians who have allegedly mistreated women and survivors. 

In the firing line is Christian Porter, accused of historically raping a minor, as well as Linda Reynolds for her handling of Brittany Higgins’ case, and Scott Morrison for being, well, Scott Morrison

Protecting Women In The Workplace

Tonight’s march is also focused on supporting women to speak up in the workplace through job security measures and additional paid leave for survivors

“A few years ago I was sexually assaulted in my workplace — an experience which scarred me for a long time. My sisters and friends have also been survivors of sexual assault and harassment,” Liz Tang, 32, told Junkee. 

“Tonight, I’m standing in solidarity with the girls and women who have been hurt by these experiences and to stand up and speak out against [the] people who continue to get away with hurting us,” Tang said. 

Yesterday, the Morrison Government announced its response to the Respect@Work: Sexual Harassment Inquiry Report, but will not commit to all 55 recommendations

Increased Support And Security

Another protest demand focuses on independence at home including raising the rate of JobSeeker payments to $80 a day. The COVID-19 supplement recently ended on April 1, dropping the daily payment to $40

Women who experience sexual assault in the workplace reportedly tend to leave or lose their job, denting their financial security and career prospects, according to the ABC.

AUWU, Pride in Protest, and Women’s March are lastly calling for better support in early childhood care, women’s shelters, and though 1800 RESPECT — the national sexual assault and DV hotline, which was controversially privatised in 2017 while Christian Porter was minister for social services

“Women should feel safe walking down the road, going about our everyday lives in our schools and jobs, and when we’re going out, without feeling the fear of being sexually attacked,” says Tang.

“Enough is enough. The federal government needs to take responsibility for the sexism and sexual assault that runs rampant [and] filters down to the attitudes and behaviours [against] women today.”

“These protests are necessary because it feels like we’re taking action. We’re actually doing something to make a change and let the world know that we’re here and won’t be silenced,” said Regan. 

“Knowing I’m not alone in my frustration and anger is massive,” she said. 

Pride in Protest told Junkee they’re feeling optimistic about the turnout with hundreds of protestors expected. Tonight’s event will start with planned speeches, before a march towards NSW parliament. 

The ‘March Against Sexism! Sack The Politicians!’ event will begin in front of Sydney Town Hall at 6pm, April 9.