Thousands of Melburnians have descended on the CBD to march against the sexual abuse and harassment of women in Australia.
“I’m here today because I’m angry,” said 22-year-old protester Amira, “and so is everyone else. This grave inequality in the Australian system is a battle that we’ve fought for decades and will continue to fight until we archive the justice we all deserve.”
Protesters chanted and waved signs as they made their way through the city towards Treasury Gardens. While motivated by recent high-profile cases of alleged sexual assault in Canberra, organisers emphasised that justice is not only being sought by white women, but also by the aboriginal, transgender, non-binary, migrant refugee, queer, disabled, and women of colour who have suffered abuse as well.
“We must dismantle the whole system that breeds gendered violence,” said Korra Koperu, a transgender woman of colour and speaker at the event.
“Men, especially those in power, need to stop dismissing and silencing a woman’s experience because it doesn’t align with them,” said 55-year-old protester Mary. “Instead, they should be supporting those who have been brave and spoken their truth.”
The loudest jeers seemed reserved for any mention of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, whose recent handling of the alleged rape of Brittany Higgens in Parliament House and an historical accusation of rape against Attorney General Christian Porter have drawn widespread criticism.
Marching at the protest, Wurundjeri women Sue-Anne Hunter, a traditional owner and social justice activist, declared Morrison to be “the [modern day] successor of Arthur Phillip.”
Demanding change, protestors held aloft a list of almost 900 women and children killed by men in Australia since 2008. A minute of silence was held for the victims at the end of the rally.