Thousands of women across Australia protested against sexual violence and gender inequality on Monday.
The #March4Justice rallies across the country in over 40 Australian cities and towns were held to protest against recent allegations of sexual assault and gender discrimination in political offices.
Some of the allegations include that of Brittany Higgins, a former government staffer, who has alleged that she was raped by a colleague in a minister's office in 2019.
And earlier this month, Attorney General Christian Porter vigorously denied swirling accusations he had raped a 16-year-old girl in 1988 when they were both students. He has refused to resign over the allegations.
On Monday, Porter launched defamation procedings against ABC, Australia's public broadcaster, which first published the allegation.
Women demand action against gender inequality
At the march in Canberra, women delivered two petitions demanding action against gender inequality. They held placards outside the Parliament House, with slogans like, "How many victims for you know?", "You're not listening" and "I believe her."
The government has ordered an independent inquiry into the Australian parliament's workplace culture following the allegations and even established new support services.
But critics say systemic change is needed — not just in politics but across Australian society.
Protesters decline meeting with prime minister
Prime Minister Scott Morrison offered to speak to the organizers of the march in Canberra, but they turned it down, saying that a closed-door meeting would be "disrespectful" to the survivors.
"I think the prime minister, if he really cared about women, really cared about our voices ... he (could) open the door, walk across the forecourt and come and listen to us," Janine Hendry, an organizer, told ABC.
Meanwhile, a group of female politicians said on Monday that they would try to amend a "loophole" in a legislation that protects members of the parliament and the judiciary from allegations of workplace sexual harassment.
The parliament has previously come under scrutiny for a "toxic" workplace culture. Ahead of the 2019 election, several women quit the parliament, citing bullying as the reason.
am/sri (AFP, Reuters, AP)