Canberra : Women across Australia protest against sexual violence, and inequality.

Tens of thousands of women protested across Australia against sexual violence and gender inequality on Monday, as outrage grew over rape allegations that have convulsed the conservative government.

The #March4Justicerallies were held in more than 40 Australian cities and towns, with a major demonstration in Canberra following allegations of sexual assault in the nation's parliament.

Dressed mostly in black, the crowd gathered outside Parliament House holding aloft placards with slogans including ''You're Not Listening'', ''How Many Victims Do You Know?'' and ''I believe Her.''

Protester Kathryn Jamieson, who traveled from Melbourne to take part, said she was ''fuming with rage''.

''I wanted to be at the heart of the matter,'' I've completely had enough,'' she said. ''We need immediate change - I'm sick of of women not being believed.''

Former government staffer Brittany Higgins alleged publicly last month that she had been raped by a colleague in a minister's office in 2019.

And earlier this month, Attorney General Christian Porter vigorously denied swirling accusations that he had raped a 16-year-old girl in 1988 when they were both students.

The controversy has growing pressure on Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who critics say has fumbled the government's response to the scandals.

The latest gaffe came on `Monday when he told parliament :

''Not far from here such marches, even now, are being met with bullets, but not here in this country'' -drawing furious interjections from opposition politicians and stunned reactions online.

''The Prime Minister thinks women should be grateful that we weren't shot for rallying for our own safety,'' Greens SenatorSarah Hanson Young tweeted.

Public anger at Morrisob's government was reflected in a new opinion poll on Monday showing voter support has fallen to levels not seen since 2019 when he vacationed in Hawaii while massive bushfires were raging in Australia.''

The government has ordered an independent inquiry into parliament's workplace culture and established new staff support services but activists say systemic changes is now needed - not just in policies but across Australian society.

Higgins told the crowd in Canberra her story was a ''a painful reminder to women that it can happen in Parliament House, and can truly happen anywhere.''

''We fundamentally recognize the system is broken, the glass ceiling is still in place,'' she said.

''We are here because it is unfathomable that we are still having to fight this same, stale, tired fight.'' [AFP]


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