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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Australian Lawmaker Reveals Disturbing Experiences: Victimized by Sexual Assault from Prominent Parliament Figures

Australian Lawmaker Exposes Disturbing Accounts: Sexual Assault Allegations Against Powerful Parliament Figures

Sydney, Australia: In a courageous testimony before the Senate, Lidia Thorpe, an Australian lawmaker, unveiled her distressing experiences of being sexually assaulted within the parliament, shedding light on the unsafe environment for women in the workplace. Tearfully addressing the Senate, Thorpe recounted incidents of enduring sexual comments, being cornered in a stairwell, subjected to inappropriate touching, and facing propositions from influential men.

Initially, on Wednesday, Thorpe had accused a fellow senator, David Van, of sexually assaulting her, but under the threat of parliamentary sanctions, she was compelled to withdraw her statement. However, on Thursday, she reiterated the core allegations against conservative senator David Van, who vehemently denied the claims.

Expressing his devastation, Van, a member of the Liberal Party, stated that the allegations were “utterly untrue” and shared his suspension from the party in response to the claims.

While the allegations were protected from Australia’s strict defamation laws, Thorpe mentioned that Van had involved lawyers, prompting her to restate her case while navigating parliamentary rules.

Thorpe emphasized that “sexual assault” can hold different meanings for different individuals, as she vividly described her encounters within the crucible of Australian democracy. She recounted being followed, aggressively propositioned and inappropriately touched, revealing her fear of leaving her office and the precautions she took before leaving.

She further disclosed the extent of her anxiety, stating, “It was to the degree that I had to be accompanied by someone whenever I walked inside this building.”

Thorpe acknowledged that others may have experienced similar incidents but have chosen not to come forward due to concerns about their careers.

Sexist Culture and Repeated Allegations

Since 2021, Australian politics has been shaken by numerous high-profile allegations of assault and harassment within the parliament. The revelation came to the forefront when former political aide Brittany Higgins accused a conservative staffer of raping her on a couch in a cabinet minister’s parliamentary office after a night of heavy drinking in March 2019.

Following the incident, multiple investigations were conducted, exposing the prevailing sexist nature of Australian politics. A government-backed inquiry in 2021 revealed the widespread presence of sexual harassment and bullying in the parliament, affecting lawmakers and staff. Shockingly, one in three individuals working in parliament reported experiencing sexual harassment, with 63 percent of female parliamentarians being affected.

The Higgins case sparked national protests and led to a court case, eventually resulting in a mistrial due to the potential risk to her mental health. The accused party sued several journalists for reporting on the case and threatened legal action against his accuser. In court, he pleaded not guilty to a charge of sexual intercourse without consent.

Recently, the controversy has reignited as leaked text messages have prompted opposition conservatives to accuse the current center-left government of politicizing the case.

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