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October, 3

After Women’s March 4 Justice, it is clear anger runs deep — so what happens next?

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Brittany Higgins, the former Liberal staffer whose rape allegations sparked a national discussion about sexual harassment and assault in politics, made a surprise return to Canberra on Monday to speak at one of several March 4 Justice rallies held across the country.

“We are all here today not because we want to be here, but because we have to be here,” Ms Higgins told a crowd of thousands outside Parliament House — the place where she was allegedly assaulted in 2019. “We fundamentally recognise the system is broken, the glass ceiling is still in place, and there are significant failings in the power structures within our institution,” she said.

“We are here because it is unfathomable that we are still having to fight this same stale, tired fight.”

It was the 2021 update of a classic women’s march battle cry that has linked protesters around the globe for years: “I can’t believe we still have to protest this crap.”

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Brittany Higgins criticises the workplace culture in Parliament House.

But protest, they did. Barely a month after Ms Higgins first went public with her allegations, tens of thousands of Australians gathered in cities around the country to call for change in Federal Parliament, and for and an end to gendered violence and sexual harassment in the community more broadly.

The anger and frustration fuelling the marches has been spurred by what many see as the Morrison Government’s poor handling of Ms Higgins’s allegations and, more recently, separate accusations against the Attorney-General Christian Porter, who has strenuously denied allegations he raped a woman in 1988, long before he entered politics.

Is this moment different to those before it?

When she first put out an “angry tweet” asking women to join her in protest at Parliament House, March 4 Justice founder and Melbourne academic Janine Hendry said she imagined a few friends might join her cause, that a carload of allies might cobble together some placards and head up the Hume to Canberra.

But as so many speakers and marchers have made startlingly clear, women’s anger runs deep — back generations, beyond the halls of Parliament — and Ms Hendry’s quiet fury quickly exploded into a collective outpouring of rage.



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