Thousands demand justice for women

Thousands of protesters marched in the rain to demand safer workplaces and justice for victims of sexual harassment and assault as part of the March 4 Justice rally in Brisbane.

The protest was part of a nationwide series of rallies in 40 different cities and towns on 15th March, inspired by recent rape and sexual harassment allegations centred on the federal parliament. 

About 5,000 people, mostly women, took part in the protest.

The protesters wore black and carried placards with messages such as ‘My daughter will not be 1 in 3’, ‘Failure to act failure to care’ and simply ‘Enough’.

Carol Low (left) and Anni Philp travelled to the Brisbane march from Maleny.

One large banner said ‘Justice for Brittany Higgins’, referring to the previous Liberal Party staffer allegedly raped by a colleague in a ministerial office. 

Rally organiser Kat Fry said she was inspired to organise the Brisbane march after witnessing the gender inequality her 8-year-old daughter already faced on the playground. 

‘If this is our workplace on display to the national audience, then we don’t have any chance in our own workplaces that don’t have that kind of spotlight,’ Ms Fry said.

The march started at King George Square and moved through the CBD to Queensland Parliament House, where Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and other members of parliament met the marchers.

Carol Low, 77, who travelled to Brisbane from Maleny to attend the rally, believed the moment was historical for Australia. 

‘I’ve been fighting against this sort of stuff most of my adult life,’ Ms Low said. ‘If we don’t do something now, then when?’

Abby MacDonald, Kelsey Doyle, and Claire Houser joined the rally from nearby QUT campus.

Another protester, Claire Hauser, 27, said she found it important for the government to take action on the issue by starting an independent inquiry and creating systemic change.  

‘What we’ve been seeing in government at the moment is our government’s complete and utter disregard for women’s rights and how they don’t take sexual assault seriously’, Ms Hauser said. 

About one in 20 of the protesters was male. Kelsey Doyle, a 21-year-old student from QUT, urged men to pull other men up when they mistreat women. 

‘We have a responsibility to stand up and call it out when we see it, and not allow this culture of a boys’ club to exist,’ he said.

Protesters left their placards in front of Queensland Parliament House after the march.
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