explainer

Canberra is having a #MeToo movement. This is every public allegation from the past 3 weeks.

The nation's capital is in the midst of a reckoning.

Brittany Higgins' public allegation that a male colleague raped her when she was working for a Liberal Party MP in 2019 has triggered a slew of subsequent allegations against members of parliament and former political staffers. 

On both sides of the political aisle, accusations have emerged that Australia's parliaments can be a dangerous place for women. 

Watch: The Prime Minister responds to Brittany Higgins' rape allegations. Post continues below. 


Video via Mamamia

Here's every allegation that's been made public so far. 

Historical rape allegation against serving Labor MP. 

On Sunday evening, Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson revealed a woman sent her an email alleging she was raped by a man who is now a serving Federal Labor MP.

Henderson sent the email to the Australian Federal Police. 

"In immediately referring this matter to the AFP, I have followed the procedures set out by Commissioner Kershaw in his letter of 24 February 2021," Henderson said, referring to a letter the Prime Minister received from the AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw on Thursday which urged all MPs to swiftly report alleged criminal conduct.

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The AFP confirmed they received a complaint relating to an historical sexual assault but would not comment further. 

Historical rape allegation against Cabinet minister.

On Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison received a letter detailing sexual assault allegations in relation to one of his own cabinet ministers. 

The alleged rape took place in 1988, when the complainant was 16 years old. 

The alleged victim reported the historical incident to the NSW Police Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad in February 2020. The investigation, named Strike Force Wyndarra, was suspended after the complainant took her own life in June 2020. 

The late woman's lawyer, Marque Lawyers managing partner Michael Bradley, has told Nine newspapers the accused minister "will have to stand aside, at the moment at least, because he's been accused of such a grave crime". 

The letter was also sent to Labor's Senate leader Penny Wong and Green's Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

Brittany Higgins' rape allegation. 

Brittany Higgins was 24 years old at the time of the alleged rape. Image: Channel 10. 

In February, former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins publicly alleged she was raped by a male colleague in 2019 inside the ministerial office of her boss, then-Defence Industry Minister Linda Reynolds.

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In a sit down interview with The Project, Higgins said she was 24 at the time of the alleged incident and just months into her "dream job" of working at Parliament House.

She alleges that on the night of March 23, 2019, a colleague took her back to Parliament house after a night with friends. She felt sick and so lay down before she allegedly woke up "mid-rape" and told the man to stop. Higgins said she was crying throughout the ordeal. 

"Eventually he got up and left," explained Higgins.

It wasn't until the next morning that Higgins said she was discovered in the office by a parliamentary security guard.

Higgins also alleged that she was pushed to choose between reporting the alleged rape to police and keeping her job, and claimed that, as her superiors scrambled to deal with the crisis, Senator Reynolds summoned her to a formal employment meeting about the incident in the same room that the alleged rape occurred.

Higgins has made a formal complaint to the Australians Federal Police against her alleged rapist.

Three more women accuse alleged rapist of Brittany Higgins of sexual misconduct.  

In the week after Brittany Higgins' public accusation, three more women came forward with allegations of assault and harassment against the same man, a former advisor who remains unidentified for legal reasons.

On February 21, a former female Liberal staffer told The Weekend Australian that the man allegedly raped her after the pair went to dinner and drinks late last year.

On February 22, a third woman came forward with allegations she was assaulted by the same man while she was volunteering for the Coalition's 2016 election campaign.

Also on February 22, a fourth woman made allegations of sexual misconduct against the same man, after making a formal report at a Canberra police station the day before. The woman said that whilst socialising after work during a night in 2017, the man "reached his hand under the table and stroked her thigh".

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

Feature image: Getty.  


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