Australia: Thousands protests amid widespread allegations of sexual misconduct in the country’s parliament

Thousands of people took part in marches across Australia in protest amid widespread allegations of sexual misconduct in the country’s federal parliament and growing concern that the legal system is failing women who are victims of abuse and violence.

People took to the streets on Monday in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne and many other towns and cities.

In recent weeks, former parliamentary staff member Brittany Higgins has alleged that she was raped by an MP, while historical rape allegations against Australia’s attorney general, Christian Porter, have also resurfaced.

Allegations have also been laid by six women against a senior parliamentary aide Frank Zumbo.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison continues to refuse to hold an independent inquiry into the allegations against Porter, and on Monday also refused to meet protesters on the parliament’s lawn in Canberra.

While Morrison instead invited protest leaders inside to discuss the issue, the move was viewed as yet another example of the secretive and hidden nature of the government’s dealings with allegations of sexual assault.

The protest also addressed the broader concerns of women’s safety and the sexist and misogynist culture of the federal parliament.

Protesters have also argued the government’s treatment of those who have spoken out so far has been unacceptable.