Australians demand strict laws on violence against women

Protests have erupted across Australia in response to a recent surge in violence against women. Demonstrators are calling for gender-based violence to be declared a national emergency and demanding stricter laws to curb the violence. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese acknowledged the severity of the issue, stating that it is a national crisis.

Since the beginning of this year, one woman has been killed every four days in Australia. At a rally in Canberra attended by thousands, organizer Martina Ferrara urged the government to offer alternative reporting options for survivors, allowing them to take control of their stories and the process of healing and reporting incidents of violence. She emphasized that the government must recognize this as a crisis and act urgently.

Prime Minister Albanese, addressing the crowd, admitted that all levels of government need to improve their approach. He stated, “We need to change culture, the attitudes, the legal system, and the approach by all governments.” He added that this issue isn’t solely women’s responsibility; men must also work to change their behavior.

However, a tense exchange occurred between the Prime Minister and one of the rally organizers, Sarah Williams, when Mr. Albanese mentioned that he wasn’t allowed to speak at the event. Ms. Williams refuted his claim, suggesting he had demanded to speak only after being heckled, which led to heated words and visible emotional distress. In a statement, Ms. Williams accused the Prime Minister of acting like “a man with power trying to diminish a vulnerable young woman.” Mr. Albanese later clarified his stance, insisting that the focus should remain on addressing gender-based violence and not on their dispute.

In addition to the calls for action at the protests, some attendees criticized the federal government for rejecting the idea of a royal commission into gender-based violence. Although Prime Minister Albanese has referred to gender-based violence as an epidemic, this problem has long been a concern in Australia. In 2021, nationwide marches took place over allegations of sexual misconduct within Parliament and broader society.

Recent incidents have brought the issue of violence against women back into public focus. Earlier this month, a man stabbed six people to death in a Sydney shopping center, with police indicating that five of the victims were women and that the attacker avoided men. This tragedy coincided with the arrest of a man for the alleged murder of Erica Hay, a mother of four, following a house fire in Perth.

The protests in Australia have drawn thousands, with roughly 3,000 people gathering outside Adelaide’s parliament building, along with additional rallies in Brisbane, Melbourne, the Gold Coast, and Newcastle. Campaign group Destroy the Joint reported that in the first 119 days of 2024, 27 women have been killed in Australia, underscoring the urgency of addressing this national crisis.

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