NEWSS Australians have reignited a national discussion about sexual assault

Author : t.othafridsa
Publish Date : 2021-03-19

NEWSS Australians have reignited a national discussion about sexual assault

Australians have derided a suggestion by the New South Wales (NSW) police commissioner that an app could be used to register sexual consent.

On Thursday, Mick Fuller championed the idea of an app where people could digitally record their mutual agreement to have sex.

He said the technology could be used to establish "positive consent".


But many people have criticised the proposal as short-sighted and potentially open to abuse.


Concerns have also been raised about whether it could be used for state surveillance.

In recent weeks, Australians have reignited a national discussion about sexual assault, abuse and harassment of women, and on Monday tens of thousands of people around the nation marched in protest.

NSW Police, in introducing the app idea on Thursday, said it was aimed at normalising the act of seeking explicit consent.


"You may have a son or a brother and you think this is too challenging but this app... protects everybody," Commissioner Mick Fuller told the Nine Network.

He said the need to prove explicit consent was a consistent problem in sexual assault court cases, and that an app's record could help achieve better legal outcomes for victims. He added that the idea had been raised with the NSW government.

Less than 10% of the near 15,000 sexual assault cases reported to NSW police last year resulted in police charges, he said.


"It needs to be positive consent. How do we do that in this day and age? One option is with technology," he wrote in Sydney newspaper The Daily Telegraph.

How sexual assault is being dealt with elsewhere:

But women's advocates have pointed out that the app's use in reality could pose many problems. They said a consent record could be superseded simply if someone changed their mind, or it could be faked.

"The abuser can simply coerce the victim to use the app," tweeted the head of the state's domestic violence service Women's Safety NSW.

Female lawmakers also criticised the app as inadequate compared to efforts to improve sexual assault laws for victims, and improve awareness.

"We need consent law reform, we need holistic education, we need to stop men feeling they are entitled to whatever they want... WE DO NOT NEED AN APP!!" tweeted Greens MP Jenny Leong.

A similar app by a private company was released in Denmark earlier this year after the country criminalised sex without explicit consent, but it was widely panned by the public and press.

Australia has in recent weeks seen a raft of publicly-aired sexual assault allegations which have centred on its parliament, as well as schools and workplaces.


In NSW, Australia's largest state, a schoolgirls' campaign is also lobbying for the school curriculum to be updated on sexual consent.

Thousands of young women have detailed their experience of sexual assault during their schooling years - with many noting they weren't certain of what constituted rape.

Tens of thousands of people have turned out to marches across Australia, protesting against the sexual abuse and harassment of women in the country.

They were spurred by a recent wave of allegations of sexual assault, centred around Australia's parliament.

The allegations have focused scrutiny on the conservative government.

The protests were organised a week ago, after Attorney General Christian Porter revealed he was the subject of a 1988 rape allegation - which he denies.

A separate case - that of Brittany Higgins, an ex-political adviser who alleged in February that she was raped in a minister's office in 2019 - has also fuelled public anger.

Protesters feel the government's response to the sexual assault allegations has been inadequate.

Ms Higgins spoke to the thousands of protesters outside Parliament House on Monday, saying: "There is a horrible societal acceptance of sexual violence experienced by women in Australia."


"My story was on the front page for the sole reason that it was a painful reminder to women that if it can happen in Parliament House, it can truly happen anywhere."

What happened at the protests?
The protest rallies - known as the March 4 Justice - formed from noon on Monday across 40 cities and towns in Australia, including the major cities of Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne as well as smaller country towns.

Organisers suggested it could be the "biggest uprising of women that Australia's seen".

Many attendees carried placards and wore black in protest. In Melbourne, protesters carried a long banner listing the names of women killed in acts of gendered violence in the past decade.

Organisers at the Canberra rally also presented a petition to lawmakers with over 90,000 signatures calling for greater accountability over sexist behaviours in parliament.

They have also called for Mr Porter - a senior government minister - to stand aside. Police have closed their case against the attorney general, but others have argued for a separate inquiry into the allegation against him.

How has the government responded?
Prime Minister Scott Morrison declined to meet the protesters despite their urging, and was forced to defend his decision in parliament.

On Sunday, he had invited a delegation to meet with him in Parliament House but protest organisers declined, arguing that he and the government's minister for women should meet with them at the rally.

"We have already come to the front door, now it's up to the Government to cross the threshold and come to us. We will not be meeting behind closed doors," tweeted march organiser Janine Hendry on Monday.

Most government lawmakers declined to join the rallies. However the Labor opposition and several other prominent lawmakers joined the crowd in Canberra.

Women of all ages are here outside the government's seat of power.

Some tell me they've been rallying for equality since the 1970s, the 1980s - that they're tired but know how important it is to capture this moment - when anger and frustration are boiling over.

Jade Catton is a mother of four: two boys and two girls all under the age of 10.

"It's not easy to bring them here," she told me. "But I want them to know this is important. I teach my children that we treat others with kindness and respect no matter who they are, what gender they are.

"But these basic things don't seem to apply to the government. The message from the government is that women's voices don't matter, so I brought the kids here to show them that this is not ok."

What has led to this national outcry?
The cases in parliament have shone a light on sexist cultures and how sexual assault and harassment is dealt with more broadly across all areas of Australian society.

Ms Higgins first spoke out on 15 February about her alleged rape by a colleague - and it has triggered a wave of other women coming forward with their stories - including in Australia's school system, workplaces and other areas.

Many have called for the government to investigate the past allegation against Mr Porter, the nation's top law officer. They want an independent inquiry into the case as well as other alleged sexual assaults in Australian politics.

Mr Morrison has resisted such calls, arguing only police should deal with the matter. But police closed their investigation on the basis they had insufficient evidence to proceed. The alleged victim died last year.

Category :accounting

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