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One Toowoomba woman’s response to the Australia-wide #march4justice

By Shirley Owen - posted Thursday, 15 April 2021

On March 4 this year I marched for women's right to be heard, to be part of the voice for change in the legislation that would restore justice in delivering equity before the law in the home, the marketplace and nationally.

No-one can deny that globally over the centuries all societies have regarded women and children as lesser than the male of the species.

So much so that laws have been formulated and by default are seen as patriarchal and misogynistic.


Women have striven to assert their right to equity, but it was not until the late nineteenth century that real progress started to take place. Today we are at another watershed moment in our nation's political history. This time a great number of Australian women have risen up from all walks of life and society. Young women's voices are the loudest in calling out "enough is enough".

Easter 2021 has now passed. Whether one believes in Jesus' death and resurrection, Easter for most embodies a feeling of renewal and hope that it will all be different tomorrow when we go back to work or school. Strange that. A mystery one could say. It feels something has been celebrated. Hard to nail it really.

Hope must give way to action though to bring about the change that the women who marched for justice on March 4 want.

Central to the cry from young women is their sexual harassment by male peers. The Human Rights Commission Report, 'Respect @ Work; National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces'  tabled in Parliament last year called for all Australian children to receive consent education. Consent education that is 'age-appropriate, evidence-based and that addresses the drivers of gender- based violence, including sexual harassment'.

Melinda Tankard Reist, the CEO of grass roots organisation "Collective Shout", has been citing research warning of the harm being done, especially to young children and teens, by the proliferation of readily available pornography online.

In a recent interview and discussion about "Consent" Reist cited an Oxford Research Scientist and former porn addict who referred to this addiction as similar to radicalisation of the viewer, mainly the young male.


Under the alias of James Evans he said: "Porn is every toxic male power fantasy, polished, scripted and in high definition. We are looking at a future of far more widespread abuse against women and girls if we don't deradicalise men now. Consent education cannot compete with this mega industry. … I fear we may start thinking of consent as a magic bullet to get us out of this mess. How can we hope to convince boys that girls aren't sexual objects, (so don't treat them like pieces of meat), when this global industry profits from indoctrinating them to see women as precisely that - just meat for their enjoyment".

Last week The Human Rights Commission report drew attention to a 2017 report by the Australian Institute of Family Studies which found, 'pornography may strengthen attitudes supportive of sexual violence and violence against women".

Both parents and schools are being challenged to become involved in guiding their children/students in what is normal adult behaviour that acknowledges love and respect as vital components rather than the abusive degrading and hateful use of another human being for one's individual pleasure.

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About the Author

Shirley Owen is a retired physiotherapist who graduated from University of Queensland in 1949 and has practiced both here and abroad.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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