Connect with us

Politics

Black Southerners are wielding political power that was denied their parents and grandparents – CNN

Published

 on


There was one place, though, that her mother dreaded visiting: the Deep South.
Her mother saw it as a forbidding land of lynch mobs and “Whites Only” signs, where Black people went missing just for trying to vote. Burton’s mother grew up in segregated Virginia and was so mistrustful of the South she once dissuaded her daughter from vacationing in Atlanta and encouraged her to visit the Bahamas instead.
“My mother sent me out of the country before she sent me to the Deep South,” Burton says.
Burton, who is 48, just got a little payback. After moving to Atlanta from Maryland six years ago, she became part of a crucial bloc of Black voters who helped Democrats seize control of the US Senate. They mobilized in record numbers to elect the Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Black man from Savannah, and Jon Ossoff, a Jewish man from Atlanta.
Burton thought of all the Black people like her who migrated from elsewhere to Georgia to reclaim political power that was taken away from their parents and grandparents, who fled the Jim Crow South in fear.
Democratic candidates for Senate Jon Ossoff, left, and Raphael Warnock bump elbows with US President-elect Joe Biden during a rally  in Atlanta on January 4.
“It’s poetic justice,” says Burton, a cultural critic and founder of The Burton Wire, which produces stories on race, class, and gender. “The descendants of the people who were pushed out of the South, who had no power, who knew they could go missing if they tried to vote, have returned and they’re making it work for them. It’s been a long time coming.”
The stunning election results in Georgia have rightly been attributed to the relentless work of voting-rights organizers such as Stacey Abrams, the former gubernatorial candidate whose group, Fair Fight, is credited with registering 800,000 new voters in Georgia.
But those victories also happened because of a series of personal decisions made years ago by little-known transplants like Burton. They are part of what’s called “The New Great Migration,” and without them, Warnock and Ossoff wouldn’t have stood a chance.

The unsung Black transplants changing the South

More than a million Black people have moved to Georgia and other Southern states in the last 30 years. Many have started to flex political powers that were denied to their ancestors. They’re not just winning local races for mayor and city council, they’re shaping national politics.
What happened in Georgia this week is a culmination of this trend. Some trace the shift to President Obama’s successful 2008 presidential run, when he won Virginia and North Carolina. Others cite a multiracial progressive movement called Moral Mondays that turned North Carolina from a red state into a political battleground.
Rev. William Barber II of North Carolina speaks during a Democratic Presidential Committee (DNC) summer meeting on August 23, 2019 in San Francisco. Rev. William Barber II of North Carolina speaks during a Democratic Presidential Committee (DNC) summer meeting on August 23, 2019 in San Francisco.
The Rev. William Barber II, an activist and author, is credited with helping transform North Carolina into a place where the GOP cannot take victory for granted. The state now has a Democratic governor.
Barber, 57, says the Democratic victories in Georgia can spread throughout the South if candidates are not afraid to run on an unabashedly progressive platform, as Warnock and Ossoff did, that champions the working class.
“Georgia doesn’t have to be an anomaly,” says Barber, whose parents moved to North Carolina from Indiana. “Georgia literally shows what’s possible when you put messaging, mobilization, and the investment of money in there.”
He points out, though, that the newfound Black political clout in Georgia is not unprecedented. It’s a return to what he calls “fusion politics” — a late 19th-century movement that saw Blacks and progressive Whites change politics throughout the South.
Much of this progress occurred during Reconstruction, that period when Black and White voters in the South sent two Black senators to the US Senate and elected more than 2,000 Black congressmen, judges, sheriffs and tax collectors.
“A superficial political analysis will say that the Black vote elected Warnock and Ossoff, but a serious political analysis will say that Black, White and Latino voters elected them,” Barber says.

Atlanta is key to the New Great Migration

Any serious political analysis of the Democrats’ victories in Georgia must also examine Atlanta’s mythical hold on Black America. The New Great Migration gave Ossoff and Warnock a more level playing field, because Atlanta has long been a top destination for Black transplants from around the country.
In the 1970s, Ebony and Jet magazines promoted Atlanta as the “Black Mecca” of the South because of its vibrant middle class, renowned Black colleges like Morehouse and Spelman, and its string of popular Black mayors like Maynard Jackson and Andrew Young. It’s also been called the “cradle of the civil rights movement” as the birthplace of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who used the city as a home base to change the nation.
People pray together during a Juneteenth event at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta on June 19, 2020.People pray together during a Juneteenth event at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta on June 19, 2020.
Voters in Atlanta and its predominantly Black suburbs were crucial to Warnock and Ossoff’s victories, and many of these voters came from elsewhere. In 2019, 43% of eligible Black voters in Georgia were born outside of the state, according to the Pew Research Center. In the Atlanta metro area, 76% of eligible Black voters were born outside of Georgia.
Many of these Black transplants came because they didn’t have the same fear of the South as their parents. They got active in politics and civic affairs and become what Burton calls “supervoters”: people who vote in local, state and national elections.
“If there’s an election for a dog catcher, supervoters are going to vote in it,” Burton says.
They’re people like Charles M. Blow, the New York Times columnist, who moved to Atlanta from New York City a year ago.
“I chose Atlanta because many of my friends were already there, having moved to the ‘hot’ Southern city after college, and because I saw Georgia as on the cusp of transformational change,” Blow wrote in a recent column. “I say to Black people: Return to the South, cast down your anchor and create an environment in which racial oppression has no place.”
People wait to register to vote in Macon, Georgia, in 1962. Voting rights were denied many African Americans until 1965.People wait to register to vote in Macon, Georgia, in 1962. Voting rights were denied many African Americans until 1965.
But across the South, Black political power outside of Georgia is still uneven. Black voters in South Carolina helped send Biden to the White House when they threw their support behind his then-floundering campaign during the Democratic primaries. But they have not changed the White Republican dominance of their state.
Mississippi is a textbook example of why a large Black populace doesn’t necessarily translate into political power. It has the highest percentage of Black people in any state — about 38% — but they are virtually locked out the state’s political power. It doesn’t have Georgia’s booming economy or its influx of multiracial, college-educated transplants who tend to be progressive voters. White Republicans have dominated state politics in Mississippi since the late 19th century.

Some fled the South for the ‘warmth of other suns’

The segregated nature of Mississippi’s politics is partly what led to the first Great Migration. Much of the South was an apartheid state where Blacks could lose their jobs or get killed for trying to vote. They could even be killed for whims such as “reckless eyeballing” — looking at a White person the wrong way.
That fear stayed with many Blacks long after they left the Deep South.
“My mom still doesn’t come here now, and she’s from Virginia,” says Burton, who lives in a suburb of Atlanta.
An estimated six million Blacks left the South for the North between 1915 to 1970. They hopped on railway cars from states like Mississippi and Louisiana to head for factory jobs in cities like Chicago and Detroit. This epic migration was captured most memorably in a 2010 book by Isabel Wilkerson, “The Warmth of Other Suns.”
A group of African Americans who took part in the Great Migration to the north, in Chicago in 1918. A group of African Americans who took part in the Great Migration to the north, in Chicago in 1918.
Wilkerson’s book title is based on a poem by the Black author Richard Wright, who moved from the South to Chicago and wrote he was “taking a part of the South to transplant in alien soil,” to “bend in strange winds, respond to the warmth of other suns and, perhaps, to bloom.”
For many Black people in Georgia, part of the thrill of this week’s victories is that they are finally seeing the political winds bend in their direction.
Warnock is the first Black man ever elected to the Senate from Georgia. Until this week, Republicans held every statewide elective office and majorities in both houses of the legislature. Until last November, when Biden edged President Trump here, Georgia was a reliably red state.
“There’s no going back,” said Jacquelyn Bettadapur, chairwoman of the Democratic Party in Cobb County, a suburban Atlanta county that was once staunchly conservative. “A Democrat would be a fool not to play in Georgia going forward.”
Warnock evoked this triumphant mood when he cited his 82-year-old mother, the Rev. Verlene Warnock, who spent her summers picking cotton and tobacco in the fields of southern Georgia.
“Because this is America,” he said, “the 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States senator.”

Why Georgia’s runoff victories are bittersweet

And because this is America, one Black man in Atlanta couldn’t help but think this week of an American hero who saw the best and worst of the nation.
Bernard Lafayette was friends with John Lewis, the former civil rights icon who died last July. As a longtime civil rights activist, Lafayette was also friendly with the Rev. C.T. Vivian and the Rev. Joseph Lowery, two other giants of the civil rights movement who also died in 2020.
Bernard Lafayette speaks at a screening of the documentary, "Passing The Torch From Selma To Today," on February 22, 2018, in Los Angeles.Bernard Lafayette speaks at a screening of the documentary, "Passing The Torch From Selma To Today," on February 22, 2018, in Los Angeles.
All three men were fixtures in Atlanta and around Georgia. None of them lived to see Warnock elected.
Lafayette, 80, was particularly close to Lewis. The two men were college roommates and risked their lives as leaders of the student sit-in movements of the early 1960s and the Freedom Rides, the movement to desegregate interstate bus travel.
Lafayette said he received a call from Lewis just five days before he died. The weakened congressman said to him, “I just wanted to hear your voice.”
When Lafayette heard about this week’s dual Democratic victories in Georgia, he thought of his departed friend.
“John Lewis would have been very elated,” he says. “He’s smiling right now and celebrating.”
So are many other Black residents of Georgia. But some of that elation is tempered by what may come.
During the same week that Black voters in Georgia delivered the Senate to Democrats, the Republican-controlled Georgia legislature proposed laws that would make it harder to vote.
Voters stand in line to cast ballots during the Senate runoff elections in Atlanta on January 5. Georgia voters turned out in record numbers to elect two Democrats and swing the balance of power in the US Senate.Voters stand in line to cast ballots during the Senate runoff elections in Atlanta on January 5. Georgia voters turned out in record numbers to elect two Democrats and swing the balance of power in the US Senate.
They said they wanted to prevent voter fraud, even though no credible evidence of widespread voter fraud has been found.
But Burton says Black voters in Georgia won’t turn back now. They have a taste of national political power. Many are already gearing up for what they expect to be the next big contest: Abrams running for Georgia governor in 2022 in a potential rematch with Gov. Brian Kemp, who narrowly beat her in a controversial 2018 race.
“What’s next? Stacey in the governor’s mansion,” Burton says. “We’re not going to let up.”
Burton and other Black voters will have plenty of company. As more Black Americans return to cities like Atlanta, they will continue to reshape politics in the South. They will join people like Burton who no longer need to go North, like their ancestors, to feel the warmth of other suns.
The message they sent from this week’s Georgia runoff election is simple: Our political power is starting to bloom again.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Politics

China's electoral reform 'earthquake' set to upend Hong Kong politics – TheChronicleHerald.ca

Published

 on


By James Pomfret and Clare Jim

HONG KONG (Reuters) – China’s plan to dramatically reform Hong Kong’s electoral system, expected to be unveiled in a parliamentary session in Beijing starting this week, will upend the territory’s political scene, according to more than a dozen politicians from across the spectrum.

The proposed reform will put further pressure on pro-democracy activists, who are already the subject of a crackdown on dissent, and has ruffled the feathers of some pro-Beijing loyalists, some of whom may find themselves swept aside by a new and ambitious crop of loyalists, the people said.

“It will be an earthquake shaking up local political interests,” said one person briefed on the impending changes.

The measures will be introduced at the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp parliament, which starts on Friday, according to media reports.

The plan was signalled last week by senior Chinese official Xia Baolong, who said Beijing would introduce systemic changes to only allow what he called “patriots” to hold public office in Hong Kong.

In a full transcript of his remarks published this week by the pro-Beijing Bauhinia Magazine, Xia said Hong Kong’s electoral system had to be “designed” to fit with the city’s situation and shut out what he called non-patriots, some of whom he described as “anti-China agitators” that would bring destruction and terror to the city – a reference to pro-democracy campaigners who took to the streets in sometimes violent demonstrations in 2019.

Xia did not announce any specifics, but the plan will likely include changes to how the 70-seat Hong Kong legislature is elected, and the composition of a committee that will select Hong Kong’s next leader, according to the person briefed on the plan and local media reports.

Veteran democrats have been quick to condemn the plan.

“It totally destroys any hope for democracy in the future,” said Lee Cheuk-yan, a pro-democracy former member of Hong Kong’s legislature. “The whole concept of Xia Baolong is that the Communist Party rules Hong Kong and only those that support the party can have any role.”

Lee learned of the impending reform last week, in the middle of his trial, along with a group of eight other pro-democracy activists, for unlawful assembly charges related to a protest in August 2019.

“It’s no longer for people to decide,” Lee told Reuters on a lunch break from the trial last week. “It’s one party rule, completely.”

The prospect of further bending the electoral process to China’s liking has also worried some pro-Beijing figures, who think it may be going too far and ultimately hurt Hong Kong.

“Don’t go too far and kill the patient,” Shiu Sin-por, a pro-Beijing politician and former head of Hong Kong’s Central Policy Unit, told reporters after a briefing session with Xia on the matter. The opposition camp has already been neutralised by last year’s national security law, Shiu said, allowing the government to “push forward policies smoothly.”

China’s main liaison office in Hong Kong, and China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, did not respond to requests for comment.

The Hong Kong government said in a statement that it was prioritising the implementation of the principle of “patriots ruling Hong Kong” and improving the electoral system, and that it will continue to listen to views on the matter.

POLITICAL MATHEMATICS

Electoral reform is the latest political tremor to hit Hong Kong, a former colony that Britain handed back to China in 1997, which retains some autonomy from Beijing and whose status as a global financial hub was built on the rule of law and civil liberties not allowed in mainland China.

The city’s atmosphere has changed radically in the past 18 months. Mass street protests in 2019 against China’s intensifying control prompted Beijing to impose a sweeping national security law last June, which authorities have used to jail activists and stifle dissent.

On Sunday, Hong Kong police charged 47 pro-democracy campaigners and activists with conspiracy to commit subversion for their roles in organising and participating in an unofficial primary election last July, the biggest single crackdown under the new law.

Even though such arrests have already marginalised the pro-democracy camp, China wants to exert greater control over a voting process largely unchanged since 1997, and is still afraid of democrats winning a majority in the legislature at the next election, said the person briefed on the electoral reform plan.

“They did the mathematics and it was seen as too risky to do nothing,” said the person.

Two senior pro-Beijing politicians told Reuters the electoral reform plan, coming on top of the broader crackdown that has already provoked international criticism, would ultimately damage Hong Kong, potentially destroying its unique character, pluralism and attractiveness for investors.

“It’s really sad that Hong Kong has degenerated to this stage,” said one of the politicians, on the electoral reform. “We’re handing Hong Kong over to the next generation in a worse state than we inherited it.”

The two pro-Beijing politicians spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, due to the sensitivity of the matter. It is rare for pro-Beijing politicians in Hong Kong to voice any doubt about China’s moves, even anonymously.   

“Nothing is normal anymore,” said the second pro-Beijing politician. “It’s a new abnormal.”

One faction that appears ready to benefit from electoral reform is the new Bauhinia Party, formed in May by Charles Wong and two other mainland-born, pro-Beijing businessmen, pushing policies that Wong says will help revive Hong Kong and its leadership.

“They (Beijing) never really have any opposition to what we do,” Wong told Reuters in his 12th-floor seafront office last week.

Wong, 56, was born in mainland China but came to Hong Kong as a youth and speaks fluent Cantonese, the local dialect. Describing himself as a “patriot,” Wong embodies China’s declared wish to have Hong Kong run at all levels by people with closer ties and sympathy with the mainland.

“We are Hong Kong people,” he told Reuters. “We love Hong Kong.”

(Reporting by James Pomfret and Clare Jim in Hong Kong: Additional reporting by Sharon Tam in Hong Kong: Editing by Bill Rigby and Neil Fullick)

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Politics

China's electoral reform 'earthquake' set to upend Hong Kong politics – Reuters

Published

 on


HONG KONG (Reuters) – China’s plan to dramatically reform Hong Kong’s electoral system, expected to be unveiled in a parliamentary session in Beijing starting this week, will upend the territory’s political scene, according to more than a dozen politicians from across the spectrum.

Pictures of Chinese President Xi Jinping overlook a street ahead of the National People’s Congress (NPC), in Shanghai, China March 1, 2021. REUTERS/Aly Song

The proposed reform will put further pressure on pro-democracy activists, who are already the subject of a crackdown on dissent, and has ruffled the feathers of some pro-Beijing loyalists, some of whom may find themselves swept aside by a new and ambitious crop of loyalists, the people said.

“It will be an earthquake shaking up local political interests,” said one person briefed on the impending changes.

The measures will be introduced at the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp parliament, which starts on Friday, according to media reports.

The plan was signalled last week by senior Chinese official Xia Baolong, who said Beijing would introduce systemic changes to only allow what he called “patriots” to hold public office in Hong Kong.

In a full transcript of his remarks published this week by the pro-Beijing Bauhinia Magazine, Xia said Hong Kong’s electoral system had to be “designed” to fit with the city’s situation and shut out what he called non-patriots, some of whom he described as “anti-China agitators” that would bring destruction and terror to the city – a reference to pro-democracy campaigners who took to the streets in sometimes violent demonstrations in 2019.

Xia did not announce any specifics, but the plan will likely include changes to how the 70-seat Hong Kong legislature is elected, and the composition of a committee that will select Hong Kong’s next leader, according to the person briefed on the plan and local media reports.

Veteran democrats have been quick to condemn the plan.

“It totally destroys any hope for democracy in the future,” said Lee Cheuk-yan, a pro-democracy former member of Hong Kong’s legislature. “The whole concept of Xia Baolong is that the Communist Party rules Hong Kong and only those that support the party can have any role.”

Lee learned of the impending reform last week, in the middle of his trial, along with a group of eight other pro-democracy activists, for unlawful assembly charges related to a protest in August 2019.

“It’s no longer for people to decide,” Lee told Reuters on a lunch break from the trial last week. “It’s one party rule, completely.”

Slideshow ( 2 images )

The prospect of further bending the electoral process to China’s liking has also worried some pro-Beijing figures, who think it may be going too far and ultimately hurt Hong Kong.

“Don’t go too far and kill the patient,” Shiu Sin-por, a pro-Beijing politician and former head of Hong Kong’s Central Policy Unit, told reporters after a briefing session with Xia on the matter. The opposition camp has already been neutralised by last year’s national security law, Shiu said, allowing the government to “push forward policies smoothly.”

China’s main liaison office in Hong Kong, and China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, did not respond to requests for comment.

The Hong Kong government said in a statement that it was prioritising the implementation of the principle of “patriots ruling Hong Kong” and improving the electoral system, and that it will continue to listen to views on the matter.

POLITICAL MATHEMATICS

Electoral reform is the latest political tremor to hit Hong Kong, a former colony that Britain handed back to China in 1997, which retains some autonomy from Beijing and whose status as a global financial hub was built on the rule of law and civil liberties not allowed in mainland China.

The city’s atmosphere has changed radically in the past 18 months. Mass street protests in 2019 against China’s intensifying control prompted Beijing to impose a sweeping national security law last June, which authorities have used to jail activists and stifle dissent.

On Sunday, Hong Kong police charged 47 pro-democracy campaigners and activists with conspiracy to commit subversion for their roles in organising and participating in an unofficial primary election last July, the biggest single crackdown under the new law.

Even though such arrests have already marginalised the pro-democracy camp, China wants to exert greater control over a voting process largely unchanged since 1997, and is still afraid of democrats winning a majority in the legislature at the next election, said the person briefed on the electoral reform plan.

“They did the mathematics and it was seen as too risky to do nothing,” said the person.

Two senior pro-Beijing politicians told Reuters the electoral reform plan, coming on top of the broader crackdown that has already provoked international criticism, would ultimately damage Hong Kong, potentially destroying its unique character, pluralism and attractiveness for investors.

“It’s really sad that Hong Kong has degenerated to this stage,” said one of the politicians, on the electoral reform. “We’re handing Hong Kong over to the next generation in a worse state than we inherited it.”

The two pro-Beijing politicians spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, due to the sensitivity of the matter. It is rare for pro-Beijing politicians in Hong Kong to voice any doubt about China’s moves, even anonymously.

“Nothing is normal anymore,” said the second pro-Beijing politician. “It’s a new abnormal.”

One faction that appears ready to benefit from electoral reform is the new Bauhinia Party, formed in May by Charles Wong and two other mainland-born, pro-Beijing businessmen, pushing policies that Wong says will help revive Hong Kong and its leadership.

“They (Beijing) never really have any opposition to what we do,” Wong told Reuters in his 12th-floor seafront office last week.

Wong, 56, was born in mainland China but came to Hong Kong as a youth and speaks fluent Cantonese, the local dialect. Describing himself as a “patriot,” Wong embodies China’s declared wish to have Hong Kong run at all levels by people with closer ties and sympathy with the mainland.

“We are Hong Kong people,” he told Reuters. “We love Hong Kong.”

Reporting by James Pomfret and Clare Jim in Hong Kong: Additional reporting by Sharon Tam in Hong Kong: Editing by Bill Rigby and Neil Fullick

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Politics

How rape allegations have rocked Australian politics – BBC News

Published

 on


BRITTANY HIGGINS

Just a fortnight ago, Australia was shocked by a former political adviser’s allegations that she had been raped in the nation’s Parliament House.

Brittany Higgins said she’d been attacked by a male colleague – also an adviser for the ruling Liberal Party – in a government minister’s office in 2019.

Her story has triggered a flood of other women to come forward with their own experiences of alleged sexual assault and harassment in Australian politics.

The most explosive of these – a 1988 rape allegation – now hangs over an unidentified cabinet minister. The minister denies rape, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday.

A rape accusation against an opposition MP has also been referred to police.

As the allegations pile up, Mr Morrison’s government in particular is facing a public clamour for answers. Here’s how events have unfolded so far.

Brittany Higgins speaks out

Ms Higgins said she was 24 and weeks into a new “dream job” when she was taken to parliament by a senior colleague after a night out in March 2019.

Heavily drunk, she had fallen asleep in the minister’s office before waking, she said, to find the man sexually assaulting her.

The man was sacked in the days following, not for the alleged assault but for breaching office security with the late-night visit.

Meanwhile Ms Higgins told her boss – then Defence Industry Minister Linda Reynolds – that she had been sexually assaulted. The meeting occurred in the same room where Ms Higgins alleged the attack took place.

Ms Reynolds has said she offered support to her aide to go to the police. Ms Higgins said she felt pressure that doing so would lead to her losing her job.

Brittany Higgins

NETWORK TEN

Ms Higgins said she had since felt “silenced” by the Liberal Party, but decided to speak out after seeing a photo of Mr Morrison in January which showed him celebrating the activism of a sexual assault survivor.

“He’s standing next to a woman who has campaigned [for survivors’ rights]… and yet in my mind his government was complicit in silencing me. It was a betrayal. It was a lie,” she told news.com.au.

PM criticised for response

A day after Ms Higgins came forward, Mr Morrison apologised for the way her complaint had been treated by the government two years ago. He also promised inquiries into parliament’s work culture and support for political staff.

However, he sparked a public backlash when he appeared to suggest that he’d understood Ms Higgins’ experience better after his wife urged him to think of his two daughters.

“She said to me: ‘You have to think about this as a father. What would you want to happen if it were our girls?'” he told reporters.

Women in particular condemned Mr Morrison’s framing of the issue. Did he need to think of Ms Higgins as someone’s daughter, they asked, before he could empathise or take her account seriously?

Critics also used the comment to argue that Mr Morrison wasn’t tackling the issue seriously enough.

Ms Higgins, pictured here with Prime Minister Scott Morrison during a party fundraiser

ABC

Mr Morrison and his ministers were also accused of skirting questions about who within the government knew what and when, and why they didn’t do more.

It has since emerged that several people in Parliament House – including at least three cabinet ministers – knew about the alleged crime.

Mr Morrison maintains he found out about the allegation at the same time as the rest of the nation.

But when he disputed a suggestion by Ms Higgins that one of his advisers had been “checking up” on her – doubting her recollection in that instance – she said: “The continued victim-blaming rhetoric by the prime minister is very distressing to me and countless other survivors.”

Other women come forward

Since Ms Higgins’ spoke out, four other women have come forward to local media to accuse the same man of sexual assault or harassment.

One woman said she’d been raped by the man in 2020 after drinks and dinner with him. “If this had been properly dealt with by the government in 2019 this would not have happened to me,” she told The Australian.

Another woman, an election volunteer, said she was also raped by the man after a night out in 2017.

A third woman said the man had stroked her thigh during a group dinner with colleagues in 2017. She made a report to police after seeing Ms Higgins speak out, the ABC reported.

Last Wednesday, a fourth woman told news.com.au she had felt pressured by the man to have sex in 2014.

Then late last week, amid suggestions that some lawmakers had been reticent to report Ms Higgins’ allegations earlier, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) issued a statement to lawmakers. It reminded them to report any criminal allegations they had come across.

Cabinet minister accused of rape

On Friday, two opposition lawmakers – Labor Senator Penny Wong and Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young – referred a letter they had received to the AFP.

It alleged that a man who was now a cabinet minister had raped a 16-year-old girl in 1988.

The identity of the minister and the alleged victim have not been reported by Australian media. The woman took her own life last June, aged 49.

Earlier last year, the woman reported the allegation to New South Wales Police, but an investigation was suspended after she died.

Last week, friends of the woman wrote a letter to Mr Morrison and other lawmakers, urging him to establish an independent investigation.

Mr Morrison has declined to do so, insisting that the matter is one for police.

“The individual involved here has vigorously rejected these allegations,” he told reporters on Monday.

“And so, it’s a matter for the police,” he said, adding that “there was nothing immediate considered that was necessary for me to take any action on”.

Scott Morrison in parliament

Getty Images

But the letter argues that because the alleged victim is dead, police are unlikely to pursue their own investigation because such cases typically require testimony from a complainant.

“Failure to take parliamentary action because the New South Wales Police cannot take criminal action would feel like a wilful blindness,” the letter said.

On Sunday, a government lawmaker referred a rape allegation against a Labor MP to police. No further information about that allegation is yet known.

Public pressure

The allegations of the past fortnight have reignited wider questions about Australian political culture, including long-held debates about sexism and misogyny.

One of the women who alleges she was raped by the political adviser said she had come forward, in part, to “help shine a light on this awful culture”.

Last week, Mr Morrison said: “I think we’ve got a problem in the parliament and the workplace culture that we have to work on.”

But calls for more action from the government continue to grow.

Critics argue, for instance, that a cabinet minister accused of a serious crime should be stood aside pending an investigation – a suggestion the government has rejected.

Meanwhile, Ms Higgins says she has now filed a police complaint and is “determined to drive significant reform” in how parliament handles cases such as hers.

“I believe that getting to the bottom of what happened to me and how the system failed me is critical to creating a new framework,” she said.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending