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Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard at Parliament House in Canberra February 27, 2012. (REUTERS/Daniel Munoz)


Former Australian P.M. says women politicians face threats of rape and violence ‘almost daily’

October 12, 2016

Australia’s former prime minister, Julia Gillard, has said that women who enter politics should expect rape threats, in a no holds barred assessment of the sexism that women politicians face.

Gillard, the nation’s first female prime minister, was delivering a keynote address at an event in London, held in memory of slain Labour M.P Jo Cox. Gillard spoke of the impact of the June murder on women’s involvement in politics, saying they “asked themselves for the first time ever — ‘are we safe?'”

“Threats of violence have become more prevalent for women in public life. Once upon a time, to criticize a public figure, you generally had to put your name to that criticism,” she said.

“They can take the form of detailed death threats, or threats of violence against family, friends and staff.

“And of course, as a woman in public life, the violent threats take on another sickening dimension. Threats of violent abuse, of rape, are far too common. A woman in public view may expect to receive them almost daily.

“Sadly, the current Presidential election campaign in the United States is showing us that this sort of gender discrimination isn’t set to leave us any time soon.”

Gillard, who came to office as P.M. in June 2010, spoke about the invective directed towards her on the subject of her having no children, drawing a parallel with U.K. prime minister Theresa May. “If you are a woman politician, it is impossible to win on the question of family,” she said.

“If you do not have children then you are characterized as out of touch with ‘mainstream lives’. If you do have children then, heavens, who is looking after them?

“I had already been chided by a senior conservative senator for being ‘deliberately barren’.”

Four years ago, Gillard made headlines around the world when she stood in parliament and called out then opposition leader (later Australian prime minister) Tony Abbott for misogyny.

Read the full story at the ABC.


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