Yesterday, Thanks To Ashleigh Raper, Australian Women Had A Small Win
Yesterday, a female journalist from the ABC released a statement about the alleged behavior of NSW Opposition leader Luke Foley.
In her statement, Ashleigh Raper recounted an incident where Foley allegedly placed his hands in her underpants at a Christmas function in 2016.
The incident was raised under parliamentary privilege in both Sydney and Canberra, with Foley strongly denying the allegations.
In her full statement, Raper said, “I chose not to make a complaint for a number of reasons.
“It is clear to me that a woman who is the subject of such behaviour is often the person who suffers once a complaint is made.
“I cherished my position as a state political reporter and feared that would be lost.”
No one can blame Ms Raper for feeling that way, or for deciding not to pursue any further action at the time of the alleged incident. She is right; time and time again, women who are brave enough to come forward and make a formal complaint about inappropriate behavior in the workplace are bullied, belittled, forced out or publicly condemned, blamed and shamed.
We saw it with Christine Blasey Ford, whose name has been dragged through the mud following her allegations against Brett Kavanagh, which he has consistently denied. We would see it more, except women have learnt from those who have come before them and are often too scared of these consequences to come forward.
Studies and statistics show us that the fear women have of being sidelined after making a formal complaint in the workplace are not unfounded. This is why only 17 percent of Australians who believe they have been experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, or amongst their colleagues, will actually file a report in the first place.
I know all this is incredibly depressing and I know that we still have a long way to go until Australian workplaces are safe and equitable for everyone. I also know that in a world where Donald Trump is President, it may seem ignorant of me to tell you that women had a win yesterday. But, we did.
Yesterday, a female journalist was outed in the media as having had private conversations with her bosses. Today, she still has her job. The person who was allegedly the perpetrator has resigned, quietly, with the respectful indication from his colleagues that now was the time to go.
He intends to fight the allegations, and fair enough; everyone deserves a fair trial. But the journalist isn’t being dragged through the mud either; for the most part, people are giving her dignity and respect.
Now, I know this is a small win. I know that the claims most certainly should not have been leaked to the press without the full consent of the person making the allegation. But what happened when it was leaked, and a statement was released, was progress.
And that is a small win for women.