Updated Mar 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Thousands rally in Australia as sexual misconduct claims cloud government

Protests attend the Womens March 4 Justice Rally on March 15, 2021 in Canberra, Australia.

Protesters attend the Womens March 4 Justice Rally on Monday in Australia's capital, Canberra. Photo: Jamila Toderas/Getty Images

Thousands of protesters rallied across Australia on Monday against the sexual abuse and harassment of women — driven by allegations centered on Australia's Parliament, per the Guardian.

Why it matters: Many are angry at Prime Minister Scott Morrison's government, after Attorney General Christian Porter was accused of raping a 16-year-old girl when he was a teenager in 1988, Reuters notes.

  • The 43 protests planned across the country are likely to heap more pressure on Morrison — who has refused to consider an investigation into Porter, after police closed theirs citing a lack of information. Porter has denied the allegation and said he will not step down.

Morrison's Defense Minister Linda Reynolds is facing calls to resign for failing to report that a government staffer came to her with another allegation of rape against an unnamed colleague.

  • Reynolds and Porter are both on sick leave, per Reuters.
  • The two developments have spurred a reckoning and national conversation on the sexual misconduct of Australia's most powerful politicians.

For the record: Mass gatherings are able to take place in Australia as it has largely contained COVID-19 cases to quarantine hotels, where travelers newly arrived in the country stay before entering the wider community.

In photos: Thousands rally for justice for women
 People attend a protest against sexual violence and gender inequality in Melbourne on March 15
People attend a protest against sexual violence and gender inequality in Victoria's state capital, Melbourne. Photo: William West/AFP via Getty Images
Protestors attend a rally in King George Square on March 15, 2021 in Brisbane, Australia.
Protesters in King George Square in Queensland's state capital, Brisbane. Photo: Jono Searle/Getty Images
 Protesters attend a rally against sexual violence and gender inequality in Sydney on March 15
Protesters attend a demonstration in the New South Wales state capitol, Sydney. Photo: Steven Saphore/AFP via Getty Images
Protestors march on March 15, 2021 in Brisbane, Australia.
Protesters march in Brisbane. Photo: Jono Searle/Getty Images
Protesters attend a rally against sexual violence and gender inequality in Sydney on March 15
Protesters in Sydney. Photo: Steven SaphoreAFP via Getty Images
Protests attend the Womens March 4 Justice Rally on March 15, 2021 in Canberra, Australia.
A protester in Canberra wearing a mask of Morrison. Photo: Jamila Toderas/Getty Images

Editor's note: This article has been updated with details from the protests and more photos.

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