Women rally on International Women’s Day for an end to family violence

Sydney International Women's Day rally. Photo: Chloe de Silva

Women’s rights activists called for an end to family violence, saying “Enough is enough” at International Women’s Day on March 8.

The event was held outside New South Wales Parliament and was organised by .

Paid parental leave was another key demand. Unions say 26 weeks of paid parental leave is a basic right under the national employment standards and making access to that leave flexible across the family.

Unions NSW, the National Tertiary Education Union, the Electrical Trade Union, Public Service Association, the NSW Nurses, the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union, theFlight Attendants Association of Australia, the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association, the Hair Stylists Australia and the United Services Union attended. The Sydney Knitting Nannas and Friends and Asian Women at Work were also present.

Speakers included Beverly Baker from the Older Women’s Network, Trish Doyle from the Australian Labor Party, Greens MP Jenny Leong and world-record holding marathon swimmer and domestic violence survivor Chloe McCardel.

Leong talked about the need for sexual consent education following a petition launched by 22-year-old Chanel Contos who shared her story of sexual violence at school. It has encouraged thousands of others to share their stories on . The petition has received more than 30,000 signatures and more than 2800 testimonies.  

McCardel spoke about the to criminalise cohesive control — a form of psychological abuse that involves manipulative and controlling behaviours designed to isolate and emotionally and financially control the victim. She shared her story of domestic violence and ongoing legal battles with her abuser.

McCardel swam the longest non-stop ocean swim in history — 124 kilometres and beating the men’s world record — swimming across the English Channel 34 times and crossing it 35 times.  

“My perpetrator was trying to silence me and I refuse to let the police, courts or my perpetrator silence me”, she said. “I stand with all the courageous women who have spoken out against abuse, assaults and rape … but I also stand with those who lived through horrific experiences and for your own reasons have chosen not to speak out.”