Feminism

About 200 people gathered outside the Liberal Party headquarters in Melbourne on December 4 to protest against the decision to restrict abortion in Victoria. The Victorian Liberal Party state conference voted on December 1 to wind back Victoria's abortion laws, which were amended in 2008 to decriminalise the procedure and to require a doctor with a conscientious objection to abortion to refer a woman to another doctor without prejudice.
Tony Abbott used one of the “surprise visits” to Australian occupation forces in Afghanistan, popular with Australian prime ministers, to announce on October 29 that Australia was withdrawing from the conflict. Aside from offering the standard praise of the Australian soldiers’ prowess and virtue, Abbott made very little attempt to justify the 12-year long war and occupation. “Australia’s longest war is ending, not with victory, not with defeat, but with, we hope, an Afghanistan that’s better for our presence here,” he said. 'War on Terrorism'
Forty people gathered on the steps of South Australia’s Parliament House on November 27 to protest against a new law that would make it an offence to cause serious harm to a pregnant woman. It was defeated by a single vote.   Introduced by Family First MLC Robert Brokenshire, the bill seeks to introduce "foetal personhood”, with penalties as severe as life in prison for causing what is termed in the bill “the death of the unborn child”.

A new battleground has opened over the introduction of “foetal personhood” laws as the anti-choice lobby tries to use these laws to roll back women’s reproductive rights. A private member’s bill giving legal rights to foetuses older than 20 weeks or weighing more than 400 grams passed the New South Wales lower house on November 21 by a large margin. A similar bill was introduced in the South Australian Legislative Council on November 27 by right-wing Christian party Family First. It lost by one vote. The Western Australian parliament considered a “foetal homicide” law last year.

At just 16 years old, Malala Yusufzai is the youngest person to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. When the Pakistani teenager was shot in her head by Taliban gunmen because she spoke out about her right to education, it sent shock waves around the world. The Western media took notice. Her attack was used as an excuse by Western media and governments to justify the invasion of Afghanistan. Malala is a courageous young woman, whose brave example in the face of barbaric violence is being used to justify the barbaric military violence associated with the occupation of Afghanistan.
About 150 people walked through Perth on November 16 to call for an end to blaming victims of sexual assault, in the city's third annual SlutWalk. Initiated in response to comments made by a Canadian police officer that women should avoid looking like sluts if they don't want to be raped, SlutWalk continues to attract global support.
On the same day that Tasmania decriminalised abortion, the New South Wales parliament took a big step backwards for women’s rights. The Legislative Assembly voted 63 to 26 for a bill aimed at giving 20-week-old foetuses the same legal rights as human beings.
A national day of action against rape drew thousands of protesters onto the streets across New Zealand on November 16. Outrage continues to grow at revelations police were aware of an Auckland “rape gang”, which posted videos boasting of their exploits on social media, for at least two years, but did nothing.
Debate on a dangerous bill that seeks to redefine when life begins was again suspended in the New South Wales Parliament on November 14. The Crimes Amendment (Zoe's law) (No 2) bill, introduced in August, will be debated again in the legislative assembly on November 21. Doubts remain as to whether it will be voted on then, or deferred to next year.
Recently, an organised criminal group called “Roastbusters” were exposed as a gang-rape organisation who targeted intoxicated and underage girls, then publicly shamed them online. The police knew about this group’s action since 2011 but failed to stop them. Police claimed they were powerless to act because none of the girls who were raped are “brave enough” to lay a formal complaint. It has since transpired that four complaints were ignored.
Your 14-year-old daughter is dumped on your freezing front lawn in a state of chemically induced incoherence with her shoes off and frost stuck in her hair. She tells you she was raped. You hear her 13-year-old best friend was also raped that same night. Your daughter is then bullied as a tape of the incident passes around her high school. You wait for the indictments and some semblance of justice, but one of the accused is a football star from one of the area's most prominent and politically connected families.

Just what questions can you be asked when you apply for a job? According to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald on October 12, global energy company Chevron asks some intrusive reproductive health questions of women applicants in its recruitment process. Questions include whether an applicant has been sterilised, their pregnancy history, how many abortions and stillbirths they have had, the number of “normal” children they have and any birth defects their children may have.