Canberra can't sweep its scandals under rug while wagging finger to tarnish Beijing


On Wednesday, the 2021 Australian of the Year, Grace Tame, an outspoken advocate for survivors of sexual assault, spoke at the National Press Club in Canberra about her excruciating experience. 

Canberra's scandal Illustration: Xia Qing/GT

In her speech, she was both passionate and powerful in talking about an abominable felon, a former teacher of hers who, at the age of 58, groomed and then repeatedly raped her when she was a 15-year-old school girl. 

She bluntly pointed out the fact that child sexual abuse remains ubiquitous in our [Australian] society. She went on after the speech to unequivocally criticize those who have assumed either a disrespectful insolence or an appalling blame the victim rhetoric, including Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Chief of Defense Angus Campbell. 

Tame's speech was predated by a recent series of abhorrent revelations about hideous sexual assaults against women by some Australian politicians and political staffers. A female parliament staffer alleged she was raped at Parliament House in Defense Minister Linda Reynolds' ministerial office by a colleague, and claimed she felt forced to choose between reporting it to the police or keeping her job, reported on February 15. Her report to the minister had been mysteriously withheld by Reynolds from the knowledge of the Prime Minister Morrison for two years. What is even more flabbergasting is that the defense minister recently made insulting remarks about the victim, Brittany Higgins, labeling her a lying cow, The Australian reported on Thursday.

The newly surfaced sexual abuse incidents and the Australian authorities' subsequent evasive and slurring tactics to undermine their seriousness have been criticized by some Australian media. They raised questions of the immoral male culture in the workplace in Australia. Any rational person contemplating this would lead to the ominous conclusion: There must be something gravely wrong in Canberra's inner circles regarding the basic human right for women.

Australia boasts that it used to have a female prime minister and a female national governor-general. However, this fact cannot obscure the dismal reality that at present, Australia's national gender pay gap lingers  distressingly at 13.4 percent. Recent statistics show that as of November 2020, women's average weekly ordinary full-time earnings across all Australia's industries and occupations were A$1,562 ($1,216), compared to men's average weekly ordinary full-time earnings of A$1,804 ($1,404).

Incidents of sexual harassment and bullying at workplace or institutions of education have been scandalously reported. This reveals the dark side of misogynism and male chauvinism in Australia. To make matters worse, attempts to suppress and stifle women victims' outcries prevail. The widespread prevarication does not change higher level responsibilities for those who should be acting responsibly.

The Canberra administration has been bragging about itself being the champion for human rights in the Asia-Pacific region. It snoops around other countries and acts as an intrusive deputy sheriff for the US to interfere with others' domestic affairs with baseless allegations about human rights violation.

The simple fact is that human rights are being craftily manipulated by some Canberra's politicians to exert coercive pressure on other countries. Meanwhile, domestically, outright breaches of their own people's human rights and freedom have been disgraceful and horrendous.

From another perspective, over the decades, there have been incessant reports about numerous cases of unwarranted incarcerations among Australia's indigenous community. Deaths in custody among Aboriginal detainees have been exceedingly high, yet are often categorically brushed aside and whitewashed by the police or the higher authorities, or simply left unexplained.

Moreover, the latest Lowy Institute survey, released on Wednesday, shows an alarming trend: One in five Chinese Australians were physically threatened or attacked because of their Chinese heritage. Indeed, recent months have witnessed a spike of racially motivated verbal or physical assaults against Asians, in particular the Chinese population, in Australia.

Negligence of human rights also took place with Australian soldiers in overseas missions, such as the recently exposed atrocious murders of innocent civilians in Afghanistan. 

Righteous condemnations of such barbarism by the international community, including China, were bizarrely protested by Morrison without any conscientious reflections on war crimes committed by the Australian troops.

It is downright hypocrisy for the Morrison administration to recklessly tail behind Washington's frenetic anti-China strategy. It has been perversely making groundless accusations about the human rights situation in countries including China and elsewhere. Its true goal is to undermine China's reputation, and in particular, China's development at home and around the world.

It is simply wrong for the Australian government to try to sweep its own dark secrets under the carpet while pretending to project an image of self-righteousness, and to point a blood-stained finger at China.

It is now just a few days before the International Women's Day. This is when the world celebrates women's dignity, pride and achievements. Perhaps Morrison, Reynolds, Campbell and the likes of them need to listen to Tame's poignant pleas once more time, to grant us the respect and patience. They should make conscientious moves to change and reverse Australia's reprehensible abuse of human rights - both domestically and internationally.

The author Chen Hong is a professor and director of the Australian Studies Centre, East China Normal University.

Source: Global Times


East China Normal University