Thousands rally in Australian capitals to demand action against gender violence

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described violence against women as an “epidemic” in Australia on Saturday, as thousands attended rallies in Sydney and other major cities urging tougher laws on gender violence.

The rallies were spurred by a wave of violence that the government says has resulted in a woman being killed every four days this year.

They also followed a mass stabbing in Sydney earlier this month that left six people dead, including five women.

Protesters demanding stronger criminal laws gathered in Sydney, the capital of New South Wales, for a rally and then a march that closed city streets. Some protesters carried signs reading “Respect” and “No More Violence.” In South Australia’s capital, Adelaide, it was estimated that around 3,000 people rallied at the city’s Parliament building.

Prime Minister Albanese said he would participate in a rally in the national capital, Canberra, on Sunday. “I will walk with women across Australia to say enough is enough,” Albanese stated on social media platform X. “Violence against women is an epidemic. We must do better.”

In Adelaide, Greens Party Senator Sarah Hanson-Young called for “a national emergency response” to tackle the issue. “Women are sick and tired of being told ‘yes it’s bad but there’s not much we can do,'” Hanson-Young said, according to a spokesperson.

Similar protests were scheduled throughout the weekend in the state capitals of Perth, Western Australia; Melbourne, Victoria; Hobart, Tasmania; and Brisbane, Queensland. Gender-based violence is an ongoing issue in Australia, a nation of 26 million. In 2021, tens of thousands rallied over allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct in some of the nation’s highest political offices.