Leadership

Sexual Assault: Why Women Like Ashleigh Raper Stay Silent

By Jamila Rizvi

Leadership

By Jamila Rizvi

Like ABC journalist Ashleigh Raper, who made an extraordinarily brave statement accusing NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley of sexual assault, I grew up around political circles. On the first (and yes, there were several) occasion I was groped by a politician, I was 19-years-old. Despite being a law student at the time, it never occurred to me there was legal redress available. This was a decade before #metoo. Embarrassed and uncomfortable, my primary concern was making sure people didn’t find out. I wanted to be taken seriously in politics, not dismissed as the girly-plaything of men.

In not reporting what happened, I didn’t consider the potential other women who might have been subject to the same lewd behaviour. I didn’t dwell on what it said about the character of an elected official and whether such things ought to be made public. Besides, the inappropriate actions of this man – and others like him in Canberra – were an open secret. I reasoned to myself that it wasn’t exactly news that I was his latest victim. Many others had gone before me and not kicked up a fuss. So, I shut that shit down as quickly as possible; discreetly made it stop, went home, had a shower, moved on.

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