Yesterday former senator David Leyonhjelm was ordered to pay Ms Hanson-Young $120,000 over defamatory comments he made suggesting she was a misandrist and a hypocrite.
At a press conference after the case was handed down Ms Hanson-Young said the ruling was a win for women. "When men do the wrong thing, they should apologise. Most men do. But when they don't they should be called out," she said. "It's for every woman and girl who's been told or made to stay silent in the face of harassment and disrespect that I took legal action. Today's ruling is a win for them."
Plan International Australia CEO Susanne Legena described the defamation win as a “watershed moment” for the fight to rid politics of sexism.
“It’s deeply concerning but not surprising that most Australian girls think women politicians aren’t treated equally in this country, given the dreadful sexist behaviour they see in our Parliament,” she said.
“This survey supports research we did with young women in 2017 that found not a single one of them wanted to become a politician. Is it any wonder why? Girls are growing up in Australia seeing women in politics, and in other public spaces, being judged on their looks, and belittled for their sexuality and gender.
“This is bad news for all of us, because it discourages girls from pursuing politics or other positions in the public eye, effectively pushing them out of public spaces and silencing their voices.’’
Plan International Australia’s survey of 314 boys, men, girls and women also found:
- Three-quarters of young women say it’s harder for women to become politicians (versus 57% of young men). Most young women (77%) also think female politicians are treated unfairly by the media and also by their male counterparts (70% said this was the case).
- Girls become increasingly cynical of sexism in politics as they grow older – just 9% of young women aged 22 to 25 think women receive equal treatment in politics, versus 33% of men in that age group.
- Two-thirds of young women say that female politicians are regularly talked over (67%).
- Young women care about politics and their interest increases as they grow older – from just 37% for the 15-17 age group, to 51% by the time they are 18-21, and 58% for the 22-25 age group. Contrastingly, males’ interest remained fairly consistent across age groups.
- Young women were twice as likely to believe sexism is a big problem in Australian society in general (44% agreed this was the case, compared to 23% of young men).
Ms Legena is hopeful that judgement will send ‘an incredibly powerful message to girls that poor treatment of women in political life will not be tolerated’.
“We are sorry that Senator Hanson-Young had to relive the awful slurs thrown at her through this process,’’ Ms Legena said. "But the silver lining is that her bravery in highlighting this awful behaviour and confronting the person who perpetrated it head-on, sends a strong message that sexism must never be tolerated, in the Senate and out in the wider community.”
Let's all wait and see if the case does make a difference.
Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has said she will donate the $120,000 to Plan International and the Working Women’s Centre in South Australia.