The MP Fiona Patten is facing an avalanche of abuse
On one terrifying occasion, Ms. Patten said she was confronted by someone outside her home who yelled at her while they were cycling past.
“The people in my office get calls every minute with people just insulting them and giving us all sorts of names,” said Ms. Patten.
“Now people are knocking on our door and filming us while they abuse the staff.”
Victoria’s Department of Parliamentary Services Annual Report 2020-21 found that members had become “targets” for those who spoke out against lockdowns “and COVID restrictions.
“This resulted in a 50 percent increase in security incidents in Victorian electoral offices,” the report said.
“There has been a significant increase in activity in protecting security, with members and staff who are often affected by protest activities and serious security incidents increasing significantly.”
A man was sentenced to three months in prison last November after filming a video on Ms. Patten threatening to shave her head and drag her “naked on the street” for violating the COVID-19 laws supports.
The man described Ms. Patten as “sitting in bed” with Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews, whom he called a “communist” and a “damn dog”.
Overwhelmed by the escalating violent and sexist nature of the comment, Ms. Patten decided to take a break from social media earlier this month.
Ms. Patten said the comments had become “so toxic” that their supporters could not defend them without being targeted themselves, creating a “silence effect”.
“It’s just like that Andrews grub. She should have stayed in the brothel, where she clearly belongs, ”said a comment.
“Die Nazi scum,” read another.
“You don’t deserve recognition. With you into oblivion. “
Ms. Patten said she manages comments and turns them off when the conversation becomes toxic.
She said she was fairly “thick skin” and had been in politics for a long time, but the escalation of abuse had reached new heights.
“I am concerned and my family is concerned that these threats will turn into actual violence and attacks,” she said.
“These are not just individuals in my church who disagree with me or advocate another position.
“These are people who are directed in concerted organized campaigns to harass and intimidate me and my office.”
A subject that is “above politics”
According to Ms. Patten, abuse of misogyny abuse to which women are exposed in public is not confined to one political party.
Ms. Patten said she spoke to 20 to 30 women politicians over the past week who thanked her for posting the video calling for online abuse.
“Ministers to backbenchers to independents, we all get these kinds of gender-based attacks,” she said.
Liberal MP Nicolle Flint hit the headlines in March when she called for women’s safety to be “above politics”.
Ms. Flint is the only Liberal MP to represent South Australia in the House of Commons and the first woman to represent Boothby.
She claimed she was followed and photographed by a man and that her office was destroyed during the 2019 campaign with graffiti referring to her as “prostitutes”, an incident she described as “the scariest of her life”.
Ms. Flint also accused activist group GetUp of aggressive “bird dogging” campaign tactics that involve intercepting and filming candidates while they ask questions.
In a statement, GetUp said it had conducted a “thorough investigation” which confirmed that none of its employees or members was involved in the alleged conduct.
It’s not the first time Ms. Flint has spoken about sexism. Last July, in a video posted on social media, she was carrying a bag of trash, to call it “trash views,” that she received about her appearance “.
The role of race and gender in online hatred
In 2018, Mehreen Faruqi became Australia’s first Muslim Senator, but she said the abuse she has experienced every day since then was something she did not expect.
The Green Senator said she had been subjected to terrible abuse by people who believe they are not a “real Aussie” or “belong” in the country.
“These attacks on women become much more toxic to women of color because we live our lives at the intersection of racism and sexism,” she told SBS News.
“And it is the combination of these two inner forces that multiplies the poison of hatred many times over.”
Source: Supplied by Mehreen Faruqi
Ms. Faruqi said it was “cathartic” to respond to these comments instead of remaining silent, but the abuse worsened after she moved from the NSW Senate to the Federal Senate.
“We get this kind of news that basically tells you that in Australia you have no right to be in politics,” she said.
“Basically, it doesn’t just boil down to what I say, but … what my cultural background or my religion is.
“So it has the effect of making you feel like you don’t belong in a place that is basically your home.”
Ms. Faruqi said Green MP Jenny Leong and Victorian Green Senator and Gunnai Gunditjmara Ms. Lidia Thorpe had also seen similar racist backlashes.
But she said it shouldn’t be up to the women of color to speak out against the abuse they are receiving.
“It’s a whole different story if you’re a straight white man in politics or if you’re a brown Muslim migrant. It’s chalk and cheese, ”she said.
“Not only we should talk about it. It is really the responsibility of anyone who thinks this is unacceptable to speak up about it. “
Ms. Faruqi said the government needs to put in place a parliamentary code of conduct and a strong “anti-racism strategy” to address this issue at a societal level.
“For me… it’s about making life a little easier for others like me who might want to go the same way. It’s about people of color who want to be in politics or decision-makers to open the door that is tightly closed, “she said.
“That’s what keeps me going and fighting these problems.”
“It doesn’t help if someone calls someone a liar or a cheat or is no good,” she said.
“If you look at Denmark or New Zealand, you don’t see this type of behavior in their parliaments or in their media.
“I think that the media, politicians, public figures all have to take some personal responsibility for this and that we have to lead by example and try to act compassionately.”
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