Liberal Party scramble after deleting ‘disgusting’ Facebook comments
The Liberal Party has scrambled to delete a series of disgraceful comments made on their Facebook page, blaming former staffer Brittany Higgins for her own alleged rape.
Last week, news.com.au broke the story about the then-24-year-old’s alleged sexual assault at Parliament House, after a night drinking with colleagues in March 2019.
While The Project’s Lisa Wilkinson rightfully pointed out that Ms Higgins deserves to be commended for her bravery, and showing “what women supporting women should actually look like”, that example fell on deaf ears for some, who took to the LNP Facebook page to prove how entrenched the victim blaming narrative in Australia really is.
Swarming the comments on a Saturday video of Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaking from Sydney’s Northern Beaches, men and a number of women spread the disturbing rhetoric, accusing Ms Higgins of “crying wolf to make money out of her stupid behaviour”.
“What happened to that female is her responsibility ScoMo didn’t get her drunk and take her to an office that she had no right to be in She knew what she was doing,” one woman wrote underneath the video.
In response to the comment, another woman wrote that “I totally agree with you”.
“That woman consented the moment she got drunk and willing went to a out of bounds empty office. What was she thinking they were going to do. Have tea and biscuits??” she went on.
“Women who think their career is the most important part of their life are dreaming. IF she was raped will (sic) then she chose her career over getting a man accountable for his actions.”
“Why did she go there in the first place,” another wrote, adding, “I think she made a lot of poor decisions that night.”
One woman said that while “I do not condone what happened to this girl … why was she so drunk that she passed out on this job she waited all her life for. Does she bear any responsibility for what happened?”
The “offensive” comments have since been removed from the Liberal Party’s page, with a spokesperson telling news.com.au they were “immediately deleted” after being brought to attention.
“We will delete any similar comments,” they added.
“Those comments were clearly wrong and we condemn them.”
According to the Liberal Party’s Facebook policy, it “provides a platform for the public to engage on topical issues and stay up to date with the Federal Liberal Team”.
“Comments, links, videos and images that are posted by others on the page do not necessarily represent the views of the Liberal Party or its Members,” the policy states.
“We provide a variety of content and commentary on Facebook to encourage participation with the Liberal Party and our Members of Parliament. It is expected that this will be done in a respectful manner and will not indulge in personal attacks.”
It adds that comments will be deleted if they “do not contribute positively to the debate” or “are deemed inappropriate” – yet the comments against Ms Higgins were on the Party’s page for at least 24 hours.
Asked by news.com.au how this could occur, the spokesperson said: “We understand that social media is a 24/7 medium.”
“However, our moderation capabilities are not,” they added. “While we monitor this Page closely, there may be some delay in removing inappropriate comments.”
The removal of the comments follows a scathing attack yesterday on Mr Morrison and the government by Labor frontbencher Penny Wong, who accused the Prime Minister of spreading the victim-blaming rhetoric himself.
“We know that at best Mr Morrison leads a government where the culture is don’t ask, don’t tell when it comes to serious criminal allegations, and at worst Mr Morrison himself is part of the cover-up,” she told the Senate.
“Mr Morrison is arguably the most powerful person in the land … his actions and inactions shape the culture.
“But when Four Corners raised serious concerns about the culture of mistreatment of women and his government, he tried to silence the ABC.
“When women complained of bullying in his government, he said, ‘I’m not going to be distracted by that’.
“When rape was alleged in an office of one of his own ministers, he sets up whitewash investigations that can be controlled.
“Mr Morrison’s media advisers started rumours about Ms Higgins and her partner. And Mr Morrison blamed the victim.”
A 2018 National Community Attitudes Survey on violence against women found that almost a third of Australians believe that a lot of times women who say they were raped had “led the man on” and then had regrets.
“When victim-blaming attitudes are held by a substantial proportion of people, or influential people such as police, judges and health professionals, they can present barriers to victims seeking support or reporting the abuse,” a piece for The Conversationread.
“Such attitudes also shift responsibility away from the perpetrators of violence, contributing to a culture in which perpetrator behaviour is at best not clearly condemned, or at worst, is actively condoned.”
Last week, Ms Higgins – who has said she felt as though pursuing a police complaint after the alleged rape would end her career – also condemned Mr Morrison for his own “victim-blaming rhetoric”, expressing fury that she was only learning key details from the media – not her own colleagues – in the aftermath of the alleged attack.
“I didn’t know that security guards let me into Minister Reynolds’ suite,” she said in a statement on Wednesday.
“I didn’t know that security guards came into the office multiple times seeing me in a state of undress. I didn’t know they were undertaking an internal review into how the matter was handled at the time. I didn’t know that they debated calling an ambulance at the time of the incident.
“The continued victim-blaming rhetoric by the prime minister is personally very distressing to me and countless other survivors.”