They were spurred following a recent wave of allegations of sexual assault that have been centred around the country’s parliament
The allegations of sexual assault have focused scrutiny upon the nation’s conservative government.
The protests that had been organised a week ago, after the Attorney General, Christian Porter, had revealed that he was the subject of a rape allegation in 1988 that he denies.
A separate case, that of the ex-political adviser, Brittany Higgins, who alleged in February that she had been raped in a minister’s office in 2019, has also fuelled much public anger in Australia.
Protesters feel that the Australian government’s response to these sexual assault allegations has been inadequate.
This comes after clashes between police and attendees of a vigil for Sarah Everard were “distressing” and “alarming”, the policing minister has said. Kit Malthouse said that officers were “happy” to be held “accountable” by an independent investigation into Saturday night’s chaos.
Ms Higgins spoke to the thousands of the protesters outside Parliament House on Monday, saying that: “There is a horrible societal acceptance of sexual violence experienced by women in Australia.”
“My story was on the front page for the sole reason that it was a painful reminder to women that if it can happen in Parliament House, it can truly happen anywhere.”
The protest rallies , which are known as the March 4 Justice, which had formed from noon on Monday across 40 cities and towns within Australia, including the country’s major capital cities of Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne as well as within the smaller country towns.
Organisers have suggested that it could be the “biggest uprising of women that Australia’s seen”.
Many attendees were seen carrying placards and wearing black in protest. In Melbourne, some protesters had carried a long banner listing the names of women that were killed in acts of gendered violence within the past decade.
Organisers at the Canberra protest had also presented a petition to lawmakers that had over 90,000 signatures calling for the greater accountability of sexist behaviours within the Australian parliament.
They have also called for Mr Porter, who is a senior government minister, to stand aside. Police have already closed their case against the attorney general, but others have argued for a separate inquiry into the allegation against him.
This comes after The European Commission and Italy have blocked a shipment of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that was destined for use in Australia, to prevent a shipment of doses being sent off before they are given to the bloc.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison declined to meet the protesters despite their urging, and was forced to defend his decision in parliament.
On Sunday, he had invited a delegation to meet with him in Parliament House but protest organisers declined, arguing that he and the government’s minister for women should meet with them at the rally.
“We have already come to the front door, now it’s up to the Government to cross the threshold and come to us. We will not be meeting behind closed doors,” tweeted march organiser Janine Hendry on Monday.
Most government lawmakers declined to join the rallies. However the Labor opposition and several other prominent lawmakers joined the crowd in Canberra.