MELBOURNE, Australia — A former government staff member’s account of being raped in Australia’s Parliament building sent shock waves through the country’s halls of power on Monday, with the governing conservative party coming under intense criticism for the way it had handled the case.
Women’s rights advocates called it an extreme example of what has long been described as a culture of misogyny that has pushed several women out of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s coalition government.
They said the case reflected an environment that was stubbornly resistant to change driven by the global #MeToo movement, one where men make sexist remarks about women’s appearance and bully female co-workers, or worse.
The former staff member, Brittany Higgins, now 26, said she was attacked nearly two years ago after a night out drinking with colleagues. Ms. Higgins, who came forward in an interview published on the news site news.com.au on Monday, had been weeks into a new job as a media adviser for the defense minister, Linda Reynolds.
She said she had been offered a ride home by a male colleague widely regarded as a rising star within the Liberal Party. Instead, he redirected the taxi driver to Parliament House, where, she said, he assaulted her after she had fallen asleep on a couch in the defense minister’s office.
Ms. Higgins, who told news.com.au that she had been drinking heavily that night, woke up “mid-rape,” she said. She told her assailant to stop, but he did not look at her, she said. She has not publicly identified the man.
She said she had quickly informed Ms. Reynolds, along with more than a dozen others,
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