Sexual Assault in the Greens and the left
Recently sexual assaults within the Australian Greens have been gaining more attention. Jasmina Brankovich lives in Perth, Western Australia and has been following this issue closely.
In this interview we talk about sexual assault within the Greens and the lack of structures to deal with them.
In the second part we talk about this issue in the broader left and anarchist community.
Jasmina: For the past few years especially last year I think we’ve had a number of allegations covering all shades I guess of a male sexual violence as I prefer to call it in the Greens, and it’s seemingly across all branches… so I think that I’ve heard about the New South Wales, Victoria, WA and at the very least those those main branches… so what we had is basically a number of allegations across a number of branches portraying there’s complete lack of interest in dealing with them, there’s also lack of structures structure for instance a lot of branches and I know about WA one of those allegations arose do not have anything like the sexual harassment policy and processes to deal with them not-with-standing the fact that some branches and at them at the national level are developing their policy now.
These things were not in place when the allegations against the current Senator Senator Jordan Steele John published in the True Crime News Weekly so these allegations have been covered in the independent non mains stream press.
For instance the case of sexual assault allegations against Jarah Cook in New South Wales has been also covered extensively on Twitter not least by the woman who actually accuses him of sexual assault Lauren Ingram and and they’ve been out in the open… what has not happened and what should happen is an automatic accountability processing place to investigate these allegations at least that I’m aware… of my understanding is that nothing like that has happened in the Greens and clearly clearly what happens when these things are ignored what is that things fester and they break out into the public arena and for most people the way to actually do that publicly is the use of social media and in particular Facebook and Twitter so in a way social media is used as a last resort by the victims, by those people were affected……. by anyone who actually cares to call organisations to account…. to make them accountable and to seek some sort of justice for the people affected. So that’s kind of what’s happened.
So I think we find ourselves now in this post #MeToo moment where we really have to figure out exactly how we deal with this and the reason that I’m interested in dealing with it is because I think it affects people a lot of people… like you know a lot of people who have a lot invested in the movements that we are apart of, a lot of people have a lot of invested in calling for you know global justice and that’s why I think it’s important that the left actually finally faces its own problem…. sexual assault is obviously one of the the more extreme cases of this problem but it really comes under the one umbrella and that umbrella is the very deep seated misogyny on the left.
Linda: Do you think what’s happened with the Greens is that we’re hearing these things more now because the Green’s have become a more popular party they’ve got a broader base….. there was a man commenting on your Facebook the other day and he was being terrible and like women shouldn’t swear and that it’s men’s language and he was a member of the Greens
Jasmina: That’s possible, that’s kind of logical if you have more people in your party or supporting your party of course you gonna get more exposure for what’s going on but I also think there’s been a shift in how women actually articulate and how open we are with throwing these concerns out there.
I think and when I say a shift it’s actually you know clearly there is still a lot of women who do not feel prepared to come out and actually lodge complaints there’s all sorts of things that that are missing in place …. like I said if you don’t have policy and procedures then it’s a bit difficult to lodge a claim when there’s actually no process for it right? So I think that it’s a bit of both I think that we have you know after #metoo that it’s it’s a bit of both I think we have actually gain some courage and and kind of decided well no this is just not gonna do anymore and I think the party has become more visible thereby gaining more exposure and you know of course that is actually got a draw more people into into the whole discussion.
Linda: And the Green party don’t have the structures cuz I don’t know they didn’t make them ….
Jasmina: Well well see…. it’s a bit of a complicated thing so just to make it like really simple for instance the Greens party is divided into state branches who then have regional groups so on and they are operate largely on the politics of consensus which is not a bad thing in itself but so far the WA branch for all I know and that’s the one that I’m most familiar with they do not have a policy or process it place they don’t have those structures to deal with it so that’s now I believe that there is a policy that has been up for membership discussion that has been rejected it as it is but people are tweaking it so it may actually happen but up until now they did not actually have that.
Linda: I think my point too in doing this interview on an anarchist show even though it’s party politics is a lot of people think that this wouldn’t happen in the Greens…
Jasmina: I think that a lot of a lot of people think that this these things don’t happen on the left in general and I think that’s that was kinda one of the first things that we have come across this is not something that is systematic on the left and I think that in having more women come forward and write about this and we have for such a long bloody time… you know I mean 30 years ago when I was a teenager and you know not 30 25 20 25 years ago I’m not that old… I was at uni and it was exactly the same issues you know and I think we have come a bit of a long way since then but not nearly nearly far enough I think to actually say that we’ve actually dealt with in any reasonable way.
[Lauren Ingram on ABC Q&A] I’m one of the millions of people who’s case fell through the cracks of the legal system but then I also want to say that very many people don’t feel safe within the legal system and don’t see justice fulfilled within it, last time I checked 98% of women that are raped never see their are offender spend any time behind bars it’s the most under reported crime in the world so that also speaks volumes of women not feeling that if they go and try to get justice of that they will be received well … that they will be believed.
[music by Les Rosevere. Music for Podcasts]
Jasmina: When we talk about the broader left and let’s talk about the broader left… I mean anarchism isn’t really an organised grouping it’s more like there is a sense of movements to it in Australia but it’s we don’t actually necessarily have organised groups… organised spokespeople there’s a lot of anarchists in the Greens in the first place that’s how it came to be exposed in the first place because those people, who put a lot on the line and decided that they will go actually say exactly what has happened.
So we are at this moment kind of acting against that kind of systematic misogyny on the left in which ever way we can… so we do it whether it’s you know as members of the group that we are apart of, whether it’s as members of a you know city or town based a broader left we don’t I don’t see that necessarily as a weakness the fact that we don’t have you know… I’m not really into organised groups with manifestos and constitutions and whatever… I think that we actually work a lot better when we work together within various groups that we’re a part of.
So at the moment I think what we are seeing is the real tension and the tension between realisations that something really terrible is going on on the left … that the women are not really having it anymore .. and lack of a wherewithal, lack of skills, or lack of knowledge and I think to some extent lack of political will… which is my key problem my key issue to make sure that these things start happening.
Linda: I mean it’s not just sexual assault it’s also in Brisbane people sort of put up with terrible behaviour by men because because I think because they see them as a strong force and they don’t actually look at their behaviour in depth.
Jasmina: Right I think that there is an element of hesitation to deal with it because you are on the one hand you’ve got the oppressive state parameters and the system in which we live…… that you don’t really want to reinforce and you don’t really want to propagate and you look at a new kind of good well there’s no real solutions out there but on the other hand you know there are other things that are at stake, the things that you have in common… I think what has to happen, what we need to happen is we need to realise that we are accountable to other people for what we do and if we don’t solve these issues they will continue to happen, you will lose many good women and men as active members of the group that are working on all sorts of issues…. you will make it impossible for new people to get involved or new people will simply try to avoid you.
So that actually works against the interests of the entire movement if you like and does not actually deal with the core which is really about misogyny which is really about making sure that the structures and the systematic patriarchy within the left is actually dealt with.
Linda: Anarchism I think I think does tend to be a bit of a boy’s club, can be a bit of a boy’s club….
Jasmina: Yeah and the whole of the left is a little bit of a boy’s club it is dominated by men, the key roles in the movements of the left are occupied by men, women are quite often relegated in these movements and groups to the care taking roles so to speak … I think that’s a problem .. I think that issues such as sexism and are not just add ons to any class struggles that you might be leading, they’re actually quite instrumental they should be intrumental to what we are fighting against there’s a whole raft of thing that does need to happen but I do think that male domination and male dominance on the left is the key cause and so are learned gender roles and the wyas in which women on the left are perceived and the way in which their contribution is perceived.
And again that is a cultural and a structural issue.
[music by Jandy Rainbow + I’m a Better Manarchist than You by Jonathan Cobb]