‘We just don’t want to be raped’: Women march for justice
Vulnerability, strength, anger and compassion were on show all at once for the Mullumbimby leg of the March 4 Justice movement.
A crowd, many wearing all black, could not all fit inside the Mullumbimby Civic Memorial Hall, such was the support behind the event.
Community leaders and survivors of sexual abuse and harassment addressed the crowd before they marched to the Byron Shire Council chambers.
Ilona Harker, the convener of the Mullumbimby event, said it was emotional to join the groundswell of the national call to action.
"It's been so emotional but I think what happened today was women needed a place to put that, because we're not getting listened to and we're not getting heard," Ms Harker said.
"So I think that huge swell is just all our tears and all our hearts and all our stories.
"It's a deluge and it's pouring out because we haven't had justice and we haven't been listened to."
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She hoped the protests would send a clear message to decision-makers.
"I hope that they understand 51 per cent of the population is women," she said.
"We have a massive f - ing voice.
"What we want to do is to have equality.
"We just don't want to be raped anymore, have our rape accusations ignored, mocked.
"We don't want to be sexually harassed. We need safe spaces."
Ms Harker extended her gratitude for the men who also took part in the event and those who back women.
"I'd really like to thank the men who turned out today and I'd like to thank the men who are not afraid of equality and the men who are not afraid to speak up," she said.
Mandy Nolan, also among the organisers and the Greens candidate for Richmond, said she was "blown away" by the number of people who turned up.
"If this, in a country town on a rainy day, is a sign of what's out there I reckon there's been a lot of women … taking to the streets," Ms Nolan said.
Ms Nolan said it was important to air the real stories which were shared in Mullumbimby.
"I think we've made the narrative around sexual abuse, rape and sexual harassment far too comfortable," she said.
"Women's vulnerability when they're still so pained is uncomfortable but it has to drive home.
"We can't hide how we feel to make other people feel good anymore."