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35 Times Aussie Women Wanted To Pull Their Hair Out This Year

Maybe sit on your hands while you're reading.

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In January Gladys Berejiklian was elected unopposed as leader of the parliamentary NSW Liberal party, and therefore the first Liberal female premier of New South Wales.

Berejiklian has been in parliament since 2003 and has served as transport minister, treasurer, and deputy leader. The 46-year-old is responsible for making the NSW economy the strongest in the country and has been behind some of the biggest infrastructure developments in the state.

But she's also an unmarried, childless woman.

So, logically, 15 minutes into her first press conference in the top job, she was asked about it.

Brisbane archbishop Mark Coleridge said he opposed an independent bill seeking to decriminalise abortion in Queensland because he was worried women would have later-term abortions and use abortion for gender selection and for cosmetic reasons.

“The classic term for it is ­eugenics. It is the kind of thing that went on in Nazi Germany," Coleridge said.

He then defended the comments and said he "couldn't deny the historical facts".

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3. When an International Women's Day report revealed some of the crap Australian women were putting up with.

A mother who lost shifts because she couldn't find childcare at short notice. An Indigenous woman who was too scared to take her baby to hospital because she feared her child would be removed from her custody. A woman who was asked to wear a bikini to work to get her bonus.

These were some of the stories Australia's sex discrimination commissioner, Kate Jenkins, heard when she travelled the country for six months consulting with women from urban, rural, regional, remote, and Indigenous communities, as well as those with disabilities, and victims of sexual assault or harassment in the workplace.

4. When Australia's first female AFL umpire was called a moll and a bitch.

Tracey Nearmy / AAPIMAGE

Eleni Glouftsis umpiring an AFL match between the Essendon Bombers and the West Coast Eagles at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Sunday, May 21.

Eleni Glouftsis made history in May when she became the first woman to officiate an AFL match as a field umpire.

But Cervantes Tiger Sharks president Dale Simmons said Glouftsis would change her mind on decisions because she was a woman, labelling her a "dopey mole [sic]" and a "stupid bitch" on his public Facebook page.

The country football club president was fined $1,000 and stood down from his position.

5. When a pregnant refugee in a critical condition waited days for medical attention.

In January, a heavily pregnant Kuwaiti refugee held by the Australian government in detention on Nauru was diagnosed with the potentially life-threatening condition preeclampsia.

The 37-year-old waited for days to be evacuated after doctors said she was in a critical condition and needed to be flown to Australia for an emergency C-section.

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A fifth of Australian men believe they're more capable than women of "working, earning money, being educated and teaching", a global study from market research firm Ipsos found.

7. When a woman couldn't catch an Uber without being sexually assaulted.

Former Uber driver Muhammad Naveed was sentenced to nine years in jail with a minimum non-parole period of six years and nine months for raping a female passenger.

In February, a Sydney jury found Naveed guilty of sexual intercourse without consent.

"He clearly took advantage in the most terrible way of a vulnerable young lady," the judge said.

"She was entitled to feel safe."

8. Or rent out a room without being sexually assaulted.

A woman who advertised a room for rent in her apartment in Sydney's inner west was allegedly violently sexually assaulted and choked by a man who turned up to inspect the property, in April.

Jong Han Park, 26, was charged with attacking the 31-year-old woman at her home on Corby Avenue in Concord early on Easter Sunday. Park was also charged with assaulting another woman at a house in Strathfield and stealing two cars and leading police on a pursuit.

He appeared in court in June to face charges. BuzzFeed News attempted to find out the result of the case but did not hear back by publication.

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The Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed in April the typical Australian is "Claire", a 38-year-old Australian born Anglo-Saxon woman, who is married with two children and owns a three bedroom house.

But a BuzzFeed News analysis of federal politicians' biographies and pecuniary interest registers revealed that the typical politician is a long way from the typical Aussie.

He’s 51 years old and was born in Australia. His parents were born here too, and his family has English ancestry. He's got two degrees, including a law degree.

Andrew’s married with two children and owns two homes.

10. When the Senate voted against removing the tampon tax.

Alex Bainbridge / NEWZULU

Protesters hold up signs at a rally outside Parliament House in Perth on August 14, 2015, as part of a nationwide campaign demanding the GST on tampons and pads be scrapped.

The Senate rejected a push to get rid of the GST on tampons, pads and other sanitary items in June.

It failed 15-33. The Greens Party, Nick Xenophon Team, Derryn Hinch, David Leyonhjelm and Lucy Gichuhi voted for it, while the government and the Labor opposition voted against.

BuzzFeed News revealed modelling on the tampon tax showing that its removal would cost $115 million over three years.

Under then Greens Senator Larissa Waters' proposal, the $115 million loss would have occurred at the same time as the $300 million in revenue from online purchases – meaning an overall gain of $185 million.

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A video of John Alexander, who was then running for the seat of Bennelong which he successfully won this month, telling a joke involving rape 20 years ago was revealed by BuzzFeed News in November.

"John has [reflected], on some ill-judged remarks 20 years ago, and it is a measure of the man and of the dignity of the man that he has acknowledged that those remarks were unacceptable, and he's unreservedly apologised for them," prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said.

The legislation to remove abortion from the state's criminal code – introduced by independent Cairns MP Rob Pyne – was unlikely to pass in February when it was due to be debated in Queensland's parliament.

After a party meeting held two days before this debate, the leader of the LNP Tim Nicholls said that although MPs would be given a conscience vote on the issue, they would vote the bill down.

The bills were referred by the state's Labor government to the Queensland Law Reform Commission which will report back later this year.

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Australian Labor senator Katy Gallagher was targeted by right-wing trolls after a year-old video of her using the term "mansplaining" was posted by a conservative political commentator on Facebook.

In May, Gallagher was trolled by supporters of controversial former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos after he posted a video where she accused a Liberal politician of "mansplaining".

14. When TV host Sam Amytage had to defend herself again from "silly, nasty, tabloid bullshit".

Sam Armytage/Instagram

Sunrise host Samantha Armytage took to Instagram in August to call out what she said was the latest example of the "silly, nasty, tabloid bullshit" that surrounds her "most days".

Armytage said she was "accosted" by journalists from The Daily Telegraph at the launch of department store Myer's spring/summer range and questioned about her relationship status.

The result was a story with the headline: "No hot cop for giggly 'hopeless' single Sam."

"Sunrise host Samantha Armytage is single," the article begins.

It details how Armytage "got flustered" during a segment on Sunrise featuring a Queensland police officer.

Last December Armytage called in her lawyers after Daily Mail Australia published a story about her going "make-up free" and sporting a "loose-fitting dress", under which she "dared to bare" her "giant granny undies".

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15. When we learned the horrifying reality for so many Australian women implanted with mesh deivices.

Gina Rushton/BuzzFeed News

Members of a class action against Johnson & Johnson, which manufactures transvaginal mesh implants.

An Australian Senate inquiry into transvaginal meshes is expected to report back in February next year.

It was set up to find out exactly how many women have had transvaginal mesh implants and, of those, how many experienced adverse side effects.

Queensland associate professor of urogynaecology Christopher Maher has estimated more than 200,000 mesh implant surgeries have been performed in Australia to date.

Half of the women who experienced adverse physical and psychological side effects after receiving a vaginal mesh implant have also suffered from a relationship breakdown after the procedure, the inquiry heard in September.

Women who couldn't have vaginal sex due to ongoing sexual dysfunction from urogynaecological mesh "repeatedly" reported their doctors suggested having anal sex instead, the inquiry heard in August.

More than 100 women have written to the inquiry — these are the most heartbreaking submissions.

Adverse effects noted include: chronic and constant vaginal pain, visceral pain with bowel movements; dyspareunia (pain during sex); vaginal bleeding; inability to sit for more than an hour at a time; the granulation of vaginal tissue; pain through the glutes; inflammatory reactions; "offensive discharge"; incontinence; leg weakness; and haemorrhages.

Many submissions were from some of the 700 Australian women currently in court fighting Ethicon, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, in a class action brought by Shine Lawyers which claims vaginal medical devices left women "suffering painful and life-altering complications".

An estimated 100,000 Australian women have been implanted with Johnson & Johnson mesh devices since 2000.

Australia has now banned the use of some mesh products.

Burke hosted the popular Channel Nine series Burke's Backyard from the '80s until 2004 when it was axed by the network.

The ABC and Sydney Morning Herald last month reported that two of his former researchers on the show had come forward to claim Burke had "groped their breasts" and one of them said Burke once showed her a video of a woman having sex with a donkey.

Burke labelled the allegations a "witch-hunt" and said he had self-diagnosed himself with Asperger's syndrome.

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17. When a young woman was blocked from a Melbourne University Liberal Club event because she would make men feel "a bit uncomfortable".

The woman spoke about her experience at the club's annual general meeting in March, reading out a message she had received from president Xavier Boffa.

Boffa wrote that he had wanted to invite the woman to an event but hadn't because "a couple of the guys were a bit uncomfortable about inviting a chick."

Boffa confirmed with Fairfax Media that he had sent the message but made no further comment.

18. When a few months later zero women were elected to the leadership of the Liberal student body.

The new president of the Australian Liberal Students' Federation (ALSF) told its annual general meeting "this is an executive that represents everyone" shortly after the room elected 11 men and no women to the organisation's executive body.

19. When complaints about revenge porn rose 1,300%.

Complaints about "revenge porn" – the sharing of an "intimate image" without the subject of the photo's consent – to the Office of the Children's eSafety Commissioner (OCeSC) swelled from 24 in 2015/16 to 335 in the nine months to May this year.

20. When the business lobby tried to use International Women's Day to promote cuts to penalty rates.

Women stand to benefit from changes to penalty rates. Underemployment disproportionately affects women.… https://t.co/17mcrDWEoq

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To help celebrate International Women's Day the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry sent a tweet with a quote from its CEO James Pearson saying women will benefit from cuts to Sunday wages.

It did not go down well.

This could be because the reduction of Sunday penalty rates workers in retail (and hospitality, fast food and pharmacy) industries following a decision by the Fair Work Commission disproportionately affects young women.

The retail industry employs more than 600,000 Australian women, making it the second largest employer of females in the country.

Over a quarter (26.7%) of all employed women under 25 work in retail, according to the latest figures from the National Retail Association.

Australia's gender pay gap – the difference between a man and a woman's base salary – sits at 17.7%, or just over $16,000, according to March figures from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.

However the gap widens to 23.1% once bonuses, benefits and perks associated with the job are accounted for.

The gap is more like a crevasse in some industries – for example, in the financial and insurance services industry it sits at 31%.

The full remuneration number had dropped slightly to 22.4% in September.

22. When a video of a man and woman having sex was posted in a private Facebook group of thousands of men without the woman's consent.

A video of a couple having sex was shared to an Australian private men’s group with over 14,500 members.

“What is the biggest whale that you have harpooned?” the user posted wrote when he posted the video.

“I went through a tubby phase and landed this 130kg beast.”

But a member reported the post, Facebook responded that it didn’t “go against any of our specific Community Standards”.

Facebook later launched an investigation, according to Junkee.

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23. When a bill to decriminalise abortion in NSW failed.

Paul Miller / AAPIMAGE

Protesters for and against a bill to decriminalise abortion gather outside of the NSW State Parliament building in Sydney on Thursday, May 11, 2017.

In May, just 35% of MPs voted in favour of legislation to remove abortion from the NSW Crimes Act and establish safe zones around clinics and hospitals, introduced by NSW Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi.

The bill would have removed abortion from the state's Crimes Act and established 150 metre safe access zones around hospitals and clinics where abortion is provided, in order to protect staff and patients from harassment.

The majority of MPs (25) voted against the proposed legislation, which would have also required doctors who conscientiously object to abortion to refer a patient to a doctor who doesn't.

24. When there were only five women around the table at COAG.

The PM @TurnbullMalcolm and First Ministers in Canberra today for a Special Counter-Terrorism #COAG meeting

State and territory leaders - and their minions - assembled in Canberra on Thursday for The Council of Australian Governments (COAG), a talkfest about counter-terrorism in October.

Of the 21 people people around the table, only five women were present.

That's only 23% around the most important table in Australia. Only slight more than the number of women in the Turnbull ministry, 22%.

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25. When a whistleblower said women on Nauru were being denied abortions in Australia.

A whistleblower on Nauru accused Australian Border Force officials of stopping pregnant refugees from travelling to Australia to have abortions, in a leaked letter sent to politicians in August.

"I am asking for your help to challenge this current policy which denies women the right to end their pregnancy," the woman wrote.

"If things do not change, these women will unwillingly become mothers, if they do not kill themselves first."

Australian Conservatives senator Cory Bernardi introduced a motion in November against anti-domestic violence organisation White Ribbon because it supports reproductive rights.

The motion, which opposed the organisation for a statement which supports safe and publicly available abortions, was voted down 31 to 41 but garnered the support of finance minister Mathias Cormann.

In February, White Ribbon released a statement which called for the decriminalisation of abortion across Australia and for public provision of abortion through hospitals.

27. When Channel 9 aired this promo for Married At First Sight of Dean who wants to be "obeyed".

Dean wants to be loved, honoured… And obeyed. 🤵 #9Married

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"I wanna be the alpha male," the male contestant on the dating show said.

"She needs to respect me as the man."

28. When a radio broadcaster confirmed he still requests female staff wear skirts instead of pants.

Tracey Nearmy / AAPIMAGE

Australian broadcaster John Laws leaves the 2UE offices after his final show in Sydney, Friday, Nov. 30, 2007.

Veteran radio broadcaster John Laws was asked on The Project if he could still get away with things he got away with in previous decades, like making his female employees wear skirts with bare legs.

"Yes," replied Laws.

"Do you still do it?" asks Price.

"You bet," Laws said. "They all wear skirts."

29. When a woman had to wait days in hospital to terminate her wanted pregnancy.

South Australian woman Abbey Webb was told her fetus had slow growth due to placenta insufficiency – when the placenta does not work as well as it should the fetus receives less oxygen and nutrients.

For the next four weeks the couple made the three-hour commute back and forth between their home and Adelaide for growth scans.

"On November 14 we were told that his heart was barely beating and that we would need to have a termination," Webb told BuzzFeed News.

For four days Webb waited in a hospital bed while her case was referred to a Crown solicitor in Adelaide.

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Social services minister Christian Porter proposed the government's paid parental leave scheme be lengthened from 18 to 20 weeks when he announced sweeping changes to welfare, paid parental leave and family tax benefits, wrapping up all the measures into a single, so-called “(Omnibus) Bill”.

But tens of thousands of Australians who each year receive parental leave payments from both their employer and the federal government – a practice former treasurer Joe Hockey called “double-dipping” – would still be left out of pocket by an average of $5600.

The cuts were used to fund an overhaul of the childcare system which allow a family earning less than $65,000 a year to have 85% of their child care bills paid for by taxpayers.

31. When Sam Newman was transphobic on the Footy Show.

AFL Footy Show panellist Sam Newman mocked high-profile transgender woman Caitlyn Jenner during a discussion of a team banner that featured a picture of her.

Fellow panelist Billy Brownless described her as a “lookalike” of Newman.

“I know who he… it is, I do,” Newman said. “Oh well what is she? Is it a he or a she now… still got the-?

“Is it transgender is it, or what is it?”

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The president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, Keysar Trad, defended comments he made in an interview with conservative news presenter Andrew Bolt.

Bolt asked Trad to justify a section of the Qur'an that says it is "permissible" for a husband to beat his wife "light with his hands".

"Violence is a last resort," Trad said.

"Before you even consider using your hand, before you consider any act of violence, have you checked box number one, which is counselling? Have you checked box number two?"


He then told BuzzFeed News
: "It was an unfortunate choice of words but what I did say clearly is that it is a last resort that you should never get to."

33. When the government picked a man who referred to Indigenous women on welfare as "cash cows" to oversee our charities regulator.

Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

Commissioner of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Dr Gary Johns.

Former Queensland Labor MP Gary Johns was appointed as the new commissioner of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) earlier this month.

In July 2015, Johns told The Bolt Report that "a lot of poor women in this country, a large portion of whom are Aboriginal, are used as cash cows right, they are kept pregnant and producing children for the cash. Now that has to stop."

In 2014 Johns wrote a column in which he argued that welfare for women should be linked to compulsory contraception.

"Some families, some communities, some cultures breed strife," he wrote. "Governments cannot always fix it. Compulsory contraception for those on benefits would help crack intergenerational reproduction of strife."

In 2015 he published the book No Contraception, No Dole.

The government has defended the selection, arguing that Johns was chosen by a panel after going through an independent "merit-based" process.

34. When LGBTI mums and their kids had to endure a campaign questioning their proficiency as parents.

Sean Davey / AFP / Getty Images

Equality ambassadors and volunteers from the The Equality Campaign gather in front of Parliament House in Canberra on December 7, 2017.

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The kids of same-sex parents do just as well as those raised by heterosexual parents, but ongoing negative debate about their families contributes to stress and anxiety, leading child health experts said in a review published last month.

The Medical Journal of Australia concluded that three decades of peer-reviewed research shows children raised by same-sex parents do just as well "emotionally, socially, and educationally" as kids raised by heterosexuals.

In a statement accompanying the review, the authors also called on the "no" campaign to put an end to its negative statements about same-sex families.

One of the founding groups of the Coalition for Marriage, Marriage Alliance, has previously labelled same-sex parenting as akin to "child abuse", while Australian Christian Lobby leader Lyle Shelton has repeatedly likened the children of same-sex parents to a new "stolen generation", citing the Aboriginal children forcibly removed from their parents throughout the 20th century.

Nile first proposed a bill that would make it a crime to harm or destroy a fetus in June 2013, as part of a vote swap deal with the then Liberal premier Barry O'Farrell. It was introduced by Liberal MP Chris Spence in August 2013.

Titled the Crimes Amendment (Zoe’s Law) Bill 2013 (No 2), it was put to a conscience vote in November 2013 and passed through the NSW lower house by 63 votes to 26.

However the bill lapsed in November 2014 after delays in debating the changes in the NSW upper house.

In March this year, Nile resurrected the controversial legislation, which would make it a crime to harm or destroy a fetus, punishable by a jail term of up to 10 years.

The wording of the new bill, known as "Zoe's Law", is exactly the same as the previous bill.

The legislation was named “Zoe’s Law” in honour of Sydney woman Brodie Donegan who was hit by a drug affected driver in 2009. Her unborn child, named Zoe, died at 32 weeks. The driver could not be charged with Zoe’s death but was charged with grievous bodily harm to Donegan.

Ahead of the upper house vote in 2014, women's rights groups and legal and medical associations raised concerns about the impact on abortion laws of giving a fetus legal personhood.

The staunchly anti-abortion Nile was accused of exploiting Donegan's tragedy to further complicate the legal status of abortion in NSW, where the procedure is still in the crimes act, and only lawful if a doctor believes it is necessary to prevent serious risk to the life or health of a woman.

Donegan has told Fairfax Media previously she did not support Nile's bill.

Gina Rushton is a breaking news reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

Contact Gina Rushton at gina.rushton@buzzfeed.com.

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