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Julia Gillard Has Warned Women To Expect Violent "Rape Threats" In Public Life

She noted that anonymity on the internet and Twitter had led to more violent threats.

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Former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard has issued a shocking warning to women who want to enter public life, saying violent rape threats are an "almost daily" occurrence.

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Australia's first female leader made the comments in a speech delivered in London in memory of UK politician Jo Cox, who was murdered in the street ahead of the country's Brexit vote earlier this year.

Gillard, who quit politics in 2013 after a tumultuous time as prime minister, outlined what it's like to be a notable women in the public eye.

"As a woman in public life, the violent threats take on another sickening dimension. Threats of violent abuse, of rape, are far too common. A woman in public view may expect to receive them almost daily," said Gillard.

She said the internet had allowed people to fire off the threats to female politicians, "protected by the anonymity of a Twitter handle".

"At best, these can be snarky and occasionally witty criticisms of a politician’s decisions or actions. At worst, they can take the form of detailed death threats, or threats of violence against family, friends and staff."

Gillard has endorsed and appeared in advertising for Hillary Clinton during her presidential campaign and said Donald Trump's recent attacks include a "subtle endorsement" of violence against the former secretary of state.

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"Donald Trump today labels her as 'Lying Hillary', 'Crooked Hillary' and he appeared to give a subtle endorsement to the use of violence against her at one of his rallies, where it has become routine for the crowd to shout ‘lock her up’ or even ‘string her up’."

"In this week’s debate, he embraced the spirit of these chants saying Secretary Clinton should be in gaol."

Gillard's warning comes days after the fourth anniversary of her famous "misogyny speech", in which she spectacularly called out then-opposition leader Tony Abbott for a series of sexist comments about women in public life.

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Mark Di Stefano is a political editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

Contact Mark Di Stefano at mark.distefano@buzzfeed.com.

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