MP Fiona Patten facing an avalanche of abuse

On one frightening occasion, Ms Patten said she was confronted by someone outside her house who yelled at her as they passed by on their bikes.

“The people in my office are getting calls by the minute with people just yelling at them, calling us all kinds of names,” Ms. Patten said.

“Now there are people knocking on our door and filming us as they curse the staff.”

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The 2020-2021 annual report by the Victoria Department of Parliamentary Services noted that members had become “targets” for those opposing the lockdowns “and COVID restrictions.

“This has led to a 50% increase in security incidents at Victorian electorate offices,” the report said.

“Protective security has seen a significant increase in its activities, with members and staff frequently the target of protest activity and serious security incidents increasing significantly. “

A man was sentenced to three months in prison last November after making a video addressing Ms. Patten in which he threatened to shave her head and drag her “naked in the street” for supporting COVID-19 laws.

The man described Ms Patten as “sitting in bed” with Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews, whom he called a “communist” and a “fucking dog”.

Overwhelmed by the escalating violent and sexist nature of the comment, Ms Patten decided to take a social media hiatus earlier this month.

Ms Patten said the comments had become “so toxic” that her supporters could not defend her without being targeted themselves, creating a “silencing effect”.

Reason MP Fiona Patten says she has become a target of gender abuse.

Source: PAA

“She’s up to that Andrews maggot.” She should have stayed in the brothel where she clearly belongs, ”one commentary read.

“Die Nazi scum,” read another.

“You don’t deserve any recognition. Towards oblivion with you.

Ms Patten said she manages comments and turns them off if the conversation becomes toxic.

She said she had “thick skin” and had been in politics for a long time, but the escalation of abuse reached new heights.

“I am concerned, and my family is concerned that these threats are turning into real violence and real attacks,” she said.

“It’s not just individuals in my community who disagree with me or take a different position.

“These are people who participate in organized and concerted campaigns and are ordered to harass and intimidate me and my office.”

A problem “above politics”

The scourge of misogynistic abuse that women face in the public eye is not confined to a single political party, according to Ms. Patten.

Ms Patten said she spoke to between 20 and 30 female politicians over the past week, who thanked her for posting the video in which she spoke out against online abuse.

“From ministers to backbenchers to independents, we all suffer these kinds of sexist attacks,” she said.

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Liberal MP Nicolle Flint made headlines in March when she called for women’s safety to be “above politics”.

Ms Flint is the only female Liberal MP representing South Australia in the lower house and the first woman to represent Boothby.

She claimed she was harassed and photographed by a man and her office was vandalized with graffiti calling her a “prostitute” during the 2019 election campaign, an incident she described as “the most frightening of all. his life”.

Ms Flint also accused the activist group GetUp of aggressive “bird hunting” campaign tactics, which refers to intercepting candidates and filming them while asking them questions.

In a report, GetUp said it conducted a “full investigation” which confirmed that none of its employees or members were involved in any of the alleged behaviors.

This is not the first time Ms. Flint has spoken of sexism. Last July, she wore a garbage bag in a video posted to social media denouncing the “absurd opinions” she had received about her appearance, saying it was time for women to be judged on “what they represent, not what they look like “.

The role of race and gender in online hate

In 2018, Mehreen Faruqi became Australia’s first Muslim senator, but said the abuse she suffered every day since then was something she hadn’t expected.

The Greens senator said she had suffered horrific abuse from people who thought she was not a “true Australian” and “did not belong” to the country.

“These attacks on women are becoming much more toxic to women of color because we live our lives at the intersection of racism and sexism,” she told SBS News.

“And it is the combination of these two visceral forces that really multiply the poison of hate over and over again.”

Senator Mehreen Faruqi says she has been the victim of racist and sexist abuse since entering politics.

Source: Provided by Mehreen Faruqi

Ms Faruqi said responding to those comments rather than remaining silent was “cathartic”, but the abuses escalated after her move from the New South Wales Senate to the Federal Senate.

“We get these kinds of messages that basically tell you that you are not allowed to be in politics in Australia,” she said.

“Basically it comes down to not just what I’m saying, but… my cultural background or my religion.

“So that has the effect of making you feel like you don’t belong to a place which is basically your home.”

Ms Faruqi said Greens MP Jenny Leong and Victorian Greens Senator and wife Gunnai-Gunditjmara Lidia Thorpe also suffered similar racist reactions.

But she said it shouldn’t be for women of color to speak out about the abuse they suffer.

“It’s a very different story if you are a straight white man in politics or if you are a brown migrant Muslim woman. It’s chalk and cheese, ”she said.

“It’s not just us who should be talking about it. It is really the responsibility of all those who think it is unacceptable to talk about it. “

Ms Faruqi said the government must introduce a parliamentary code of conduct and a strong “anti-racist strategy” to tackle this problem at the societal level.

“For me… it’s about making the lives of other people like me who might want to take the same trip a little easier. It is about opening the door that has been hermetically closed to people of color, who want to be in politics or in places of decision-making, ”she said.

“So that’s what keeps me going and fighting these issues.”

Australian Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi speaks during the Senate proceedings at Parliament in Canberra, 2019.

Source: PAA

“It doesn’t help when someone calls someone else a liar or a cheater or a good-for-nothing,” she said.

“If you look at Denmark, New Zealand, you don’t see this type of behavior in their parliaments or in their media.

“I think the media, politicians, public figures all need to take personal responsibility in this regard and that we need to lead by example and try to act with compassion.”

If this story has helped you, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Readers seeking mental health support can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636. More information is available at Embrace multicultural mental health supports people of diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

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