On behalf of MPs, Australia's government apologized to victims of sexual harassment in Parliament on Tuesday.

In a speech, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said a culture had developed in Canberra "over decades" under which harassment, bullying and in some cases even violence had been normalized.

According to a study, 63 percent of all female parliamentarians and 40 percent of all parliamentary staff have experienced sexual harassment.

Morrison spoke of "traumatic and harrowing experiences" for these women.

The request for an apology was supported across faction boundaries.

Till Fähnders

Political correspondent for Southeast Asia.

  • Follow I follow

Morrison and his government faced criticism last year for their handling of the alleged rape of a staff member at a government office in Parliament House in Canberra.

Former Member of Parliament Brittany Higgins reported being raped by a colleague in one of the government offices in 2019.

According to her, she had been pressured not to make the assault public.

Morrison personally expressed his gratitude and appreciation to the woman attending the session of Parliament for her bravery.

"I apologize to Ms Higgins for the terrible things that have happened here," Morrison said.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese also apologized to Higgins on behalf of his party.

After the case became public, more and more Australian women spoke out about their experiences of harassment and sexual harassment in Parliament.

Many spoke of a "toxic" culture in the Australian capital's political life.

Morrison emphasized the peculiarity of the parliamentary system, in which it has now become established to ask the victims of social and political mistakes for forgiveness.

"We understood in this place the power of the apology to bring about healing and change." There have been similar cases in the past, including with regard to Aboriginal people and specifically the "stolen generation" and with regard to sexual victims Abuse in government and other institutions.