Australian lawmaker Lidia Thorpe accused fellow Senator David Van of sexual assault on Wednesday, before being forced to withdraw her remarks under threat of parliamentary sanction. Thorpe repeated her allegations Thursday, saying she had been afraid to walk through Australia’s halls of power.
“What I experienced was being followed, aggressively propositioned and inappropriately touched,” Thorpe said, according to the AFP news agency. “I know there are others that have experienced similar things and have not come forward in the interests of their careers.”
AFP quoted her as saying Australia’s parliament was “not a safe place” for women to work.
Van denied the allegations and called for an investigation. His conservative Liberal political party expelled him on Thursday.
Thorpe’s remarks came after Van made a speech in parliament about another high-profile case of alleged sexual assault in Australian politics involving a former political aide, Brittany Higgins, whoin a cabinet minister’s office in 2019.
“I’m feeling really uncomfortable when a perpetrator is speaking about violence,” Thorpe said, interrupting Van. “This person harassed me, sexually assaulted me, and the prime minister had to remove him from his office, and to have him talking about this today is an absolute disgrace.”
Higgins said she was dissuaded from reporting the alleged rape by Australia’s then-conservative-led government, which she claimed had treated her allegations as a political problem. Her case sparked national protests, a high profile trial and a number of investigations that found there was a persistentin Australian politics.
“Since the airing of Sen. Thorpe’s allegation yesterday, further allegations in relation to Sen. Van have been brought to my attention,” the leader of Van’s party told reporters Thursday, according to The Associated Press.