Our legal system is not delivering justice, but not for the reasons #MenToo thinks

Press release issued 8 April 2024.

Women’s safety advocates have today responded to news of Bettina Arndt’s “MenToo” conference by calling out its harmful implications for survivors of sexual violence, as well as highlighting the need for a better system that can actually deliver justice. 

Survivor-advocate Dani Villafaña said: “Already the legal system is so deeply traumatic for someone who has been raped to experience. To suggest that we need any changes that further skew the system to protect people perpetrating sexual assault is both dangerous and absurd.”

“We have an Australian Law Reform Commission Inquiry underway because of how deeply harmful this system is. To suggest we need changes that would hurt victim-survivors even more is disrespectful and deeply distressing for the brave survivors who are doing such important work speaking out about their experiences and the work that desperately needs to be done to improve the current criminal legal system.” she added.

“The ‘men too’ ‘movement’ are right about one thing - right now the legal system isn’t delivering justice when it comes to sexual assault - but that’s because it’s failing most victim-survivors.” said Renee Carr

“The criminal legal system is failing victim-survivors at so many points - starting with the ability to get the immediate medical care you need and any potential forensic evidence collected. I think most Australians would be surprised to learn that support is not always available if and when you need it. ” said Renee Carr, Executive Director of Fair Agenda.

“As it currently stands, the system disincentives a woman who has been sexually assaulted from coming forward to police or seeking findings through court at all.” Ms Carr added.

"The double standard in the current system is a joke. Perpetrators are literally platformed while victims have to put their lives on hold, staying silent around legal proceedings for risk of causing a mistrial or affecting sentencing if there's a conviction.” said Sarah Rosenberg, Executive Director of With You We Can.

“We are angry. My friend and survivor advocate Sarah Williams of What Were You Wearing is working quickly to coordinate a protest of the event.” she added.

Sarah Williams, founder of What Were You Wearing Australia, herself said, "Enough is enough. Victim-survivors have been through enough, and we urge the community to stand with us to show we don’t support this harmful rhetoric".

Michael Bradley, lawyer, Chair of RASARA, and Director of the Grace Tame Foundation added: “The promotion for this event talks about ‘restoring the presumption of innocence’. It is a false narrative; the presumption is under no threat whatsoever. 

One in five Australian women has been the victim of a sexual assault. For these women, there is less than a 1 per cent chance that their rapist has been arrested, prosecuted and convicted of the crime. These are the bare numerical facts of system failure. The suggestion that men are the real victims of this system is plain wrong.” Mr Bradley added. 


Some actual facts:

  • Official public safety data collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows 2 million women have experienced sexual assault since the age of 15. (source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Personal Safety Survey Data: 2021-22 financial year).
  • When we look at legal outcomes for those women, the vast majority (92%) of women who experienced sexual assault by a male did not report the most recent incident to police. (Source Queensland Government, Department of Justice & Attorney-General Sexual Violence Statistics, )  
  • In 2022, 32,146 incidents of sexual assault were recorded by police. (Source: Australian bureau of Statistics, Recorded Crime - Victims: 2022)