Three high-profile sexual abuse advocates are fighting to continue their public work under their real names after new gag laws were introduced.
Three high-profile sexual abuse advocates are fighting to continue their public work under their real names after new gag laws were introduced.

Sisters fight ‘traumatic’ laws that silence abuse victims

The first application to decide if sex abuse survivors can speak out under their real names will be heard on Wednesday.

The three sisters, who are high-profile survivor advocates, will go to Melbourne Magistrates' Court and ask for permission to continue their public work under their real names.

Last week t he sisters discovered they have been silenced under Victoria's new victim gag-laws, despite having previously given dozens of interviews about their case.

Since then, the sisters and their lawyers have worked "around the clock" to lodge an application for a court order exempting them from the oppressive gag-law.

Victorian rape survivors speak out as part of the #LetUsSpeak campaign. Picture: David Caird
Victorian rape survivors speak out as part of the #LetUsSpeak campaign. Picture: David Caird

One of the sisters has described that application process as "traumatic" and "extremely complicated" adding that since they were not receiving pro-bono legal support, it would be costing them several thousand dollars.

"It's not simple, cheap or straightforward. It's also been an incredibly frustrating and humiliating process," she said.

The woman also believes that were it not for the high-profile nature of her case and her "connections", she doubts the matter would have been "speed tracked".

"I've received personal calls from both Premier Dan Andrews and Attorney-General Jill Hennessy," she said.

"We have made it very clear that this is urgent in our case, and we have been promised by relevant authorities that our case will be heard quickly."

But other sexual assault survivors are having a very different experience.

The three sisters have been able to have their case fast-tracked through the courts, but Maggie* hasn’t been so lucky. . Picture: David Caird
The three sisters have been able to have their case fast-tracked through the courts, but Maggie* hasn’t been so lucky. . Picture: David Caird

Maggie*, who has spearheaded the #LetUsSpeak campaign, is still fighting for a court date.

She was abused by her father from age 8, and began the same application process to be named back in April.

But it has been bogged down in hurdles, including the court notifying the offender of Maggie's plea to be heard.

One of the sisters going to court Wednesday said there was a "double standard".

"I am aghast to hear what Maggie has been through," she said.

"Clearly there has been a double standard (in how survivors are being treated).

"I think the fact that (my sisters and I) have had such a public profile before, has meant that we have had that ability and those connections to create enough noise to get a response.

"I hope (Maggie's situation is) quickly rectified. I think there should be a public outcry if it's not and I would want to be part of that."

Ms Hennessy has been aware of Maggie's case since April.

Nina Funnell is the creator of the #LetUsSpeak campaign.

To donate visit: gofundme.com/f/stop-silencing-survivors

 

RELATED: SEX ASSAULT VICTIMS BLOCKED FROM USING REAL NAMES

 

 

Originally published as Sisters fight 'traumatic' laws that silence abuse victims



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