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Australian police summon man over alleged rape in Parliament House

Friday, 6 August 2021 (21:24 IST)
A man was ordered Friday to appear before court in Australia after a former government staff member alleged she was raped inside the country's Parliament House.

Canberra Federal Police said they had summoned a 26-year-old man to appear before a judge in September when he will be charged with "sexual intercourse with a woman without consent."

Brittany Higgins, a member of former Defense Minister Linda Reynolds' team, went public in April this year with allegations she was sexually assaulted in Parliament House in March 2019.

Local media reported Higgins had confirmed she had been informed by authorities that the summons related to her claim.

The accused faces up to 12 years in prison if found guilty.

Government dogged by accusations

Higgins has become a prominent campaigner for gender equality and justice for victims of sexual assault.

Her ordeal sparked protests around the country earlier this year, including outside parliament in the Australian capital of Canberra.

After going public with her story in April, Higgins told a crowd gathered in the capital that her ordeal was "a painful reminder to women that it can happen in Parliament House, and can truly happen anywhere."

She added: "We fundamentally recognize the system is broken, the glass ceiling is still in place."

Higgins' allegation has increased the pressure on Prime Minister Scott Morrison, whose administration was already dogged by accusations of improper behavior towards women.

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