Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has declared her defamation victory a win for every girl and woman who has had to stand silent in the face of sexual harassment and disrespect.
She’s been awarded $120,000 in her defamation battle against former MP David Leyonhjelm, with the judge agreeing that his comments had attempted to “publicly shame” her.
Hanson-Young tweeted following the win that men should apologise when they do the wrong thing, and that most men do. “But when they don’t, they should be called out.”
She said during an emotional press conference that the Court’s decision had “vindicated my decision to stand up and call it out.
“This is an important day for this Parliament to put a line under this type of behaviour,” she said.
When men do the wrong thing, they should apologise. Most men do. But when they don’t they should be called out.
It’s for every woman & girl who’s been told or made to stay silent in the face of harassment and disrespect that I took legal action. Today’s ruling is a win for them
— Sarah Hanson-Young💚 (@sarahinthesen8) November 25, 2019
Hanson-Young became emotional during the press conference when she described telling her daughter the news over the phone. “I said, thank you for standing with me on this, because it is for her and it is for her peers.”
She will donate the $120,000 to Plan International and the Working Women’s Centre in South Australia.
Hanson-Young had sued Leyonhjelm for comments he made about her in a number of media outlets in 2018, following a personal attack he issued on the parliamentary floor during a discussion that aimed to seek legislation to prevent violence against women.
Leyonhjelm had claimed in a media statement he made the derogatory “stop shagging men” comment in response to believing he’d heard Hanson-Young making comments along the lines that, “all men are rapists.
But Justice Richard White found Hanson-Young never said those words.
“Instead, it is likely that the respondent ‘heard’ that which he was predisposed to hear by reason of his pre-existing opinion of the applicant as someone who made ‘collectivist’ statements,” Justice White said.
“This meant that the respondent’s defence of justification failed.
“I have also accepted that the respondent was actuated by malice in that he published his claim concerning the applicant to a mass audience with the intention of publicly shaming her.