By Kyra Gillespie
One would think that in light of the recent Me Too movement – and subsequent exposure of sexual misconduct allegations against the likes of Harvey Weinstein, Don Burke and Craig McLachlan – that people would start to wise-up and realise that sexual assault not a matter to be taken lightly.
But sadly, that is not the case. Not even close.
Pakenham-based travel writer and photographer Kate Newman was herself recently subjected to rape threats by an unknown online predator.
But instead of staying silent, she penned a powerful article about her experience, encouraging women everywhere to speak out because “no woman- regardless of whether she is posing naked, walking alone at night or putting herself on the internet – is ever asking for assault”, she said.
It all began with a shocking comment that was posted on a photo of Kate walking through a rain forest, which read:
‘I’d grab her by the piggy tales off that beaten track and rape her privileged white a**!’
Upon reading the comment, the young blogger described feeling heartbroken and distraught.
“In the blink of an eye, the image of me walking through a rain forest was transformed into the item of a man’s sexual desire,” she wrote.
“The very instant that this man put his fingers on the keyboard, he was attempting to scare, intimidate and tear the self-worth from a woman he’d never met.
“He took a post dedicated to spreading kindness and positivity, and instantly turned it into something dark.”
The most devastating part of this encounter is that even at the young age of 22, this is not Kate’s first run-in with gender-based violence.
“Just like so many others, this is sadly not the first time that my body has been objectified”, she said.
“It doesn’t matter the severity of the issue, it’s an issue. And that’s all there is to it. Whether you’ve been threatened online, spoken to in a violent way or subjected to any form of online, physical or sexual abuse, every situation is an important one.
“Sexual assault should not be taken lightly. Rape is never a joke.”
A few years ago Kate quit her job at Priceline pharmacy in Pakenham and took the plunge into pursuing travel writing full-time under her widely regarded blog Travel for Difference, which focuses on ethical and sustainable travel.
“I’ve always had this idea to make a space where I can share my global adventures, spread the message of kindness, and encourage others to live the life of which they’ve always dreamed.
“Over the last few years I’ve finally learnt to care for this planet likes it’s living its last breath, to be inspired by diversity and the cultures that lie within it, and to be encouraged by those who believe in the power of change.”
Kate’s full opinion piece can be read on her blog here.