Sunday, 8 August 2010

Mark McInnes must be feeling like a total fool right now. Not only has the ex-David Jones CEO been forced to resign with an apology to the woman he allegedly sexually harassed, but he's now been labelled a sexaholic. He's vowed to fight the charges "vigorously".

David Jones has moved quickly to stem the blood flowing as a result of the massive volumes of publicity being given in the media to all things pertaining to Kirsty Fraser-Kirk, the woman who made the allegation. It has made an offer to Fraser-Kirk to settle out of court. The amount being offered, though, seems unlikely to appeal to the woman.

They're offering, The Sydney Morning Herald tells us, a million dollars. Fraser-Kirk has sought $37 million. She's unlikely to accept this offer.

It's not in the interests of women that she does, moreover. A high-profile case like this can help to promote the issue within the community, where attitudes are still languishing behind our higher expectations.

I spoke with an ex-colleague about this topic a year ago. She had been sexually assaulted. While driving with a colleague he had pulled the car to the side of the road and demanded a blow job, threatening physical harm if she refused. And she believed that the majority of women who are sexually assaulted do not bring charges. It's too embarrasing. It's too hard. It's not worth it short of rape.

Even rape victims often do not speak out, especially in countries where women's rights are ignored due to cultural or religious norms.

So let's hope that David Jones is taken to court. And let's hope that Fraser-Kirk wins. It's in all our interests that women feel comfortable and unthreatened when working - or simply living - in society. We have to live together. Let's give to those men who refuse to respect women's rights a strong sign that their behaviour is not acceptable.

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