Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has stepped forward to apologise after a former Liberal Party staffer announced that she was raped in a minister's office in parliament back in March 2019.
The staffer, Brittany Higgins, alleged that she was sexually assaulted by a male colleague in now-Defence Minister Linda Reynolds' office, and that she felt forced to choose between reporting the incident to cops and keeping her job, according to news.com.au.
Higgins also mentioned that, after reporting the incident in question to a superior, she was asked to attend a formal employment meeting in the very room where the alleged rape took place.
According to AFP, Higgins previously said that she felt like a "political problem" that needed to be solved.
While the Australian government initially argued that the staffer had been encouraged to speak to the authorities, Morrison eventually went on to apologise on Tuesday amid what the media outlet describes as "growing public outrage".
"That should not have happened. And I do apologise," the prime minister said.
He also mentioned that, after conversing with his wife, who advised him to think about the situation "as a father first", he decided that further action is needed.
"It shatters me that still, in this day and age, that a young woman can find herself in the vulnerable situation that she was in. Not her doing," Morrison remarked. "We have to do more, whether it's in this workplace, or in any other workplace in the country."
The prime minister has also announced an "investigation into processes dealing with sexual assault complaints", as well as "a review of workplace culture in the parliament".
Commenting on this development, Higgins described "the Prime Minister's announcement of an investigation into the culture in Parliament House" as a "welcomed first step", adding, however, that "it is long overdue".