The International Women’s day is in disputable in Australia as angry men have crowded to roads for a traffic-stopping rally in support of men’s rights.
Protesters in cars and trucks displayed signs calling for the recognition of men let down by family courts, child support or domestic violence laws.
A sign on the back of a truck in a Brisbane read, “Stop the war on dads”, while a convoy on the M1 northbound on the Gold Coast stopped traffic for about 10 minutes this morning.
The convoy blocked three lanes at Pimpama, forcing motorists to use just one lane and slowing traffic to a 5km/h crawl.
Campaign group Australian Brotherhood of Fathers has been planning the nationwide protest for weeks, calling on its 40,000 Facebook followers across the country to get in a car, motorbike or truck and spend up to an hour on the road.
Organiser Leith Erikson told news.com.au it wasn’t a deliberate decision to have the protest on International Women’s Day, but he thought it was “a good thing”.
The Brisbane-based activist said protesters had also been out on the roads in Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne after the ABF came up with the idea for “rolling protests” on the nation’s motorways.
“We’ve been lobbying the government and media for four years,” he said. “We needed to take our message to the community in a different way.
“We’re raising awareness about the terrible issues of men’s suicide, broken relationships and mental health issues. Forty-two men take their lives each week in this country.
“If women believe we are stealing their thunder, let them believe that. It’s the last thing I’m worried about.”
He said he believes the “gender pay gap is a lie” and that “if women are not in top positions in business or government, it’s based on their ability to be there.”
Mr Erikson questioned why more attention was not paid to International Men’s Day on November 19.
He said he is “not anti-female” and has concerns for the rights of women too, but that men are facing a “national emergency”.
Signs at today’s protest also displayed the words “21 fathers”, referring to an ABF awareness campaign about the number of Australian dads it claims take their own lives each week because of separation or family access issues.
Its website says this figure “came about initially as anecdotal evidence” from men’s rights organisations and support groups for men dealing with self-harm and family access issues.
The organisation is focused on “improving the rights of fathers and families” and ensuring children have equal access to both parents.
Mr Erikson posted photos of vehicles stopping traffic today on Facebook and said there would be more protests across every major city to “acknowledge the on going ignorance and failures to protect our children by our state and federal families and health ministers along with the state, territory and federal Attorney-Generals (sic).”
While others are spending the day celebrating women, was the protesters’ timing inappropriate? Or were they right to speak up for men? Tell us what you think in the comments.