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World Without Rape

Joanna Bourke, Jess Hill, Saxon Mullins, Bronwyn Penrith
Chaired by Sisonke Msimang
Sun 18 September 2:00pm
Sun 18 September 2:00pm
Why is rape and its use in war, the home and society such an enduring part of history and modern life?

The last few years have seen courageous sexual assault survivors become heroines and heroes conquering the forces that have silenced them for so long, and changing laws. But even as we continue to unravel the culture of shame that has protected perpetrators and punished survivors, we have to ask what happens next? Can we ever get to the heart of the matter, and think about a world without rape? Or are our efforts doomed to failure as we tinker at the edges of an eternal crime? 

This session may explore adult themes, it is recommended for 16+ years.

The increased attention on men’s violence may actually be making perpetrators more dangerous.
Jess Hill

Joanna Bourke

Joanna Bourke is a historian, academic and Professor of History at Birkbeck, University of London, and a Fellow of the British Academy. She is also the Gresham Professor of Rhetoric (London, 2019-2023). She is the Principal Investigator on a Wellcome Trust-funded project entitled SHaME (Sexual Harms and Medical Encounters). She is the prize-winning author of 14 books, as well as over 100 articles in academic journals. Amongst other books, she is the author of What it Means To Be Human, The Story of Pain: From Prayer to Painkillers, and Disgrace: Global Reflections on Sexual Violence.


Jess Hill

Jess is a Walkley-award winning investigative journalist who’s been reporting on domestic abuse for several years. Prior to this, she was a Middle East correspondent, and worked as both a producer and reporter for various programs across the ABC including AM, PM, The World Today, and Background Briefing. In 2019, she published her first book, See What You Made Me Do, about the phenomenon of domestic abuse in Australia. It was awarded the 2020 Stella Prize, and has been shortlisted for several others, including the Walkley Book Award and the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, and has been adapted into a television series for SBS. In 2021, she collaborated with the Victorian Women’s Trust to produce a podcast series on coercive control called The Trap, and published a Quarterly Essay called The Reckoning: How #MeToo is Changing Australia. She is currently a specialist gendered violence reporter for PRIMER, and is working on a 3-part series on Consent for SBS.


Saxon Mullins

Saxon Mullins is Director of Advocacy at Rape and Sexual Assault Research and Advocacy. In 2018 Saxon appeared on Four Corner’s episode I am that girl where she gave up her anonymity to tell the story of her 2013 sexual assault and the subsequent criminal trials and appeals. The Four Corner’s episode led to the NSW Attorney-General asking the NSW Law Reform Commission to review and eventually change the section of the NSW Crimes Act that deals with consent in relation to sexual assault.


Bronwyn Penrith

Bronwyn is a Wiradjuri woman who has worked all her life for equality and the recognition of First Nations people and their rights. She was the inaugural Chair of Moreton Consulting and is currently the Deputy Chair of Burbangana Group’s Board of Directors. She is currently on the Board of the Mudgin-gal Aboriginal Women’s Corporation near the Block in Redfern and a Director of the Redfern Foundation Ltd. She is also a recent past member of the Redfern/Waterloo Aboriginal Justice Group and the City of Sydney Aboriginal Advisory Committee. Bronwyn delivers mentoring training, cultural awareness and community education workshops. She is also a highly skilled mediator and is a registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner with the Australian Government Department of the Attorney General. 


Sisonke Msimang

Sisonke Msimang is an award-winning writer whose long-form writing on money, power and sex has appeared in the New York Times, Foreign Affairs the Washington Post, Lapham’s Quarterly and a range of other publications. She is also a columnist for The Guardian Australia. Currently a fellow at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER), she has fellowships at Yale University and the Aspen Institute, where her work has focussed on the form and content of women’s stories.   

She served as the Executive Director of a human rights organisation that provided grant funding and advocacy support to amplify the voices of activists living and working across Southern Africa. Much of that work involved gender justice in conflict and crisis-affected countries, most notably Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe.   

In 2018 she published her first book Always Another Country: A Memoir of Exile and Home, about growing up in the anti-apartheid struggle.  Always Another Country won critical acclaim, was published in North America, Europe and South Africa, and has been translated.  In 2019, she published The Resurrection of Winnie Mandela, which is used on syllabuses in South African universities.    

 Sisonke is currently the head of stories at the Centre for Stories, in Perth, and was awarded the West Australian Premier’s Fellowship last year, to complete her next book; a novel.