Australia

'Our community is safer now': Rape survivor targeted by former Liberal candidate responds

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Exclusive: The sexual assault and domestic violence survivor labelled as "shameful" by former Liberal candidate Gurpal Singh has spoken out following his resignation from the party.

The subject of controversial rape comments made by Liberal candidate Gurpal Singh told SBS News the community is "safer now" following his resignation on Thursday. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed the resignation of Mr Singh, who was the Liberal candidate in the Melbourne seat of Scullion, after a social media post stating he had "no sympathy" for a woman who said she was raped by her husband was revealed by SBS News.

Gurpal Singh was active in the 'No' campaign during debate about same-sex marriage.
Gurpal Singh was active in the 'No' campaign during debate about same-sex marriage.
Liberal Party

Brisbane woman Rani Kaur* spoke to SBS Punjabi in 2018, detailing the physical, emotional and sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband and the cultural barriers that prevented her from seeking help for almost 10 years.

But when the article, titled 'I married my rapist', was posted on Facebook in May last year, Mr Singh responded that the alleged perpetrator was the "real victim".

"She skimmed her lover, husband and father of her two children for all these years. And now she alleges rape. Was she kept locked all these years?" the comment read.

"No sympathy. Such element brings bad name to whole community."

Gurpal Singh's Facebook post.
Gurpal Singh's comment.
Facebook

Following his resignation, Ms Kaur said she saw the controversial comments last year but "couldn't do anything about it".

"It was quite heartbreaking," she said.

"He got what he deserved. It's not OK to promote domestic violence to people."

Gurpal Singh FB comments
Mr Singh commented that the "real victim" of a violent relationship was the perpetrator.
Facebook

Mr Singh, who also made comments linking same-sex marriage to paedophilia in an interview with SBS Punjabi in 2017, will still remain on ballot papers as the Liberal candidate but will not have the benefits of party campaign resources.

Scullion, which covers parts of northern Melbourne, is currently held by Labor MP Andrew Giles with a margin of 19.6 per cent.

"The Liberals saved the community by dumping him out of the party because it was going to be very dangerous for the people who are actually going through domestic violence, whether they are men or women," Ms Kaur said.

She said she originally told her story, despite expecting backlash, because she hoped it would encourage other people suffering from domestic violence to seek help. 

"I wanted other women that are suffering, especially from India or other countries, and they don't have the courage to get out of that situation, I wanted to say that was the worst I have been through and that could give them a kind of hope," she said.

"There is a light end of the tunnel and they can see that this girl can nail it. We can get out of bed and have a better life."

Mr Singh is the eleventh Liberal candidate to drop out of the race as the federal election campaign enters its final week.

When asked about Mr Singh's comments on same-sex marriage on Wednesday, Mr Morrison said the matter had been handled and his candidacy would continue.

"Based on new information that has come to light, Mr Gurpal Singh has been asked to resign as the candidate for Scullin," a spokesperson for the Victorian Liberal Party said on Friday.

"Mr Singh sincerely apologises for his previous comments and has tendered his resignation."

Across all parties, 19 candidates have been disendorsed so far, many after coming under fire for offensive social media posts.

Mr Singh has been contacted for comment. 

If you or someone you know is impacted by rape, sexual assault, domestic or family violence call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.

*Names have been changed.

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