An independent Australian senator today tearfully recounted how she had faced “sexual comments”, “inappropriate touching” and “aggressive propositioning” by “powerful men” in parliament, calling it an unsafe workplace for women.

Lidia Thorpe had yesterday accused a conservative senator, David Van, of “sexually assaulting” her, but withdrew the remark under parliamentary pressure.

Van today denied the claims as “utterly untrue” and said he had lawyers involved.

Thorpe today clarified that she had been “followed”, “cornered” and “touched” by Van, and said she was so afraid that she needed someone to accompany her in the building.

She said she was not the only one who had suffered such treatment and feared for her career.

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