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A former stripper has lifted the lid on alleged rampant s*xual harassment unfolding in Australia’s mines as an investigation into ‘heartbreaking’ abuse is launched.
Sasha Chambers spent six years working as a multi-rig operator in the mining industry in Western Australia following a career in adult entertainment.
She said that the alleged objectification she suffered while working on the site was far worse than anything she had experienced in her previous position.
“I’ve had penises exposed for crying out loud,” she told 60 Minutes.
“I have never had penis exposure as a worker in the adult entertainment industry let alone in any other industry, why is mining any different?”
Ms. Chambers explained that when she worked in adult entertainment, she had the power to protect herself from unwanted advances.
We don’t have that power here. We have no power in the mining sector,’ she said.
Her story is one of hundreds being shared as a parliamentary inquiry uncovers the ‘heartbreaking’ alleged s*xual harassment experienced by female FIFO workers.
The chair of the inquiry, Libby Mettam, heard confidential admissions from more than 200 women and said those in senior positions “have a lot to answer for.”
Astacia Stevens told 60 Minutes that if women wanted to get ahead and be promoted within the industry, they were expected to “take a knee.”
The mother of two worked on remote mining sites in the Pilbara region of Western Australia 12 years ago and said female FIFO workers had two options.
‘Either you say yes or you say no. If you say no, you end up like me, you’re a troublemaker, you’re a pain in the ass, you just don’t get anywhere,” she said.
And if you say yes, you get the rewards.
Ms. Stevens alleged that some of her superiors had exposed her genitalia to her and then allegedly encouraged her to engage in a s*xual act with them.
In one such case, her boss allegedly told her that if she wanted to get ‘her shirt’ from her, a full-time job in the mines, she would have to ‘get down on her knees’.
When she rebuffed his advances, she said he made her life a “living hell” by allegedly harassing her, embarrassing her at staff meetings, and harassing her.
Ms. Stevens said that her complaints were not taken seriously and that she was eventually fired by that particular boss and then blacklisted from other sites.
She said that women in the industry felt powerless and in danger of being raped or s*xually assaulted, a reality sadly experienced by former FIFO worker Bronte Glass.
Ms. Glass told 60 Minutes that she was forced to take five pills of the strong sedative diazepam under “doctor’s orders” after suffering an allergic reaction.
Despite her protests, she was given several doses throughout the day before two men entered her room and s*xually assaulted her.
She couldn’t move me. She was catatonic,” she recalled, adding that she remembers seeing flashes as if someone was taking photos during the alleged assault.
The next morning, still groggy from medication, Glass was put in the back of a car and driven six hours from where she boarded a flight to Perth.
She still has no idea why she was removed from the site.
She later reported her alleged assault to the government agency in charge of investigating her complaints, but in November the WA mine inspector told her that they had closed her case because there had been no breach.
Another woman told the show how she had enjoyed a few drinks in the pub with her male colleagues before one of them followed her back to her room.
Despite telling him to leave her alone, she found herself surrounded by four men in her room and locked herself in the bathroom while they went through her belongings.
When she complained about her to her superiors, she claimed that they blamed her for cheating on them and advised her to reconsider drinking with her male colleagues.
MP Libby Mettam hopes a parliamentary inquiry into repeated cases of s*xual harassment in Australia’s mines will lead to convictions.
The parliamentary inquiry is expected to reveal her findings on April 28 as more women find the courage to come forward with their stories of alleged abuse.
Sasha Chambers Quick and Facts
- Parliamentary inquiry will investigate persistent s*xual harassment in mines
- Female FIFO workers have come forward to share harrowing stories of abuse
- Women have reported being asked to ‘get on their knees’ to receive promotion
- Worker said she had felt better protected from advances working in s*x industry