MICHAEL WILLSON/AFL MEDIA
This photo of AFLW star Tayla Harris attracted sexist abuse from online trolls.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has given online trolls a kicking for sexist abuse of AFLW star Tayla Harris, lashing them as shameful cowards who target women.
A photo of Carlton player Harris kicking a goal attracted vile comments online, prompting Channel Seven to remove the photo before later apologising for giving in to trolls.
Mr Morrison tackled the trolling head-on, saying it was horrible anonymous abuse tended to target women on social media.
“I think that’s a shameful indictment on the grubs who get on there,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday.
* Iconic image to promote game
* Tayla Harris over trolls any day
* ‘Offensive’ comments removed photo
“Would they say it to our face? No, they haven’t got the guts to do that. They’re cowards. They’re weak.
“They are acting out some sort of hatred in a way which really just lessens them as people and they just need to wake up to themselves.”
The prime minister said trolls needed to be treated as the “cowardly grubs” they are and shown no mercy.
He said the image displaying Harris’s athleticism was a “cracker” photo.
We’re sorry. Removing the photo sent the wrong message.
Many of the comments made on the post were reprehensible & we’ll work harder to ban trolls from our pages.
— 7AFL (@7AFL) March 19, 2019
Channel Seven later re-posted the picture and offered an apology.
“In response to the photo being taken down, I think it’s important to point out that the broadcaster’s immediate response was one of protection,” Carlton chief executive Cain Liddle said.
“They recognised that error.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Harris described the comments as “sexual abuse” on radio.
Here’s a pic of me at work… think about this before your derogatory comments, animals. pic.twitter.com/68aBVVbTTj
— Tayla Harris (@taylaharriss) March 19, 2019
Federal Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer said she was “disgusted” by the trolling.
“We need to out these trolls. We need to out these people who would seek to make misogynist comments about women,” O’Dwyer told reporters in Melbourne.
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said the problem wasn’t just an issue for Channel Seven, a broadcast partner of the AFL, or the football code.
“It’s more a challenge with the platform, social media, because this is not an isolated incident,” McLachlan told reporters in Sydney.
“But when it’s unacceptable commentary, more and more people are calling that out and that is what has happened here.”