The busy week for three sisters came to a head Saturday afternoon as about 500 people chanted, supported and marched up King Street in Uptown Waterloo in what they’ve named “Bare With Us: Top Freedom Rally.”
— TGK (@AfricanMuse) August 1, 2015
The event was created after the three women, Alysha (Brilla), Tameera and Nadia Mohamed were riding their bikes topless and say they were stopped by a police officer who told them they had to cover up.
Since then, they’ve gained national attention and have been involved in media interviews across the country. All three women also took to their social media accounts in hopes to continue a discussion that Gwen Jacob started more than 20 years ago.
The sisters, and many others in attendance were emotional as a topless Gwen Jacob herself took the makeshift stage at Waterloo Town Square.
“We are raising our daughters in a rape culture,” Jacob told the crowd. “We are having a very important conversation around the world on rape culture and what it means.”
She says that 25 years ago, she did not have social media, nor this “amazing phrase to encapsulate what we are here dealing with.”
Jacob went on to tell the crowd that we are teaching girls to cover up and that it is their fault if someone assaults them.
“It is not the fault of the person who is experiencing that rage and that hate and that misogyny. If a cotton shirt could protect a child against a pedohphile, I’d be handing them out!”
When asked later what positives she drew from the event, Gwen Jacob responded: “Lots of happy, smiling people. The sense that women are really doing this, and they feel supported to do this within their own community.”
Jacob says that even more than Alysha, Tameera and Nadia, she was at the event for the 8-year-old girl who was told to cover up at a pool in Guelph a short time ago.
“That girl was doing what came naturally to her, and now, society is trying to school that out of her — and that is the essence of rape culture,” echoes Jacob. “That is telling little children, it’s their job to make sure they don’t get attacked by pedophiles.”
Police were there to ensure the safety of everyone who attended the rally. Throughout which, there seemed to be no issues in terms of harassment, unwanted touching or others protesting against the women who were baring their breasts.
“It was a really good event,” says Sgt. Mike Haffner of the Waterloo Regional Police Service. “We were here primarily for the safety of the individuals — not only the participants of the rally, but everyone else who was attending.”
He confirms to 570 News that there has been a formal complaint launched about the original incident.
“My understanding is there has been a formal complaint received by the office of the independent police review director,” says Sgt. Haffner, “so therefore it’s in their hands, and they’ll make a decision as to how they proceed.”
As for how Tameera Mohamed, one of the three sisters on the topless bike ride, will proceed: she tells 570 News she is just getting started.
“I go to school in Halifax and it’s not legal in Nova Scotia yet, so hoping to work on that.”
— Kara Weiler (@karaeweiler) August 1, 2015
Today I demonstrate my right to be a human being who wears a shirt or not in public because all genders and sexes have equal rights. Simple. — Janice Lee (@JaniceJoLee) August 1, 2015
— MAAB (@thisismaab) August 1, 2015
went and showed my support at #barewithus today I was part of the march and was glad to support equal rights for women in every way
— Adam (@AdamOntcollege) August 1, 2015