I must raise two issues that had significant moments this week.
The Québec legislature passed a racist bill banning face coverings for anybody accessing public services (including using public transit and attending public schools). Saying it’ll apply to scarves, sunglasses, and so on is a weak attempt at obscuring the bill’s principle target: Muslim women. Claiming that a vast majority of Canadians would support it isn’t justification for infringing on people’s rights. And let’s not let the Québec government spin this as a feminist move—limiting women’s wardrobes isn’t feminist.
In Ottawa this week, a judge decided that a man was not guilty of sexual assault because he thought he could have sex with his wife anytime. Having sex with someone without “specific consent” is sexual assault—it’s rape. An issue of legal technicality clearing this man (if indeed this case was even decided without mistakes, which some of Canadian law Twitter questions) demonstrates clearly how badly our legal system handles sexual assault and rape cases.
That these two events happened in Canada at our present moment should be surprising, but it isn’t. Our society is full of problems. Racism (more specifically, Islamophobia) and sexism (more specifically, rape culture) are deeply ingrained in Canadian society—and as these two cases demonstrate, these problems run deep in our institutions.
The people (women, mostly) at the forefront of these issues cannot be forced to continue shouldering the burden alone. Consider exploring, supporting, and promoting the work of organizations like Draw the Line and the Canadian Council of Muslim Women. (There are many other organizations, too—the point is to take concrete action of some sort.)
Sent on October 22nd, 2017.