- We were horrified to learn defendant Bassam Al-Rawi was found not guilty by Judge Gregory Lenehan in a rape case in Halifax. Al-Rawi was accused of rape after a inebriated woman was discovered partially clothed and unconscious in the back of his cab. This follows other sexual harassment and assault complaints from two different women. Despite admitting what the court heard was "very disturbing" and "there's no question" the victim was intoxicated, the judge still ruled in favour of Al-Rawi and said, "This does not mean, however, that an intoxicated person cannot give consent to sexual activity. Clearly, a drunk can consent." University of Ottawa law professor Elizabeth Sheehy said Lenehan's verdict sent a dangerous message about consent. (CBC)
In response to the case, and the dramatic rise in sexual assaults in Halifax cabs, Alana Canales has started #HailLadyCabs. Using the hashtag, her goal is to find women on Twitter who can pick up others who feel unsafe for free, including women-identifying and non-binary folks. So far, at least six women drivers have added the hashtags to their bios on Twitter. Volunteer driver Corinne Gilroy says more action needs to be taken, like late-night buses in Halifax. (Metro Halifax)
- In 48 hours, two transgender women were murdered in New Orleans. Ciara McElveen was stabbed to death and Chyna Doll Dupree was shot and killed. McElveen's death is the sixth reported murder of a transgender woman in 2017. In response to the news, transgender woman and Tulane Drop-In Wellness Centre coordinator Syria Sinclaire said she was afraid to leave her home: "Trans women don't want any special privileges. We should have the right to live our lives open and free and not be taunted and traumatized by the general public if they don't approve." (Mic)
- Last night, Canadian actress Wendy Olunike Adeliyi was denied entry at the Kingsway Theatre because she was carrying her backpack. Staff asked her to leave her backpack at the front counter, but she refused since she had a laptop and other expensive items inside. After offering to allow staff to go through her bag to ensure there was no food or alcohol, owner Rui Pereira called the police and claimed "a black woman woman is threatening us." This appears to be a pattern of abusive and belligerent behaviour by Pereira, who has numerous complaints against him online. This story is continuing to develop. (eBoss Canada).
- The Oscars took place on Sunday night and though there were several great moments and speeches against racism and xenophobia, Casey Affleck still won the award for Best Actor, despite the sexual harassment allegations against him. The only thing comforting us is that Canadian actress Brie Larson, who had to present the award to Affleck, seemed as displeased with his win as we were. Larson, who won her Best Actress award for playing an imprisoned rape victim in Room and has advocated for victims of sexual assault, refused to clap for Affleck. (BuzzFeed)
- John R. K. Howard, a 19-year-old white man, was given no jail time despite being found guilty of "kicking a coat hanger up the rectum of a mentally disabled black teammate." Howard was sentenced to probation and community service, and may even have his conviction dismissed, in what supporters of the victim are calling a slap on the wrist and yet another example of white privilege. Despite the judge's sentencing, the victim's family is continuing to pursue a federal civil case. (NPR)
- February 26th marked the five-year anniversary of Trayvon Martin's murder and March 2nd was the one-year anniversary of the murder of Honduran environmental activist Berta Cáceres. Black Lives Matter remembers Trayvon, whose death sparked a global movement against anti-black racism and violence. Berta was a member of the Indigenous Lenca group who was targeted for her fight to protect Indigenous lands and communities. Eight suspects have been arrested for her murder, including two who were reportedly trained by the United States, but no one has been brought to justice. (Medium, CNN and Democracy NOW!)
- This week we celebrated #WorldBookDay by learning more about Marley Dias' #1000BlackGirlBooks drive, which the 12-year-old New Jersey native started after growing tired of only reading books about white boys and their dogs. So far, she's collected over 9,000 books and recently gave away 1,000 books to a school in St. Mary, Jamaica. In February, she landed a Scholastic book deal for a "keep-it-real" guide to activism. (AJ+ and Elle)
Speaking of books, we've recently updated our Book Club page if you'd like to see some of the titles we've read so far. We'll continue to update it with our monthly selections. And let us know which books you think we should read next!
Last but not least, thanks to everyone who attended our Galentines event on February 10th! With your support and donations we were able to raise $250 for the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicultural Women Against Rape! Find your photos and tag your friends on our Facebook page.