This Week In Feminist News: April 17-23

 People hold a protest outside Russian Embassy in London, following reports of the torture and murder of gay men in Chechnya on 12 April (Josh Withey)

People hold a protest outside Russian Embassy in London, following reports of the torture and murder of gay men in Chechnya on 12 April (Josh Withey)

  • France election results are in for the first round and it will be Macron and Le Pen headed to the runoff. If you don’t know why this is important, check out the John Oliver’s piece about it on Last Week Tonight. Basically, Macron boring policy nerd guy and Le Pen is like Trump in a woman’s body. The New York Times is a tad more eloquent than me, I just find that white supremacist politicians send me into a blind rage at time. Anyone relate? (The New York Times)
  • There is an ongoing human rights crisis in Chechnya as reports of LGBT men being detained, tortured, and killed continue. Putin and the Chechen leader Kadyrov continue to deny these claims but the evidence is mounting. Many countries, including Canada, have put out statements condemning Chechnya’s treatment of the LGBT community but there is little talk of any real intervention. One man who escaped the jail said that they were beating him and torturing him to get the names of other friends who are gay men. (The Independent)
 Fallon Aubee

Fallon Aubee

  • After 20 years of abuse, Fallon Aubee hopes to become the first federal inmate to be placed in a prison of their gender identity. A new policy prompted by Trudeau, seeks to place federal inmates in the prison of their gender identity and not their biological sex (often correctional officials will only consider a transfer request if the person has had genital reconstruction surgery). As with many transgender inmates, Fallon Aubee was held in segregation for six months after coming out to advising officials. Trans* inmates experience harassment, abuse, sexual assault, and physical assault when they are in prisons that do not align with their gender identity. In her words, "I wake up in the morning, the first thing I say to myself is 'Oh it's going to be a beautiful day, I'm a woman. Then when I step out of my room I'm realizing that I'm living in a prison for men and I have to face all of those challenges all day long, all over again." (CBC)
  • Next month, British Columbia will be the second province, after Ontario, to create a law that requires post-secondary institutions to create a sexual assault policy. While it is disturbing that this is not common sense for all institutions (who am I kidding, welcome to the patriarchy!), it is a positive step that student can now challenge the schools should they fail to take sexual assault claims seriously. Although, there is still a long way to go, as stated in this article by the CBC’s Lori Ward. But hey, better late than never, right ladies? Ladies? Oh right, I guess for some of you this may be a day late and a dollar short. We need every institution to take sexual assault seriously. We all need to be protected from sexual assault and have survivors’ voices brought to the forefront of this discussion. It is a travesty that we have to continue saying it but one more time won’t hurt, ‘I believe survivors’. (CBC)
 March for Science

March for Science

  • The March for Science! On Earth Day! Marches happened all over the world, including right here in Toronto, to protest the Trump administration’s new crack down on the environment and science. Basically anything that is too complicated for a tiny man with tiny hands to understand. As you know, he has basically removed any environmental protections, gutted the budget for the EPA, and generally had a war with facts since he has started. In these moments of strife and heartache, fear not my gentle feminists and instead hold in your heart that we were right, not crazy, for believing what that horrible man said. (CBC, Globe and Mail, Toronto Star)
  • The Ontario Liberals finally decided to do something about the housing crisis in Ontario. The rents are high, the vacancy rate is dangerously low, and landlords have all the power. This crisis has been most evident in the GTA but it is already expanding to surrounding areas. Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan is an attempt to protect tenants who have been most hurt by the crisis. There is some question about whether it will really make rent affordable but steps to implement rent control and creating a standard lease are definitely steps on the right direction. Unfortunately, while this is happening, Toronto Community Housing Corporation is making it harder for Toronto’s poorest residents to secure housing. They have been closing and selling off properties to address the massive backlog in repairs. Units have been degrading so heavily from lack of repair that TCHC is deciding to cut their losses and sell. But it is not that simple, many of these units are people’s homes and the wait list of rent-geared-to-income housing is already 18 years long. People with lower incomes have been put on the back burner long enough. We need a comprehensive plan to address the needs of the city’s most vulnerable. Closing down their homes with no intention of replacing them is simply not good enough. (CBC, Toronto Star)
 Staff Sgt. Baljiwan Sandhu

Staff Sgt. Baljiwan Sandhu

  • The Human Rights Tribunal ruled that Staff Sgt. Baljiwan Sandhu was discriminated against because of his race by the Peel Police. When he was passed over for a promotion, in spite of his exemplary 28 years of service, Peel Police stated that it was because his work was not considered real police work. (The Toronto Star)
  • York Regional Police arrested over 100 men in connection with child sex trafficking in a four-year long operation, Project Raphael. More details about the operation can be read here, but it is important to understand that this brings to light a much larger issue. Human trafficking is something that has been happening in Canada and is largely ignored. Although occasional headlines pop up, what is actually being done to help the women and children affected by this issue? Organizations like Canadian Women’s Foundation created a task force designed to create programs for survivors, to create awareness campaigns, and to work with community stakeholders. (The Toronto Star)