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Archive for September, 2012

In a vote of 203 to 91, the House of Commons defeated Stephen Woodworth’s (C) motion which threatened to resurrect the abortion debate in Canada. Read a Globe and Mail article on the motion here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-notebook/motion-to-study-rights-of-the-fetus-defeated-in-commons-vote/article4569871/

As we celebrate this victory for Canadian women’s rights, we know that we must remain ever vigilant to protect them.

While we’re thrilled that 312 was defeated in the House today, we’re very disheartened to see that Rona Ambrose, Canada’s MINISTER FOR THE STATUS OF WOMEN, voted in favour of the motion. For shame!

Another article (http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/09/28/petition-calling-for-status-of-women-ministers-job-after-abortion-vote-garners-6100-signatures/) discusses some of the backlash Rona Ambrose is now facing because of her support for motion 312.

“A petition calling for the resignation of status of women minister Rona Ambrose, on the heels of a controversial abortion vote in Parliament on Thursday, had garnered more than 6,100 signatures by Friday afternoon.”

The above article says that one of Ambrose’s reasons for voting in favour of the motion is that she is concerned about the discrimination of girls by sex selection abortion. Now, this is a cocern, but voting in favour of motion 312 doesn’t seem like the best way to address this issue.

Any thoughts FLF readers?

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First Meeting Tomorrow!

Correction: The meeting will begin at about 12:20 just in case anyone wants to go grab some free pizza first!

I just want to remind members that our first official meeting of the year will take place tomorrow (Tuesday September 25) in room 204, at noon. There may be some baked treats and we’ll give everyone some general info about the FLF as well some info on how you can get more involved with the FLF and other volunteer opportunities.

Hope to see a lot of old and new faces!

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The FLF recently came across this article, which explains that the Supreme Court of Canada has just ruled that a group of Vancouver sex trade workers can challenge the country’s prostitution laws. This ruling comes shortly after the Bedford case ruling, where the Court of Appeal in Ontario “struck down a ban on brothels, saying it exposes sex workers to danger. The federal government is appealing the Ontario ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada.”

This definitely seems like something we will want to keep our eyes on, not only because it could involve some changes to the law, but also  because, as the article explains, this ruling could invoke some broader changes as well: “The implications of this decision for women, for First Nations, for environmental groups to bring forward cases as collectives, in coalitions, simply can’t be overstated.”

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Here’s a much-loved resource to help you start the new year on the right foot– an alternative orientation guide to law school with awesome chapters like “A Feminist Approach to Criminal Law” and “Queering Legal Education”. How exciting is that?! Thanks Debra Parkes for sharing this!

http://www.nawl.ca/en/component/content/article/502-gender-and-th-law-handbook

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FLF Co-chairs Carla and Eli, along with members Mary-Ellen and Leila attended this year’s Slutwalk march in downtown Winnipeg. While the crowd was a little smaller this year (as compared to last), the sentiment remained positive and empowering. A commonly held misconception about the Slutwalk movement is that, rather than conveying any particular message, it’s really just an over the top, outrageous display of exhibitionism.

Two years in, we’re happy to report that this is far from the case. Sure, people are welcome to wear anything they’d like (that is part of the idea), but most people don’t attend the event because they want an excuse to whip out their nipple tassels. To the contrary, the focus is far from what people are wearing. Rather, the event centres on making a powerful, united statement against victim blaming in all its forms.

A shorter march this year meant there was more time for speakers, and these were speakers worth listening to. Those who spoke at last year’s Slutwalk set a very high bar, and this year’s speakers met that challenge. Starting with Chandra Mayor (who spoke brilliantly last year as well; you can read her tremendous speech about the word ‘slut’ here), the tone was set for thoughtful reflection, incredibly brave personal story telling and accept-zero-bullshit activism and advocacy. Mayor was followed by several women who told their own stories with grace and grit.

There is something incredibly powerful about both the telling and the hearing of these stories; for those who have been lucky enough not to be touched by sexual assault, it lends a striking air of reality to a devastating issue. For those who have been assaulted, there is hopefully some comfort in knowing they are not alone. Perhaps the lasting contribution that Slutwalk will make will be to provide a safe, public forum for victims of sexual assault to stand up and declare, “This was not my fault,” and for other people to hear it.

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(Update: Found another article by the Winnipeg Free Press this morning discussing the Douglas Inquiry at the law school: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/chapman-goes-to-law-school-169741336.html ).

Well, today was the Douglas Inquiry panel discussion. I hope many of the FLF readers were able to attend. There were around 100 people in the audience I’d say, maybe a little less. In any case, the event started calmly enough with Professor’s Busby and Asper making some general comments about the Douglas Inquiry (some of the allegations etc) and the process of inquiries in general, and then the floor was opened to audience questions, with the priority being given to law students.

There were some thoughtful questions posed by students, but things got a little more interesting and heated when Alex Chapman interrupted Professor Busby’s response to a student’s question to give his own opinions on the facts of the Douglas Inquiry. Chapman’s allegations of sexual harassment against Lori Douglas and her husband Jack King, in 2010, are what triggered the current inquiry into the conduct of Lori Douglas by the CJC. The link below is a write-up and short video clip by the CBC of today’s discussion.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/story/2012/09/13/mb-lori-douglas-law-forum-chapman.html

Enjoy, and feel free to leave any thoughts or comments you have.

 

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 (Update: Since posting the original comments below, this poster (below) was sent to the FLF, which has a new meeting place for Take Back the Night.)

Take Back the Night is an important event that happens in Winnipeg every year, and it is intended to create a place safe from sexual assault and abuse for all women. In past years, the FLF has supported and attended this event. This year, a controversy has arisen due to the fact that, for the first time, the march will begin and end at the Salvation Army building on Logan. The Salvation Army espouses policies that are anti-LGBTQ and anti-choice, and so some in Winnipeg’s feminist community are arguing that this makes the Salvation Army an inherently unsafe, unwelcoming and therefore inappropriate location for the event.

TBtN organizers have acknowledged these concerns, but have also explained the difficulty in finding a location that they can afford in a neighbourhood they want very much to reach out to.

The debate, well articulated on both sides, can be seen on the event page for TBtN (linked here). We invite you to check it out and maybe even weigh in; we also invite you to weigh in here. We’re watching to see how things shake down, but we will certainly keep you all posted as to whether the FLF will be ‘formally’ attending this year, or not.

(Information courtesy of Elizabeth Mitchell, co-chair of the FLF and third year law student at Robson Hall).

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