Three Quebec teenagers did just that on Thursday to protest the plight of Nathalie Morin, a Montreal woman trying to get her children out of Saudi Arabia:
The nation’s capital caught a glimpse of the FEMEN movement Thursday as three Quebec teens ripped off their shirts on the steps of Parliament Hill in support of women’s rights.
As a scandalized youth-group leader shepherded her young charges away from the half-nude protesters, the teens shouted “Freedom for women!” and “Free Nathalie Morin!”
Morin is a Montreal woman who says she is trapped in Saudi Arabia. She moved there in 2005 to be with her Saudi husband and now says the Saudi government won’t issue passports to her three children. The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development has previously told reporters that consulate officials in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia are assisting Morin while respecting the Saudi legal framework.
The topless protesters said the Canadian government should be doing more to bring Morin home and believe that if enough people know about the woman’s plight they will pressure the government to do exactly that.
And how better to raise awareness, they thought, than to have young women bare their breasts in public?
“If we were just three of us there with our shirts on, it wouldn’t do anything,” said 18-year-old protester Julie-Anne Beaulac.FEMEN is a radical feminist group founded in the Ukraine whose Canadian branch, according to their Facebook page, is trying to "to develop the leadership, intellectual and moral qualities of women in Canada". Well isn't that great. Admittedly, being gay, the sight of a woman's naked breasts in front of the Peace Tower probably doesn't stir the same sense of political outrage in me that it would in a straight man, but really? Displaying your bare breasts in public while shouting "Freedom for Women"?
I'm not sure what the young ladies expect the Canadian government to do about a situation that is the fault of the authorities in Saudi Arabia. To be perfectly blunt about it, how did Nathalie Morin expect to be treated when she married a Saudi man and moved to his homeland - a medieval theocracy where women are not allowed to vote, drive cars or leave the house without being escorted by a male relative, and are not allowed out of the country without their husbands' permission?
I've got a suggestion for Ms Beaulac and her two friends; go protest in front of the Saudi Arabian embassy - it's just down the street from the Parliament Buildings at 201 Sussex Drive. She must be aware that while women in Ontario are legally free to be topless in public, the penalty for "sexual misconduct" in Saudi Arabia is death by stoning. She can have a nice chat about the intellectual and moral qualities of women in Canada with His Excellency the Ambassador.