Kitchener women say they were stopped by police for cycling topless

Three Kitchener sisters plan to file a formal complaint after they say they were stopped by a police officer for cycling topless.

Sisters plan to file formal complaint with police watchdog

A woman in British Columbia and 3 Ontario sisters say they were stopped by the police for going topless in public, even though it isn't against the law 3:30

Three Kitchener, Ont., sisters are planning to file a formal complaint after they say they were stopped by a police officer for cycling topless.

Tameera, Nadia and Alysha Mohamed took off their shirts while riding their bikes in downtown Kitchener on Friday evening because of the heat. They say they received mostly positive reaction, until a police officer stopped them on Shanley Street.

Tameera Mohamed and her sisters say they were stopped by a Waterloo Regional police officer for cycling downtown while topless. (Submitted by: Tameera Mohamed)

"He said, 'Ladies, you need to put on some shirts,'" said Tameera Mohamed. "We said, 'No we don't ... it's our legal right in Ontario to be topless as women.'"

The officer said there had been complaints, according to Mohamed. She said the officer began backtracking once her sister, Alysha, began recording with her smartphone. The officer then denied having pulled them over for riding topless, before letting them continue their ride, Mohamed said.

"We went on our way and went straight to the police station to report it," she said.

Waterloo regional police acknowledge there was an incident involving three topless female cyclists and a police officer, but would not discuss the incident in detail.

"We're doing an internal review on the situation," said Staff Sgt. Michael Haffner. "It is a current law that if a female chooses to go topless, that is their right."

The sisters say they plan to file a formal complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, which oversees public complaints against municipal and regional police services in Ontario as well as the Ontario Provincial Police.

"When men take off their tops in public, it's clearly because it's a hot day and clearly it's for their comfort. Women should be given the same freedom," said Nadia Mohamed. "Even though legally we have that right, socially we clearly don't."

The women are holding a rally in uptown Waterloo on Saturday to support the desexualizing of women's bodies. Shirts will be optional.

In July 1991, University of Guelph student Gwen Jacob was charged after removing her top on a hot summer day. That act started a movement, eventually giving all women in Ontario the legal right to expose their breasts.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.