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A woman’s right to go topless: a 1997 debate

The Story


In the summer of 1991 a Guelph woman, Gwen Jacob, doffed her shirt on a sunny afternoon and was promptly arrested for indecency. After making its way through the Ontario courts, the case came to an end in 1996 with a ruling that gave the province's women the right to publicly bare their breasts. Now it's the first hot summer day since the ruling. Will women start going topless en masse? How should municipalities, parks and public pools deal with complaints? Won't somebody please think of the children? In this 1997 report, a Windsor man tries to explain why his group, Parks for Children, is against the ruling.    

Medium: Television
Program: The National Magazine
Broadcast Date: June 10, 1997
Hosts: Brian Stewart, Hana Gartner
Reporter: Carol Off
Duration: 13:45

Did You know?


• Gwen Jacob was a 19-year-old university student when her trip through the Ontario courts began. According to the Guelph Mercury, her five years of legal fights -- and struggles to pay for them -- meant she never got her degree. As of 2011 she was a mother of two who owned a small landscaping business.

• Watch a 1992 CBC News report in which Jacob vows to keep fighting after originally being convicted for indecent exposure.

• Despite the 1996 Ontario ruling, mass toplessness has never caught on in the province.


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