Women’s March draws supporters and asylum seekers

Asylum seekers and supporters of Saudi teen refugee Rahaf Mohammed rallied at the Toronto Women's March this weekend

Women's March
Toronto's third annual Women's March On took place this Saturday at Nathan Phillips Square. Hundreds of supporters were present despite the cold weather.  Zeba Khan/Toronto Observer

Among hundreds of women and supporters at the third annual Women’s March On at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto on Saturday were many asylum seekers who supported Canada’s decision to grant Rahaf Mohammed asylum.

Despite extreme cold and winter storm warnings last week, hundreds of women and men showed up at the Women’s March On at Nathan Phillips Square despite the freezing temperatures this Saturday.

Rahaf Mohammed, a young Saudi girl who her their homeland because of oppression and gender inequality, arrived in Toronto on Jan. 12 after asking UN High Commissioner for Refugees to help her reach safety through Twitter.

Jane (name changed to protect her identity), a young lawyer from Turkey, said Canada is a great place to give Mohammed an opportunity to start a new life. She was at the march with her friend, both having fled Turkey for fear of persecution and gender inequality.

She said she knew a lot of women in Mohammed’s situation. “I’m glad that Canada opened their arms for her and she is safe. I’m glad that Canada gives a lot of opportunities to these kinds of people,” she says.

A Turkish woman, who is an asylum seeker in Canada, would not give her real name or show her face, for fear of persecution in Turkey. (Zeba Khan/Toronto Observer)

Jane said that there is a warrant for her arrest in Turkey for fighting for her rights and freedom of speech.

Many supporters at the women’s march were in awe with Mohammed’s extraordinary story and supported her decision to flee to Canada to find her safe haven.

Erin Sullivan, an American kinesiology student at the University of Toronto, said that despite the weather she was at the march to stand up for gender inequality. “I’m American and it means a lot to me to stand up and show that this cause is so important for society. As long as Rahaf is safe here, that’s great. It’s 2019 and its time for people to stand for women’s rights everywhere.”

Nicole Mastin, another supporter said “I think it’s great that Canada is willing to offer asylum to people with all of the tension happening especially in the U.S right now. I think it’s great that were not following their not-so-great example.”

“It’s brave that she left everything she knew, like, she didn’t know what the outcome was going to be when she was coming here. It’s incredibly brave what she did,” Mastin said.

“This event is very important to me. I’ve dealt with all the misogyny in the world and we shouldn’t have to. Even being in Canada, there are gender issues that need to be` addressed. We need to keep moving forward,” said Mastin.

Three friends huddled up together with creative signs – booted and bundled in thick scarves, gloves and coats – were marching to fight for women’s rights and gender equality.

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Posted: Jan 24 2019 2:23 pm
Filed under: News