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.
"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, but began backtracking once her sister, Alysha, began recording with her smartphone. The officer then denied having pulled them over for riding topless, said Mohamed, before letting them continue their ride.
"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 de-sexualizing of women's bodies. Shirts will be optional.