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After A Judge Acquitted A Taxi Driver Of Sexual Assault, Women In Halifax Are Offering Each Other Safe Rides

The judge said: "Clearly, a drunk can consent."

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After a judge in Halifax acquitted a taxi driver of sexual assault, some women in the city have started offering each other safe rides using the hashtag #HaliLadyCab.

#HaliLadyCab: Women offering drives for others wary of taking Halifax taxis

Alana Canales started the hashtag after a judge ruled this week that there was not enough evidence to convict Bassam Al-Rawi, a taxi driver whom police found with a half-naked, unconscious woman in the backseat of his cab in 2015.

The woman's pants and underwear had been removed, and her DNA was found on his upper lip. The woman, who had been drinking at a bar with friends, said she did not remember getting into the cab at all that night.

In his ruling this week, however, Judge Gregory Lenehan said that "a lack of memory does not equate to a lack of consent," and that she could have agreed to sexual activity before losing consciousness.

Wikimedia / Via

"A person would be incapable of giving consent if she is unconscious, or is so intoxicated by alcohol or drugs as to be incapable of understanding or perceiving the situation that presents itself," Lenehan said.

"This does not mean, however, that an intoxicated person cannot give consent to sexual activity," he added. "Clearly, a drunk can consent."

Lenehan's ruling has led to outrage in Halifax and across the country. According to CBC News, a dozen sexual assault centers, women's centres, and therapists in the province have called for Lenehan's removal from the bench.

Canales channelled her frustration into a hashtag "to identify those of us who would be a 'cab' for local ladies who need it," she tweeted.

There should be a Halifax twitter lady hashtag to identify those of us who would be a 'cab' for local ladies who need it #HaliLadyCab

She told Metro Halifax she wanted to let others know: “I'm here for you if you need me."

BuzzFeed Canada reached out to Canales for comment.


Soon, others were offering their services as well.

I am a #HaliLadyCab message me at anytime if u don't feel safe taking a taxi home. Keep the hashtag going.

I'm a willing #HaliLadyCab. If you don't feel comfortable calling the local fellas's, for good reason.

Someone even made a logo!

I've been inspired by @sassypants81 and all the other incredible ladies of HRM. So I made a logo for #HaliLadyCab.…

Conny McRiner, a realtor in Halifax, said she was "shocked" that Al-Rawi was found not guilty and signed up to be a driver as soon as she saw the hashtag.

Conny McRiner

"You know, I have three daughters. I hate the thought of them being in that situation," she told BuzzFeed Canada.

McRiner said her job has her on the road a lot, and while she hasn't had any requests so far, she wants young women to know they have options.

"I may never have to give somebody a ride, but that one time that I do could save them from something," she said.

"Women are really starting to stick together, I think. Social media is really opening our eyes."

People have also started sharing stories about taxi drivers that made them uncomfortable.

Continuing on the #HaliLadyCab convo. Had a cab driver 25 years my senior give me his number and ask me on a date #unprofessional

There have been more than a dozen sexual assault complaints against Halifax taxi drivers in recent years.

Local taxi companies have already said Al-Rawi “will never drive for a cab company" in the Halifax region again, despite his acquittal.

“All the brokers have discussed it, there has been various meetings and none of the taxi brokers in HRM are willing to let him drive for their company,” Dave Buffet told Metro Halifax. “He will have no choice but to go independent.”

Ishmael Daro is a social news editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Toronto.

Contact Ishmael N. Daro at

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