"I was very scared. I was really stressed out.
We didn't have that much money to waste..."
- Sandeep Benipal
(Subjected to a human rights complaint for refusing to wax male genitalia)
We would like to introduce you to our client Sandeep Benipal.
Sandeep immigrated to Canada to live in a land of personal liberty with a Constitution which upholds personal rights. She quickly became an entrepreneur, doing hairdressing and running a small aesthetics business from her home for women. Then she was served with a complaint against her at the BC Human Rights Tribunal.
Sandeep was one of more than a dozen aestheticians in Vancouver who faced business closure, loss of income and financial hardship after being the targets of serial complainant Jessica Yaniv. Yaniv, a biological male at birth, was denied Brazilian waxing services by Sandeep and other women on the basis that Yaniv still has male genitalia.
Sandeep remembers the day she first encountered Yaniv. “I was working from home and advertising on Facebook for waxing services. Someone who presented as apparently male messaged me for a Brazilian wax. Me and my husband were sitting together.”
As a married, practicing Sikh, Sandeep restricts her intimate waxing services to females. Sandeep is also not trained to wax male genitalia. Sandeep remembers that when Yaniv was asked about biological sex, Yaniv replied, “I’m a woman. I’m a transgender woman.”
Once she understood that the potential client had male genitalia, she informed Yaniv she could not provide the service requested. Indeed, all of the 15 women contacted by Yaniv asking for a Brazilian wax declined either due to lack of training for the delicate task of handling male genitalia, personal discomfort due to the intimate nature of services, religious restrictions, or worries about personal safety because they worked out of their home.
An expert testifying for the women aestheticians noted that handling male genitalia for the extended period of time required for scrotal waxing often resulted in arousal issues. Some biologically male clients engaged in uninvited touching, inappropriate comments, and sexual harassment which would compromise the comfort and safety of a female providing services, especially alone in their own home.
Sandeep initially hired a lawyer, who charged $1700 and talked about how Sandeep could lose. “I was very scared. I was really stressed out. We didn’t have that much money to waste. I was crying when I got that mail” - the letter from the BC Human Rights Tribunal notifying her of the complaint. Sandeep says she didn’t know what to do, or where to go for help. She was contacted by another woman aesthetician on Facebook, also the subject of a human rights complaint by Yaniv. This woman, with representation by the Justice Centre, won her case. She gave Sandeep the number to call.
“Self-identification does not erase physiological reality. No woman should be compelled to touch male genitals against her will, regardless of how the owner of the genitals identifies."
- Jay Cameron, Justice Centre lawyer
Justice Centre lawyer and Litigation Manager Jay Cameron was soon in contact with her, and took charge of her case.
Says Sandeep, “Freedom means freedom for everybody. If anyone says they have a right to service, I should have a right to refuse too. If I don’t want to give you a service, I should have the right to say no.”
The BC Human Rights Tribunal agreed. In its October 22 ruling, the Tribunal noted that “human rights legislation does not require a service provider to wax a type of genitals they are not trained for and have not consented to wax.”
The Tribunal also found that the complainant Jessica Yaniv had “engaged in improper conduct” and had filed complaints “for an improper purpose”, awarding costs against Yaniv in the amount of $2000 payable to each of three Justice Centre clients including Sandeep.
Sandeep’s case has garnered international attention and provides a perfect case study of how well-meaning laws to enforce equality “rights” over individual freedoms can be maliciously used to inflict unacceptable harm on Canadians.
The Justice Centre is uniquely positioned to represent Canadians like Sandeep, who have faced shocking and stressful intrusions on their freedom. Most Canadians cannot afford to pay for proper legal representation to defend their freedoms when violated by governments and by governmental authorities. Sandeep said she and her family couldn’t afford to fight this case without the help of the Justice Centre. Once she met her lawyer Jay Cameron, she started to feel hopeful she could win her case.
“He made me so comfortable when I first met him. It was a really good feeling,” she says gratefully. “I couldn’t hire a lawyer, I couldn’t pay them. The Justice Centre helped me totally free and helped me to protect my rights.”
As a public interest, non-partisan law firm and registered charity, the Justice Centre provides legal representation free of charge to protect the constitutional freedoms of all Canadians, especially clients like Sandeep. Since our founding in 2010, we have secured more than 30 court victories and out-of-court settlements, outlined at jccf.ca.
In 2019 alone, our legal team of nine including two legal assistants and one articling student, handled dozens of cases in various stages of litigation. We take on as many cases as we can, with the funding we have. The Justice Centre operates entirely with voluntary donations from freedom-minded Canadians. We do not ask for or receive government funding.