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Rest in peace, Rehtaeh

April 10, 2013

Rehtaeh Parsons
We’re in the second week in Easter and this is the time of the year when we’re thinking about new life and  about resurrection, but the reality is that for a lot of people, their day-to-day life has nothing to do with resurrection, as is the case of Halifax mother, Leah Parsons whose 16-year-old daughter Rehtaeh killed herself after being cyber-bullied and humiliated at school following her rape by four of her school-mates.

Rehtaeh was allegedly raped by these four young men and the following week, a photo that they had taken of her during the assault was circulated through the school. Of course an investigation followed but the harassment and gossip was so bad that Rehtaeh had to leave the school – she was even admitted into a hospital for six weeks to help her with her depression. The investigation continued for a year and Rehtaeh seemed to be improving- she went to a new school and was making new friends. But at the end of the investigation the conclusion was that no charges could be laid, even though they had the phone that took the photo and from where the photo was sent, a phone that belongs to one of the boys – and even though one of the young men was in the photo with her. But the police do not have enough evidence to prove that it had not been consensual nor that the young men knew that she was only 15 at the time of the crime. This is relevant because it means that taking and disseminating that photo of her amounts to a crime of creating and disseminating child pornography. They also could not prove who had taken the photo or actually sent it. Halifax police say that there was insufficient evidence to proceed with charges.

After this news, on Easter Thursday, Rehtaeh hung herself in her bathroom. Her family took her off life-support last Sunday.

This makes me so sad, and angry. And what’s worse is that we accept that it’s OK for a 16 year-old to have sex. That’s the law. And had it been consensual, it’s OK for a young girl to have sex with four boys at the same time? And it’s OK for them to circulate a nude photo of her? This doesn’t even result in them being expelled from school? and no one, no one in that school said anything? Girls in that school participated in the gossip? If our society didn’t so easily accept that this is normal behaviour for teens, maybe the law wouldn’t either.

And where are these boys’ parents? I’m glad those boys are not my boys – They’re lucky they’re not my boys! I don’t care whose phone it was or who took the photo or who sent it. I don’t care if it was consensual or if it was an assault. It’s a crime. And a life was ruined and now a life has been lost.

So this is for you Rehtaeh. May you be in the Light of the Kingdom where there is no more suffering or pain.

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From → English, Opinion

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