amanda todd, blaming the victim, online bullying, pitt meadows, rape, rape culture, rehtaeh parsons, teenage girls
…And another one falls.
I had to think for a while about what I could say about Rehtaeh Parsons. After all, what could I say about her that I haven’t already said about Amanda Todd, or the Steubenville rape case? What could I say that my fellow bloggers already haven’t?
So I’ve decided not to talk about her at all.
Instead of rallying around and calling for justice once the poor victim has committed suicide, let’s do it while the person is STILL ALIVE!
Because Rehtaeh wasn’t alone.
A very similar incident happened in BC, right around the time Owl was born.
A 16 year old girl went to a rave. Tsk tsk, I know, but teenagers do dumb things, like go to raves. This girl went with friends, and only had one or two drinks. She tried to be safe.
But the girl was drugged, and then gang raped. The rapes were video taped and photographed by onlookers, and by the next morning, they were all over Facebook.
The videos going viral seemed to be the focus of most of the news stories – not the fact that the girl had been raped, but the fact that PEOPLE POSTED VIDEOS.
There was immediate police action to take down the videos and photos, and charges were laid, and everything looked just fine.
Two and a half years later…
Only one guy was charged with the actual rape, and those charges have been stayed due to insufficient evidence. Sound familiar, to those people who know Rehtaeh’s story?
A couple of guys were charged with distributing child pornography – again a step up from Rehtaeh’s case, but wait:
The punishment for one Dennis Warrington was 120 hours of community service and a written apology. What is this, grade school? Say you’re sorry, hug and make up? That’s it? FOR WATCHING SOMEONE GET RAPED AND PHOTOGRAPHING IT?
Apparently the victim felt the same.
“Dennis can tell this courtroom, your family and your lawyer 100 times that you are sorry for what you did and you can apologize to me but I don’t believe you are sorry for one second,” said the girl, in a voice flush with rage.
“You are not sorry for what you did. You are just sorry you got caught.”
The other one just had to write an essay on the harmful impact of social media. WHAT? NOT ON RAPE? Is this really a “know the risks of Facebook” issue?
So… let’s recap.
- The rape happened while the girl was drugged. The police said from the outset that it had been medically confirmed (I remember the original news stories mentioning injuries and such, I’m pretty sure she even had a rape kit done).
- Lots of people watched/were involved.
- No witnesses have come forward to testify on her behalf.
- The people who photographed and distributed video and photographic evidence got slaps on the wrist for being so indiscrete.
- The Crown says there isn’t enough evidence to prosecute.
The girl has said that this rape ruined her life.
Surprise surprise – she is being bullied on Facebook and Twitter by the friends and family of those people who received those shockingly minor charges. And guess what? It’s making her miserable.
“Honestly, it’s like being tortured on a daily basis and I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy,” the girl said.
“People say that it will get better and that the pain will go away but it’s been two years and it still kills me.”
The bullying that followed caused the girl to drop out of high school. To this day, she suffers from panic attacks and anxiety. She even turned to drugs and thought about killing herself.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Look. I don’t have a photo of her. I can’t show you her face. I can’t give you a name.
But can we rally behind her anyway? Can you please share her story? Can you please demand justice?
Can we try to support this one, defend this one, SAVE this one… BEFORE the worst happens?
For Amanda Todd.
For Rehtaeh Parsons.
Let’s not wait until the girl kills herself before we share her story.
Let’s celebrate her for NOT killing herself. Let’s celebrate her survival. Let’s HELP her survive.
Let’s share now.
Let’s demand witnesses to come forward NOW.
Let’s fight now.