Society’s “rape-tolerant” climate has led to yet another assault gone unnoticed – pushing a young girl to suicide.
Rehtaeh Parsons, a 17-year-old Canadian teenager, was gang-raped and bullied so badly, that she took her own life. Her mother, Leah Parsons, posted Rehtaeh’s experience on Facebook to garner attention to her daughter’s suicide.
“The person Rehtaeh once was all changed one dreaded night in November 2011. She went with a friend to another’s home. In that home she was raped by four young boys…one of those boys took a photo of her being raped and decided it would be fun to distribute the photo to everyone in Rehtaeh’s school and community where it quickly went viral. Because the boys already had a “slut” story, the victim of the rape Rehtaeh was considered a SLUT.”
Parsons was unaware about the assault until days later, when Rehteah broke down crying in the kitchen. By that time, it was too late for a rape kit that could determine who raped the teen. That hiccup led the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to drop their investigation after a year without charges.
According to ThinkProgress, there were other reasons the boys weren’t apprehended properly:
Parsons’ told the Halifax Chronicle Herald: “[t]hey didn’t even interview the boys until much, much later” and “nothing was done about [the photos] because they couldn’t prove who had pressed the photo button on the phone.” She was told that even the distribution of the photos was “not really a criminal issue,” despite the fact that Rehtaeh was 15 at the time, meaning the photos constituted child pornography.
After the investigation, Rehteah struggled emotionally and eventually, last week, she tried to hang herself. She was taken off of life support on Sunday.
“Rehtaeh is gone today because of the four boys that thought that raping a 15-year-old girl was OK and to distribute a photo to ruin her spirit and reputation would be fun,” her mother wrote. “All the bullying and messaging and harassment that never let up are also to blame. Lastly, the justice system failed her. Those are the people that took the life of my beautiful girl.”
Rehteah’s funeral will be held on Saturday. Her family hopes their story helps others who are being teased and bullied or who have been sexually assaulted.
If this doesn’t embody the problematic symptoms of rape culture, bullying and harassment, we don’t know what does. It’s time to put a stop to this!
May Rehteah rest in perfect peace. Our thoughts and prayers to her family.