© JEFF HARPER/METRO
Over 100 people showed up for a protest demanding justice for Rehtaeh Parsons, including her mother Leah Parsons (second from left) on Sunday.
HALIFAX - Local residents and members of an international hacktivist group called for both criminal justice and social change during a protest in honour of a Cole Harbour teen who took her own life.
“There’s a responsibility by the public in the way kids are brought up and what they’re taught in the home,” said a masked, unnamed member of Anonymous on Sunday, referring to the four boys who allegedly gang-raped Rehtaeh Parsons when she was 15. “But there’s also a responsibility by the judicial system to act when there’s a problem and do a thorough investigation, which is not what happened here.”
Rehtaeh killed herself earlier this month, two years after she was allegedly gang raped and then harassed by classmates when a photo of the attack was shared on social media.
RCMP investigated the case and did not lay charges, but have said they’ll re-open the investigation, based on new information.
About 100 people joined the peaceful protest outside Halifax police headquarters Sunday, castigating police for the initial investigation.
“The police that work in that building are saying that having under-aged students drinking and having sex in your home is not a crime,” said organizer Dave, as the crowd chanted “Do your job!” in the direction of the police station.
“They’re saying that photographs of 15-year-old girls having sex is not child pornography…distributing these images on the internet is not a crime.”
Several speakers also brought up statistics on sexual violence, which suggest at least half of all Canadian women will be assaulted in their lifetime.
“I’m tired because I’ve heard stories like Rehtaeh’s too often, and they are becoming too commonplace in our society,” said participant Jen. “I’m tired of a justice system that leaves victims feeling neglected and blamed and where criminals are not properly investigated or held accountable.”
Kim Wall, 45, said it’s time for parents and adults in general to start teaching young boys and men responsibility for their own behaviour.
“I’m really tired of phrases like, ‘Boys will be boys,’” she said, after sharing several personal anecdotes of sexual violence from her own life. “It is time that we start teaching our sons respect so that we’re not all teaching our daughters to protect themselves against those sons.”
Later in the afternoon, an apparent counter-protest materialized at the same location. A handful of people stood on the sidewalk carrying signs reading “Listen!” and “2 sides to every story,” apparently in support of the boys involved in the alleged assault.
RUTH DAVENPORT - METRO HALIFAX