Halifax protest for Rehtaeh Parsons demands justice, change

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METRO HALIFAX

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

Organizations: RCMP

Geographic location: Halifax

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  • John Fisher
    April 15, 2013 - 12:04

    I think one thing that has been overlooked in this case, and others like it, is that they include a young girl drinking alcohol. Before everyone jumps up and down thinking I am laying blame on the victim, this is not the case. What I am saying is that teenage girls have to realize that drinking alcohol especially to the point where they are intoxicated is not a good idea. This goes for teenage boys as well. In the case of the young girls, the effect of the alcohol depletes their ability to defend themselves against predators The young boys, in these cases, seem to be effected in a different manner by the consumption of alcohol. They are unable to make rational decisions. This in no way makes their actions acceptable or forgiveable. Everyone must be accountable for their actions. Being accountable starts at home and in the schools. The consequences of using drugs and alcohol must be hammered in to the heads of teenagers. As a parent of teenagers myself, I would not tell my daughter or son it is safe to walk through a high crime area at 3:00 in the morning the same as I would tell them it is not a good idea to drink alcohol at a party. In both cases they would be putting their personal safety at risk. Unfortunately teenage girls have a hard enough time in today's society without putting themselves in a potentially higher area of risk by drinking alcohol or using drugs. The law goes out of it's way to make it extremely difficult for teenagers to purchase tobacco products but seem to turn a blind eye to under age drinking. It is an offence for minors to consume alcohol and this offence must be enforced, if for no other reason than to protect our children. If a minor is convicted of a crime while under the influence of alcohol, they should be dealt with in a court of law as an adult. Cyber bullying must be dealt with as a criminal offence. The Young Offenders Act has to be modified if not completely trashed. Cases such as this must be thoroughly investigated by the police. The fact that no charges were laid is completely unacceptable. At the very least, there should have been charges laid for under age drinking, after all, it is a crime. God bless Rehtaeh and all parents who must keep their children safe from harm.

  • nice
    April 15, 2013 - 07:39

    While we're wiping that broad brush around let's teach our daughters respect others and not viciously attack and bully alleged victims of sexual assault until they are driven to suicide.

  • Rick Harper
    April 15, 2013 - 07:12

    You noticed once the Prime Minister got involved, the case was reopened by the police? Hopefully this time those persons responsible including the classmates will be held accountable. May Rehtaeh Parsons' family find the strength to continue on with life knowing her memory will always be with them forever.