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Reaction to the tragic death of Rehtaeh Parsons

By Arthur Weinreb     Apr 11, 2013 in Crime
Halifax - In the wake of media coverage surrounding the suicide of 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons, Nova Scotia is reconsidering reopening the investigation into four boys who allegedly gang raped her in 2011 and examining the inaction of Rehtaeh's school.
As Digital Journal reported Tuesday, the teen went to a party in November 2011, drank vodka, and was allegedly gang raped by four boys who went to her school. A picture of the alleged attack was taken, circulated in the school and posted online. After the incident she was called a slut by other students, even her friends. She suffered from anger and depression and was forced to move in order to change schools. She was hospitalized for six weeks when it was believed she posed a danger to herself.
She eventually moved back home and appeared to be getting better. She got new friends and was making plans for her future. But last Thursday, she locked herself in the bathroom of the family's home and after breaking the door down, her mother, Leah, found her hanging.
Rehtaeh was rushed to hospital but passed away on Sunday after being taken off life support. Shortly after her daughter's death, Leah took to Facebook to tell her daughter's story. She was critical of the fact although police were told about the alleged gang rape and the identity of the four boys was known, police did not lay charges. According to police they did not know who actually took the picture, who did what, and did not have sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction.
After the story broke, Nova Scotia Justice Minister Ross Landry, questioned about the inaction of the police, told reporters he saw no reason to reopen the investigation.
Since the circumstances of Rehtaeh's death hit the wires, much like the case of Amanda Todd, it received international media attention. And there has been a lot of reaction to what happened.
By Tuesday night, Landry had changed his position. He issued a release saying he was asking senior officials to examine the options about what can be done. Landry said, " I know that law enforcement and the public prosecution service do their best, every day, to administer and enforce the law. It's important that Nova Scotians have faith in the justice system and I am committed to exploring the mechanisms that exist to review the actions of all relevant authorities to ensure the system is always working to the best of its ability, in pursuit of justice."
The Globe and Mail reports three members of cabinet, all women, helped change Landry's mind. They told him how, as mothers, they felt about the situation. One of women was Ramona Jennix, Nova Scotia's Minister of Education. Yesterday, Jennex met with the chairman and superintendent of the Halifax regional school board and asked for a review of how Rehtaeh's school dealt with the situation. The school knew about the sexual assault allegations but neither questioned the boys nor addressed the issue of bullying.
Outrage has been expressed on social media sites and both Rehtaeh's mother and police fear vigilante justice. Parsons said, "I don't want more bullying. Rehtaeh wouldn't want more bullying. I don't think that's justice. I think they need to be held accountable for what they did. I don't want them to be physically harmed."
Yesterday, the hacktivist group Anonymous put out a statement saying they have ID'd two of the boys and are in the process of identifying the third. Saying they do not approve of vigilantism, the group is demanding the RCMP take action or they will out the boys.
An online petition, Justice for Rehtaeh, has been started demanding an independent inquiry into the police investigation of the alleged rape. At the time of this writing, the petition has garnered over 72,000 signatures.
More about rehtaeh parsons, nova scotia justice minister ross landry, Teen suicide, online bullying, Gang rape
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