But on Thursday, following months of intense public pressure, RCMP and Halifax police arrested two 18-year-old men in connection with her case. They both face child pornography charges.
We Canadians are often quick to point the finger of blame at our US neighbors; and, in all honesty, we are correct more often than wrong. Not that pointing fingers of blame ever did anyone any good. However the recent sad case of Halifax teenager Rehtaeh Parsons is one example of Canadian authorities, from the police to the government, failing tragically. Rehtaeh, Heather spelled backwards, died after a suicide attempt that she saw as the only way out of her hell. She had, allegedly, been raped by four boys when she was 15. She was drunk and unable to stop the attack that was filmed and distributed online. This was followed by horrific bullying and, ultimately, her death.
The similarities between this tragedy and the recent Steubenville, Ohio rape case in which a teenage girl was fed alcohol and groped and raped repeatedly while it was all filmed are many. Although the Halifax case is being referred to as Canada’s Steubenville, one substantial difference is that the Steubenville authorities brought the case to its logical venue, the courtroom.
In Halifax, no charges have been laid.
Rehtaeh’s mother Leah Parsons, in a show of intelligence, has asked that vigilantes not take the law into their own hands and harm the alleged rapists. She wants them to be dealt with in court. Does the system work?
“I want the justice system to go after those boys for sending those pictures, she was 15 years old,” Parsons said. “I don’t want people to go after those boys. People are threatening to do that.”
There is a Facebook page and an online petition where you can voice your anger and request an independent inquiry. Meanwhile vigils are being planned and the online presence, Anonymous, is threatening to name the boys.
We Canadians must get our own act together before we can point any fingers.