The death of 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons is all over the news and social media outlets. Apparently her story is now receiving international attention.
For those who have not yet heard about Rehtaeh, she was fifteen years old when she was allegedly raped by four male classmates at a friend’s house. She was 17 years old when she hung herself in the bathroom of her home after struggling for 17 months to cope with her rape and the bullying that ensued.
When I was reading some of the online posts about Rehtaeh, I came across a picture of a person holding a sign that said “what if it was your daughter?” And that struck something inside of me. I know exactly what I would do if it was my daughter. If it was my daughter, I would fight to the day I died for justice for her. If it was my daughter, I would fight to change rules and attitudes to spare anyone else from feeling the immense pain and shame my daughter would have felt while being raped and then ridiculed by her peers for something no one other than her attackers should be ashamed of. From feeling the pain of being abandoned by her friends and by adults who were supposed to be there to protect her. And by a society who expresses their sympathies rampantly via social media but then forgets once there is something new to “share”, “like” and “tweet”.
This case is a cruel reminder of the society we live in. One where we teach girls that what’s most important is how they look. That their value and self-worth depends on that. One where we teach boys that what’s most important about girls is how they look. That they have no value other than that. One where we teach boys that their value is measured by their societal status and power. One where no one seems to ever be accountable for their actions. One where everyone minds their own business because it is “not my child.” Rehtaeh was not my daughter but she very easily could have been. She very easily could have been yours. What would you do if she was your daughter?
You can start maiing a change by signing the online petition started by a woman in Halifax, Nova Scotia appealing Nova Scotia Justice Minister Ross Landry for an independent inquiry into the police investigation. Go to www.change.org/rehtaeh
We live in a society where we are too busy. If it doesn’t involve us directly, we cannot be bothered.
We live in a society where no one wants to “offend” anyone. We are afraid to take a stand. To speak out against something that is wrong. To change things that need to be changed. I WAS one of those people. But I have had enough. I need to change things for my daughters. I do not want them to grow up in a society where people can rape them, share pictures of it and then torture them about it to the point they do not want to live anymore. I am sorry we were not there for Rehtaeh when she needed us. There is something we can do though. Her family needs us now. Our sons and daughters need us now. I am not waiting until something happens to my daughters or anyone else’s child to take action. I am going to do everything in my power to try to prevent this from happening to any other children. How about you? What if Rehtaeh was your daughter?