Canadian Gang Rape Victim Takes Life

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Patrice Ellerbe, Staff WriterLast Modified: 00:35 a.m. DST, 20 April 2013

Rehtaeh Parsons, 17, Canadian Rape Victim Commits Suicide

NOVA SCOTIA, Canada - Rehtaeh Parsons, a 17-year-old girl from Canada, died in the hospital after her family took her off life-support. Prior to being disconnected, she languished in a comatose state for three days after trying to commit suicide by hanging herself in her bathroom.

The family's ordeal began a year and a half earlier, when sadly, Rehtaeh became the latest young woman to have her life tragically derailed by four teenage classmates who decided to gang-rape her then posts the photos across social media venues. After the November 2011 assault, which Rehtaeh then 15-years-old, hid out of shame and only reported days later, her life spiraled out of control.

Beset with bouts of depression and suicidal thoughts, she was further victimized by being branded as a 'slut,' by the boys, utilizing an oft used excuse presented by rapists to claim that the woman was somehow complicit in her sexual assault. As with other rape victims, Rehtaeh was victimized initially by the perpetrators, then by the police who reportedly investigated her case, but determined that it was a case of "he said, she said," and thus could not be effectively prosecuted.

The final insult came when the photos of the gang-rape went viral, and the Cole Harbour High School student found herself the victim of repeated bullying at school as well as being “suddenly shunned by almost everyone she knew.”

“She was never left alone. She had to leave the community. Her friends turned against her. People harassed her. Boys she didn’t know started texting her and Facebooking her asking her to have sex with them. It just never stopped,” her mother told CBC.

According to the Huffington Post, Parsons was placed on life support on 4 April 2013, and died on Sunday, 7 April 2013, after her family decided to take her off the life-support.

CBC, a Canadian news outlet, reported the rape occurred at a small social event. Teenagers were provided with alcohol, which prompted underage drinking. According to reports, a teenage boy took photos of Parsons having sex with another teen boy, and then sent it to friends.

Parsons family believes the victim is no longer alive because of the actions of the young boys. According to the Huffington Post, Parsons mother, Leah Parsons, expressed her feelings on a Facebook page in memory of Rehtaeh, stating her daughter had been forced out of the community and harassed after the incident occurred. Leah Parsons wrote, “Rehtaeh is gone today because of the hour boys that thought raping a 15-year-old girl was okay, and to distribute a photo to ruin her spirit and reputation would be fun…”

Sources stated the bullying got so bad, the family was forced to relocate after the photo was sent to countless classmates and peers.

The family attempted to file criminal charges; however, police told them little would be done due to lack of evidence. Authorities would only go speak with the males and make sure they knew they were wrong. Parsons mother expressed how she took the police’s actions as a slap in the face.

The Huffington Post reports, although Parsons was a minor at the time of the alleged rape, the defendants could claim they didn’t know she was a minor because she was so close to the legal age limit to engage in sex with a partner that is of age.

The harassment lasted long after the incident. The victim’s mother described males messaging the girl on Facebook, asking her to have sex with them. She also described the disrespectful text messages her daughter received. The incident left Parsons with psychological and emotional effects that stemmed from the alleged rape. Parsons suffered from depression, and even decided to check herself into a hospital when she began having suicidal thoughts in March 2012.

But, ultimately, it was a climate of continued sexual harassment and abuse, anonymous cyber-bullying, as well an apparent disinterest by law enforcement to remedy her predicament that led to this tragic outcome. In addition to these player, the community from which she fled in an attempt to rebuild her life, is also complicit in her death because they seemed to prefer to sweep this incident beneath the rug of their collective consciousness rather than demand that the perpetrators face justice.

Unlike the recent, Steubenville, Ohio rape case in which the media expressed more sympathy for the perpetrators than the victim, which resulted in vociferous and swift public outcry, Rehtaeh Parsons had no such allies, and thus suffered in silence until she took the final and irrevocable step of ending her life.

Follow Patrice Ellerbe on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Staff Writer: @PatriceEllerbe
 

CNN: Silent Running on Call to Retract Sympathy For Steubenville Rapists

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Patrice Ellerbe, Staff WriterLast Modified: 01:00 a.m. DST, 23 March 2013

Trent Mays, Steubenville, OH Rape Victim

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio - Two high school football players, Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, were found guilty of raping a heavily intoxicated 16-year old girl in Steubenville, Ohio last August. According to CNN reports, the victim was noticeably intoxicated as the rape occurred. Although the two teens were found guilty early this week, it is interesting to hear how the media has responded to the controversial case.

Adam Mordecai, a contributor to Upworthy news site, suggests CNN focused more on the convicted rapists rather than the victim. On the Upworthy site, Mordecai lists the gist of the statements made as the press somewhat sympathized with the football players. CNN correspondents made at least six statements in reference to the teen boys’  “impressive resumes”, altered decisions as an effect of underage drinking, bravery, and more. One statement even mentioned the reporter felt the boys’ lives will be harder after they are convicted.

It becomes shocking when the media defends men for raping a young woman. The boys were aware of what was going on. Not only have they destroyed their futures, but they scarred a young woman for eternity. Although teens will be teens, there is no excuse for what these teens have done. The media has been insensitive to the victim as well as her family. It seems as if the media is behind the teens, hoping they recover and are less concerned about the victim.

Candy Crowley, a journalist for CNN, stated on air, “I cannot imagine how emotional the sentencing must have been....a 16-year-old, sobbing in court, regardless of what big football players they are, they still sound like 16-year-olds. What is the lasting effect of two young men being found guilty in juvenile court essentially of rape?"

Poppy Carlow, a CNN reporter, said outside the courtroom after the sentencing, “It was incredibly difficult to watch as these two young men who had such promising futures, star football players, very good students, literally watch as they believed their lives fell apart.”

Another CNN correspondent, “Paul Callan”, said “There's always that moment of justice when lives are destroyed. But in terms of what happens now, the most severe thing with these young men is being labeled as sex offenders. That label is now placed on them by Ohio law. That will haunt them for the rest of their lives.”

According to the Huffington Post, CNN reported a statement from the victim’s mother who said the verdicts are “the start of a new beginning for my daughter. We need to stress the importance of helping those in need and to stand up for what is right.” It doesn’t seem as though CNN has taken her advice.

The teen girl was highly sedated and practically unconscious when Mays and Richmond were performing the ruthless sexual acts. Reports read Mays was given a longer sentence because he released photos through text messages, of the rape.

Recollection of that night was given by numerous teen witnesses. According to an unidentified witness, the girl was seen hunched over and violently vomiting. She was then seen sitting in the middle of the street where the party was located. She was ridiculed and eventually left there for the time being.

When questioned in the court room, teen witnesses clearly showed they were unaware of the definition of rape. When asked why they didn’t stop the rape, a teen witness responded “It wasn’t violent”, insinuating it was only considered rape if they were forcing themselves on the female. The male witness that gave this respond also stated he walked in the room during the time the victim was being violated. He could see she was unresponsive to the acts, however, he did not stop it.

Earlier that night, teens witnessed Richmond and Mays in the back seat of a car with the 16-year-old female. Video of the setting was obtained by police, where they saw Richmond and Mays fondling the girl and passing the video camera around.

Even with increased public outcry and pressure on the network, CNN has remained silent on its original stance of focusing more on the perpetrators than the victim. Richmond received a minimum of one year in a youth correctional institution, but is eligible to receive a longer sentence. Mays receive one year for the rape and an additional year as well. Both boys will have to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives, and can remain incarcerated until they turn 21.

UPDATE 26.3.13: As Editor-in-Chief it was my decision to publish the article with the selected title. The substance of the article is about the fact that CNN should have focused more on the victim than on the perpetrators.

In the ensuing controversy CNN and other media outlets no longer continue to solicit sympathy for the perpetrators, but for many it is not enough. A verbal, written retraction is being sought via a petition; however, whether this occurs or not, CNN has retreated into silence on this issue.

We appreciate all constructive criticism, but personal attacks are unwelcome. The title and post have been edited to clarify our position.

Thank you, Ayanna Nahmias Editor-in-Chief **********************************************

Follow Patrice Ellerbe on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Staff Writer: @PatriceEllerbe