A teenage girl from Nova Scotia in Canada was driven to suicide after photos of an alleged sexual assault led to her being shunned and harassed by her peers.
The 17-year-old girl, Rehtaeh Parsons, died Sunday in a hospital after attempting to hang herself.
“Rehtaeh is gone today because of the four boys that thought that raping a 15yr old girl was OK and to distribute a photo to ruin her spirit and reputation would be fun,” her mother wrote Monday on a memorial page on Facebook.
Parsons was the victim of an alleged gang rape that occurred in 2011 after she attended a party where she drank vodka. Her mother said the four boys who attacked her took pictures of the assault and shared it with classmates. Parsons faced ongoing bullying and harassment because of the terrible incident, according to her mother.
“One of those boys took a photo of her being raped and decided it would be fun to distribute the photo to everyone in Rehtaeh’s school and community where it quickly went viral,” her mother added. “Because the boys already had a ‘slut’ story, the victim of the rape Rehtaeh was considered a SLUT. This day changed the lives of our family forever. I stopped working that very day and we have all been on this journey of emotional turmoil ever since.”
Police investigated the attack for a year, but concluded it was a “he said, she said” case and they didn’t have enough evidence to prosecute the boys. In regards to the lurid photo of the assault, Rehtaeh’s mother said police described it as a “community issue” rather than a criminal issue.
“The justice system failed her,” she wrote.
[Ed note: Raw Story policy is not to publish the names of victims of sexual assault unless they or their family members, as is the case here, choose to make that information public.]
Eric W. Dolan
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