OPINION – When a Nova Scotian teen was gang-raped 17 months ago at her friend’s house, one would have thought it was imaginably the worst thing that could have happened to her save losing her life.
Turns out, she did lose her life that night by a method crueler than rape.
Rehtaeh Parsons was essentially tortured to death.
The boys who raped her documented the incident with a camera and showed the photos to classmates at school. Those who saw the photos surprisingly did not deduce anything wrong had happened but that in fact the photos were evidence of Parsons being “a slut.”
Her tormentors began torturing her by raping her. They continued to carry out the torture and eventual death of this young girl’s person both emotionally and physically by making her relive the rape in the court of unscrupulous public opinion.
Then, the public stepped up to seal her fate.
Instead of support, she was bullied and propositioned. Instead of legal justice she was left to fend for herself.
Parsons hung herself in her bathroom last Thursday night; and this past Sunday, her family removed her from life support.
Torture carried out in the final days of her life by the worst kind of all, self torture.
What is most tragic of all in this is a societal acquiescence to the suicide of victims of crimes.
What could have been done to mitigate this senseless loss of life?
How about we teach our boys to be men?
How about instead of making excuses for them with supercilious verbiage like not wanting the lives of the perpetrators to be ruined for their “mistake,” we treat them like the offenders they are and protect the actual victim?
Some of you may have already forgotten the Santa Clara teen who was kidnapped last year and taken for the scariest ride of her life by boys who knew her.
They would go on to plead their case that it was a prank gone wrong. This community rallied behind the boys largely advocating for their lives to not be ruined by their mistake.
Did anyone think about the girl?
Anyone wondering if her life is a living hell on earth and if she may be hanging on for dear life?
Some would say that two very different things are being compared here, that of rape versus a prank but I disagree.
She, like a rape victim, was forced against her will into a situation that terrified her; and, like Parsons, was left to find comfort in the safety of her family’s fold while enduring a community more concerned about the perpetrators than the victim.
I know this case has been settled for some time and I understand that some restitution may be in the works, but back to my original suggestion: Someone should have taught these boys to be men.
The fact is, had the perpetrators in both of these cases and so many others like them had the fortitude and integrity to respect women and not objectify and torment them, it is reasonable to assert Parsons would be alive today, the young girl from Santa Clara would not be emotionally scarred for life, and others would never be faced with the undeniable challenge of victims – to survive and rise above crimes senselessly committed against them.
Something is wrong with a culture that victimizes the victim and makes an irrational defense for the offender.
Until that is rectified, we should probably prepare ourselves for the statistics on victim-related suicides to increase.
See you out there.
Dallas Hyland is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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