A teen girl is dead this week after photos of her alleged rape two years ago at the hands of four boys went viral and she was relentlessly bullied. Rehtaeh Parsons, just 17, was 15 at the time of the alleged rape. Like the girl in Steubenville, Ohio last fall, she was young and naive and drunk.
Unlike her, she never had a chance to see any justice. Those four boys who are accused of raping her are free. The people who called her a "slut" (mostly girls) and boys who texted and Facebooked her daily asking for sex are also free. Parsons is dead. She hanged herself last weekend.
There are no words to describe what a tragedy this is. A vibrant, young life has ended. Sure, we can say she was obviously depressed and there was something more happening there. After all, the Steubenville girl fought back. But we would be lying to ourselves.
We don't even have the luxury to say that this happened in Canada and so is isolated and not a problem in the US. Just look at Steubenville. It's the same story, different area code. Our rape culture is alive and well in all of North America.
Hell, it is all over the world. Look at India.
Parsons tried to get justice, but the police decided there was insufficient evidence. That might be true. But that doesn't change the way she was treated at school. By kids who ought to know better. Let's pretend, even for a moment, that a young girl DID have consensual sex with four boys. Would it really be OK then for these horrible kids to bully her and treat her that way.
This has to stop.
We have a completely archaic view of female sexuality. The girls who have sex are "whores" and the boys who have it are just being boys. Meanwhile, this view blinds us to rape. It blinds us to what is right in front of our eyes. Parsons needed compassion, love, and comfort. She needed a friendly hand.
What she got was relentless bullying. It became so bad she thought life was no longer worth living.
My heart is broken over this story. But it's also broken over the state of the U.S. and the world when it comes to rape. We don't seem to care that our girls are suffering greatly because of our inability to change.
May poor Rehtaeh Parsons' mother find some peace and may things change someday so that our young daughters don't have to live like this.
Do you believe we live in a rape culture?
Image via jayneandd/Flickr