A concept that links rape and sexual violence to the culture of a society, and in which prevalent attitudes and practices normalize, excuse, tolerate, and even condone rape. Examples of behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectification, and trivializing rape.
Below is a list of questions, myths, and misconceptions regarding Rehtaeh’s case and circumstances. We have handed Murray Segal a separate set of questions for him to ask the police. When his review is complete hopefully those will be answered.
If you have a question you would like me to address please ask. I will gladly add them to this list and post an update.
Troll Posts (click the images to bring up a gallery)
There’s an independent witness who claimed the sex was consensual:
In a National Post article by Christie Blatchford a lot is made of an independent witness being present on the night Rehtaeh claims she was raped. Blatchford wrote:
It was a dog’s breakfast of a file – with the singular feature, almost unheard of in a sexual assault complaint, of an independent witness – that led police and prosecutors to conclude they couldn’t charge anyone in the Rehtaeh Parsons case.
In a 28 December 2013 Chronicle Herald article reporter Selena Ross, who actually interviewed the witness, wrote:
A girl referred to as a witness was present for part of the night, and was friends with the boys, having dated at least one of them. When the lead investigator came to her house around November 2011, she asked the girl if she believed Rehtaeh had consented. The girl said yes. But in a later interview with The Chronicle Herald, it was clear that the girl didn’t understand the legal definition of sexual assault, which can take place when someone is highly intoxicated and not resisting. Rehtaeh couldn’t have been raped, said the girl, because the mother who was home that night didn’t wake up. “If you’re getting raped by four people, or two people, or one person even, you’re going to be screaming, you’re going to be yelling, you’re going to be crying,” she said.
When the lead investigator questioned the girl did she check to see whether or not the witness understood the legal definition of consensual sex? Apparently not.
We have had this “witness” contact us and try to explain her actions that night. We are obviously upset with her because SHE LEFT Rehtaeh alone in the house. She doesn’t know what happened to Rehtaeh and she knows she doesn’t. Nor does she qualify as an “independent witness.”
It wasn’t rape because Rehtaeh stayed in the house the next morning:
Rehtaeh has always stated she remembers very little of the night she was raped. The fact that she stayed fits her story – why would she wake up and flee if she didn’t remember what happened to her? If anything, the fact that she didn’t wake up and run proves she didn’t remember what happened (her story), not that she wasn’t raped.
Rehtaeh came from a troubled home:
Rehtaeh was surrounded by a very loving family. She was a straight A student (except for gym) and with the exemption of *one incident was never in trouble with the police. That doesn’t sound like a troubled youth but people need to fit her into a category and it’s the easiest one for a rape victim.
Girls who have loving parents are raped the same as girls from “troubled homes” get raped. The home life or upbringing of a girl has nothing to do with being raped – the home life and upbringing of rapists does.
*One night she was out with some friends and they rolled a tire across a parking lot. The tire kept going and ended up in the street and was hit by a passing van. This was witnessed by a police officer. Rehtaeh apologized to the van owners. This is the only time she ever had an issue with law enforcement.
The child porn charges are a result of Rehtaeh’s parents political influence and/or public pressure:
If we had that kind of influence the charges would be for rape, not child porn.
“Nothing could be more biased than grieving parents, so their campaign to bend the law to the emotions of society is sickening:”
Similar to the above point. If we had a campaign to bend the law what law have we bent? We are not trying to bend any law, only understand why the laws in place were not enforced properly. I think that’s a fair stance for us to take.
There is a text from Rehtaeh to one of the boys saying she is fine with everything:
Rehtaeh did send a text like that but it was sent early in the week following the rape. This was before they spread the story around and shared the digital image of her being assaulted and, as above, it fits her story that she can’t recall what happened or what they did to her. If she understood or knew what they did to her she would obviously have not been fine with it.
Rehtaeh’s statement to the police is all over the place:
Rehtaeh gave two statements to the police. The first one was to an officer who we were later informed was not allowed to take the statement. The second statement is the same as the first except for some details Rehtaeh remembered – namely saying “no” at one point during the assault. It was later so, obviously, she remembered something else worth telling.
The trauma suffered by rape victims is similar to the trauma experienced by people in automobile accidents. They may not remember what happened for days or even weeks. It doesn’t mean there was no accident.
If the first officer was not allowed to take her statement we question why it was kept and why it was used against Rehtaeh. Is that normal for police investigations? Should sexual assault victims not contact the police if they later recall an important detail? Should they trust the police at all if this is how they investigate rape?
Rehtaeh didn’t kill herself because of the rape she killed herself because of what happened after:
This point has been made a few times on various web sites. The people making it don’t know Rehtaeh, what she went through, or what she was feeling in the last moments of her life.
Everything that happened to Rehtaeh from November 2011 on contributed to her life ending, including — and especially — being raped.
If there truly was a rape the police would have laid charges:
Once the child pornography charges have been dealt with and the review into the police investigation begins we are hopeful to find out exactly why the police never laid charges. Some of our questions include:
- Why did officers not seize digital evidence when they knew it was being used to distribute an image of Rehtaeh?
- Why did the lead officer not question any of the four boys who admitted openly to having sex with Rehtaeh while she was passed out?
- Why did the police not make any effort to stop the spread of the photo?
- There are many witnesses to the boys bragging about having sex with Rehtaeh after they hung her out an open window to be sick. Did the police take statements from any of them?
- The photo hasn’t changed. Why weren’t the two involved with producing and distributing it not charged with child porn when it could have mattered to Rehtaeh?
Nova Scotia has the distinction of being at the low end when it comes to charges and convictions for sexual assault in Canada. The work police offers and crown attorneys do in this province for victims of sexual assault is so bad 8-9/10 victims don’t even bother to call them. After seeing Rehtaeh’s case work it’s way to a miserable phone call following a year long investigation I can see why.
Recently a case was in the courts in Nova Scotia. The case is from 1970 and involves the rape of a 13 year old girl. The investigating officer, Earl Walker Hamilton, who is now 84 and retired since 1986, said he interviewed community members to learn about the complainant before taking a statement from her. He told the court he was trying to determine “whether she was promiscuous, whether she was intelligent and whether she was of chaste character.”
Not much has changed.
If she’s in the photo why isn’t she charged with child porn:
Yes, this point has actually been made. I haven’t got a clue how to answer something this ridiculous.
If they were all drinking shouldn’t she be charged with rape too:
See the answer to the previous point.
Glen Canning doesn’t know when to shut up:
Yes I do — I just haven’t got there yet. Some day perhaps but until that day arrives the people who are quite are part of the problem and I have no intention of adding my silence to rape culture.