My daughters name is Rehtaeh Parsons.
I can send this article along the editor Halifax Metro knowing it won’t be redacted or the article refused for violating a publication ban. I can finally say her name without the uneasiness of breaking the law and being charged.
Since April I with the fear of having a police officer knock on my door and tell me I’m under arrest. And to be honest that fear included the look on the officers face telling me they thought the ban was as ridiculous as I did.
Everyone knows Rehtaeh’s name, but for the last 8 months no one wanted to come out and say it. Even her friends feared they’d be arrested for wishing Rehtaeh a Happy Birthday on Facebook.
It’s been a dark cloud to live under. Having high schools cancels talks about and consent because there was a publication ban in effect. The media erasing her name from the Internet. Television segments showing my blurred face as I spoke about my daughter – with her name bleeped out when it was mentioned.
Frustrating, to say the least. But today we finally have something to smile about. Parsons is her name – my daughters name. I can say it now, and write it now, and talk about her openly on the radio, on television, and online.
Wednesday morning I meet with the Nova Scotia Attorney General and Minister of Justice Lena Diab as well as the Director of Public Prosecutions Martin Herschorn. They had asked to meet with us, myself and Rehtaeh’s mom Leah, on Monday. When the meeting started Minister Diab didn’t waste any time – they were going to issue a directive on the publication ban on Rehtaeh’s name.
After everything that has happened in the past year I had no expectations at all going into that meeting. Not one. Before the meeting I wrote on Twiiter “Rehtaeh Parsons is her name. Today I’m hoping to get my daughter’s name back.” You’re reading her name now because that wish came true. It was an emotional moment when Diab told us what they were about to do and read the statement she was about to send out.
“If Ms. Parsons’ name is used in a respectful way, the Director of Public Prosecutions will not prosecute any violation of the ban.” If we were asked to word it the release would be exactly the same.
Today I can at least smile a little. People showed courage and leadership and stood up for us and our daughter. As soon as I left the meeting I called Halifax freelance journalist Ryan Van Horne and thanked him. He took a big risk when he put himself out there and broke the ban on Rehtaeh’s name.
I loved my daughter with all my heart and soul. There will never be another Rehtaeh Parsons – not in name, not in the way she lived, and not in the way she died.
Being able to openly and honestly talk about her and her story will go a long way in making sure that happens.