Internet activists are demanding action on the tragic case of alleged teen gang-rape victim Rehtaeh Parsons, with hactivist collective Anonymous organizing around the hashtag #OpJustice4Rehtaeh. The news of Parsons’ suicide following a battle with depression her mother alleges stemmed from a gang-rape by four boys, seventeen months of victim-blaming bullying, pictures of the assault being shared widely in her community, and legal inaction broke earlier this week.
The original investigation into the alleged assault was dropped after authorities decided there was not enough evidence to convict, although Rehtaeh’s mother believes many aspects of the investigation were mishandled. Tuesday, in a stark reversal of his earlier decision to stand by the investigators’ decision to close the case, the Nova Scotia Justice Minister Ross Landy announced he was asking for a review of the handling of the case. But no further action has been taken.
Here’s what you need to know:
Anonymous was encouraged to get involved. A prominent Canadian Liberal strategist, Warren Kinsella, posted an open letter asking the group for help putting pressure on those who stood by while Parsons’ tragedy unfolded.
One group of Anons claim to have identified the assailants. Yesterday, a press release posted to Pastebin claimed to know two of the four alleged assailants, with a third being confirmed. By this morning a newer release claimed the group is “confident” they know the identities of the people involved in Rehtaeh’s rape, but are still looking for those who turned a blind eye in the investigation or assisted in sharing the photo evidence of her assault.
Anonymous doesn’t want vigilante justice. Instead, it’s calling for a thorough investigation into the original allegations and into the behavior of the investigators who led the initial inquiry. Prominent Twitter accounts self-identifying with Anonymous have requested the identities of the assailants not be exposed out of respect for Parsons’ mother’s wishes.
Anonymous claims it took “only a few hours to identify the boys that assaulted Rehtaeh.” In the Pastebin post this morning they claim it was not a high tech investigation and that within hours they had emails from dozens of personal acquaintances that “recalled confessions made by these boys blatantly in public where they detailed the rape of an inebriated 15-year-old girl.”
They believe school administrators enabled the rape culture that allowed Parsons’ alleged assault to go unpunished. When asking why the boys were so blatant in their public discussion of the incident, Anonymous has an answer: “They believed no one was ever going to do anything to stop them and they were right. For this we point our fingers at the Cole Harbour school system.”
This isn’t the first time Anonymous has gotten involve to combat rape culture. The collective also engaged in activism around the Steubenville rape, which bore many striking similarities to the Parsons tragedy.
Anonymous is helping other campaigns asking for justice in the case. A Change.org petition asking forhas skyrocked from 13,000 signatures as of ThinkProgress coverage yesterday to over 75,000 as of this morning, and with much of that growth coming after Anonymous accounts started sharing the link.
There will be an offline protest. Various Anonymous members are publicizing a protest being arranged outside the Halifax RCMP station for Sunday, April 14th.