Thursday, December 11, 2014

Rehtaeh Parsons - How is Canada failing women?

Rehtaeh Parsons
Judge Jamie Campbell, who upheld the publication ban in Halifax, wrote in his decision that “the ban serves no purpose,” though he had no choice but to uphold it. Waiving Rehtaeh’s privacy rights “would be a good thing, if it could be done just for this case, just this once,” the judge wrote.

I find it very ironic that the justice system which failed Rehtaeh while she was alive are now trying to hide themselves and cover their asses now that Rehtaeh is dead. I find publication ban to be absolutely useless in this case as the only way that all of us have been able to preserve dignity for Rehtaeh is remembering that RCMP and judicial system in Nova Scotia failed her and her family terribly.

Its completely mind boggling as how there has been systemic push towards shaming and silencing of sexual violence victims like Rehtaeh Parsons.

One of the main reasons I decided to write about Rehtaeh as RCMP Nova Scotia refused to take information from Anonymous collective. It sounded very ridiculous especially when RCMP and other policing agencies in Canada have anonymous tip lines?!?

This systemic push is not only from "boys will be boys" mindset from the people but its also heavily ingrained in mainstream publication media who think that lives of victims and survivors do NOT matter.

Anonymous Hacktivists
Its only recently that with the case of Jian Ghomeshi, sexual assaults of MPs on Parliament Hill that the conversation started around #BeenRapedNeverReported.

Before anyone goes and claims any victory anywhere, we have a long way to go esp in a country where only 0.3% of sexual assault cases get conviction.

In November, I planned to do a local event as a memorial to Montreal Massacre. The theme of the event was to explore what has changed for women in Canada in the last 25 years on violence against women and to make it a part of 16 Days of Orange campaign initiated by UN. Rehtaeh is very important in Canadian context but also the way justice system works for girls who get sexually assaulted.

I was fortunate to meet with Glen Canning when he was in Toronto and we were able to do a small interview, I hope the readers will enjoy it.

Talking about Rehtaeh and keeping her legacy alive is important because the only way we were able to challenge the failing system by having a huge outpouring against it. Its also the only way to ensure that this kind of gross miscarriage never happens again! Institutions like RCMP and judiciary need to know that people of Canada are watching them and they will hold them accountable!

A petition was started on her birthday on December 9th which would had been Rehtaeh's 19th birthday. The petition asks for prevention of prosecution of those who are using Rehtaeh's name in connection with charges against her attackers.

There is also a campaign going on social media, details of which can be found here.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Organizing Tales: When shit goes wrong for no reason

We are planning to do an amazing event to remember Montreal Massacre victims and I guess we were not expecting to receive this kind of backlash against our guest speakers. But here we are dealing with the nonsense and we are committed to take this onwards anyway.

If you live in the Greater Toronto Area, I highly recommend coming out and listen to amazing lineup. Here is the poster of the event and here is the organizing struggle for safe and positive space for everyone.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Accused in Rehtaeh Parsons case set free

The boy who took the picture used to shame Rehtaeh Parsons was set free today and won’t spend a day in jail.
The accused, now 20, pleaded guilty in September to production of child pornography. He took a picture of Rehtaeh Parsons and his co-accused. Parsons was puking out a window while the other boy mugged for the camera and gave a thumbs-up sign. Despite admitting his guilt, he won’t go to jail and will have 12 months to meet certain conditions. If he meets them, he will receive a conditional discharge. He will not be put on probation.
Some will say this is a travesty of justice, but Glen Canning – Rethaeh’s dad – said there won’t be justice until there are charges of sexual assault in the case.
The most telling moment of today’s sentencing came when Judge Greg Lenehan said the 20-year-old Eastern Shore man who took the picture should have known better and told him to consider what he would have wanted someone else to do if it was his sister being violated while she was puking out the window.
“The image you took is an example of the objectification of girls and women,” Lenehan said to him.
The accused shifted uncomfortably on the bench and looked nervous. Then muscles on his face twitched as he seemed to realize the cruelty of what he did.
Lenehan told him he “should never forget the promising, vibrant young life that was eventually destroyed by his choice to record an act of sexual degradation.”
“You did, in a few seconds, set in motion a series of events that led to a great deal of shame, humiliation, anger, despair, anguish, loss, hurt, and destruction for Ms. Parsons, her family, you, your family, and for the entire community.”
Lenehan told him the moment he captured on camera was “not a trophy moment, but that is certainly what it was portrayed as.”
In the era of cellphones when people seem to document everything, this was not a moment to be documented, the judge said.
Despite the tragic impact of the accused’s actions, Lenehan said he had to take into consideration the prime purpose of Canada’s Youth Criminal Justice Act, which emphasizes rehabilitation and reintegration into society. The accused, who was 17 at the time of the incident three years ago, has already shown signs of doing that.
“I accept that he is genuinely remorseful. I think he is quite sickened by the realization that his decision eventually led Rehtaeh Parsons to fall into the deep dark hole of despair from which she could not extricate herself. His actions led to a series of events that eventually drained her of her very essence.”

The accused has been suffering from anxiety and insomnia since the death of Rehtaeh Parsons in April 2013. Lenehan said the accused’s confession to police in August 2013 and his guilty plea on Sept. 22 are all factors that bode well for his rehabilitation. He has a full-time job, has not been in trouble with the law since the incident, nor was he ever in trouble with the law before that.
“This is a very difficult sentencing,” Lenehan said. “Nothing I can do can compensate for her tragic loss of life. There is no measure that could ever properly reflect her value.”

Despite the public calls for revenge, he stressed youth court is “not a court of retribution” and so gave the youth a conditional discharge while imposing some conditions. The accused must seek counselling for 12 months, provide a DNA sample, and write an apology to Rehtaeh Parsons’ parents.
“You are also required to locate and attend, successfully complete a course on sexual harassment,” Lenehan said. “It’s vitally important that you understand how you can interact and treat all females as you go forward.”

“I do not want to hamstring you. I do want to encourage you to become a productive member of society. I want you to be the type of young man that if you ever see somebody humiliating or treating a girl or a woman in any fashion that would call into question their dignity or worth, that you would not stand by and be an observer; that you would be the type of person that would say ‘This needs to stop’ and you would stop it.”

The other accused in this case will stand trial on distribution of child pornography charges on Nov. 24. His father was in court watching today’s proceedings.


This blog is re-post from Ryan Van Horne's blog

Friday, November 14, 2014

Dear Susan Martinuk, First Nations lives matter!

I had the misfortune of reading this despicable pathetic op-ed where Susan Martinuk says "Attack on Aboriginal teen is no reason for inquiry" , says the white woman who can never ever walk in the shoes of an indigenous women *rolls eyes*

Idle No More
I am beyond outraged. I am shaking with anger. Indigenous women in Canada are one of the most vulnerable demographics who are exploited and face immense sexual violence. And the only thing Martinuk comes up with is attacking a 16yr old dead girl along with her family? Not only that, editors of this paper thought that this would be a good article to publish?
Is Calgary Herald affiliated with white supremacist groups where they try to pass off overt racism and sexism as a casual joke or have we all just waited too long to boycott this excuse of a paper? Because we all know how Sun News publishes instigating and inflammatory material.

I had no idea if overt racism and sexism could be published in a mainstream paper especially in light of last month's events of Brock University with its black face, Jian Ghomeshi with so many stories of assault and sexual harassment cases on Parliament Hill.

So I demand to know if the lives of indigenous and racialized women don't matter to this country? Is this the way Canadians pretend to care about human rights and equality? Or equality is only relevant when the person is white!

Consider this, this inquiry is not for people of color or indigenous people but it is actually for white people who need to come in terms with reality that they have done irreparable damage to the society and if they continue to ignore the plight of these marginalised communities.

The problem of these communities is very much ingrained in white supremacy, systemic and institutional racism. The sooner mainstream media and establishment comes in terms with it, the better we all can work towards healing of our communities.

I hope that Calgary Herald will re-consider its decision, remove that editorial and apologize to the First Nations community for publishing such an inflammatory piece.

Because the question arises, how many women have to die for these people to wake up?

Lesson learnt from Calgary Herald: I don't always blame victims but when I do it's with tinge of white supremacy and racism.

Got whitesplained by rich white man

Lots of you might remember about the blackface which grace twitter after the weekend of Halloween. The news was picked up by various media outlets and people expressed their outrage. The only party which basically protected the guilty party was the administration of university itself.

Like many people I was pissed off when I sent out that email to President of Brock U but what I received as a response was nothing but condescending and disgusting.

Jack Lightstone, Blackface, Brock University    
Reply from Brock University - Jack Lightstone

Dear white people, when you are trying to speak on the topic of racism, please do not try to whitesplain a woman of color. We live casual/covert/overt racism everyday. Do NOT try to make our pain meaningless.

Let me explain it to Mr.Lightsone, I am not sure what kind of institution you are running or if your students live under a rock where they missed facts on slavery in Canada but even "ignorance" gives NO pass to racism. Just the same way ignorance of the law is not an excuse for breaking the law. If you or people you surround yourself are ignorant, that's all on you but do NOT ask others to be untouched by it.

None of the students in at Brock U have publicly acknowledged that they are sorry so fuck you and your defense. You have a duty to not only educate your students but also discipline them which sets an example for future incidents.

Website last updated 2013