Supporters put 'hands up' in memory of Rehtaeh Parsons
Thousands of people around the world are honouring the memory of Rehteah Parsons, exactly two months after her death.
On Friday, her supporters joined a Facebook group called Hands up for Rehtaeh and are remembering the Cole Harbour, N.S. teen by writing her name on their wrists. They also took to Twitter, posting pics using the hashtag #HandsUp4Rehtaeh.
Rehtaeh’s family says she was raped by four boys in November 2011, at the age of 15, and that a photo of the incident was passed around her school. They say Rehtaeh was bullied and harassed by her peers, which eventually led her to commit suicide in April, at the age of 17.
“What happened to her matters,” says her mother, Leah Parsons. “It’s not something that happened and a week later everyone forgot about it. It matters because it is so prevalent in everyone’s life. It happens to so many children.”
Hundreds of people posted pictures to the Facebook page after writing Rehtaeh’s name on their wrists, hands and arms.
The message behind “Hands up for Rehtaeh” addresses the bigger issue of violence against women and the event organizer says it’s a chance to unite and stand up against sexual assault.
“By writing one name on my wrist, maybe I can make a little bit of difference,” says supporter Tracey Williams, who felt compelled to join in the event.
Williams says she has an answer ready for anyone who asks why she has ‘Rehtaeh’ scribbled on her wrist.
“My answer is, it is time to stand up and speak up against violence, what happens at parties, to teach our kids to respect the people they are with,” she says.
Rehtaeh’s family says the support that has poured in from around the globe means the world to them and helps bring awareness to the issue of sexual assault.
"I think that everyone is hoping that is going to change, and if Rehtaeh can be a catalyst to that, then that’s a great legacy to leave behind,” says Leah Parsons.
\She has made her daughter’s memory very permanent on her own arm, in the form of a portrait tattoo. She says she hopes that even as the ink washes off the arms of others, Rehtaeh’s story will never fade.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kelland Sundahl