#YouKnowHerName Protests Follow Rehtaeh Parsons Trial

by Rebecca Peterson

Rehtaeh Parsons’ story is taking over Twitter, following news that there will be no jail time for the now 20-year-old man who pleaded guilty to child pornography charges in September. The photographer will receive a one-year conditional discharge, as well as a mandatory DNA sample for a national database.

The charges are regarding a photo taken in 2011, which showed Rehtaeh throwing up while the photographer’s friend allegedly sexually assaulted her. Everyone involved was a minor at the time.

Rehtaeh, 17, died from injuries resulting from attempted suicide in 2013, following the wide-spread circulation of the photo in the boys’ social circle.

Her name is well known in Nova Scotia, Canada because of the case. One judge even said she has quasi-celebrity status, according to Slate. Her parents have been seen in court wearing t-shirts with her name. 

But still, Canadian journalists and citizens are prohibited from using her name in media, including social media. A look at Canadian news reports gives an eery sense of disconnect between the ongoing case and the well-known story.  

Social media, however, knows few bounds. Activists in Canada have taken up the hashtag #YouKnowHerName to acknowledge the ban, but Rehtaeh’s name is anything but absent.

While the media ban is traditionally used to protect victims from media attention, this case is clearly altogether different. The victim is well-known, passed, and until yesterday, her story was convoluted by an insufficient search term.  

“By taking the power of her name away, they’re stripping her of her voice a second time,” Rehtaeh’s mother told Slate. 

The hashtag spread yesterday afternoon, after it was started by Canadian journalist Hilary Beaumont, who tweeted from the trial.

Today the hashtag reveals a sea of disappointment in Canada and abroad at another sexual assault case in which the accused suffered far fewer repercussions than the victim.  


You may also like

Get the print magazine.

The best of BUST in your inbox!

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

About Us

Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

©2023 Street Media LLC.  All Right Reserved.