The teenage victim of an alleged gang rape learned about the crime from Facebook photos. Now the same forum is hosting a group supporting her — and a smaller one defending the accused rapists.
By now, two people have been arrested in connection with the case: a 16-year-old boy and an 18-year-old man, the former for having photographed the gang rape at a Vancouver-area rave and uploading the photos to Facebook, and the second on suspicion of sexual assault.
The community continues to react to the assault. There was this bright note:
Brandon King, who attended the party, said he was appalled by what took place.
"Guys who take advantage of girls that are drunk, never mind they may have the date rape drug in them, that's just disgusting. It makes me sick thinking about it," the Grade 11 student said.
He said he hadn't seen the photos and didn't want to. "I know people who do know her. It's just respect. I'm not going to go and look at them."
Unfortunately, several girls have been quoted reading from the victim-blaming playbook: Mariah Schultz, 17: "It makes me angry. She's ruining these other people's lives." And Jeannette St. Germain, 16: "It's frustrating to us. Police are just listening to what she's saying."
And then there's Facebook, where over 5,000 people have joined a group in support of the victim. The mission statement, by one Carolyn Anderson:
I think it's important that the 16 yr old girl who was -allegedly - drugged and sexually assaulted - gets some positive support from everyone out there who cares.
If you wish to give a message that gang rape is NOT OKAY, then say so here!
And that drugging somebody is NOT OKAY.
And that sexual assault of any sort is NOT OKAY.
Thanks for sending your support to this young woman and her family.
Unfortunately, the page is already being beset by trolls making rape jokes and referencing Ayn Rand:
Many people cannot believe anything like that would be consensual but you will be surprised by the females in our society. For one, this was an illegal rave with alcohol being served to minors and drugs all around. This girl went there on her own will, she most likely willingly took drugs (Extasy being the most popular at these type of events), and she then asked a few guys to go out back to have sex. The sex was probably rough, and you cannot deny many females like it that way (read The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand and you'll understand), but she probably didn't expect a crowd to form and take pictures and post it all over the internet. So the next day when she sobered up, she regretted what happened, especially when the pictures were found, the police were called and she had to confront her parents. So, more than likely and to protect herself, she made the accusation of being drugged and raped instead of admitting she takes recreational drugs and is very promiscuous girl that likes to go to late night parties.
One of these trolls is also a member of a counter group entitled, "Reasonable Doubt In Pitt Meadows," with about 30 members as of this writing.
As for the proliferation of the gang-rape photos online, one local women's advocate argues that Internet pornography is to blame:
The proliferation of pornography on the internet makes it much more acceptable for the degradation of women and the rape of women to appear on Facebook," said Daisy Kler, spokeswoman for Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter.
"I think that's a new phenomenon. Much of the pornography available to kids on the internet is depictions of women being violently raped…and I think the acceptability of that kind of depiction of degrading women has influenced the acceptability of rape and sexual assault portrayed on Facebook."
The assertion that "much of" Internet porn involves violent rape is unprovable, and I'm not convinced that the public slut-shaming and victim-blaming of women after sexual assault is a "new phenomenon" — it's sadly been with us for generations and across cultures. What's new is the instant production and reproducibility of images, their sheer abundance and velocity allowing us to forget how much each one of them can mean — let alone the acts they depict.
Police Make Second Arrest In Pitt Meadow's 'Internet Photo' Gang Rape [Vancouver Sun]
Parent Of Raped Teen "A Ball Of Rage" [The Globe And Mail]
Facebook Page Questions Facts Behind Rape [Vancouver Sun]
Online Porn Contributed To Gang Rape: Counsellor [CTVBC]
Victim's Peers Dispute Alleged Rave Party Rape [Winnipeg Free Press]