'My daughter has her name back': Rehtaeh Parsons identity allowed to be published, minister rules
Rehtaeh Parsons is pictured in this undated family photo. (Facebook)
Nobody will be prosecuted for breaching the publication ban on Rehtaeh Parsons' name unless they use it "in a derogatory manner," Nova Scotia Justice Minister Lena Metlege Diab announced Wednesday.
Diab issued the ministerial directive in response to a massive campaign led by Rehtaeh's father, Glen Canning, and mom, Leah Parsons.
"This decision wasn't made lightly. I carefully considered the original intent of the law to protect victims, and I listened to the views of Rehtaeh's parents, supporters, legal experts and Nova Scotians. This directive strikes the right balance," Diab said.
"I tell you, it was a little emotional," Canning said after hearing the news directly from Diab. "How can it not be? My daughter has her name back. Rehtaeh has her identity back."
Rehtaeh was taken off life-support in April 2013 following a suicide attempt after an explicit photo of her was circulated amongst her peers. Her parents allege the photo depicts their daughter, then 15, being raped.
Nobody was charged with sexual assault in the case, but a 20-year-old pleaded guilty to distributing child porn and another young man pleaded guilty to making child porn.
But until Rehteah's parents went public with her story -- prompting international outcry and the involvement of hackitivist group Anonymous -- no charges had been pressed.
Once charges were laid, QMI Agency and most other Canadian media outlets were forced to refer to the trial as a "high-profile Halifax porn case." Publication bans against victims' are standard in child porn cases.
This one, however, proved controversial, as Rehtaeh had become an international posterchild for campaigns against bullying and sexual assault.
Her picture was shown around the world. Federal legislation prohibiting revenge porn was crafted in her honour. Her parents opened a centre for troubled youth in Cole Harbour, N.S., which they named after Rehteah. Her mother and father tweeted her name every day throughout the trial.
Thousands of people took to social media to break the ban in protest using the trending hashtags #youknowhername and #RehtaehParsonsIsHerName,
"This is them. This is what they accomplished," Canning said of everyone who broke the ban before Wednesday. "I feel very grateful for all the people who took a chance and took a risk because it was the right thing to do."
The Halifax Chronicle-Herald newspaper made an editorial decision on Nov. 24 to break the ban in the name of journalistic ethics.
"We believe it's in the public interest in this unique case, given the widespread recognition of Rehtaeh Parsons' name, and given the good that can come, and has already come, from free public debate over sexual consent and the other elements of her story," an editor's note reads.
Those sentiments were echoed in Diab's ministerial directive.
"I want Nova Scotians to talk about the important issues surrounding Rehtaeh's case," Diab said. "The publication ban was not intended to hinder those discussions. Educating teens and parents and raising awareness is part of Rehtaeh's legacy and that should continue."
Halifax Police said current cases involving possible breaches of the publication ban, in which Parsons' name was not used in a derogatory way, will be closed.