Wednesday, 10 April 2013

A continuum of cop violence against women: systemic and authoritarian, sexualized and fetishized. (updated)

From Ayesha, we learn about yet another woman's death, as a the tragic outcome of a desultory police investigation.
In an extensive post on a Facebook memorial page, her mother Leah Parsons described how the straight-A high school student became depressed and suicidal after the incident.

“The person Rehtaeh once was all changed one dreaded night in November 2011. She went with a friend to another’s home. In that home she was raped by four young boys . . . one of those boys took a photo of her being raped and decided it would be fun to distribute the photo to everyone in Rehtaeh’s school and community where it quickly went viral,” Leah Parsons wrote. “Because the boys already had a ‘slut’ story, the victim of the rape Rehtaeh was considered a slut.

“This day changed the lives of our family forever.”

Rehtaeh, who was a 15-year-old high school student in Cole Harbour at the time, was repeatedly bullied at school and “suddenly shunned by almost everyone she knew.”

“She was never left alone. She had to leave the community. Her friends turned against her. People harassed her. Boys she didn’t know started texting her and Facebooking her asking her to have sex with them. It just never stopped,” her mother told CBC.
Racialized women in Canada experience this daily.  First Nations, Metis, Inuit, Black, all brown-skinned women of mixed ancestries rarely if ever trust the police to take reports of sexual violence directed at them seriously, and to investigate properly. In reality, reporting such violence makes them vulnerable to the cops' own abusive practices, as case after case demonstrates. Operation Thunder Bird attempted to expose this reality.

In Ottawa, a judge recently exonerated the sexualized brutality that a police officer used against a woman detained for alleged public intoxication - a "charge" which was never actually shown to be founded.

Violent cops like Steve Desjourdy can sexually humiliate, degrade and punish jailed women with impunity. His actions which were challenged in criminal court, have been excused and thus can become the official standard that police taking women into custody can apply.

According to the judge who presided over the trial, Desjourdy "used reasonable force".

Many who viewed the internal video that captured Desjourdy and his colleagues' actions, observed that he seemed to be enjoying his job, exerting force in order to break the detained woman's will and her instinct to defend herself from the cops' deliberate, sexualized violations.

Familiar patterns of cops' fetishized brutality against women keep surfacing.  It would appear a measure of implicit identification with the perpetrators of sexual assault impinges upon some police officers' professional capacity to effectively investigate violent crimes against women.

In my opinion, the RCMP has become irreversibly corrupted and poisoned by misogyny; this latest outrage is more evidence of the toxicity of its systemic sexist culture.

UPDATE: Two excellent blogposts that MUST be read. Both cut to the core of the way rape culture enables violence against women and girls.

Child porn isn’t a “community issue,” RCMP from Steph Guthrie really nails the misogynist sub-text of the shoddy excuse the RCMP provided for its MASSIVE lack of due diligence, with regard to the taking and distribution of the photo of Rehtaeh Parsons.  A crime was committed; it's the RCMP's job to deal with it.  Unless its officers' sloppy lack of professional dedication is a recognition that the institution is de facto complicit with child pornographers and sexual assailants in that community.

This is heart-wrenching:
[...] where the fuck were the school officials, the members of the law enforcement, the people who should have made sure that she had adequate follow-up mental health care after her hospitalization? Where were they, and why didn’t they do anything? Or if they did do something, why didn’t they do enough?

Rehtaeh’s rapists are still out there. They are still in high school, they are still going to parties and they are, quite likely, still raping. Why wouldn’t they? They got away with it once, didn’t they? Rehtaeh’s rapists are still living normal, untroubled lives, and she is dead. [...]

Saying that we need to educate boys and girls about appropriate behaviour is victim-blaming. Saying that this wouldn’t have been a problem if the pictures hadn’t ended up online is like saying that rape is fine, but publicly broadcasting it isn’t. Calling Rehtaeh’s death a tragedy because we’ve lost a beautiful young woman is a joke – seriously, what bearing does her appearance have on how sad her death is? And since Landry is refusing to open an official review into how the RCMP handled this, isn’t he basically saying, “I think she was lying about the rape, but gosh, she sure was hot”?

All of this, every single word of this statement, all of the things that Rehtaeh endured, every single detail presented here is rape culture.

Read the comments too.

So, with regard to the way it deals with sexual violence against women and girls, should Canada feel *superior* to India?


Beijing York said...

It was so sad and painful to hear Leah Parson interviewed on her daughter's rape, depression and suicide. I couldn't believe that the police did basically squat - "not enough evidence". A freaking image was posted and went viral. I would say that is more that a "she said-they said" situation.

deBeauxOs said...

No idea what the context was, but RCMP have the resources and could have tracked down who posted the pix of Rehtaeh online.

But a decision was made to not investigate the crimes committed against her with due diligence, and now she is dead.

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