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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Anonymous Takes Action On Wave Of Post-Gang Rape Suicides

Lauren Madow |
April 12, 2013 | 11:30 a.m. PDT

Executive Producer

In December, a 17-year-old girl from northern India committed suicide after she was allegedly gang raped during the festival of Diwali. The girl reported the attack to local police, who urged not to pursue the case, but instead to marry one of her rapists.

The girl's suicide occurred around the same time as two other widely publicized instances of gang rape: one in New Delhi, India, the other in Steubenville, Ohio.

This week, NBC reported that three teenage boys from the Santa Clara, CA area have been arrested in connection with the alleged gang rape of Audrie Pott on September 2, 2012. Pott, 15 years old at the time, committed suicide eight days later.

SEE ALSO: Rape Culture Exists In America, Too

Also this week, 17-year-old Canadian girl Rehtaeh Parsons killed herself two years after she was gang raped by classmates in 2011. 

Parsons, like the Steubenville victim, faced the added violation of having a photograph of her attack circulate through her school and community, reported the Chronicle Herald. In the photo, her rapist smiles at the camera and gives a thumbs-up sign. Also like the Steubenville victim, Parsons was harassed via text messages and received threats in the wake of the rape, eventually moving out of her neighborhood to escape the bullying, according to the Washington Post.

SEE ALSO: Steubenville Rape Crew Puts Focus On Gang Rape Outside Of India

Social media and text messages are being used as a means of easily and, if desired, anonymously spreading both visual documentation of sexual attacks and verbal attacks of astonishing cruelty directed toward rape victims. Tweets, Facebook posts, and photos depicting the Steubenville rape were widely seen by the local community, and now to some extent, nationally.

One actor in particular, itself a product of our networked era, has emerged as a champion for some of these very public victims: the so-called "hacktivist collective" Anonymous

In the case of Steubenville, it was Anonymous who threatened to leak personal information about members of the Steubenville football team (thought to be involved with the rape) unless an apology was made, and who leaked video of a teenage boy from the area joking about the victim. 

SEE ALSO: Social Media Editor Charged In Hacking Conspiracy

Now, after police in Nova Scotia closed the case against Parsons' alleged attackers, citing a lack of evidence, Anonymous has stepped in again. Claiming to have identified the rapists, a representative told CBS that "Some of us have had contact with the boys in question. And yeah, they're still not denying anything."

Anonymous is demanding accountability on the part of police but, in accordance with Parsons' mother's wishes, have decided not to release the boys' names, explaining in a statement:

"Anonymous engaged #OpJustice4Rataeh this morning in response to the suicide of Rehtaeh Parsons. Anonymous has confirmed the identities of two of the four alleged rapists. We are currently confirming a third and it is only a matter of time before the fourth is identified as well.

Our demands are simple: We want the N.S. RCMP [Nova Scotia Royal Canadian Mounted Police] to take immediate legal action against the individuals in question. We encourage you to act fast. If we were able to locate these boys within 2 hours, it will not be long before someone else finds them.

We do not approve of vigilante justice as the media claims. That would mean we approve of violent actions against these rapists at the hands of an unruly mob. What we want is justice. And That's your job. So do it."

For more Neon Tommy coverage of the recent wave of sexual violence, go here

For Neon Tommy coverage of Anonymous, go here.

To read Daily Beast's interview with a member of Anonymous involved in the Parsons operation, go here.

For a consideration of whether Anonymous could be negatively impacting victims' situations, go here.

For a look at "How did so much power end up in these Anonymous hands?" go here.

Reach Executive Producer Lauren Madow here. Follow her here.



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