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A young woman, who cannot be identified due to a publication ban, the alleged victim of a rape at a rave party in 2010, reads a statement during a news conference in Pitt Meadows, B.C., on Wednesday February 22, 2012. (DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
A young woman, who cannot be identified due to a publication ban, the alleged victim of a rape at a rave party in 2010, reads a statement during a news conference in Pitt Meadows, B.C., on Wednesday February 22, 2012. (DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Globe Editorial

"Code of silence" in rape case in Pitt Meadows is shameful Add to ...

Where are the young people with moral courage in Pitt Meadows, B.C.?

It is a disturbing spectacle when a teenage victim of a gang rape feels impelled to step forward at a news conference, with her father, to plead for someone to tell the truth about what happened to her. The RCMP say that up to 12 people witnessed the attacks at a rave on Sept. 10, 2010, on a rural property east of Vancouver, but that a “code of silence” protects the attackers. Is the victim the only young person with courage in Pitt Meadows?

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The young are not excused from the obligation to report crime and stand up for law, and against brutality. They have a duty to protect their world, present and future, much the same way as adults do. The police don’t act in a vacuum. They can’t be everywhere. Law isn’t some nebulous thing maintained in books or courtrooms. Where ordinary people turn a blind eye to violence, out of physical fear or worry about being ostracized, or simply because they are misguided, they clear the way for criminals and thugs to rule. At the extreme, that passivity and non-involvement lead to fascism. Democracy cannot function when people don’t stand up for law.

RCMP investigating officers have said publicly that they have seen cellphone photos taken of the attacks (some of the images were posted, with horrifying cruelty, online) and that there is no doubt the gang rape took place. Yet, 18 months later, the only sexual charge filed in the case was stayed last week because of a lack of evidence. The girl’s family says she was bullied when she returned to school, and had to leave the school.

Her father said, “At some point in your life, you will have to explain, perhaps to your own kids, to do what’s right in life. And it’s never too late to do that.” What sort of world do the young people of Pitt Meadows expect to live in, raise their own children in? A world in which some may hurt others with impunity? And how do these young people propose to control the inevitable violence, to make sure it doesn’t touch them or their children?

A world in which the young lack courage is not a promising one.

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