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Stefanie Rengel and where violence begins

January 5th, 2008     by Stacey May Fowles     Comments

More details have been released about the January 1st murder of Stefanie Rengel. The Globe and Mail reports that friends are saying Rengel was murdered by her 17-year-old ex-boyfriend at his new girlfriend’s request. Again we are reminded that one to two women are murdered by a current or former partner each week in Canada. Rengel, at age 14, became one of them. For whatever reason, her 17-year-old ex-boyfriend made the decision to end her life.

The new girlfriend was reportedly not at the scene of the crime, but it appears she was involved: The 15-year-old (female accused) was not at the crime scene and therefore should not have been charged with first-degree murder, according to her lawyer. However, she was so charged, implying that police likely believe she was involved in the planning of the killing.

The identities of the accused are protected by law (although the older of the two turned eighteen yesterday,) but Facebook is becoming problematic in terms of keeping their identities concealed:

Authorities have been largely helpless at preventing the identities of the two suspects from becoming public. By law, the two teenagers cannot be publicly identified, but various people repeatedly posted their full names on the popular social networking site Facebook. Yesterday, many of those references were removed from the site, indicating that police or Facebook staff - or both - had stepped in. Still, people continued to post the suspects’ initials and first names on on-line groups yesterday.

I’m interested to know what readers think about the idea of policing Facebook (or any method of online posting) in order to protect the identites of the accused. While the media’s responsibility to recognize the law is a given, do you think that private individuals who use social networking sites have a similiar obligation?

I have no real words for what has happened to Rengel, yet another woman in Canada who has died at the hands of a man she at one time cared for and trusted. Instead I remind you of what Thea said only a few weeks ago regarding another teenage girl who had to become another statistic proving that violence against women is a very real issue:

…remember that the only way we can talk about violence against any woman of any faith, race or culture in a way that recognises the enormity of what we lose any time a woman is beaten, raped or killed by a man is to remember, again and again and again, that it is not Islam, and it is not Muhammed Parvez, Robert Pickton or Marc Lepine who we should reserve our rage for - it’s our systems. And then keep fighting them.

Tags: news flash

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