A woman whose sister was brutally murdered has been the victim of trolls who promise the same end for her.
Sasha Marsden, 16, was killed when she went for a job interview as a part time cleaner in January 2013.
The Bolton teenager was sexually assaulted and murdered by David Minto, who was 23 at the time, reports the Manchester Evening News.
He was received a minimum sentence of 35 years for the brutal attack.
That day changed Sasha’s sister Gemma Aitchison’s life forever – but she has found the strength to channel her pain into helping victims like her sister.
But her work with community group Yes Matters has left her vulnerable to targeting from trolls on social media who refer to her sister's death in grotesque terms.
Gemma, 32, from Bolton, said: “The horrible messages I get from men on social media often refer to my sister.
"They say that they’re going to do the same thing to me, I bet she felt like this and that. It’s very difficult to read.
"The thing with the internet is, it gives people a platform, but at the same time because there is no accountability with what you post, people do things that they would not normally do.
"Sending rape threats to me or anyone else – they know that they are not going to get any comeback from it."
Throughout her campaigning, Gemma uses youth work and informal education to talk to young people about consent, body image, pornography and media influence.
Just seven months after her sister's death, Gemma met with former Labour leader Ed Miliband to urge him to tackle sexist and violent attitudes towards women, and the portrayal of women in the media and advertising.
She has also advised the government on its draft guidance on relationships and sex education and its child sexual exploitation prevention policy.
“I set up the group Yes Matters initially because I wanted to help anyone who had been in the same situation as my sister,” she said.
“Because of how he [Minto] referred to her at the trial – as an ‘it’ not a ‘she’ – I wanted to change the way women are portrayed and treated.
"Little boys start out by wanting to be footballers or firefighters – they don’t want to be rapists and murderers. So where does this come from?"
One of the main issues Gemma – who has a degree in youth work and social policy – found to be a major problem is the use of pornography.
"I started off by learning about why this is happening – how women and girls are sexually objectified,” said Gemma.
"The biggest thing I realised is that it is because kids get their sex education from pornography rather than from relationships and discussions surrounding consent.
“People say that porn is harmless, but the thing is, if you look at the language that’s used in porn, it’s all ‘let’s f**k this sl*t up’ – it’s hateful.
"What do we expect will happen when young boys, who have no other sex education, grow up and have their own relationships?
"I've heard male friends saying things like ‘check that out’ when a woman walks past. It worries me that it’s so embedded in male behaviour.
"It worries me that the good men I know have this in common with the man that killed my sister.”
As well as porn, Gemma believes the justice system is not built to properly deal with rape and sexual cases.
“First of all, the justice system is man made, well before women had the vote, let alone took up jobs there,” she said.
“Only recently I saw an article where a judge told a man who abused and controlled his girlfriend that there are ‘plenty more fish in the sea’. That came from a judge.
“Victim blaming is also still prevalent – such as, ‘you bought this vibrator in 2015 so you must be promiscuous’. Or they say that messages sent between the victim and perpetrator after the attack were ‘friendly’. Of course they are – they’re terrified.”
This is why she believes that a new policy under which police would get victims to hand over their mobile phones to be scrutinised, or risk prosecutions not going ahead, is flawed.
“What I think needs to be done is the CPS needs to have some compulsory training about consent and stop perpetuating the myth that women ‘ask for it’," she said.
“Male victims don’t come forward because they feel they need to be ‘strong’, while women don’t because they feel that they won’t be believed.
“In a trial, all the judge should tell the jury is, ‘this is what consent means by law’ and they should be able to understand.
"Anything else – such as who she has slept with, what she was wearing and how much she had had to drink, is irrelevant.”
Another thing Gemma, mum to Len, 11, believes should be available is counselling for the family of murder victims.
“I understand that the perpetrator needs rehabilitation – but what about the victim, or in our instance, the victim’s family?" said Gemma.
"It’s hard that me and my son still struggle with the aftermath of what’s happened. We’ve never been offered any counselling or anything.
"I took Len to Victim Support, but that’s it. Because of his autism, it’s been extra hard for him to understand.
“I feel like there’s been an earthquake and I am here with my dustpan and brush. I say to my son, 'it’s okay to cry'.
"I will always help victims – I’m very determined. Even if it’s just standing outside a court in superhero makeup with my mouth closed to symbolise women not being heard – I'll do it."
More than six years on from her sister’s murder, Gemma says that although there was no way that she could ever have envisaged what happened to Sasha, she can’t help but feel she could have done something to stop it.
“Sasha would have turned 23 last Tuesday,” said Gemma. “I was her big sister and when we were growing up she was with me all the time. She was very cheeky, and very caring. She wanted to be a specialist teacher to help people like my son Len.
“There was no indication that it was going to happen, we could have never known. She thought she was going for a job interview as a cleaner in Blackpool, probably like hundreds of other people. There was nothing suspicious about it. But literally anyone is at risk.
“I get ‘not all men’ a lot. But if they aren’t like that, why are they getting defensive about it? Every driver doesn’t get their back up about drink and drive campaigns – if they don’t do it, it doesn’t affect them.
“This man made the decision to do what he did to Sasha, so I know logically I’m not responsible and there’s nothing I could have done. But as the eldest sibling, it’s natural to feel like I could have done more.”
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