JC friend raped me in UK, says S'pore woman
S'porean allegedly raped by friend while on holiday in the UK
I was shocked. I panicked. I didn't know what to do. I thought by stirring and pretending that I had woken up, he would stop." - Nicole
It was the last day of her 18-day holiday in the UK and she needed a place to stay for the night.
When a friend offered his hostel room, she was uncomfortable as they would have to share a bed.
But because she wanted to save money, she relented.
It turned out to be a decision the Singaporean would regret.
That night last December, her junior college friend of five years allegedly raped her.
Even though Nicole (not her real name) had filed a report with Singapore and UK police, she said neither has taken any action.
She said Singapore police have told her they are unable to act against the man because the incident did not happen here.
She is awaiting a response from the UK police.
Nicole said she travelled to the UK for a vacation with her boyfriend last December.
But on the last day of the trip, Nicole was on her own as her boyfriend left for a family trip.
So, she ended up bunking with her friend - believed to be a Singapore permanent resident studying in a UK university - in his hostel room.
"At first I told him I would sleep on the floor because there was only one bed in his room," she said.
"But he insisted that we share the bed, that I would sleep under the covers and he on top of it."
Nicole said the two chatted while lying in bed until she dozed off. But she was awakened when he allegedly started touching her below her waist area.
"I was shocked. I panicked. I didn't know what to do. I thought by stirring and pretending that I had woken up, he would stop," she said.
Despite attempts to push him away, she said, his actions only got worse.
She claimed she also suffered a panic attack and couldn't react.
He then allegedly raped her.
As her flight home was early the next morning, she said she did not have time to make a police report in the UK.
"All I wanted to do was to get out of there before he woke up. I was afraid he would do something to me again," she said.
"Plus, I was still in shock."
She made a report with the Singapore police after she got back.
A Singapore police spokesman confirmed a report was made.
Nicole said she mustered enough courage to tell her parents about the alleged incident only in the first week of March .
"I didn't know how they were going to react. But my father said he would pay for my plane ticket back to UK," she said.
Nicole said she was told by police there that it was up to the inspector and crown prosecution to decide if any action would be taken.
A spokesman for the London Metropolitan Police confirmed that a report was made.
She added that a 21-year-old man allegedly connected to the case voluntarily attended an interview with the police on March 31.
He was not arrested. Specialist officers from the Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command are also investigating.
Meanwhile, it has been six months of waiting and anguish for Nicole, who is considering counselling .
"I don't know if I'll be okay. I just hope to get recourse for what happened and for this to end," she said.
But that may be a problem because of the delay in making the police report in the UK.
Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, lawyer Luke Lee said Nicole should have done so immediately after the incident.
The former policeman, who was an investigator specialising in rape between 1982 and 1989, said: "It was crucial that she made the report as soon as possible so that forensic evidence could have been collected and DNA samples obtained."
Because of the time lapse, such evidence could been destroyed.
He added that the police here cannot take action against the alleged rapist because there is no extra territorial jurisdiction for rape cases outside Singapore. This means the case cannot be investigated by the authorities here.
There is, however, extra territorial jurisdiction for cases such as corruption, child sex and drug consumption.
That was why Nicole had to fly back to the UK to file the report.
Mr Lee said: "She can, however, file a civil suit in Singapore against the man for recovery of damages."
- Additional reporting Shaffiq Alkhatib
I was shocked. I panicked. I didn’t know what to do. I thought by stirring and pretending that I had woken up, he would stop.”
Most rape victims know their attackers
The Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) said of the 136 calls and e-mails it got from victims of sexual crimes last year, the victims knew their attackers in 120 cases.
Ms Jolene Tan, Aware’s senior manager for programmes and communications, said: “Perpetrators of sexual assaults could be friends, co-workers, boyfriends, husbands or business associates.
“While perpetrators may sexually assault women they know for a range of reasons, the fundamental problem is that they do not respect women’s freedom over their bodies, and as a society we are too willing to excuse or justify their behaviour.”
Said Dr Brian Yeo, 53, a consulting psychiatrist at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre who has been practising for about 20 years:
“The fact that the victim might be familiar with the perpetrator means that they might let their guard down, open up to them or let them into their personal space, without realising their intentions.”
Reported rape cases have fallen in recent years. There were 150 cases in 2011, 133 in 2012, and 121 last year.
Dr Yeo said: “Rape has always been an issue of power more than sex.”
While there is the occasional opportunistic case, Dr Yeo said it is the false sense of power and perceived superiority the perpetrator has over the victim that leads him or her to commit the crime. — LIM MIN ZHANG
IF YOU'RE IN TROUBLE OVERSEAS
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) says:
"Singaporean victims should first report the incident to the country's police.
"Also contact the nearest Singapore Mission. If there is no Mission, call the 24-hour MFA duty office at +65 6379-8800/885.
"Before travelling, register with the Ministry online at https://eregister.mfa.gov.sg"