Note : this is a true account of how a young Kenyan girl became a victim of rape – reported directly from Maldives . (Source : Mendhuru news )

I, Ms Pauline Plaraj, am a young Kenyan national who, after completing my higher studies in aviation and tourism, came to Maldives after securing a once-in-a-life-time ‘dream come true’ job from a high-end tourist resort. I was overjoyed and had high hopes of making a decent living in a country well known for its warm sunny beaches, pristine lagoons and generous and warm hospitality.

Soon after my arrival, the resort where I was working was shut down following the Covid19 pandemic. Since we were relieved from duty, I decided to apply for job in a local company in Male’, the capital of the Maldives. I considered myself lucky to get the job, considering that the government and business were being shut down following the health emergency declared by the government

Those who know me well will tell you that I am by nature a joyful, happy, hardworking and honest girl. Yet, there are some, who instead of condemning those who committed this very gruesome and cruel act, through several fake accounts, are trying to vilify and assassinate my character – an unforgivable and uncouth act, which should be condemned by all civilized and decent people.

I am a girl who grew up in a western society and as such, music, singing and partying was nothing unconventional for me. Even in my own country, these very acts are a part of our life. Even if it is taboo, partying is nothing strange or uncommon among local youths, especially those coming from higher echelons of the political spectrum.

I was thrilled when I got an invitation to a party and gladly accepted the offer. The venue was a safari boat anchored in the Hulhumale’ harbour. The date was June 25, 2020 and the time mentioned was 10pm – 1 am. Being a foreigner, I decided to go with a local friend. At the end of the party, everyone was getting ready to disembark and go onshore. And so was I. The dinghy which was used to ferry the invitees from Hulhumale to boat and back, was a small one which could carry only three at a time. When I and my friend went to get on the dinghy, I was asked to wait for the next turn.

Choke holding, raping and jumping into the sea

As I was anxiously waiting for the dinghy to come, two men, apparently quite drunk, approached me and started to pat me, hold me, grab me, and force me to dance with them. I resisted as I was anxious to go home and was in no mood to dance again. When I resisted, I was told that they were the owners of the safari boat and that they were linked to politically very powerful people. To escape from them, I ran away and climbed up to the sundeck. While I was sitting there, the same two people approached me and asked me if I was willing to do a threesome. I told them that I am not a prostitute who works for money, and declined to accept their demand. Suddenly, one of them held my neck from behind, choking me. He then pulled me and pushed me flat on a mattress on the sundeck. His grip was so firm, I could not cry for help and I felt so helpless. Every time he realized I gasping for breath he loosens his grip a little and chokes me again. While he was doing this, the second man was tearing my clothes. He removed his own clothes and knelt in front of me and raped me. Having satisfied himself, he got up to give a chance to his friend. I said to myself, dying is better than getting raped. I took the opportunity, and using all my energy I jumped up, pushed the guy in fron of me, ran away as fast as I could, and without a second thought jumped into the sea.

While I was looking for the direction of the jetty, the two rapists came in the dinghy and asked me to come onboard. When I refused, they made a noose out of the rope they had and through on me. I got caught in the noose and they pulled me towards the dinghy, pulled me up and said that they were going to the jetty. They apologized and said that I could now go home
On the way to the jetty, the one who was choking me, said that he wants a last kiss and tried to grab me towards him. I resisted and started shouting at the top of my voice. By the time the dinghy reached the jetty, I saw two policemen standing there. I told them of my ordeal and the two rapists started to verbally abuse the two police officers. The two officers arrested them.
At first, the two officers treated me very kindly. I was told that I am being taken to the Hulhumale police station to take an affidavit, and to lodge and official complaint. They told me that I would be given a rape sample kit, and that I would be sent to the hospital for a medical/legal examination. I agreed.

The rapists were all the while shouting at the police officers and throwing vituperative and censoriously abusive language at them. After a while, the officer-in-charge of the station came to me and tried to calm me and console me. He assured me that the two rapists would be prosecuted, and that they [police] would not stop until justice was served.

Sudden change in police demeanor, release of rapists and victim sent home

The police had barely scratched the surface in their investigation, when the in-charge got a phone call. As soon as he finished the call, I could sense the sudden change in his demeanor. He started asking me questions. He asked me if I had a work permit, and why I came to Maldives. He told me consuming alcohol was a crime in Maldives, and that he could smell alcohol from body. I was asked the type of alcohol I was drinking. He asked me if I was a prostitute, to which I replied I was not. He then said to me, if I was not a prostitute, why was I wearing a tight mini skirt, and why I was on a safari boat in the middle of the night”? By this time the in-charge got another phone call, and he walked away from me towards the entrance.

After a while, another officer came and told me that I have to go home and that they would contact me to continue with the investigation. When he told me this, I asked him why he was sending me without taking any samples or referring me to a doctor. He told me that they would contact me later to collect samples and for physical examination, and that it was in my best interest that I go home now. He then whispered that the rapists are very powerful and influential people in this government, and that one of them was a relative of the president. He also told me that he has already received several phone calls from the head office requesting to release the rapists and to send me home. I remember him saying that some of the calls were from very high authorities. As if to make me happy, he said that the entire police unit was very unhappy and disappointed for having to release the rapists, and that this was the first time rapists captured from the crime scene are being released.
At that point I felt completely hopeless. I didn’t know what to do. I felt I was surrounded by emptiness and darkness. Fear gripped me to the core. I felt weak, my whole body trembled and my knees gave way. I began to wonder where I could go, or to whom could approach to lodge a complaint or seek justice?

Threatenihg call and offer of a half a million US Dollars.

When I came home my body was aching. My dress was torn apart, and I was soaked in salt water. I urinated a lot of blood and till now, traces of blood can be seen coming. Before I went to bed, I got a call from a number which I do not know. I picked it up thinking it was a call from the police. The caller warned me not to talk about my ordeal and not to lodge another complaint with the police. The caller said that if I did so, I would be labelled a prostitute and deported from the country. He also told me that being a foreigner, particularly a “black” woman, no Maldivian would accept my word. He also threatened to tarnish my image as a prostitute in the Maldivian media. He told me that should the police or any media inquired about the rape case, deny that I was raped and to tell them that I was intoxicated and that I do not remember anything. He said that if I did so, I would be paid a handsome amount, and that I would receive protection. He, very confidently, said to me that the police, the gangs, the legislature and the judiciary are all under their full control. He warned me to learn a lesson from what happened at the police station and to stay quiet. According to the caller, they were arrested by some junior officers on duty, who had no idea as to who they were, and that they too would by now know who they are. If this case goes without any further incidence, he offered me half a million US Dollars. I was so scared; I switched off my phone and stayed at home.

Since I kept my phone off, my office friends came to visit me. I narrated my ordeal to one of my friends, and I expressed my desire to share the crime committed against me with the local media. She arranged a reporter from “Mendhuru” – a local online newspaper. The reporter being a close friend of my office friend, I narrated the whole incidence to him as accurately as I could. To prove that I am a genuine victim of a rape case, I showed the reporter my Facebook and Instagram profiles and told him the name of the company I was currently working. I also gave him permission to use my real name and my photos. The reporter told me that there was no safety for employees in Maldives, especially for women employees, and that he was committed to expose rapists, bring them to justice, and to bring those cases to the attention of the international media.

I also told him that I narrowly escaped death as a result of jumping into the sea, and the physical and mental injury they inflicted upon me would never ever be forgotten. I am currently experiencing several PTSD symptoms and it is my desire and hope to be able to leave this country as soon as possible

Source : Mendhuru news

The Express News

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