Too distraught to report rape? WAO can help

WAOPETALING JAYA: The Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) has alleged that statistics on rape are misleading and that the recent decline in recorded numbers can be attributed to the unwillingness of victims to report the crime.

Speaking to FMT, WAO communications officer Tan Heang Lee offered her organisation’s support to such victims. She said they could contact WAO for advice by calling its hotline number, 03-7956-3488, or sending an SMS or WhatsApp message to 018-988-8058.

Referring to the decline in the number of reported cases since 2010, she said: “Rape is greatly under-reported.”

Tan made her remarks in reaction to a news report about a 17-year-old girl’s suicide attempt in Johor. According to the report, she had been raped by nine soldiers at a hotel in Kluang.

Commenting on the case, Senai state assemblywoman Wong Shu Qi said many rapes went unreported because the victims were aware of the stigma that would be attached to them.

Tan agreed, saying many victims feared being blamed by society.

“Rape survivors are often asked questions like what they were wearing, whether they had been drinking and so on,” she said. “They are doubted when they speak up, and their characters and relationship histories are scrutinised.”

She added that false reporting of rape was “extremely” rare.

Tan called for the fostering of a culture of support for victims.

“The process of getting justice must be survivor friendly and centred around the survivor’s needs,” she said.

“Survivors should not be re-traumatised when they try to seek justice. Recounting the rape is a further trauma for the survivor. Imagine having to describe in vivid detail the way you have been violated. It takes a lot of strength and courage to do that.”

She rejected the “myth of the perfect victim” and criticised the attitude of those who would doubt a report of rape if it came from a victim seen as deviating from socially acceptable behaviour.

“Such a standard clearly does not apply to perpetrators, who are often excused for their actions,” she said.

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