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I Spent 6 Years In The System Trying To Get Justice After Being Raped. This Is How It Went

There were failures in three of our institutions over those six years. Any of these incidents could cause a person to retract their report to avoid the immense trauma they brought.

Cover image via New Straits Times (Edited by SAYS)

Disclaimer: This story discusses sexual assault, which may be distressing to some readers.

My name is Rosheen and I am a rape survivor. I spent six years in the system trying to get justice.

This is how that went.

When I was 20 years old, I was walking to the mamak with my boyfriend at the time, when we were stopped by four men. My boyfriend was beaten and I was held at knifepoint.

We were pushed into a car and taken to Klang, where my boyfriend was held hostage and I was raped.

I made a police report at the Subang Jaya police station. I was shaking and sobbing so hard I could not write. So my best friend wrote my report.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Instagram @missfazura/beautifulnara

She was understandably upset and her handwriting was shaky. The officer made her write out the report SIX TIMES.

This ate into crucial time that was needed to take DNA evidence. About three hours later, a police car arrived to take my boyfriend and I to the Klang hospital. My rape kit samples were taken by two female nurses, one female doctor, and one MALE nurse.

They were very professional, but a male nurse should not have been there. He was only scraping under my fingernails for DNA but it was traumatic to be even touched by a man immediately after what had happened.

I was then brought to the Klang police station and had to make a second police report. Then the special victims unit (SVU) officer arrived and I made a third, very detailed report. She was kind, patient, supportive, and understanding.

Based on the licence plate number, they caught five men. I had to identify them. There were no numbers or one-way mirrors. Only a line of 20 to 25 men from their lock-up.

I was not allowed to point at them. I was told that I had to WALK UP TO THEM, HOLD THEIR SHOULDER, and tell the officer what role they played. I identified all four.

Do you understand how traumatic that is? Do you understand how it feels to be in a room full of men hours after you have been violently raped by men?

Do you understand why people drop charges and retract reports?

I went through with it because I had the privilege of my upbringing; my father had worked on projects to build women's shelters, my mother and I had both volunteered with women's groups.

I knew what happened to me was not my fault. I knew how to get justice. Most do not.

The next day, I was asked to return to the Subang Jaya police station. They were handling the abduction and robbery charges.

The investigating officer (IO) asked my boyfriend to leave the room so he could speak to me alone. It was weird, but we assumed it was procedure.

It was not.

He asked about our phones which were stolen, found, and now in evidence; a 3210 and a 3310. IO said they were "cheap" and showed me his phone. A 7610 (one with 'corners'). IO said, "You should have a rich boyfriend who can buy you one of these."

Then IO showed me his gun and said, "You should have a boyfriend who can defend you."

I was afraid. I felt like I was in danger. I did not want to jeopardise my case. IO asked me about my family. I answered.

IO asked me for my older brother's phone number. I gave it. IO called him and asked for permission to date me.
Rosheen

My brother told him, "She has a boyfriend and she can date whoever she wants to."

After IO ended the call, he told me, "Choose a better boyfriend next time".

For six years I was in and out of the court system. The four were gang members.

First time: Judge did not show up. He was "on MC".

Second: Case postponed.

Third: Case postponed and the accused came close to intimidate me. My then-husband shielded me until court police brought me to the office.

Fourth: Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) was reassigned. Called the DPP and he sounded terrified, said sorry, and ended the call.

Fifth: I contacted a women's group and asked for a watching brief lawyer (WBL). I was assigned one and the case went to trial.

My WBL asked all the right questions. Gave me all the information she had. I had never been so well-informed about my own case.

In the courtroom, the defence counsel asked me horrible violating questions designed to upset me

The DPP, my WBL, and the judge called him out.

We, the prosecution, won the case. They were sentenced to 16 years. This was 2010.

I don't know what the system is like now. I highly doubt anything has changed.

I received social and legal support from a women's group throughout. They will be there for me if I want to report the IO. I haven't 'cos my emotional and mental health could only handle one case at a time.

There were failures in three of our institutions over those six years

The police should not be forcing victims to relive their trauma multiple times (with the three statements I had to make and the horrifying way I had to identify the perpetrators) and they most certainly should not be sexually harassing people.

The hospital should not have had a male nurse interacting with a female victim of rape or sexual assault.

The court system should have kept me informed and not repeatedly delay justice.

Any of these incidents could cause a person to retract their report to avoid the immense trauma they brought.

This is the system we live under. These institutions are interlinked and if even one fails, justice is not served.

This is why so many cases do not get reported, the report is retracted, they never make it to court, or they pull the case.

Yet, despite everything, we won.

The SVU officer, the DPP, the judge who ruled, my WBL: all women.

I was lucky because I had people who were willing to fight for me, not everyone will.

I was lucky because my family supported me, not everyone will.
Rosheen

I was lucky because my then-husband and current best friend stood by me and was there for everything, not everyone will.

This isn't to scare people to not report, it is to show a successful case despite the adversities

This is to show you that our systems and institutions are flawed, and we must change them.

This is to show you that police are not always there to protect you, and we must rectify that.

This is to show you that the trauma does not end with the incident.

Our systems are broken. Our society is broken.

We have to be better. We must.

This story was originally published on Twitter.

You too can submit a story as a SAYS reader by emailing us at [email protected]

These Malaysian organisations aim to help survivors of rape and sexual assault:

1. WOMEN'S AID ORGANISATION (WAO)
WAO provides advice and support for victims of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and other forms of violence against women.

Operating hours: 24-hour
Contact: +603-79563488
SMS/WhatsApp: +6018-9888058
Website
| Facebook | Twitter

2. ALL WOMEN'S ACTION SOCIETY (AWAM)
AWAM provides services tailored to address the immediate needs of victims of violence, such as free counselling and legal information.

Operating hours: Weekdays (9.30am - 4.30pm)
Contact: +603-78770224
WhatsApp: +6016-2284221 | +6016-2374221
Email: [email protected]
Website
| Facebook | Twitter

3. WOMEN'S CENTRE FOR CHANGE PENANG (WCC PENANG)
WCC Penang helps women and children who are abused, raped, or sexually assaulted by providing counselling via face-to-face, telephone, or email, temporary shelter, and legal advice.

Operating hours: Weekdays (9am - 5pm)
Contact: +604-2280342 | +604-3988340
WhatsApp: +6011-31084001 | +6016-4390698
Email: [email protected]
Website
| Facebook | Twitter

4. SARAWAK WOMEN FOR WOMEN SOCIETY (SWWS)
SWWS has a confidential helpline that provides a listening ear and moral support to women in distress and a one-stop crisis centre for survivors of domestic violence and rape that provides medical treatment, assistance in making a police report, welfare assistance, and para-counselling service.

Operating hours: Monday to Friday (9am to 5.30pm)
Contact: +6082-422660
SMS/WhatsApp: +6013-8044285
Email: [email protected]
Website | Facebook | Twitter

5. SABAH WOMEN'S ACTION-RESOURCE GROUP (SAWO)
Based in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, SAWO offers telephone and face-to-face support and advice along with assistance in obtaining legal and practical support for women in crisis.

Operating hours: Monday to Friday (9am to 2pm)
Contact: +6088-280200
Email: [email protected]
Website | Facebook | Twitter

6. PROTECT AND SAVE THE CHILDREN (PS THE CHILDREN)
PS The Children focuses solely on the prevention, intervention, and treatment of child sexual abuse (CSA). The organisation offers a host of resources for CSA victims, including a comprehensive guide to making reports.

Operating hours: Monday to Friday (8.30am to 5.30pm)
Contact: +6016-2273065 | +6016-7213065
WhatsApp: +6016-7213065
Email:[email protected]
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Here are more survivors who have stepped up to tell their story:

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