SINGAPORE - A 44-year-old woman who has never left China was looking forward to her very first overseas trip to Singapore with her husband, after devoting her life to taking care of her family in her home country.
But nine days into her stay at a room in Geylang rented by her husband, who worked in Singapore, she was raped by his co-tenant, a Bangladeshi construction supervisor.
On Wednesday (July 19), Hossain Anowar, 32, was sentenced to 11 years' jail and nine strokes of the cane for raping the woman on Feb 29 last year after luring her to a common toilet.
He initially denied raping the woman, claiming that she had paid sex with him. But he threw in the towel on the second day of trial and pleaded guilty after she was cross-examined on the stand.
Prosecutors, who sought at least 12 years' jail and nine strokes of the cane for Hossain, submitted statements from the woman and her husband to show the grave impact of the rape.
Shattered by the ordeal, the woman has become withdrawn and so insecure that she installed surveillance cameras at her home after returning to China.
The rape has also taken a toll on their marriage. She thinks he blames her for what happened because he asked her why she did not fight harder. "Even though he did not say anything more, he was cold towards me."
On his part, the husband, who has quit his job in Singapore, said he knows it was wrong of him to question his wife, but he was trying to find a reason. He knows he should support her, but felt "kind of disgusted" when they are physically intimate.
When the couple returned to Singapore this month for the trial, they kept it from their son and relatives to avoid questions. The woman said she would be "heartbroken" if her son carried the burden of knowing his mother had been raped.
"I felt disgusting and shamed. I tell myself that I am not at fault but I cannot erase the feeling."
The husband came to Singapore in 2004 for work while the woman looked after her mother and her father-in-law. Shortly after they died, the husband suggested that his wife take a break and visit Singapore.
He rented a room on the third floor of a building on Lorong 8 Geylang and stayed there with her after she arrived on Feb 20 last year. Hossain and another worker shared the room next door.
On Feb 29, while the husband was at work, Hossain knocked on the couple's door. She opened the door and saw him holding a toothbrush and clad only in his underwear. Unable to communicate, she went to the toilet and offered him her toothpaste, but Hossain turned it down.
When she tried to leave the toilet, he latched the door and raped her. She shouted for help but stopped when she feared for her life after he placed a finger to his lips and glared at her fiercely.
After the rape, she ran out but Hossain pulled her back to her room and raped her again.
She cried for 20 minutes, feeling ashamed and unsure before calling her husband to say she wanted to move. When pressed, she eventually revealed she had been raped.
Hossain was arrested that night when he returned. His assigned lawyer, Mr Pradeep Pillai, sought 10 years' jail and six strokes of the cane, arguing that there was no premeditation.