Fear haunts victims, say social workers

Photo illustration of sexual assault.
Photo illustration of sexual assault. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

A fear of being disbelieved or a sense that reporting serious sex crimes such as rape would lead to reprisals are among the key reasons why rape victims do not come forward to report the injustice, said social workers.

Ms Anisha Joseph of the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) said police and court processes can still be made "less lengthy and daunting".

Some victims face difficulties in reporting such as "judgmental and insensitive remarks, as well as procedural barriers, such as recounting the incident to multiple officers, long waiting periods and lack of updates on the case", she added.

"More awareness about the legal procedures and investigation practices that victims can expect will help debunk any myths they may have, and encourage them to come forward," said Ms Anisha, programme coordinator of Aware's Sexual Assault Care Centre.

The centre has seen an increasing number of people turning to it for help. In the first six months of this year, it handled 164 cases.

Ms Anisha Joseph of Aware said police and court processes can still be made "less lengthy and daunting" . Some victims face difficulties in reporting such as "judgmental and insensitive remarks, as well as procedural barriers, such as recounting the incident to multiple officers, long waiting periods and lack of updates on the case".

Last year, there were 267 cases, up from 234 in 2014.

 

Mrs Kim Lang Khalil, director of DaySpring Residential Treatment Centre, which helps abused teenage girls, said it can be painful for victims to recount the crime in its immediate aftermath, and it could take months before they are ready to narrate what happened in court.

"The recovery time is based on the individual... When they narrate the event, they should feel there is no longer a threat to them, and what happened was in the past," said Mrs Khalil.

She added that in her experience the police have been sensitive and tactful.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 31, 2016, with the headline 'Fear haunts victims, say social workers'. Print Edition | Subscribe