Justice For Airdre's Rape
"Till it happens to you" - Lady Gaga
My name is Airdre Mattner. I am from Adelaide, South Australia. I am a primary school teacher and am currently completing a contract teaching English in Japan.
It is with a heavy heart that I feel compelled to share my story in the hope that it will bring about much needed awareness, and ultimately justice. Justice for myself and for others who are not able to take a stand against this.
On the 25th of September while on holiday in Seoul, South Korea, I was drugged, abducted and raped. I had been holidaying with my boyfriend and friend and had decided to stay on there for an extra few days on my own. I thought nothing of it - I have travelled overseas solo many times before.
I decided to go on a pub crawl that night. I thought it would be a good opportunity to meet some new people and experience some of Seoul's nightlife in a safe environment. That night I was drugged, abducted, and taken in a taxi to a hotel in the middle of nowhere by the man who later raped me.
I recall pleading with the taxi driver to take me to my hostel. He ignored me and continued driving under the instruction of the man next to me.
The next thing I recall is being on a bed in a hotel room. The man was on top of me. I struggled and tried to push him away but was again too heavily drugged to manage anything.
I woke up the next morning completely naked. All my money was gone. My clothes and belongings were torn and strewn across the room.
When I managed to get to a police station, I reported the crime with the help of the hostel manager where I was staying, and a friend. For the next 10 or so hours I was sent back and forth between the hospital and police sections of the building.
I was subjected to numerous invasive treatments and tests, including having two women examine and take evidence from my body while my legs were in stirrups and a curtain was in front of me to block my view. I was still in shock and feeling the effects of whatever I had been drugged with.
I later found out to my horror that the staff did not follow proper Rape Precedures and no DNA evidence was collected from my body.
I then spent hours giving a statement and recounting what had happened. I gave a detailed description of the man. I made it clear that I had never seen or met him before. I was questioned in an often very insulting manner. I insisted that I had not simply passed out from being drunk, that I had been drugged. I gave them details about the pub crawl, bars and hotel I had been taken to.
They concluded with telling me that they would pass on my medical results as soon as they were released, and they would update me on every step of the investigation via email, as I was due to return to Japan the next day.
The next morning, I received a friend request on Facebook. I knew immediately that it was the man who had drugged and raped me. His face will now be burnt into my brain for the rest of my life. I immediately took screen shots of his photos and name and emailed them to the police. They acknowledged this email but did not respond to any of my questions about my results or the case.
For the next month I received no communication from the police in Seoul. No medical results. Nothing. I began to fear that I had some kind of deadly STD and this was why they had not gotten back to me. Eventually, after involving numerous Australian consulates (in Japan and Seoul), they were able to obtain my medical results.
I was told that the police had decided the man who I sent them screenshots of wasn't a suspect because their records "showed" that he wasn't in the country at the time. After getting the report I found it had been falsified. Staff had written on official documents that I had presented saying I had been too drunk and became unconscious and didn't remember anything that had happened.
For the next few months, I locked myself in my room back at my apartment in Japan and used all my sick leave. Eventually I went back to work. I have survived on a cocktail of anti depressants, anxiety medication, sleeping tablets and thankfully, the love and support of those around me.
It has now been nearly 6 months. I am still on medication and still have trouble sleeping, with ongoing nightmares and panic attacks. The police, to this day, have done no investigations except for collecting CCTV footage from the hotel where the crime happened, however they have since done nothing with this footage.
We have since found out that the man who raped me is living in London and working for the Metropolitan Police.
After losing all faith in the police and justice system in Korea, my family and I have decided to pursue justice in London. In May 2016 we will return to Korea to collect the CCTV footage and other evidence and information for this pursuit. We will also meet with a witness who was harassed by the same man two days prior to the incident, and who wants to provide evidence that he was definitely in the country at the time, and had messaged her of his intentions to go to a party in Hongdae on Thursday, the day after I was attacked in the same area on Friday.
My mother and I will then need to fly to London to meet with lawyers there and begin the long and expensive process of taking legal action.
The prevalence of incidents like this, especially involving foreign tourists in Seoul, is sickening. It is horrifying how easy it is to fall victim to men like this who specialise in preying on women in such a calculated and targeted manner.
According to the Korea Herald:
"For any person, becoming a victim of sexual violence is the worst fear come true. But for foreigners living in Korea, it can have an added level of fear. Language barriers, a lack of information on available services, and the less than stellar reputation of the police all complicate an already terrifying ordeal."
"In 2011, 22,034 rapes were reported, according to the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office. Of those, 18,591 cases resulted in arrests with a total of 18,880 offenders being convicted. However, only 12 percent of those found guilty, or 2,289, were sentenced to jail time. "
"It is impossible to know the true number of victims in Korea, let alone the number of foreign victims, as many who are attacked ― Korean or foreign ― do not report the crime. Based on a 2010 survey by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, it is believed that the sexual crime reporting rate in Korea is about 10 percent... Reasons vary from victim to victim, but some foreign victims say they didn’t report their case because they didn’t believe the police would do anything to help them, while others refrained out of shame or guilt."
http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20130423001036 - used with permission from Emma Kalka, journalist.
It would mean the world to me if you could help me by sharing this campaign to help spread awareness and donating if it is within your capability. Every dollar counts. It is going to be an expensive, invasive and time-consuming journey, but it is one that I want to take so that I can finally move on with my life knowing that this man cannot assault any other women.
Your donations will go towards funding trips to both Korea and London for myself, the witness and my Mother, ongoing medication and treatment and counselling, and legal representation and related fees in London. I do not expect the target to be reached - Gofundme does not require this for donations to be used. Every dollar will go towards this cause.
I can only hope that this will set an example for women everywhere who find themselves in similar situations daily. I want to fight. For myself, my loved ones who have already come forward as survivors but were not able to pursue, report or take action on the crime they experienced, and those all over the world who fall victim to this heinous crime every day. Let's stand up, make a noise, and show that these monsters can be made accountable, and this horrifying cycle can be stopped.
A postscript from my mother to all other mothers –
My heart constantly bleeds for the pain and trauma suffered by my daughter – it is unimaginable that your darling loved daughter could have this happen to them. To every other mother reading this know that all the love in the world cannot stop the evil of what some have done, but all the love in the world can make us stronger and together we must bring an end to the appalling sexual violence that is rape.
Today is a good day.
After 16 months, this morning I finally received the news that the perpetrator who was arrested and sentenced will be required to serve his FULL sentence of 30 months and following that, be deported to Nigeria.
During the perpetrator's appeal hearing (last week), the court determined that due to the severity of his crime and my resulting PTSD, the sentence could not be reduced whatsoever.
The perpetrator then had one last avenue of appeal - to the Supreme Court. The time frame he had to make this appeal has now officially passed, as of today, and he has submitted no further appeal.
I honestly don't know what to feel. It doesn't quite feel real yet. It has been so hard fought, and I am so used to getting bad news that I feel as if any moment I'll get a call and be told they made a mistake.
Regardless, it is done. Justice has finally, officially, been served.
There is absolutely no way that this result would have been achieved without the unending support and INCREDIBLE generosity of my family, friends, and strangers from all over the world. I cannot thank you enough, or really put into words, what this means to me.
This is not the end however. It's only the beginning. The beginning, I hope, of change.
I am currently in the process of suing the police for their professional negligence and misconduct, as well as the immense secondary damage which they caused me. I am hopeful that this will send a very clear message that this kind of appalling treatment of women, and the contempt and apathy shown to their cases, will not be tolerated.
Though the chances are slim, I do still also have hope of bringing the other main perpetrator to justice (whether it be civil or criminal), and will not rest until I have exhausted every avenue available to do so.
For now, though there are still cases ongoing, I'm looking towards the future.
What happened to me, and the way it was dealt with, has reignited my passion for law and justice. Though I have loved teaching, and it may be a career that I return to one day, it is my goal now to move to London in January 2018 to attend law school and become a barrister. I hope I can use my experiences and channel the passion I have to help others in need, and really make a difference (as cliche as that sounds).
Dream............ then do.
Statistics say that only 9 percent of all rapists get prosecuted. Only 5 percent of cases lead to a criminal conviction. Only 3 percent of rapists will spend a day in prison. The other 97 percent walk free.
The usual sentence in a case like this in Korea is around 1 year. The prosecutor requested 1 and a half years. Today, my attacker was sentenced to 2 and a half years jail in South Korea, which will include rehabilitation, and be followed by deportation and registry on the public list of sex offenders in Korea.
Though this doesn't sound like much, it is huge. Unbelievable. A huge, much needed step in the right direction in Korea.
To go from my case being marked as closed, and essentially being told to forget about it, to this... is not something I can even really process yet.
There were obvious aggravating factors such as the fact that it was a sexually motivated crime on a victim that was in a vulnerable situation (ie. drugged), the fact that the accused continuously changed his plea and story and appeared to not show any remorse, and the fact that there were a string of other offences that he was up for (including illegal immigration)... but I firmly believe that the amount of media attention we managed to generate, and the amount of pressure that we put on authorities has had a profound effect.
This has set a precedent for the way that sexual crimes are handled and sentenced in Korea, which was my biggest goal.
It sends a very clear message: WE WILL NOT BE SILENCED. We will stand TOGETHER. We will fight and we will WIN.
This win, today, is for every other survivor. For every woman that came forward to me and told me their own stories, some of whom I now consider my closest friends. For every woman who reported their assault and was made to feel like they were a liar; every woman who was blamed, who was silenced, who was bullied or ridiculed or ignored. This is for you. For every woman who chose not to report, because they were scared of these things. Because having to constantly re-live these horrifying crimes was more than they could bear. Because their attacker was a partner or a friend. Because they were ashamed or embarrassed.
To these women: your feelings are completely valid. It is your choice not to report and it is nobody's right to make you feel guilty or convince you otherwise.
I went through most of the above. I was blocked at almost every turn. The system, the authorities, people I initially trusted...until now, had actively worked against me. I understand better than most, why the statistics for reporting are so low.
This is not the end. Although it is unlikely (given the circumstances surrounding the sentencing and the comments made by the judge) to have much, if any, effect, the accused can appeal. I still have multiple other cases ongoing, including the case against the Korean police. The other rapist, and any other men involved, still currently walk free.
But this is a win. A huge win. Something I would never have been able to achieve without the unending support of my friends and family, and the unbelievable generosity and encouragement of complete strangers all over the world.
Thank you. I love you.
Diane Kim, do you even live in south Korea? Are you a woman? And could you pls clarify where you got your statistics? In Korea, women do NOT get to talk freely about their sexual violence/harassment experience. Gender equality in Korea is poor even on the global level. We can see it clearly in how the public and the media treated the recent Park Yu Chun case and the Gangnam karaoke hate crime. I hope nobody is fooled by her comments. What Airdre had to go through is terrible and I feel deeply sorry as a South Korean.
https://www.facebook.com/smpays/posts/1016654165083878 Please don't lie, the truth will come out and hit you when you least expect it. If the rape had occurred, please do not blame the Korean police for their lack of investigation when they claim to have and also have evidence on this situation. Please be careful about what you put in your description as it has already been seen by the South Korean Police.
Dear Aidre. I have just read your powerful, powerful article. So great to see it published in the Griffith Law Review! The steps you have taken, as challenging as they clearly are, lead the way for important changes to legislation, policy and practice. If those in power are not held to account for their actions by strong women such as yourself then they will continue to abuse their positions. I send my support to you every step of the way. Alexa
This is excellent news, Airdre. Reading that justice has been served for one of the offenders who put you through that awful experience while no doubt giving you some sense of closure makes me very happy. Very proud of you for what you've chosen to do, and even more so for taking a public stance against sexual assault in a region where not many people are brave enough to do so. Power to you, woman!
Your words are mine - it doesn't sound huge (heck, it isn't huge), but it is a great advancement for all the victims, and I hope it brings you (much needed and deserved) peace. My sincere appreciation for coming out and going through this - in addition to the hope that you bring to those oppressed by gender oppression systems, you also brought joy to those who are on the better side of the privilege of the system, yet wish that it was the only one. But this is not about us, it is about you. All the best!
I'm going to share this what a brave lady you are, i would do the same if it were me and the fat e now works for the metropolitan police in London is knocking me heartsick as I am from the UK....Goodluck I will keep coming back to see your journey, God Bless x
Diane Kim clearly knows nothing about Korea. Basically she is saying sexual assault has increased because of foreigners, and that Koreans don't commit dangerous crimes. Airdre and everyone who has been a victim of Korean police's indifference to crimes against you, people like Diane Kim are a HUGE part of the problem and should be ignored.
I was held captive,raped and beat repeatedly for 4 long days, It's a terrible thing to have to go through and my prayers are with you!I was raped in April 2012 and still to this day nothing has been done, the system is corrupt, nothing gets done and we victims mostly get looked at and thought about bad as if we are the criminal... It's such a shame and My prayers are with you!! Also I am sending you an email in hopes that you could possibly help spread the word my 8yr old son and I are in urgent need of help from eviction. If you could pass on the page or share it with every person you could we greatly appreciate it! Kari Brown Fort Wayne, IN
Sorry to hear this happened. Bad things can happen when traveling abroad OR in your home country. But the way the police handled this is typical of MANY native S.Koreans. Both on the police and the one accused. Kinda sad, that when military folk get stationed over there, we are taught that if you are involved with something, even if you are in the right, you will still probably serve jail time. And if a korean wrongs you, you are pretty much fucked. Good luck miss, although i doubt anything besides monetary funds, will come of this.
I'll be donating as soon as I get my paycheck. I'm sorry for the dipshit who posted below questioning you - he/she makes it clear that there's some serious tampering and corruption going on with the SK authorities. I'm sorry you're having to deal with that - with all of this. I was attacked almost 2 months ago here in the US when 5 young men broke down the door to my apartment and raped me while I was in bed with my two year old daughter. No idea who they are. And the police have communicated very little in this process, and did a shit job with their investigation. I was treated much the same way you were by the authorities. It's shameful. I immediately posted what happened to me on Facebook, and I will continue to raise hell, and I will continue to support others who raise hell to end this cycle. Keep up the good fight sister. #Solidarity
I've noticed that people that keep regular updates -one lady 28 updates, even to say 'hello, I'm doing........- get a constant response, people tend to forget easily.
and before judging me, judging Australia's media. for the first time , reporters said criminal were white person. but later it found out they weren't white ppl. they were 2 black men, from Nigeria. and reporter said in Korean culture is blaming victim and Korean men look down on Korean women. it's ALL FAKE. http://english.seoul.go.kr/policy-information/education-women-children/women/1-women/ you can really see that it's ALL Fake. if she want people like me support her , she should have told only the true fact and Australia's media, as well. according to Australia's media, for women, S.Korea is very dangerous. I'm a women. but I didn't fear dangerous compared to other countries. and I just read article about Australia men raped 3 Korean girls lately. before he raped, he let them took drug on the quiet. and addition Austrailan men commited murder Korean couple before. and did many crimes to Korean girls. How did Australia's media say S.Korea can be dangerous country for women? look at yourself on the mirror first. S.Korea is super safe country. compare to Australia.
Pounamu Natasha Joyce . She insist Based on a 2010 survey. You know better than I do about Korea? I lived in S.Korea for almost 28years. everything changes very fast . Now Korean women report sexual crime almost 100 percent. victim don't need to be shame because victim did nothing wrong. and S.Korea police officers arrest criminals over 85 percent. and even though National Forensic Service, S Korea police officers have tried best, she all denied. she doesn't think it's because of language barrier? so she misunderstood? all Koreans affort for her. she just ignored it . why she criticize Korea with fake information, and think what she wants to believe. and S.Korea we don't think westerner women are whore. I think it's much bigger that westerner think Asian girl as whore than that. I felt really sorry to her. but the way about criticize it's wrong , criticize about Korea culture with fake information. and it should be first. blaming two foreign people who rape her, and S.Korea police officer arrested criminal as sexually assaulted, not attempt sexually assaulted.
I will always stand by Airdre! As another survivor (who was attacked in by a South Korean man in my own home while I slept) I know how hard it is to come forward with your story. I understand the frustration of having to work with the Korean justice system. But I admire your strength and offer all the love and support I can give!
http://english.seoul.go.kr/policy-information/education-women-children/women/1-women/ Australia's sexual assault 6.8 times bigger than S.Korea. For any person, becoming a victim of sexual violence is the worst fear come true. But for foreigners living in Korea, it can have an added level of fear. Are you joking? S.Korean government already captured 2 Nigerian Criminals . but you let people give you money . money is the reason you lied
and look at Seoul's policy about women welfare. in Korea . men never look down on women. actually some Koreans exaggerate bad side of view about their country. even though S.Korea is the most safest country in the world, some Korean people say it's dangerous. so you don't know the face after you interviewed only few people, and foreigners crime sexual assault rate increase, since 2008 , because Foreigners have increased. and if woman is sexually assaulted, they don't hesitate to report to police officers. and police officers captures criminals over 85 percent,