Lily knew Joe from a long time ago through one of her friends. Lily was 16, studying in Form 4. Joe was 23 and unemployed. They became good friends. One day, Joe invited Lily to a hotel. Curious about the purpose of the invitation, Lily followed him. “At first, I was confused about why he suddenly invited me to a hotel. But I trusted him and decided to follow him.”
Once they reached the hotel room, Joe pushed her into the room and forced himself on her. She tried to run away from him but he managed to drag her back into the room. He pinned her down on the bed and raped her. He also recorded the act using his mobile phone. Lily was severely traumatised and cried in pain. Joe promised her that he would be responsible for what had happened and told her not to tell anyone about it.
After the incident, Joe frequently visited her at her house to ensure that she didn’t tell anyone about the incident. He knew her vulnerability and took advantage of it. He kept assuring her that he would take full responsibility if Lily ever got pregnant. In one of their meetings, Lily managed to delete the recorded video from his phone. She was uncertain whether or not to tell her parents about the incident. However, she started to distance herself from Joe.
A few months went by and Lily noticed that she had missed her monthly period. She went to a health clinic for a medical check-up but was referred to a government hospital. The doctor who examined her found that she was four months pregnant. Lily had no choice but to disclose the incident to her parents. Her parents were very upset and angry at her for not speaking up earlier. At the same time, they were devastated. Lily felt ashamed and shattered. It was then that they decided to lodge a report about the rape.
At the One Stop Crisis Centre (OSCC) of the government hospital, Lily was examined and referred to WCC Seberang office for counselling. Lily blamed herself for causing a lot of trouble to her parents. She was unsure what to do at the first counselling session with a WCC social worker. WCC’s social worker assured Lily that it was not her fault. Lily felt relieved and stopped blaming herself for what had happened.
An Investigating Officer (IO) from the police department was assigned to her case. Lily was informed by her IO that Joe had been arrested. She was once again shattered when the IO informed her that Joe refused to admit that he had raped her and would not take any responsibility for the baby. Lily and her family were approached by Joe’s mother who proposed that Joe and Lily get married. Lily and her parents turned down the proposal in disgust. They were determined to take action against Joe.
Lily had no choice but to stop schooling and stay in a welfare shelter home until she gave birth. Unfortunately, the investigation of the case had to be delayed as a DNA test could only be performed after the baby was born. During this time, Joe was released under police bail. A few months later when the baby was born, the DNA test result turned out to be positive. The IO immediately transferred the case to the prosecution office so that further action could be taken.
Lily went back to school. She focused on her studies and managed to complete her schooling. After that, she managed to secure a job, with which she was able to support herself and her baby. Her parents were also very supportive by taking care of her baby while she worked.
Lily was informed by her IO that Joe was supposed to be charged in court but had failed to attend court several times. The court issued a warrant of arrest against him and the police marked him as a wanted person. After about nine months, Joe was arrested and charged in court for statutory rape, and was not offered any bail.
Three years had passed since the time of the rape incident until the time Joe was re-arrested. Lily and her parents received a summons which required them to attend court to testify in the case. WCC’s social worker and advocacy officer accompanied them to court, explained the court process and showed them the court room settings, which helped to reduce their anxiety.
On the first day of the trial, Joe pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to 5 years’ jail and 1 stroke of the cane.
Lily shared what the experience in court was like for her:
“At first, I felt very anxious and was shivering most of the time. The (court) environment was very intimidating. It had been a painful experience and it was difficult for me to recall and tell the court what had happened 3 years ago. I felt very relieved when I heard that he had pleaded guilty.”
Lily wrote a Victim Impact Statement (VIS) which contained details of her suffering and trauma as a result of this crime. Her VIS was submitted to the court by the deputy public prosecutor (DPP).
“As a result of the incident, I was forced to take on the responsibility of becoming a mother at a young age.”
“I was put in a shelter home until I gave birth. This delayed my schooling for a year. Nevertheless, I still sat for the SPM exam.
Another impact is the damage to my relationship with my family. Even though they are supportive of me and my child, our relationship has deteriorated, especially with my father. He took a long time to accept the situation. He has lost his trust in me. Until now, my father still worries a lot when I leave home to meet my friends.
I will try to fix the relationship with my parents and rebuild their trust. I will also try and look after and educate my child well. I have accepted everything in my life with an open heart.”