New Zealand sexual assault victim speaks out

2014-07-09 17:24

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Wellington - A New Zealand woman who says she was sexually assaulted by a Malaysian military official decided to identify herself on Wednesday and is criticising the handling of her case.

Tania Billingsley, 21, told television network TV3 that she thinks New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully should resign because he didn't keep track of the case and later tried to blame others for missteps.

McCully said in a statement that he had publicly apologised to Billingsley for “the poor management of this case”.

Muhammad Rizalman Ismail was working at the Malaysian Embassy in Wellington when he was detained 9 May and later charged with burglary and assault with intent to rape.

He claimed diplomatic immunity and returned home 22 May.

New Zealand officials at first blamed Malaysia for invoking diplomatic immunity, but later acknowledged they may have given Malaysian officials the mistaken impression they didn't oppose such a move.

Malaysia has since promised that Ismail will return to face the charges.

Billingsley said she felt "frustrated" and "angry" that Ismail had been able to leave New Zealand.

"I guess that I'm someone who has something to say about this assault," she said. "It happened to me and throughout this whole process, especially once it's become so public, my voice hasn't been heard."

Billingsley told TV3 that she considers herself a feminist and an activist against what she describes as a culture that's tolerant of rape.

She earlier asked a court to lift name suppression, which is automatically given to victims or alleged victims in sexual assault cases.

Police spokesperson Sam Hoyle said in a statement on Wednesday that police hadn't opposed her court move.

- AP
Read more on:    new zealand
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