Only two weeks ago, 25 year old South Australian primary school teacher Airdre Mattner created a crowdfunding campaign, relying on the kindness of strangers to help investigate her claim that she was drugged and raped while holidaying in Korea last year. She has already received over $12,000 in donations.
As well as money to help fund her own investigation, Mattner says “countless others have approached me personally and shared their own stories of survival.”
Mattner says that on September 25 last year, she was drugged and raped in Seoul, South Korea when she was on holiday with her boyfriend and a friend. An experienced traveller with a few days to spare, Mattner thought nothing of staying overseas on her own after her boyfriend returned home.
She headed out on a pub crawl in an effort to meet people and experience some of Seoul’s nightlife, which is renown for being relatively safe.
“That night I was drugged, abducted, and taken in a taxi to a hotel in the middle of nowhere by [a] man who later raped me,” Mattner claims.
After reporting the crime to Korean police with the help of a friend and the manager of her hostel, Mattner says she endured around 10 hours of physical examinations and interviews as she was shuffled between a police station and hospital.
Although Mattner claims she was examined by two women who took physical evidence, she says she later discovered “staff did not follow proper Rape Precedures [sic] and no DNA evidence was collected from my body.”
Mattner’s crowdfunding page says she spent hours giving a clear statement to police about what happened, but the statement was ignored.
“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,” she says.
In a particularly horrific turn of events, Mattner claims that upon returning to Japan, where she teaches at a primary school, she received a Facebook friend request from the man she believes attacked her.
She says, “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.”
The Korea Herald has reported that “police decided to drop the case in January, citing lack of evidence, without explaining their decision to her.”
Mattner says she has heard from over 17 other women who claim to have experienced similar ordeals in Seoul and that “all but one were treated very similarly by Korean authorities”.
People who are victims of rape in foreign countries often experience difficulty communicating with authorities about what occurred and accessing appropriate support services.
“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,” reported the Korea Herald.
The crowdfunding campaign initiated by Mattner seeks help commence legal action in the United Kingdom, where the man she believes raped her lives. She explains that legal representation and travel between Japan, where she lives, Korea, and the UK is costly.
Mattner’s mother posted to the crowdfunding page, calling for an end to sexual violence.
“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,” she says.
Mattner herself says the stories she has heard from others are “incredibly heart-breaking” but that others coming forward “also gives me courage that I am doing the right thing in pursuing this.”