Raeesah Khan shouldn’t have to share further details of the rape survivor

On 3 August 2021, Raeesah Khan spoke in parliament during a debate on empowering women that she accompanied a 25-year-old rape victim to a police station to make a police report three years ago. She also adds that the police officer who interviewed the victim had allegedly made inappropriate comments about her dressing and the fact that she was drinking.

On 4 October, Minister Shanmugam pressed her to provide more details of an alleged incident of the police mishandling a sexual assault case. He adds that it was important to identify the officers involved, get their version of the story to be fair to them and take further steps depending on the facts.

Raeesah declined to provide any further information about the case because she has since lost contact with the victim and felt that it was inappropriate to share more details without the victim’s permission.

“With regard to confidentiality (of) the survivor, I would not like to reveal any of this information.”

Raeesah Khan

Unfortunately, Shanmugam has since informed that the police will continue investigating in this matter. The police will also be interviewing Raeesah.

AWARE’s statement

Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) has chimed in with their response to this news. In a statement, they affirmed Raeesah’s decision to keep the details of the victim private. They added that sharing information about the victim would be a violation of the rape survivor’s consent.

“as Raeesah has previously stated that she is no longer in contact with the survivor in question, and has no way of seeking their permission to share details about their experience, it would not be ethical in our view for her to share further details that may lead to the survivor being identified (which is a reasonable assumption based on the police‚Äôs stated aims).”

Raeesah Khan’s stand

What Raeesah wanted to do is to remind everyone of a problem that exists. The truth is that victims of sexual assault are often asked to relive their trauma when recounting their story. Many people also tend to put the fault on the victim when asking them questions such as “what were you wearing” or “what were you doing alone”.

If she didn’t bring up this victim as an example, everyone would be asking her where she got that idea from. She would have been faulted for making a blank statement without having lived through or personally dealt with such a situation. She brought up this victim as an example of how cops in general lack the training and sensitivity to interview rape and assault victims, to support her claims.

What Raeesah probably hope to achieve with her statement in parliament is for more training for the police to teach them how to be more sensitive when dealing with sexual assault victims. There is no need to re-look into the past to re-traumatize the victim when what is more important is how the police act towards future victims, and how we deal with perpetrators.

Raeesah is standing her ground about non-disclosure to protect the victim, all at the risk of the Workers’ Party and her losing their credibility. That is noble and admirable, and she needs our support.

By Lee Ying