Malaysian Diplomat Sex Assault Victim Tania Billingsley Speaks Out Against 'Rape Culture'
By Reissa Su | July 10, 2014 1:34 PM EST
The New Zealand woman who was allegedly attacked by a Malaysian diplomat has decided to reveal her identity on July 9 and criticised the way her case was being handled.
A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737-800 aircraft parks on tarmac of Kuala Lumpur International Airport outside Kuala Lumpur June 14, 2014. REUTERS/Samsul Said (MALAYSIA - Tags: DISASTER TRANSPORT)
Tania Billingsley, the 21-year-old woman who lives in Wellington, appeared in an interview with television network TV3. She said she believes New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully should resign from his post for his inability to monitor her case and blaming others for his mistakes.
According to reports, McCully had publicly apologised to Billingsley in a statement for "poor management of the case."
Malaysian diplomat Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail was working for the Malaysian embassy in Wellngton. He was arrested on May 9 after following a woman home and attacking her. He was charged with burglary and assault with intent to rape.
He had claimed diplomatic immunity and returned to Malaysia on May 22. Reports said New Zealand officials had first blamed Malaysia for "invoking" diplomatic immunity, but the government has acknowledged it may have given Malaysian officials the impression that it was agreeable to his action.
Malaysian officials had promised to return Rizalman to New Zealand so he can face charges. According to Billingsley, she was "angry" and frustrated" that New Zealand had allowed Rizalman to leave the country.
She came out in public because she wanted her voice to be heard. Billingsley told TV3 that she considers herself a "feminist." She described herself as against "rape culture" or a society tolerant of rape.
Before revealing her identity, Billingsley had asked the court to lift name suppression which was automatically granted to victims of sexual assault.
She said she has yet to receive a direct apology from McCully about his missteps. She believes McCully's actions were "unsatisfactory" and "really incompetent."
Reports said Wellington district police commander, Superindent Sam Hoyle, said officers continue to support Billingsley.
Professor Robert Patman, international relations expert at Otago University, said McCully should have regularly consulted with the ministry office about the case. He said he thought the government would have been active in persuading the Malaysian government to reverse its decision from the instant it knew Rizalman was going back on May 22.
Labour party foreign affairs spokesman David Shearer said the case was handled "incompetently" and the New Zealand government should have taken it seriously.
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