Volunteers aid raped teenager
Filed Under: International News, Press Releases, Thailand, Volunteers
Two alleged rapists are in police custody in Thailand thanks to the bravery of their victim and the quick thinking of Destiny Rescue volunteers.
Natalie Henderson, 28, of New Zealand, and Tina Cairo, 29, of Georgia were woken at 3am on Sunday February 8 by a girl screaming and banging on their front door.
“I initially thought someone was trying to break into our house, “ Natalie says. “But that didn’t make sense when I heard the screaming, so Tina and I ran downstairs and I saw a young girl banging on the windows.
“I opened the front door and she ran over to us, but tripped on the porch. A young man was standing calmly a few metres away on the driveway. It was strange.”
Another Thai man appeared on the scene and told Tina and Natalie that the girl was their friend. He said he would call the police and would take the girl back to his place.
“But she screamed that they weren’t her friends,” Tina says. “She was crying, she had a bruised eye and told me she was hurt and gestured to her groin area.”
The two women stood either side of the young girl – Lei* – and told the men there was “no way” she was leaving with them and took her inside.
Once inside, Lei sat down on the floor, trembling.
“I called our boss, Tony Kirwan, and he immediately came over with our Thailand Country Manager Somkiat Jakchee and his wife, and they took control of the situation.” Tina says.
Later on the Sunday morning Lei went to the police with the support of Destiny Rescue social workers and a formal investigation commenced.
The men were strangers to Lei but may have had mutual friends. Lei says she was tricked into going to their house, thinking a close friend of hers would be there too. She waited at the house for hours; the men assuring her that her friend would arrive soon. Then she was allegedly hit over the head with a coffee mug and raped.
Lei was taken to Destiny Rescue’s aftercare facility, where she was looked after around-the-clock during the week.
Lei trusted Tina and Natalie, who took it in turns to look after her on 12-hour shifts.
The police continued their investigation throughout the week, closely helped by Destiny Rescue staff, until on Friday, February 13, they issued arrest warrants for the two men.
One was found at a restaurant; the other was at home – next door to the Destiny Rescue volunteers.
“It’s a fantastic end to a very stressful week,” Destiny Rescue Founder & International President Tony Kirwan says. “Somkiat worked tirelessly with local police, and Natalie and Tina were so brave in helping this young girl and protecting her from further harm by these two men.
“It was a tough week knowing they were still living in the house, so close to our volunteers, but I’m so proud of how they handled and situation, and that there will be justice for Lei.”
Lei remained in Destiny Rescue’s care over the weekend but is yet to decide whether she will stay long term.
“She has made really good progress this past week,” Ms Cairo says. “She’s been chatting with other girls and with the staff. She’s brave; she’s a fighter.
“I’m so glad she knocked on my door, without a doubt. What are the chances of a rape victim – a child even – running to the house of women who work for an organization like ours? Praise God for that.”
Words by Jerram Watts
*Lei’s name has been changed to protect her identity