Topic: Rape in my community by Simon Overall

Topic type:

A 2013 Memoir and Local History Competition entry (explicit, rape themes).

Archived version here.

I have knowledge of two cases of rape that horribly traumatised the victims. These occurred in or near my home city of Hamilton. The first happened when I was renting a house at a settlement a few kilometres south of the city in the early 1980s. A woman, a neighbour personally known to me, was raped by two intruders wielding a shotgun.

At that time there was the phenomenon of PEP gangs, PEP being the Project Employment Programme. The government devised the policy and the Labour Department administered it. The registered unemployed were given a referral to the potential employer, interviewed, and if taken on, they had subsidised but gainful employment.

I think also there was a policy that guys before the courts were routinely referred to the potential employers, it being advantageous that those on bail or parole were not idle. When I worked on a gang for the Lands and Survey Department, there were possibly six who worked out of the one depot who had experience of Waikeria Prison.

One of them went off to court one morning and got six months. Another had a record that included biting a police dog. In one conversation with me he described this and a burglary where he defecated in the victim's home.

The Waipa County Council was a big employer of PEP labour to clear the willows that were choking the waterways in its jurisdiction. The gangs could be bussed out to the farmlands and progressively move through the gullies, cutting and clearing the willow and other foliage. This meant that marginal people who would normally be in urban centres now had knowledge of the countryside where they had been working.

On a road adjoining Highway One was the house myself and my wife were renting. Two young men who were sharemilking nearby were friends, and the sister of one of them lived in a cottage accessed through their farm tanker track. Thus the house was separated from and further from the road than other dwellings on the property.

I shall call her Rebecca. She was blonde and a nurse. Her father was a doctor and her brother a university graduate, but Rebecca was an ordinary girl and not intellectually sharp. She lived with her partner and his 12-year old son in the cottage and they both worked in the town of Cambridge.

Two assailants burst into their humble home and humble lives one night. As they messed about in the dark the occupants might have said, “Turn the light on,” thinking it was a family member who lived nearby.

What the light revealed was two Maori criminals with balaclavas and a shotgun. One of them was working on the gang that was clearing the willows nearby and their van took them past this cottage, where they probably noticed Rebecca and also a marijuana plant in the window.

So he came out one night with a criminal crony and parked up on the roadside before they wended their through the gully he had been working in and up to the other side where the isolated farmhouse was located.

The crime made the national news and Judy Bailey recounted the events: “Police are looking for two men who broke open the shotgun and said, This is loaded so you’d better do what we say.”

That is, they opened up the gun to demonstrate that it had cartridges in it. They tied them up, including the 12-year old, and raped Rebecca. They left saying, “If you call the cops we'll come back and blow your heads off.”

The victims freed themselves and called the police.

The effect on Rebecca was extreme. When I saw her a few days after the events, driving home in the evening and past our driveway, she was buoyant and waved vigorously to me. I did not know what to do or say.

When something terrible has happened to someone you often don’t.

I was so dumbstruck I barely acknowledged her and carried on about my business.

In the following weeks shock set in and was physically manifest. Rebecca's face betrayed this; it was inert and took on the characteristics of an old woman - a frail old woman. This I saw when I called at her brother's house one evening. She sat in a lazyboy chair in the lounge. Of late she had acquired a female Doberman pup, and it was on her lap. She was cradling it like a baby with her arms linked underneath it, exactly as you might breast-feed a child.

 

It was in the central city that I witnessed another face of a rape victim whose countenance had been aged decades by the experience. The public bar of the Commercial Hotel was the haunt of the Mongrel Mob, a Maori gang with an ambience all their own. Part of this must have been body odour as they wore leather, rain or shine. From head to toe they were brown-skinned or black-jacketed, with boots and often leather pants.

It can be oppressively hot in Hamilton and in deference to the elements I would see one or other of them carry his jacket rather than wear it as he made his way through the streets to this bar.

This mob of mongrels would congregate in a cluster in one part of the bar. Sometimes an associate would orbit round them, or stop his orbit and converse, then disperse off on some errand. He was a `prospector', a candidate member of the gang, doing their bidding in an attempt to be admitted to this inner and exclusive circle.

Also with, but not of, this steamy collection of humanity was an attractive young woman. She wove around the mobsters also and, being acquainted with a guy I was talking to, she came over and spoke briefly with us.

She was Anglo-Maori with beige skin and fine features. She was not merely attractive; she was beautiful. She was so simply beautiful it was not an alluring beauty, but a statuesque beauty - to be admired rather than desired. Tall and lithe, her deportment added to her attractiveness.

When she spoke it was the trusting endearments of girlhood, not womanhood. The simplicity of her feelings and her trust and her natural beauty, made her face and persona radiant.

She was no more than seventeen and keeping company with these mongrels. As a child she could not apprehend the dangerous disposition of such mobsters.

When I saw her again a few weeks or few months later, she was no longer a child. Time had telescoped in her life. Her face once radiant was now set with a rigidity of grief and distress. Below this grieving countenance were the tell-tale welts of her nemesis of innocence. Her neck was burnt with bruises.

There was a ritualistic raping practiced by the urban gangs of Hamilton, the Outcasts or the Mongrel Mob. This involves a woman and a rope or some other fastening. The rope is used to constrain the victim while she is raped by an assembled company of rapists. The welts exposed on the neck of this Polynesian beauty were testimony to her trauma as she struggled and the rope bit deep into her.

The trauma had bit deep into her psyche as well. Like the welts on her neck, it had become bruised into her corpus because on her face were etched the lines of age where but a few weeks ago there was radiant beauty.

There can be no suggestion of sensuality or eroticism in the raping behaviour of these creatures. It is a maniacal and hideous misogyny that makes them do it. Baring their buttocks and penetrating their hapless victim.

A bizarre misogyny, a rewardless raping that serves only the nihilism within them.

In many years residence in Hamilton this raping thuggery I only heard referred to obliquely and without gravity by people of that city. Like the citizenry who beheld the emperor unclothed, there is a remarkable reticence about these repulsive rapists.

It must be hard to be a woman in Hamilton. Rapists walk in their midst and they know it and their lives are inevitably circumscribed because of it. Psychologically, this must be so.

The Waikato Times, the local daily, regularly reported rapes and assaults and the court proceedings dealing with rapes and assaults that occur in the city and its environs. These run the gamut of all kinds of callousness.

The random opportunist violence, such as a woman forced into her own car and driven to an isolated location and raped.

A woman answers her door to a man wishing to use the telephone, who then rapes her and makes off into the night.

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This page archived at Perma CC in October of 2016: https://perma.cc/J2G7-5LLT

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