Sheffield woman shares experience of dealing with sexual assault during working trip on Falkland Islands

A Sheffield woman has praised the system for dealing with sex attacks on the Falkland islands after she was assaulted there during a working trip.

Monday, 6th September 2021, 11:04 am

The 57-year-old, who only wanted to be known as ‘TS’, moved to the remote, self-governing archipelago in the South Atlantic in December last year to take up a job as a teacher but the sexual assault forced her to cut the contract short.

But despite the harrowing experience, she said she received exceptional treatment from the police, and said the process that led to the man's arrest and sentence was smooth and should be adopted in the UK to encourage more victims to come forward.

Recalling the incident, she said it happened as she was leaving a local pub after watching an England rugby match on March 20 this year.

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The victim spent about six months at the Falklands.

She said “I was about to leave and put my coat on...a man came up to me and sexually assaulted me in front of my friends and my headteacher there.

“He then announced it to everybody in the pub including his friends who laughed - they thought it was funny.

“I quickly turned around at him and asked 'What do you think you're doing?', he then just walked away and went to the bar.”

She filed a police report two days later and an officer came to her house to obtain a statement.

She said: “The officer that came was professional and showed me respect, writing down what I said and prompting me further or asking for further details.

“The day after the first reporting I was emailed a crime number and asked to visit the Falkland Islands police station where I was introduced to the two officers involved in the investigation, one of whom was a female officer.

“Both officers treated me again with professionalism and respect. I was talked to and they explained the process, how and what would happen next in the investigation. From that meeting I was asked to attend the social service office to make a video statement.

“I was brought to the social service office by the female officer, who put me at ease and who explained what would happen once we got into the room.

“Once in the room, again the female officer explained how and what I would have to do. I thought I would be conscious of the cameras and not be able to talk, however it was quite the reverse because I was so supported and put at ease I forgot the cameras were on me and gave my statement.”

She added: “The Falkland Island Police acted at all times as my greatest support at a time when no one on the Island did, not even my place of work supported me, one colleague told me that I was an embarrassment to the school.

“The police got me an appointment with the doctor as I lost my voice due to the assault and got me an appointment with a counsellor at the hospital. The police even encouraged me to go to HR and tell them what had happened. I truly do not know how I would have been able to function without the female officer.

“Up until the first court hearing, when the man pleaded not guilty, the police on the Islands emailed to keep me informed. Then after that, until the trial, they emailed me regularly to keep me informed and answer any questions I had.”

The country’s Head of Courts and Tribunals Service, Emma Fulton, confirmed that the defendant was sentenced to a Community Order of six months with one requirement of supervision for six months.

The trial and sentencing both took place in the Summary Court.

TS said now she wants to raise awareness among women and men, who have fallen victim to sexual assault.

She said: “I don't want anybody else to go through this. I don't want people to return to England being raped and not being believed. I want to know if the system works - the system needs to work for people like myself.

“That's why many don't come forward. For men who have been assaulted as well, you don't need to be afraid.”

She said she and her husband decided to move back to Sheffield not long after the incident.

“I just want him to say sorry to me for what he’d done but he never did. I haven’t thought about restorative justice, I do forgive him because we are Christians and we are doing what we can to expose people for doing this,” she said.

“But I want the system to work for women who deserve better as well as men.

“Many victims never report anything because it will be a case of, ‘Who will believe me over him?’ I think whatever our gender is, our ages are, or sexual orientation is, we should be helped and supported and the police officers on the Falkland Island couldn’t do enough for me.”