Thursday, April 19, 2012

Australia: Japanese Tourist, 29, Held Hostage, Raped Repeatedly

Australian citizen Robert Mariage, 48, was arrested yesterday (April 18) and charged with kidnapping and three counts of aggravated sexual assault after he held a Japanese woman, 29, hostage in his home in Sydney on Wednesday (April 18).

The victim and Mariage became friends in January 2012, just after she arrived in Australia for an extended vacation, but she kept in contact with him as she traveled about Australia.

COMMENT: Unfortunately for the victim, she made arrangements to see Mariage on Tuesday last and stayed the night at his home in Miranda. Even though the two slept in different rooms on Tuesday night, when the victim woke up on Wednesday she faced Mariage making sexual advances on her with the end result of her being repeatedly raped and tied up to prevent her escape.

At one juncture, she asked to be untied so that she could use the restroom, but used that pretense as a basis of escaping and reporting what happened to her to Sydney police. She emphasized to police that since meeting Mariage, she looked upon the friendship as platonic. Unfortunately, as a predator, he did not.

After reporting her experience, the victim was taken to a hospital where forensic evidence was obtained.

Within hours Mariage was arrested and charged. Police are also using evidence they've collected to determine whether the assailant has been involved in other rapes in the area. He will be arraigned today (April 19).

As most of our regular readers know, my postings abound with examples of tourists and travelers who are not instinctively suspicious of new acquaintances they encounter while abroad. As a result, they are vulnerable to being taken advantage of.

In this case, the young traveler's vulnerability was further complicated by the fact that her command of English was not particularly good. In fact, police had to use interpreters during her victim interviews.

One of the best personal security awareness tips that can be offered to naive and trusting travelers is not to permit oneself to be placed in one-on-one encounters with people they don't know well, particularly members of the opposite gender.

Tragically, the young victim's decision to overnight in Mariage's home was not a prudent one, considering she knew little about him. A better choice would have been to find accommodations nearby.

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