Rape survivor encourages wider victim reporting - Ask for Angela
A woman who was raped by a taxi driver on her way home from a night out with friends has spoken out in a bid to encourage other victims of sexual violence to report incidents to police and seek support from services available.
The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, was raped in 2019 by a private-hire taxi driver who preyed on the vulnerability of a lone woman making her way home from a night out with friends.
Kaysar Ahmed, 41 (12.10.79) of Dolphin Lane, E14, was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment at Inner London Crown Court on Thursday, 11 March 2020.
He was found guilty of rape on 27 November 2020 at the same court.
The court heard that the victim, a woman in her early twenties, had been out with friends in the Greenwich, SE10 area on the evening of the 25 October 2019.
In the early hours of 26 October, she had booked a car home via an app before making her way to a nearby taxi rank in Boord Street, SE10 where she proceeded to enter into a vehicle at around 01:10hrs, believing this to be her pre-booked car.
The driver of the vehicle was Ahmed - a locally registered private-hire taxi driver - although not the driver of her pre-booked car as she thought.
The victim’s friend had a short conversation with the driver to confirm he was going to Peckham, to which Ahmed said yes.
After arriving at an address in Peckham, the victim attempted to gain access to the property but was unable to locate her keys. She knocked repeatedly on the door, unaware if anyone was inside, and received no answer.
Ahmed then exited his car and offered for the lone woman to wait in his vehicle, to which she initially declined. However, after the driver persisted, the woman eventually got into the back of the vehicle. Upon doing so, Ahmed entered the rear of the vehicle with her.
Ahmed then raped the woman in the back of his vehicle.
After the ordeal, the woman managed to exit the vehicle and gain access to the address, where she was able to alert friends who quickly called the police.
Detectives from the Met’s Sapphire Unit immediately launched an investigation. Following enquiries, Ahmed was forensically linked to the crime and interrogation of his mobile cell site data placed him within the vicinity at the relevant times.
On 31 October 2019, Ahmed was arrested on suspicion of rape and subsequently charged as above.
Tackling violence against women and girls remains a priority for the Metropolitan Police Service. Earlier this week, the MPS announced a re-launch of the ‘Ask for Angela’ scheme – a safety initiative which is being rolled out to licensed venues across London.
People who feel unsafe, vulnerable or threatened can discreetly seek help by approaching venue staff and ask them for ‘Angela’. This code-phrase will indicate to staff that they require help with their situation and a trained member of staff will then look to support and assist them. This might be through reuniting them with a friend, seeing them to a taxi, or by calling venue security and/or the police.
Venues that support ‘Ask for Angela’ will also have been given or offered Welfare And Vulnerability Engagement (WAVE) training. Delivered by the Met’s licensing officers and Safer Sounds, it gives staff the ability to help customers who may be in a situation that makes them vulnerable or unsafe. Following completion of training, venues will receive ‘Ask for Angela’ posters and digital media to display in their premises. So far in excess of 600 frontline staff from over 400 London venues have been trained since the start of August.
Now almost two years on from the incident, the woman hopes to encourage wider victim-reporting of rape and sexual assault, as she continues her own journey of recovery. She said:
“I can’t describe the relief that the sentencing has brought me because it has given me some form of closure; not because it undoes what happened or because I don’t ever have to talk about it again, but because it means the wait is over. Until the sentencing, you live your life with the court looming over you, sitting over you like a massive black cloud that no one else can really see or understand.
“If something like this has happened to you, if you have experienced any form of sexual violence, then I am so sorry because it is not an easy road to recovery but I promise you it is not impossible and you will get there over time. PLEASE speak about it, even if the police are not your first point of call, tell your mum, your sibling, your friend, someone at work, ANYONE that you trust, because I promise you, even at the time when you might not realise it, it does take some of the weight of the story off your shoulders.
“When you experience something like this, it is something over which you did not have control and it is very easy to feel helpless and lacking control when you are trying to deal with it because the power has been taken from you, but by speaking about it, you take some control over that horrible situation instead of keeping it to yourself and letting it consume you, which can make it feel even more like the perpetrator has won.
“Reporting the incident to the police may feel like such a big and scary situation, and in all honesty, without telling my friends first who supported me with the decision of calling, I probably wouldn’t have – but my case proves that it really does have the potential to make such a big difference.
“Another form of support is the availability of women’s charities, such as Solace in London (there are lots around the country). They are able to provide so much support like counselling and support groups and they can really help you getting back on our feet. Group workshops can be really helpful and empowering because you are able to meet other incredibly strong and brave women like yourself. Especially if you don’t feel like you can talk to someone around you straight away, women’s charities can be amazing (but again, feeling like you can’t talk to someone around you doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t, because it helps).
“The sentencing of this man provided the best form of closure I could have hoped for. Any result was going to be closure because it was the end of the trial and the case, but having a sentencing of nine years was the biggest relief. It took me a few weeks to process it, especially when you see the statistics about sentencing for rape cases, but this proved that it is not impossible and that justice can be served.”