Woman who reported rape told to 'carry on and enjoy holiday' by UK Foreign Office

·Breaking News Editor, Yahoo News UK
·2-min read
A stock picture of a general view of the sign on the Foreign Office in central London.   (Photo by Clive Gee/PA Images via Getty Images)
A stock picture of a general view of the sign on the Foreign Office in central London. (Photo by Clive Gee/PA Images via Getty Images)

The Foreign Office has apologised after a British woman who reported being raped in Turkey was told to "carry on with your holiday and enjoy it".

The woman reported the assault in 2018 after being attacked on holiday with friends.

She launched a complaint about how her case had been handled after officials "did not believe her or take her seriously", a public services watchdog has found.

Only identified as Ms B, the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman found she was not given legal advice or information about local police procedures.

She was led to believe she had given sufficient evidence to the police, did not need a forensic examination and had completed the necessary steps for a criminal investigation, when none of this was the case.

Believing FCDO officials did not take her seriously, Ms B raised concerns over their attitude, but received a message from the Vice Consul which said, "What you now have to do is to carry on with your holiday and enjoy it”.

A stock picture of a general view of the Foreign Office in central London.   (Photo by Clive Gee/PA Images via Getty Images)
The Foreign Office said they will learn from "where we have fallen short" in cases of rape and sexual assault. (Getty)

She returned to Turkey a further three times to follow up her case with police, but despite hiring a local lawyer, no one was arrested for the crime.

The watchdog said knowing if a police investigation had been conducted earlier could have led to a better outcome has "compounded Ms B's trauma".

Ms B said in a statement: "After being the victim of a traumatic sexual assault whilst in a foreign country, I turned to the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, a Government Department, to support and advise me.

"The awful failings and bad advice given by the FCDO left me in a vulnerable situation where I was forced to use my own intuition to preserve forensic evidence.

"Whilst in Turkey and on return, I was failed at every hurdle by the FCDO and re-victimised. The FCDO gave false hope on my return to the UK, which led to a forensic medical examination.

"The very poor advice and deceitful involvement of the FCDO hindered the assistance of the British Police Force, causing me prolonged suffering, additional anger and unnecessary distress."

A Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office spokesperson told Yahoo News UK: “We apologise for the distress caused and will immediately implement the Ombudsman’s recommendations.

“Since this incident in 2018, the FCDO has taken a number of steps to ensure victims are not failed in the same way.

“We are committed to learning from where we have fallen short so we can improve the consular support we provide to British nationals in cases involving rape and sexual assault.”

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