SOMETIMES the most shocking adversity can lead a person to a bright new beginning. That is the case for Anna C, one of the victims of a spate of racist gang rapes that shocked Australia 11 years ago.
The gang rapists, Australian-born Lebanese Muslims roamed Sydney hunting for non-Muslim teenage girls they regarded as “Aussie sluts”.
Ms C was 18 when she was raped 25 times by as many as 14 men, including the notorious Skaf brothers Bilal, then 18 and Mohammed, 17 – in August, 2000.
She had been sitting on a train, dressed for a job interview in her best suit, reading The Great Gatsby, when she was approached by the youths.
They stole her mobile phone and lured her off the train, raped her in a toilet block and then drove her to a secluded park in Sydney’s southwestern suburbs.
There she was “passed from group to group to be abused, insulted and defiled,” as Justice Michael Finnane described it.
“It is hard to believe that young men brought up in modern Australia could behave so much like wild animals.”
Carloads of youths were summoned by mobile phone: “There’s a slut at Bankstown Trotting Club”.
During her six-hour ordeal, they called her an “Aussie pig”, asked if she liked “Leb c**k” and boasted: “I’m going to f*** you Leb style.”
She suffered every indignity, had a gun held to her head and, at the end, was hosed down like an animal.
“I looked in his eyes. I had never seen such indifference,” she told the court.
Ringleader Bilal Skaf was sentenced to 55 years jail, later reduced to 28 years.
It was the harshest sentence ever handed out for rape, reflecting the racist nature of the hate-crimes and Ms C’s extraordinary courage and credibility as a witness.
Now 29, she suffered depression, had trouble trusting men and had to abandon nursing training because she couldn’t bear touching people.
But she is now engaged to a “lovely man” and is pregnant with her first child, a son due in July.
She has a job she loves, in retail, which has helped her deal with her fear of strangers, and the support of a loving family. “I’m very lucky.”
At last she has put her ordeal behind her.