Two women raped on holiday are calling for far more help and support from the Government.
Both Natasha Golding and Lauren Walsh went through hell at the hands of their attackers.
But were then frustrated and angered by a seeming lack of guidance from the Foreign Office to pursue their cases.
The pair, who had to find their ways through foreign justice systems, had an emotional meeting in Manchester.
Their experiences are becoming depressingly familiar.
At least 315 Britons reported being raped abroad last year, according to Foreign Office figures. That is a 44.5 per cent increase on 2016.
Yet the number of those cases successfully convicted is believed to be extremely low.
Now legal consultant Natasha, 43, believes there should be reliable translators for attacked women as well as a global 24-hour freephone helpline.
Senior marketing executive Lauren, 25, of Preston, Lancs, was just 17 when she was gang-raped in 2011 in a busy foam-filled nightclub in Magaluf, Majorca.
When she reported it to staff she was ushered out the back. They did not offer to report it to police and she was left to walk alone to her hotel.
The next day the club said there was no CCTV footage of the incident. She knows her chances of justice now are unlikely but believes the British government could have done more.
She had private counselling back home but despite online research couldn’t find how to carry on her case.
She said: “Considering we have this culture of MeToo these days you’d think things would have evolved. Clearly not.
“Women who are raped deserve justice, whenever it happens, and they deserve the support of our Government when it happens.” Natasha, of Leeds, was raped in her hotel during a holiday to Cape Verde in September last year.
She was attacked by a man she had a brief fling with on a previous visit to the islands. Their holiday romance ended nine months earlier.
They had bumped into each other and dined out with mutual friends. He told her he did not want to drive home so she agreed to let him stay in her room, which had two beds. When she came out of the bathroom Natasha said he pinned her down and raped her as she cried.
She said: “My body was completely paralysed. He kept wiping away my tears and then kissing me on the cheek.”
She ran downstairs but the hotel manager did not call the police. She persuaded a stranger outside to phone the cops.
She spent 13 hours in hospital being examined, followed by hours at a police station giving a statement before being ushered to a courthouse where she was introduced to an interpreter.
Back at her hotel room bedsheets – which may have provided vital forensic evidence – had been removed and cleaned. Hours later, she checked her phone and saw the chilling message: “Sorry I’m sorry sorry for everything please please please” sent minutes after her attack. A man is on bail charged with rape, prosecutors are yet decide if he will face trial.
Natasha who, like Lauren, has waived her right to anonymity, wanted support and advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office when she got home.
She said: “I didn’t know who to go to so I literally Googled ‘What do I do when I’ve been raped abroad?’”
Eventually the FCO sent her web links to a list of Cape Verde lawyers – but they only handled conveyancing.
She said: “I didn’t need to be sent links – I needed a human voice. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to be going on some Krypton-Factor style search.”
She said consular staff could ensure people had a reliable translator, to make sure that you were happy with their statement, and support and counselling.
Retired senior detective David Swindle, of Justice Abroad Ltd, which helps support victims, said: “What Natasha describes is just not good enough. She should be getting the same level of support as she would if the crime happened in the UK.”
Unfortunately, he explained, that Natasha’s experience is all too common among his clients.
He said: “No translation of documents, a list of lawyers who couldn’t provide proper representation, no feedback, no state financial assistance and total confusion. In effect, British citizens are abandoned to find their way through foreign justice systems.”
But the FCO insisted it offers a wealth of support. A spokesman said: “We take any reports of rape and sexual assault very seriously, and our consular staff aim to see people to offer private, in-person support as quickly as possible.
“The support we can offer depends on what action the person in question wants to take. It can include providing advice on local police and legal procedures, accompanying the person to the police station if they wish, and offering advice on what professional help is available locally and in the UK.”