PETALING JAYA – Susan Chapelle was 26 when she was raped by Selva Kumar Subbiah in 1991.
But it was not until recently that she had been able to admit she had been sexually assaulted by Selva Kumar.
Determined to not cause others to fall into his trap, Chapelle is compelled to warn Malaysia to not turn a blind eye on Selva Kumar, who has been decribed as Canada’s most prolific serial rapist.
In an interview with Malay Mail, Chapelle, a city councillor in Squamish, said news of Selva Kumar roaming free in the country should be treated with caution and authorities here must not forget he was able to sexually assault 1,000 women before he was caught.
“Malaysia needs to understand that Selva is a repeat offender and a violent man,” she said.
Her comments come following recent statements from Putrajaya and police that Selva Kumar was a free man as he had not committed any offence here.
Chapelle remained sceptical on whether Selva Kumar had been rehabilitated after spending 25 years in jail.
She said she would never be able to forgive him for the sins he had committed.
“If it was only myself, and a mistake that has been rehabilitated … I would be able to forgive,” she said.
“(But) I cannot forgive a man who serially drugged, raped and photographed women, and beat his two wives.”
Chapelle had learnt about Selva Kumar’s release last month through a Facebook message
A corrections officer had written to her letting her know the man who raped her was being freed, she posted on her Facebook page on January 17.
“All around awesome day,” she posted.
“That man that raped me is being released. The prison guard that took care of him got in touch with me to inform me that he is still dangerous and going to reoffend.”
Chapelle, a mother of two girls, said many of Selva Kumar’s victims were still suffering in silence despite being assaulted close to 30 years ago.
She said they had not been able to speak out just like she did for fear of being judged.
“Many victims have got in touch with me (since I went public). We feel kindred in our experience and feel comfortable speaking to each other,” she said.
“Some have told me (of their ordeal) but not their families (as) the fear of judgment is still strong in a culture that still prosecutes victims and not the offender.”
Relating how difficult it was for her to come out of the closet to share what had happened to her, Chapelle said she spoke up because she realised as a politician she had to advocate for change.
“When I first told my family (about what had happened) in the 1990s in Toronto, it was too hard. So I kept it to myself until I realised that as a politician, it is my place to be a woman and to be strong to advocate for services,” she said.
“Using my story to show that it can happen to anyone was important to me.”
Chappelle, now 52, has been pushing for better treatment of rape victims in her home country.
She has been advocating the use of rape kits and the setting up of culturally appropriate first centres in British Columbia in addition to having forensics testing in all rural hospitals for victims. Chappelle said many victims had contacted her since she went public.
– Malay Mail