In 2001, my partner, Necati Zontul, was tortured and raped in Greece. It took 11 years to get some sort of justice, but in the process we faced pressure to stop the legal process and serious intimidation from paramilitary units, the Greek Church and people linked to the Navy and military legal system. Some of the lawyers we engaged were threatened, one worked for "the other side" and stole all the papers, and some were simply heroic in the efforts they went to in order to secure justice. Necati's case has led to a review of the definition both of torture and of rape.
The Church and Golden Dawn
For nearly four years, we struggled to take the case through Greek courts. In the last days that we were in Greece, because of the support the various defendants were getting from the Greek navy, I appealed for help to the Greek Church and, in turn, watched the Greek Archbishop of Athens declare on television that evening, "All Turks are barbarians". This was simply an astonishing rebuttal. It made international news and I believe it was intended to be the answer to my request that he should personally meet my partner. He never did. During my interview with the Archbishop's secretary, that afternoon, a genial archimandrite who spoke to me in English, the telephone had rung repeatedly and hurried assurances were given down the phone that "yes, he seems a good lad, and no, your holiness, there is no need to worry. Everything is under control." then he turned to me and with a sweeping gesture to the phone said, "no one of importance. We have a problem with the plumbing. Do you understand Greek?" - or words to that effect. Shortly after this, a neo-nazi march by the group "Golden Dawn" targeted our neighbourhood. It was frightening and it felt like a message was being sent. Shortly after this, we left Greece for the UK.
Throughout our time back in Britain, I begged for help, and got very little. Instead, as the case dragged on, my partner's mood swings got wilder and darker. We had legal help, though, which was a start but nothing can quite prepare anyone for the emotional helter-skelter experience of supporting the victim of a crime that no one really wants to recognise. Let me just say: the problem never goes away. It still affects my partner and that affects me.
In line with so many other victims, Necati experienced depression and considered suicide. In 2014, there were over 3,000 reported victims of male rape in the UK, supposedly a fraction of the real number. Yet, the support charities have had their funds cut and attempts to collect signatures to support the charity, "Survivors UK" have been lacklustre. To quote the lady in North Oxford, "He's survived. Why make any further fuss?" I fear the problem is that we, as a #Society feel uncomfortable about this crime. We need to "man up" and get over it. Good people are suffering while we wrestle with our embarrassment.