Newport taxi driver rape victim's 'hell'
10:10am Monday 7th May 2012 in Gwent news
"TWO years from hell" is how a victim of the Newport taxi rapist described the last 24 months, after attemping suicide twice because of the ordeal. She spoke exclusively to CHRIS WOOD.
WHEN taxi driver rapist Asif Iqbal wept in the dock after being handed a 12-year sentence, his first victim could contain her anger no longer.
After the Cardiff crown court hearing, she told the Argus: "Why should we feel sorry for him? He's the predator - we're just the victims."
Former taxi driver Iqbal, 42, of Alice Street, Newport, was last week sentenced to 12 years for the rape of two women he picked up while working in the city - one of them gay.
What had not been read out to the court were details of the two-year ordeal she had been through since Iqbal raped her in his cab.
But the brave woman told the Argus of the devastating effect the attack had on her life, saying it made her feel "dirty" and "ashamed", led to her showering five times a day, giving up her job, move house and trying to take her own life twice.
The woman, in her 30s, said that on the night of the attack she was "drunk as a skunk". She said after an argument with her partner, she consumed a bottle of vodka and went into Newport city centre at around 12.50pm.
She visited various bars and the last time the city’s CCTV’s pick her up is walking down Stow Hill in the early hours - she believes minutes before she got into Iqbal’s taxi.
She remembers nothing of the actual rape, but says chillingly: "I remember vaguely him putting the locks down and then getting in the back with me".
"If I had been sober, I would have killed him," she added.
The next morning the woman woke up and had a very vague recollection and was thinking "did it happen?"
She said: "I’m gay and haven’t been with a man for years, so had a feeling that something had happened. My partner urged me to go to the police, so I didn’t have a shower in case they wanted to do tests."
The woman was taken to the sexual offences referral centre in Risca, where she was examined and her worst fears were confirmed.
She said she was "angry, upset, humiliated and ashamed of myself", with STI tests and having to take the morning after pill "really traumatic in themselves".
The next few months then became a "constant battle", as she tried to remember what happened.
"I couldn’t sleep, I was thinking about it all the time," she said. "I wanted to remember so I could give evidence, but in another way was glad I couldn’t. I couldn’t get it out of my head."
It left her unable to cope at work, so she quit her job, slumping into a pit of depression. Counselling and anti-depressants didn’t work and she tried to take her life twice.
She said the year it took to catch her attacker and the further year it took to bring him to justice were ‘two years from hell".
The woman added: "Now I know he’s behind bars, I can try and move on and am planning a nice holiday with my partner. I try and forget it, but it never goes away. It’s always there."
She said the 12 years handed to Iqbal for the rapes and perverting the course of justice, are "not enough" and said angrily: "I wish I could have just five minutes in a room with him".
Gwent Police said the former taxi driver could have committed similar offences on other women, a view his victim agrees with, urging them to come forward.
She said "I’m convinced he attacked other women as well", adding: "Don’t be scared, the police are there for you. Be brave and think of others it may have happened to as well"
She is also calling for all taxis to be fitted with cameras.
She said:"If all taxis had cameras, it would make it safer, not just for women against rape, but for other incidents like abuse and attacks."