Pearl fights back over online abuse


A mountaineer has gone public with a sexual attack ordeal after unsubstantiated accusations that she made false rape complaints.

Pearl Going, originally from Northland, says she has been subject to a stream of social media abuse, including accusations she made "false rape complaints".

Her recovery from an attack, which she has not spoken publicly about before, in Papua, Indonesia,  had been severely affected by the social media malice, she said.

A former celebrity publicist and media adviser, Ms Going's emergency evacuation from Papua by international insurance company Global Rescue Inc has been a hot topic in New Zealand's celebrity gossip and media commentary pool for the past few months.

Computer "screen grabs" of Facebook and Twitter comments released to the Northern Advocate show malicious comments directed at Ms Going.

"It has upset my family to such an extent that I am making the following statement to clarify the situation," she said.

"In May this year, while travelling in Indonesia in relation to my Cartensz Pyramid expedition (which was essential to my goal of completing the Messner seven summits), I was detained. During this time, my Western Papua permits were bought into question. I was asked to hand over a large sum of cash, which no traveller would carry with them. When I stated I could not pay their demands, I was questioned further, accused of not being a climber and beaten.

"During the 16 hours I was held, after being beaten to a state in which I could not defend myself, I was sexually assaulted. I was raped. I was only released when Global Rescue - the private firm I am insured with for medical and security evacuation - negotiated my release ... I was flown into Christchurch and transported to Christchurch Hospital."

Ms Going said she knew Papua was a very unstable region but, as a seasoned traveller used to being alone in strange countries, she felt safe.

After her release was arranged, she was flown out of Papua New Guinea and did not seek police help there, saying it would have been a waste of time in the corrupt country. There was nothing New Zealand police could do, she said.

"There is nothing the New Zealand Government could have done to prevent this situation and the NZ embassy gave me support alongside Global Rescue to return safely to New Zealand," Ms Going said.

She had also not asked for the allegation to be investigated, to protect herself and family from the ensuing media storm and, with that in mind, had refused a DNA swab, as it would have led to a NZ police investigation.

Papua is a high risk country for HIV and in Christchurch Ms Going was given a six-week course of Combivir (an HIV inhibitor), a debilitating drug which caused her to lose weight and strength.

"I am not interested in debating the rights and wrongs of the incident. I know what happened to me was wrong. Part of me accepting what happened has meant accepting there is nothing anyone could have done to prevent it or have me released sooner. I am forever grateful to the team that worked as hard as they did to get me back to New Zealand alive. Thank you, I owe them my life."

Ms Going has recently returned to climbing, with Everest remaining a goal.

"I have just returned from climbing Pico de Orizaba [5636 metres] in Mexico, and other peaks in Colombia and Guatemala. My body is getting stronger every day and, while it will not be ready for Everest in 2013, I will still be very busy in coming months.

"For me, Everest has been my dream since I was a child and it is the love of that dream that in my darkest moments has kept me steady.

"There is not a day that I don't think about climbing Chomolungma [Everest] and to have it waiting for me at the end of this journey is the greatest motivation I could be given."

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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