The British woman who was recently arrested for wearing a bikini in the Maldives said that the police who dragged her off the street even beat her up groped her, and also left her fearing for her life.
The footage of Cecilia Jastrzembska, a British woman, being manhandled by the local police went viral last week.
Cecilia, the traumatized 26-year-old claimed situation got much worse for her after the 30-second clip ended – and she was slapped across the face, kicked in the stomach and later subjected to humiliating body searches.
While speaking about her arrest for the first time, she said: “I was absolutely hysterical. Fists were being waved in my face.
“I wondered if they were going to lock me up. It’s the kind of situation where, as a woman, you could imagine something much worse happening.
“I was already injured and hyperventilating when they started to grope me. I was terrified. I thought my life was at risk.
“I was humiliated and degraded.”
Bikinis are only allowed at a few beaches on the islands that make up the Maldives. It follows a strict Muslim Sharia law.
Cecilia, however, was unaware of that when she visited Maafushi for a scuba-diving holiday with her friend Lucas Ramos, 31.
She said: “I loved the idea of diving in the Maldives because it looked like paradise. There were people wearing bikinis everywhere we went. I had no idea they were illegal on some parts of local islands.”
Cecilia had only just arrived with Lucas on Maafushi, taking a boat from neighboring island Adaaran, they soon realized they were being followed by a group of men. Initially, Cecilia and Lucas had no idea they were plainclothes cops.
Cecilia said: “A few men started following us and shouting at us. I didn’t know what they wanted or what they were talking about.
“Then one said, ‘We’re the police’. I asked them to show me some ID and they said, ‘No’.”
Cecilia can be heard shouting in the footage, “You’re sexually assaulting me” as three men manhandle and grapple with her while another attempts to cover her with a towel.
But she said: “The 30-second clip was the tip of the iceberg. The alter-cation actually lasted 10 minutes before we were bundled into a car.
“If they had said, ‘Can you please cover-up?’ that would have been totally fine. I have the utmost respect for Islamic customs.
“But I think they just wanted to humiliate and degrade me. They separated us and started kicking and punching Lucas. Then, they hit me across the face and kicked me in
“They forced me into a car and because they had no uniforms, I thought I was being abducted. The man in the passenger seat was just laughing at me.
“This just showed me it was a misogynistic attack, and not about offending local sensibilities.”
The horrific experience with the cops didn’t stop even when she and Lucas arrived at the police station.
She said: “Two men wanted to search me – that was the excuse.
I said, ‘I’m in a bikini, what could you possibly be looking for? Get off me.’ “They groped me for a few minutes. It was awful.
“Neither of us knew what was going on. It was panic central for both of us. I was just in survival mode. It was a waiting game to see what was happening.”
She further said she was refused to make any phone calls or seek legal advice. Also, the cops refused to give her water while both of them sat for hours in the heat.
Cecilia said they spent a day in cells and were then told they could leave the police station – if they agreed to hand over their passports, which they refused to do.
She said: “Five men followed us back to our hotel. We locked ourselves in our room but they banged on our door for 20 minutes. It was really menacing.”
The next morning a new group of policemen arrived and continued to demand their documents.
Cecilia said: “They were rapping on our window and asking for my passport. They were saying it was a crime not to hand it over.
“I almost did, but I’m so glad now that I didn’t because I would have been trapped there.”
Eventually, when she agreed to speak to the cops at the hotel. Cecilia was horrified to see her footage of her arrest, which was filmed by a bystander.
She said: “One officer said, ‘You are on the local news’. I was in complete shock. I looked on my phone and saw the clip had already reached British websites.
“The experience of the violence came rushing back immediately. I was gobsmacked it had gone so far so quickly.” Cecilia said police had also confiscated Lucas’ bag, which contained possessions and travel money worth £1,000.
She said: “We asked for it back but everything had gone.”
The next day – Cecilia’s birthday – she and her friend fled their hotel at sunrise and boarded the first ferry to the country’s capital Male. But the nightmare didn’t stop even now as she was now being named online.
Cecilia believes this happened because of the police who gave her identity to local media.
She said: “I was refreshing the news on my phone and then saw my full name appear. Seeing the footage everywhere just brought the memories of the violence flooding back.
“I was broken. I couldn’t eat or sleep for four days.”
In the Maldives, it was reported that Cecilia had been arrested for “indecent exposure” and had been “under the influence of alcohol”.
The nightmare still didn’t stop as Cecilia received a call from her dad, from London. Her dad said: “I got a call from Dad, who said there were reporters at the door.
“I ended up turning my phone off. The police wanted to drag me through the press. They wanted to look as innocent as possible. In the clip, you see me resisting arrest, but you don’t see I was physically assaulted.“
Cecilia, whose work is about researching policy on women’s rights, insisted: “One thing I can say with absolute certainty is this would never happen to a man.
“Men can walk around topless without any consequences but women are objectified.”
She then contacted the British embassy and was told that she did the right thing by not handing over her passport. She flew back to Uk with Lucas on Tuesday.
Each year on an average 100,000 Britishers visits the Maldives. After this incident, the Maldives police has issued a public apology to Cecilia.
The statement read: “Maldives Police Services sincerely apologizes to the tourist and public for the regretful manner in which the incident took place.
“A full inquiry has been initiated to ensure that disproportionate measures are not implemented in such situations.”
But Cecilia said: “I’ve been completely dehumanized. I’m a confident woman and they wanted to take away my voice.”
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