Image credit to Manchester Police, retrieved from CNN.com. 4-minute read.
The identity of a man described by authorities as “Britain’s most prolific rapist” was finally made public at the Manchester Crown Court in January of this year.
Reynhard Sinaga, a 36-year-old Indonesian postgraduate student was first arrested in June of 2017 and has since been convicted of 159 sexual offenses—including 136 counts of rape, 8 counts of attempted rape, 14 counts of sexual assault, and 1 count of assault by penetration.
Sinaga’s trials took place across 18 months at Manchester Crown Court, resulting in unanimous guilty verdicts on all charges and a 30-year life sentence in jail.
Sinaga first came to the UK in 2007 on a student visa, and although his convictions relate to crimes committed from January 2015 to June of 2017, authorities believe his offenses span an entire decade—targeting at least 190 men prior to his arrest.
Most of Sinaga’s victims were unaware of their assault until contacted by police.
Sinaga’s calculated abuse of unsuspecting men
Sinaga would wait for men leaving nightclubs in Manchester then lure them to his one-bedroom flat—some in as little as 60 seconds. Once there, he would drug them with alcohol containing date rape drugs like GHB, rape them while they were unconscious, and film the assaults. Many of the men woke up in the morning with no memory of what had happened.
Ian Rushton from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said it was Sinaga’s friendly, “un-threatening demeanor” that made his victims trust him. “He offered them a drink, or a place to charge a mobile phone up in his nearby flat. Within minutes of them entering his premises, they’d be drugged, absolutely overpowered by the drug that he administered… And on occasions he’s repeatedly violated them through the night, recording everything on his phone for his own gratification.”
Singa boasted of his actions on WhatsApp groups and in text messages. Among messages recovered by police is one from a friend saying, “Black magic yeah Rey makes drink potion of gay love haha,” and Sinaga responding, “Take a sip of my secret poison, I’ll make you fall in love…One drop should be enough.”
According to Greater Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable Mabs Hussain, many of Sinaga’s victims “did not know for certain what had happened to them until they received a visit from the police, after they had been identified from the videos taken by Sinaga.”
Rushton described Sinaga as “the most prolific rapist in British legal history” and possibly “in the world.”
“His extreme sense of sexual entitlement almost defies belief and he would no doubt still be adding to his staggering tally had he not been caught.” Rushton also added that he thought Sinaga took “a particular pleasure in preying on heterosexual men.”
The ongoing suffering of Sinaga’s victims
The drug wore off on one man who woke up mid-rape and fought Sinaga off. When the Greater Manchester Police arrived on scene they seized Sinaga’s phone, hard drives, and computers containing hundreds of hours of video—equivalent to about 3.29 terabytes or 1,500 DVDs—that he had collected as trophies from the victims of his crimes.
According to Hussain, authorities believe Sinaga has over 190 victims, with approximately 70 that are still to be identified from the videos.
Sexual assault counselor Lisa Waters who worked with authorities and victims of the case told the BBC, “Usually when people have been sexually assaulted they know what’s happened and are empowered to report it to the police or not. In this instance, the men involved had no idea that they had been sexually assaulted. So, they were just visited, out of the blue, by detectives to inform them.”
Waters described that some men have struggled with mental health, and have even been suicidal. One victim confided, “I have periods where I can’t get up and face the day.”
Sinaga faced consequences
According to Judge Suzanne Goddard, Sinaga showed “not a jot of remorse” and at times appeared to be “actually enjoying the trial process.”
Sinaga denied the charges, claiming the men consented to being filmed while pretending to be asleep as part of his sexual fantasies—a defense Goddard described as “ludicrous.”
“You are a…serial sexual predator who has preyed upon young men who came into the city center wanting nothing more than a good night out with their friends…In my judgment you are a highly dangerous, cunning and deceitful individual who will never be safe to be released.”
Judge Goddard added that the “scale and enormity” of Sinaga’s offenses warranted it as “accurate” for one of his victims to have described him as a monster.
What role does porn play in normalizing assault and rape?
Let’s be clear—we are in no way saying that everyone who consumes porn will become a serial rapist, while there are facts society can’t deny when attention is drawn to sexually violent issues like these.
Intentional or not, the porn industry perpetuates, capitalizes on, and reinforces beliefs of sexual entitlement—the idea that someone’s violent or violating sexual fantasies are okay even and especially when it’s nonconsensual. Take, for example, some common storylines found on popular porn sites that normalize the behavior of rape and taking advantage of people who are drunk or unconscious—terms like drunk f—ing, sleep assault, and surprise anal.
These very acts are portrayed in porn as sexual fantasy, and yet are completely illicit and not acceptable in reality. See the disconnect?
But these attitudes are becoming more normalized. In a recent National Survey, nearly half of porn consumers reported thinking pain and abuse in pornography is completely acceptable.
In porn, nonconsensual encounters like sexual assault and rape—two of the most traumatizing situations that could happen to a person—are packaged as arousing and sexy. The porn industry normalizes, fetishizes, and eroticizes people’s real pain.
How is it that these topics are widely viewed as unacceptable and horrific in society, but erotic and harmless when consumed as fantasy in porn—even when it’s a real rape tape and not a scripted production?
This combined with the fact that porn actually isn’t always harmless for the performers involved in its production, that consuming porn can lead to a lack of empathy for other people—including rape victims—and that some porn consumers eventually seek to act out what they see in porn in real life is, to the say the least, cause for real concern.
If we want to instigate real change in the world, speaking out about the abuse of real people has to include porn that too often showcases and normalizes it. Sexual assault is never sexy.