Attacks on women hitchhikers

SASHA BORISSENKO
Last updated 12:58 28/03/2014

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Two woman hitchhikers have been attacked in separate instances in the Nelson region.

A 22-year-old Motueka fisherman appeared in the Nelson District Court on Wednesday charged with sexual violation, abduction and assault with a weapon.

The charges relate to an incident on March 21 involving a 20-year-old tourist who was offered a ride by a man at 11.30am. She had intended travelling from Motueka to Westport but he drove her to Nelson.

The tourist's origin could not be revealed because she did not want her family worrying about her.

The man has been remanded in custody and will reappear on April 15.

Police are also investigating another incident where a tourist, wanting to go to Nelson, was offered a ride by a man in Motueka during the daytime on March 6.

She got into the car and he detoured to a secluded area near Rabbit Island and attempted to sexually assault her.

She escaped and reported the incident to police.

The man is described as Polynesian in his early 20s. He was driving a red or dark brown car.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Nelson police.

Detective Sergeant Mark Kaveney said both women were travelling on their own and were intending to hitchhike. Tourists often hitchhiked in the Tasman area, especially over summer, he said.

"The way things are in society and today, personally I do not think it is a good idea for a woman to be hitchhiking alone anywhere in the world."

If people were going to hitchhike regardless, they should travel in groups and have safety mechanisms in place, Mr Kaveney said.

"We have had a number of incidents where hitchhikers have been attacked.

"I am not saying attacks are increasing but people need to be mindful of what they are doing, where they are going and who they are getting in the car with."

Taking a photograph of the vehicle and emailing it to a friend could be done to ensure safety.

Keeping in contact and telling friends of their whereabouts was also a good idea, he said.

"That does not stop these things from happening if you get into a car with a person who has bad intentions, however."

In the March 6 case, the woman knew something was slightly wrong and she found an opportunity to leave the vehicle.

The same could not be said for the March 21 case where the woman could not stop the situation so instead she did a lot of talking.

"She did all the right things, otherwise it could have ended very badly."

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