37-year-old Vasilisa Komarova had been travelling on a solo motorbike tour through Bolivia when she was dragged from her tent by three men who then raped and beat her and left her for dead.
“I woke to the sound of someone starting to move my motorbike which was at the side of my tent and then I saw the shadow of this person with a machete and then it went really nasty because they pulled me out of the tent.”
She then described how one man raped her while the other two choked her and held her down. They then damaged her motorbike and took her belongings so she couldn’t escape before fleeing the scene, leaving her for dead.
By some miracle, Komarova survived the attack and found her laptop, which the attackers had missed. She used it to call for help.
She was then taken to hospital where she was initially refused treatement as she had no money, however police eventually intervened and persuaded medial staff to cooperate.
Following the attack Komarova chose to stay in Bolivia to ensure her case was not overlooked, determined to bring her attackers to justice.
Despite being told her case might never reach court, Komarova was determined, and her perseverance paid off, with some help from the British Consulate and last month she faced her three attackers, Jose Gongora, 26, Yery Yumacale, 24, and Fabio Bazan, 30.
“They didn’t look into my eyes once. I wanted them to look, I wanted to burn them with my eyes. I was asked to point at each one and say exactly what this person did to me.”
“Those men didn’t look like they felt guilty, they just thought, ‘what a bitch – why is she doing this to us? She is just a body to be used’”.
Gongora received 25 years for rape and 10 for armed robbery, Yumacale received 10 years for aiding rape and eight for robbery while Bazan got seven-and-a-half years for aiding rape.
All three have denied the charges and are planning to appeal.
“People can’t do things like this. I am happy and relieved. There were so many things against me winning the case. The year wasn’t wasted.”
Komarova now plans to set up an online network, called Phoenix Sisterhood, to help women in similar situations.
“It will be a forum for females around the world to support one another and share practical tips for legal process in each country so they don’t feel as alone as I have,” she said.
Komarova says she won’t let this attack stop her from travelling and doing what she loves.
“Waking up in the middle of nowhere, seeing beautiful scenery, is so precious and I won’t drop my dream for those b******s.”