An American tourist was gang-raped while hiking on a Papua New Guinea jungle trail with her boyfriend. The 31-year-old woman and her London-native boyfriend were violently attacked while hiking along a World War II historical trail on the Kokoda Track.
The couple has been identified as Matthew Iovane, a British reality TV star, and his girlfriend, Michelle Clemens. The couple said that all the jokes they had heard about a tribe of cannibals became no laughing matter when men in native clothing armed with machetes stripped them naked and tied them to a tree. The attackers sliced open three of Clemens’ fingers during the horrific ordeal.
Papua New Guinea (PNG) police said the couple had all of their belongings stolen, including about $5,000 in cash and the backpacks containing all of their food and outdoor survival gear. A group of armed men approached the American woman and her boyfriend as they neared the Templeton Two campsite area, MSN reports.
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“The male trekker [also 31] was tied to a tree and the female tracker was repeatedly raped before three of her fingers were chopped. The incident took place for an hour before they (trekkers) were set free,” PNG Assistant Police Commissioner Sylvester Kalaut told reporters.
PNG police officers are reportedly searching for at least two men who emerged from the jungle carrying spears, bush knives, and machetes. One of the tribal men was being held by village members who welcomed Michelle Clemens and Matthew Iovane after they escaped from their attackers. After fleeing to a nearby village, the American tourist and her reality show boyfriend were taken to the Papua New Guinea capital city of Port Moresby.
— Daily Mail U.K. (@DailyMailUK) January 13, 2016
Michael Iovane had appeared on the UK reality survival show Shipwrecked in 2008.
“They looked very scary in native costumes and what looked like warpaint and came closer before circling around us,” Iovane said during an interview with the Sun. “They tore up my T-shirt to blindfold me and the awful thought crossed my mind that we could be on the menu. They were totally feral and we were at their mercy. I thought we’d vanish into the jungle and never be seen again.”
The wounds to Michelle Clemens hands from the machete were so severe that she might not be able to fully regain feeling in them. When the couple was able to sneak away from their attackers, they encountered wild dogs as they ran through the jungle to reach safety. Both were covered in poison ivy by the time they found the village and someone to help them.
According to Iovane, the men he feared were cannibals communicated in “primitive grunts” but knew enough English to tell the couple “we will kill you” during the attack in the PNG jungle.
According to a release by the Australian foreign affairs department, the couple went into the jungle to hike alone without a licensed tour operator. The significant amount of attacks on women in the region prompted a study by the United Nations nearly three years ago. The review of the cases found that approximately 80 percent of the men living in Papua New Guinea had sexually or physically abused their wives or girlfriends. In 2013, another American was in the PNG jungle studying the impact climate change allegedly had on birds and was gang raped by a group of armed men.
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