Alleged rape shocks El Camino’s international community


The alleged victim of the reported rape that occurred blocks away from El Camino last Friday was an international student, chemistry assistant professor Pete Doucette said Monday.

Out of the 24,623 students who attended EC last semester, “650 are international students and close to 85% come from Southeast and Northeast Asia,” Leonid Rachman of the International Student Program said.

“They come from cultures where guns don’t exist,” Rachman added. “They come from a culture where crime carries much more steeper sentences.”

Jovielle Marantan, 20, computer science major and president of the EC international club comes from the Philippines. He said that he also lives in Gardena but he’s never heard of something like last week’s reported crime to have happened in the neighborhood.

“In my area, once in a while police are driving around. Its basically next to Target and I see police but it’s pretty safe,” Marantan said. “When I heard about this (crime) I was shocked.”

Marantan reiterated the difficulties internationals face when they first get to California.

“International students, especially females, have to be emotionally strong. They’re pretty much lonely and they’re looking for friends,” Marantan said. “Then something like this happens to them; its going to break their confidence. It’s like destroying their human nature.”

Mariko Tada, 19, business major came from Japan eight months ago and now lives in Torrance. She said that she never feels fear back in her home country like she does in SoCal.

“I cannot walk alone down Crenshaw Boulevard,” Tada said.

Ana Chkihivadze, 22, fashion design major lives just a couple of blocks from where the alleged rape happened. She came from the country of Georgia, just south of Russia, five months ago and said she was warned about the crime rate in her Gardena neighborhood before she moved in.

“They used to tell me ‘don’t move there, its really ghetto,'” Chkihivadze said. “I walk the street where this girl was (allegedly) raped all the time so I’m really scared right now.”

Rachman highlighted the key contrast between an average-American student going through a traumatic experience compared to that of a foreign student.

“(International students are) victims of crime like everyone else and even more,” Rachman said. “If you’re a victim of a crime you run to your parents. They cannot, they have no one around.”

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story said Pete Doucette talked about the victim of the alleged rape last week. It’s been corrected to its correct date, Monday. Pete Doucette was also identified as an instructor. His title has been changed to assistant professor.