EXCLUSIVE: Australian surfer kidnapped and raped every night for two months on a squalid houseboat in India reveals how she escaped when her captor made one simple mistake – and why she fears there are other victims out there
- Carmen Greentree, 37, was held captive on a boat in Kashmir in 2004 aged 22
- Her captor tricked her into staying aboard on her way to study under Dalai Lama
- Trapped her in the middle of a lake and raped her every night for two months
- She was dramatically rescued by police after the rapist made a greedy mistake
- Ms Greentree, now married with three kids, has written a book about her ordeal
A young pro surfer was held captive on a squalid houseboat and raped every night for two months after she was kidnapped in India.
Carmen Greentree was just 22 when she took time out from surfing to study under the Dalai Lama in the Himalayas in May 2004.
After saying goodbye to her parents in Sydney, she touched down in New Delhi and fell victim to scammers posing as government tourism operators.
Soon she was forced to sleep in a dingy bedroom on board where she was raped dozens of times and beaten whenever she asked to leave.
‘I didn’t think I was ever getting off that boat, I thought I would die there one way or another,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
Carmen Greentree, now 37, has told how she was held captive on a squalid houseboat and raped every night for two months after she was kidnapped in India
Ms Greentree at Sydney Airport with her father as she left for India in May 2004, aged 22
Finally her captor made a greedy mistake when he tried to get more money from her family and she was dramatically rescued when armed police boarded the boat and whisked her to safety.
Now 37 and married with three children south of Sydney, she has written a book about her harrowing ordeal in a bid to silence her demons.
A British backpacker has since told her he was kidnapped and extorted on the same boat nine years earlier, and it’s believed there are many other victims.
Ms Greentree, then known as Carmen Buecher, spent her early 20s as a budding professional surfer.
She trained alongside seven-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore and competed all over the world on the pro circuit in 2002-03.
But after failing to make the Women’s World Championship Tour in 2003, she took a break to travel explore spirituality.
She booked a course at the Dalai Lama’s ashram in Dharamshala, at the foot of the Himalayas in northern India, and set off from Sydney Airport.
Ms Greentree says Rafiq Ahmad Dundoo (left) held her captive on the boat for two months and raped her every night. He was arrested with his brother (right). They are pictured in a photo nine years before Ms Greentree’s abduction
Ms Greentree was forced to sleep in this dingy bedroom on board where she was raped dozens of times and beaten whenever she asked to leave
Ms Greentree landed in New Delhi in May 2004 without much of a plan and was rapidly overtaken by culture shock.
Nothing was booked other than her course 500km to the north and she was sleep deprived and disoriented
‘I had travelled so much that I was used to winging it as I went,’ she explained.
She had been warned to only use official government tourism services, which many unscrupulous private operators pretend to be to rip off tourists.
Seeing she was lost, a young man approached her and offered to take her to one that could arrange her journey to Dharamshala.
Australian woman Dawn Griggs was murdered in India just weeks earlier and he used that to warn her off the real tourist office, which he claimed was fake.
But in reality, the shopfront he took her to was a ruse to trick tourists into handing over their money – or in her case, worse.
Ms Greentree, then known as Carmen Buecher, spent her early 20s as a budding professional surfer
Ms Greentree (pictured) trained alongside seven-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore and competed all over the world on the pro circuit in 2002-03
They convinced her to fly into Srinagar in Kashmir, a disputed region between India and Pakistan, rather than the 14-hour bus ride guide books suggested.
‘They pushed very hard for me to do it their way, that it would be much quicker and easier. Eventually I just caved,’ she said.
Ms Greentree was picked up from Srinagar airport on May 27 by Rafiq Ahmad Dundoo, who told her it was too dangerous to be outside alone as a woman and she needed to stay with him.
Dundoo told her she would spend the night on a houseboat, named Y H Sunbeam, on Dal Lake before getting on a bus to Dharamshala.
Staying on boats on the picturesque lake surrounded by mountains is a tourist attraction in the area, so this plan wasn’t out of the ordinary.
But very quickly after she arrived, Ms Greentree realised Dundoo had no intention of letting her leave and by the first night was already trying to force himself on her.
‘It was constant pressure from the moment I got there. He was never going to let me go,’ she said.
Ms Greentree is now 37 and married with three children (two of them pictured with her) living south of Sydney
Ms Greentree with her husband Grant and three children Mannix, 13, Eve, 8, and Soul, 7
Ms Greentree was forced to sleep in a tiny, squalid bedroom where she fought off Dundoo’s nightly advances until she had nothing left.
‘The worst feeling was when I gave in and let him take what he wanted,’ she said.
‘That was the first time he raped me. I was too tired, I couldn’t fight anymore, and I knew he wasn’t going to stop.’
After days of resisting his advances and she gave in thinking once he raped her once he would let her go.
But instead he raped her every night and whenever else he wanted for the next two months, beating her whenever she asked to leave.
‘I lost track of how many times he raped me. I’ve blocked it out so much I don’t remember most of [the assaults] anymore,’ she said.
‘I was completely broken, I wasn’t even me anymore. I was existing as a shell.’
The houseboat floated in the middle of the lake, hundreds of metres from shore, and Dundoo had already taken her passport, documents, and money.
The houseboat, the Y H Sunbeam, where Ms Greentree was held captive for two months
Members of Dundoo’s family, pictured in 1997, who lived on the boat while she was trapped there but would not help her escape
Dundoo made Ms Greentree believe that if she was found in the heavily-militarised area without her documents she would be thrown in jail.
He also claimed soldiers or local men could gang rape and murder her if they came across her outside without a man.
‘I wish I had tried to swim to shore but I was terrified that if Rafiq caught me he would do even more terrible things to me,’ she said.
‘I would have been dripping wet in white cloth with no paperwork, passport, or money in Kashmir where almost no one spoke English and the war was going on.’
Dundoo hit her whenever she tried to stand up for herself or ‘if he had enough of me [talking] he would whack me across the face’.
‘He would get angry whenever I asked to leave and hit me. He had no patience. Eventually he only had to raise a hand,’ she said.
‘He made it very clear that he didn’t have a conscience and didn’t care, he was his own god and would do what he wanted with me. He showed me he had intention to do harm and didn’t feel guilty about it.
‘He didn’t think he was doing anything bad, in his mind. He told me he was taking care of me.’
Ms Greentree with a friend on a trip to Hawaii about five months before she travelled to India
Ms Greentree (centre) during a pro surfing event during her career on the international circuit in 2002-03
On the boat were Dundoo’s elderly mother and father, two brothers, and his wife, and their baby. None of them would help her escape.
‘I attempted to tell Rafiq’s father in the hope he would help me but he was very dismissive straight away,’ she said.
‘I think his brothers and father knew [he was abusing me] but they thought it was normal, they just considered women to be property.’
Dundoo’s mother didn’t speak any English, but she talked to his wife who told her how she gave up a promising medical career to marry him.
‘She said it was her honour… that she gave up everything to serve her husband and that’s how she serves Allah,’ she said.
Ms Greentree was forced to wear traditional Kashmiri Muslim clothing, including a headscarf, and ate meals with the family.
She was made to work around the boat helping the women with cooking, cleaning, sorting grains of rice, and laundry.
She did it without complaint to avoid any trouble, but also just to have something to do.
‘They bought me a rug and heavily encouraged me to pray five times a day and gave me a Koran with English translations to learn. I read it cover to cover twice just to pass the time,’ she said.
Ms Greentree with other young surfers take a nap on a bus on a surfing tour stop
Ms Greentree was held captive for so long because family and friends were not expecting to hear from her for months and she was a frequent traveller.
She claims the rescue was only set in motion after her close friend Katherine had a dream that made her believe Ms Greentree was in trouble.
Katherine convinced the Australian High Commission in India to investigate, which persuaded local police to treat her as a missing person.
‘Katherine is very determined and she would have made it clear she wasn’t going to let it go,’ Ms Greentree said.
Dundoo made one big mistake, without which his captive may never have been found – he got greedy.
He had already forced Ms Greentree to give up her bank details and drained all $4,000 from her account.
However, weeks later he started forcing Ms Greentree to call her parents and ask for more money, like any young backpacker running out of cash overseas.
She called them from a phone in the boat, which meant her family had the phone number and police were able to trace her location.
Ms Greentree rides a wave during a professional surfing competition in her early 20s
After failing to make the Women’s World Championship Tour in 2003, she took a break to travel explore spirituality
Finally after two months of abuse, Katherine called her on the boat’s phone and said ‘someone’s coming to rescue you’.
Ms Greentree had kept a diary during her captivity but ‘ripped it up into a thousand pieces’ after hearing she was going to be rescued.
‘It was like I started to wake back up again, and it felt like a dead person’s diary. I was so horrified by what I might read,’ she said.
On July 25, several police boats arrived and armed officers stormed the houseboat and whisked her away to safety.
Ms Greentree was taken to a hotel in New Delhi with bodyguards and embassy staff looking after her while she told police of her ordeal.
Police then returned and arrested Dundoo and his brother Shabir Ahmad Dundoo and retrieved her passport and most of her belongings.
However, the pair never faced justice for the abuse they put her through, as Ms Greentree was too traumatised to testify against them.
‘I was supposed to go back to India and give evidence in court but I couldn’t go through with it, I wish I had,’ she said.
The pair are believed to have spent six months in jail charged with rape before the case collapsed and they were released.
Sixteen years after her ordeal, Ms Greentree has published her book A Dangerous Pursuit of Happiness detailing her abduction and how she recovered
She now works in holistic medicine and lives on the banks of Lake Illawarra, south of Wollongong, with her husband Grant and three children
Sixteen years after her ordeal, Ms Greentree has published her book A Dangerous Pursuit of Happiness detailing her abduction and how she recovered.
She now works in holistic medicine and lives on the banks of Lake Illawarra, south of Wollongong, with her husband Grant and three children.
Earlier this week, she was contacted by a man in Britain who said he was held on the same boat by the same family nine years earlier, and extorted for all his money.
Ms Greentree also said Australian High Commission staff told her other travellers had made reports with the same story.
A Dangerous Pursuit of Happiness by Carmen Greentree can be ordered through her website, or online retailers including Amazon and Book Depository.
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