25 November 2005


Just when I thought I could finally start serving you some lighter fare, another event raises its ugly head.

In fact it took place one evening already a week ago: on her way home our nanny, Amour, escaped an attempted rape by a drunk army officer well known in his quartier by fighting him off (kicking him where it hurt) and running. She was however badly beaten up by him with the back of a pistol, but the poor thing wouldn't tell A. at first about what had happened because I was laying ill.

Anyway, she has been amazingly courageous and has now filed a complaint with the Permanent Military Tribunal, set up mainly to please foreign donors because of the constant misbehaviour of the army, and it has actually punished army people every now and then. We ll see how long it lasts...

A. has gone with her and paid for her to get a decent medical check-up and a medical report to file with the complaint, but of course almost a week after the facts the swellings etcetera had abated. A. will also help her to get professional legal counsel. So we've found a way: I'll be a good boy and not trespass my professional boundaries, but of course my wife is free to render assistance to whomever she likes.....

I have been thinking about what Amour has been going through in the mere 15 months we have been here (this is not counting the fact that e.g. she gave birth to a daughter at the age of 14): a relative ( 'sister') died in her arms a few months ago apparently poisoned by a jealous rival over a man; she suffered a very heavy malaria attack, in hospital for days; her son (11) fell very ill but recovered; she was accused of theft of a piece of jewellery in our house by her colleagues, but we wouldn t believe it had been her so she stayed - theft never resolved; her now adolescent (15) daughter got almost kicked out of school for repeated absences, A. was wonderful and managed to talk some sense into the girl; her ex-husband pursued her once with an axe; she had to dump a new live-in boyfriend after he started beating her; her house got inundated a few months ago once during very heavy rains; she had to sleep on the street with her daughter and son after she was kicked out from her sister s house, all her stuff stolen; she has moved house at least four times with her children; her brother ended up in jail and received death threats. And now this attempted rape, and this was certainly not the first attempt, I think; she's still young, attractive and as such considered fair game, especially by the military.

And when you see her: she is serenity itself (that's why we didn't, couldn't hesitate the time she was in agony over her relative in jail), an angel for the children, especially R. Talk about a survivor... The fact that she's a single woman makes it extra hard for her in this country, but many married woman are not much better off, doing all the work for often unfaithful and often abusive partners. She commands a lot of respect, and that's probably why we tend to be more protective of her than of our other personnel (in total eight, of which four guards. I'll tell you more about the feudal household we re running here some other time...).


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