Two tales of suffering

I was reading from two separate sources about two separate women forced to endure two separate forms of suffering. Their situations and their responses… well… I think it speaks volumes.

First, from the introduction to the book Half the Sky. After being tricked into a set of circumstances well beyond anything she expected,

Rath was shattered when what was happening dawned on her. The boss locked her up with a customer, who tried to force her to have sex with him. She fought back, enraging the customer. “So the boss got angry and hit me in the face, first with one hand and then with the other,” she remembers, telling her story with simple resignation. “The mark stayed on my face for two weeks.” Then the boss and the other gangsters raped her and beat her with their fists.

“You have to serve the customers,” the boss told her as he punched her. “If not, we will beat you to death. Do you want that?” Rath stopped protesting, but she sobbed and refused to cooperate actively. The boss forced her to take a pill; the gangsters called it “the happy drug” or “the shake drug.” She doesn’t know exactly what it was, but it made her head shake and induced lethargy, happiness, and compliance for about an hour.

Second, from a news story about a female inmate who was forced to wear a bra during daytime hours.

A former inmate says she was often forced to wear a bra against her will during two years in a GTA jail, landing her in solitary confinement but eventually triggering revised dress-code rules in women’s correctional facilities across the province.

Jeannette Tossounian, 40, has come forward about her battle against what she considered an “arbitrary” violation of her rights at the Vanier Centre for Women in Milton three years ago.

In October 2013, Tossounian launched a hunger strike after being placed in solitary confinement “over a friggin’ bra” — resisting the “strap-in policy,” she said.

After she spent 10 days in “the hole” with little more than toilet paper and a Bible, Vanier yielded, altering its dress code, she said.

“That violation was a really traumatizing experience, and this will affect me for the rest of my life,” said Tossounian, released in December 2013. “At one point the thought of killing myself went actually through my head.”

Yes, that’s right, suicide ideation. Because she was expected to wear a standard piece of attire that women everywhere (at least in Canada) wear every day. I’m no woman, but I suspect most women would feel rather uncomfortable without one; even if only socially uncomfortable.

She was traumatized. Just like the young woman who was tricked into sex slavery, beaten, raped, drugged and had her very life threatened. Forced to let other men sexually violate her for fifteen hours each day until she managed to escape with a few other girls.

When comparing these two deeply traumatic episodes that have permanently scarred two women, I have a million thoughts, reflections and comments running through my head and I’m not even sure where to begin. So I’ll just leave these here for your consideration and reflection.

I’m sure I’ll come back to this on a later date.

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