Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Who cares?

A story from my past.
They were two young ladies. One was white, robust and healthy-looking. The other was small and black, a Hindu from the former Dutch colony, Suriname. They were lesbians who lived together in a flat above the flower shop in the van Woustraat, that is on the edge of the Pijp neighbourhood in Amsterdam. 
They were a happy couple. 

They did not actually live in an ethnic Moroccan neighbourhood but ethnic Moroccan youths used to hang around their street. They had a run in with a group of these youths who started to bully them. 
The youths liked to harass lesbians and the Hindu lady being black was a bonus.

The ladies went to the police to file a complaint about the harassment. Surely one should not accept such things in a democracy?
The friendly police officer explained to them that this sort of thing was difficult to prove, it did not have much priority and the police certainly did not want an unnecessary confrontation with the youths. He suggested they move.
Of course they refused. The cheek of the man. One does not give in to intimidation.

The harassment got worse. The group started hanging around near to their flat every evening. The youths were waiting for them to step outside. 
The police did nothing. 
The young ladies did not leave their flat in the evening any more.

The Hindu lady had the most problems. In the beginning when she told her friends about the predicament, they were all ears. It was exciting. 
However, she did not stop talking about it and became a bore. Her friends began to avoid her.
She was obsessed with her helplessness and had trouble sleeping. She had trouble concentrating as well and lost her temper quickly. That is why she was fired from her job.

I had just started work in the borough. There was a public meeting about harassment by ethnic Moroccan youth. I sat on the elevated platform with the important people. The young ladies were in the audience.

The Hindu lady stood up to tell her story, but she kept breaking down and crying.
An alderman leaned over and whispered to me. He said I should not take the complaints about harassment too seriously. Most of those who complained were, like that Hindu lady, not emotionally stable.
The ladies eventually moved.

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