Even after a few days of “familying” here within the homey walls, I am still speechless about what compelled me to fly home early instead of following through with the second session. However, as I share words and phrases about the two unsettling incidents that took place in Romania, I hear stories from women and men of all ages in response that are far worse and that show me that I am not alone.
On July 6, 2011, a gypsy boy physically attacked me. He brutally entered the school building and grabbed intimate body parts of mine. On July 10, 2011 a middle-aged man touched me forcefully and inappropriately at the local open-air thermal bath.
Even though cigarette smoke blurred my sight at the local police office that following week, a naked woman was staring at me from the calendar on the wall. The chief of police was wearing his swimming trunks and his problem solving strategy consisted of “talking to the boy”—i.e. using physical brutality, as this statement was later translated to me by my host-sister.
After nights with tears, nausea, and nightmares and conversations with our program director and my family, I decided to leave after my first teaching session in Romania and to not continue with the second session.
I am home now, and I am processing what happened in Eastern Europe, but which could have happened anywhere. I am aware of the cultural differences regarding gender roles, but I am nonetheless appalled by this inappropriate behavior. Also, I am aware of the lack of official means in these small villages in Romania, but I am nonetheless appalled by the lack of democratic standards and procedures.
On the day of my arrival here at home last week, my local newspaper wrote about an assault case that happened to a 13 year-old boy at our local indoor swimming pool. The sentence for the guilty man was 6 months of prison and 3 years of probation. (Sexual) Assault is a severe problem and is—rightly—punished very differently here in Germany.
This is the link for the article:
A friend of mine introduced me to this website that contains self-defense strategies, and I would like to share this with whoever is interested in consulting it: http://stuecke.net/.
Unfortunately, the world is not as good as I would like for it to be. Unfortunately, prevention is not enough. Fortunately, there are ways of protecting ourselves from such attacks.