Last week, I read an article about Katoucha Niane, who was one of the first African women to become famous internationally as a model and opponent of female genital mutilation. The article explained that she had been found dead in the Seine River, Paris, France. I had never heard of this woman, but it made me sad to learn that the world had lost someone who was fighting against female genital mutilation.
And then today I read this article.
"Somali-born supermodel and former James Bond girl, Waris Dirie has apologized for her surprise three-day disappearance, which led to a nationwide police search for her [in Belgium].
Dirie, 43, gained international fame as a model [and James Bond Girl]... before launching her campaign against female genital mutilation in 1996.
She shocked the world with a best selling book "Desert Flower" that described how her genitals were sliced off with a dirty razor blade without anesthesia, and then stitched together.
A U.N. goodwill ambassador, Dirie was due to speak on genital mutilation in Brussels at two conferences on women's rights organized by the European Union, including one Thursday attended by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Concern over her disappearance was heightened because of the discovery last week in Paris of the body of another African-born former model who had campaigned against female genital mutilation."
It worries me that these women, who had been campaigning for such an important cause, have been making news headlines because they have been in danger.
"Dirie's manager, Walter Lutschinger, said [that Dirie] had been involved in an altercation early Wednesday after a taxi driver took her to the wrong branch of the Sofitel hotel chain.
...An Austrian citizen, Dirie was attacked in her Vienna apartment in 2004 by a Portuguese handyman who had stalked her. She received minor injuries and the man, Paulo Augusto, was given a 5-month suspended sentence by an Austrian court." (emphasis added)
I am afraid for women like this. Is it common for all supermodels to be attacked or end up dead? Or just the ones who are championing a controversial cause?