Tuesday 3 January 2012

Festival of the senseless

I spent some time here in Tanzania with a good and wise friend. She is an entrepreneur who runs a successful small business on the mainland. She is also one of the most beautiful people I know. Sometimes when I see her she looks every inch the part of a successful businesswoman anywhere, other times she wears black and covers her head - admittedly very chic black, more Chanel perhaps than Kabul. Sometimes we joke about her clothes, I say perhaps her husband likes her to cover up so no-one else can see her. No she insists that it is always her choice.

This time, like many others in Africa, she has been seeing images of binge- drinking young Britons on the streets at Christmas. Do the men force the women to drink so much so that they can rape them, she asks. Not generally, I reply. The women enjoy drinking. She is bemused and tells me about pictures she has seen of young women unconscious in the gutter. They choose to do that? She won't believe it. Then she laughs and tugs at her scarf. She asks, which is the more controlling of women, a piece of fabric or a drug consumed in such quantity that it  renders them senseless on the streets?