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Reflecting on Marte Deborah Dalelv
photo by Hamid Najafi
by
Alicia Jones
on
July 26, 2013
| Gender Concerns | From the Office |

After a week of purposely avoiding the story of Marte Deborah Dalelv, from Norway, I finally took the time to read it. I had avoided the story for a considerable time, partly because I knew it would be bad. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to feel the waves of anger that would come, and the confusing swirl of accompanying emotions. I waited until I was ready to read it in a way that focused on her, gathering the clues of her surprising strength and being thankful for a voice that wasn’t crushed.

Marte’s story also reminds us of the incredibly complex situation female humanitarians face when making the choice to report an incident of sexual assault. In Marte’s case, what would have been a normal course of action in her own country had potentially devastating consequences in the host country. Conflicting advice, language barriers, values and perceptions amplified the decision to report in ways she would have no way of perceiving.

As we think about resources, training and support for women in these circumstances, it’s nearly impossible to imagine a “one size fits all” document. The choices are incredibly personal and the impact difficult to assess. Add in the human variables and failings, and outcomes become impossible to predict. For starters, we can agree not to look away from the echoes of uncomfortableness in our own setting, and in our own workplace. We need to have the hard conversations we've been avoiding. We must do our best to talk about the worst case scenarios and who we’d want to be for each other as teams and as employers and colleagues.      

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