In the streets of Algiers: A story of common indifference

Posted April 3, 2017 from Algeria

It is no easy task to tell others' stories. Weare always afraid not to do enough justice to the hard truth, to the palpable reality, to the everyday battlesand the invisible s-heros. Few lines on an online platformwill surely not have much impact nor provoke a change, they are just the reflection of a shy attempt to remove the shrouds of indifference.

This is only one among thousands of stories of everyday Algerian women, failed by their families, their partners, the authorities, and worse... failed by their society. One more strong, resilient yet voiceless woman, whom Iwill nameLeila.

Leila is a homeless woman, living in thestreets of the Algerian Capital. Some years ago, she has been kicked outof what she used to call her home, after having been pregnant while she was not yet officially married.

Such a harsh sentence is more common than people want to think, but the absence of official statistics and on-the-ground studies makes it hard to quantify such phenomenon.

Being forced by her family to leave her house was the start ofa long series of successive hardships, each one harder to bear than the other.

With no surprise, the father of her baby disappeared and refused to recognize the child. Leila who just started a frightening life in the streets of Algierswas at that time more concerned about protecting the little girl that she did not want to abandon than to take care of the (unfortunately much needed) paperwork. This results in her child being basically "identity-less", meaning that she is not recognized as an Algerian citizen, and cannot, therefore, benefit from any support or simply any right, among them the right to go to school.

No different to any homeless woman, Leila survives "thanks to" the little help of regular people who contribute as they can to sustain her. She finally decided to camp at the entrance of a popular Bar of the capital, as she said that "People frequenting the Bar are the most generous with her."

No extreme weather conditions, festivities, nor any occasion of any kind changed her destiny, Leila continued to endure the gruesome conditions of being homeless with a child in the country of "Dignity" (as a government slogan claims it be.)

Time passes and here is Leila pregnant again. This time, not out of a consenting sexual relationship but from a rape. No details are necessary, I will leave to your imagination all what it meantand implied for her, for her little girl, and for her future baby.

Despite the adversity, Leila refused again to abandon her second child, another "illegitimate" child, as if anyhuman being could ever be illegitimate or illegal.

In the meantime, her"mum" most probably feeling guilty,proposed herself to take care of the girl, now older, and took her to the city of Batna, to the (big) family house.

Some signs of changes appeared to be possible and Leila could see that her condition might not be a fatality, better days are yet to come. She also could finally work for few hours a day as a cleaning lady and earn some money to sustain her new-born child. With the help of another woman, she even was able to rent a room in a family house, not without conditions: leaving at 6 am in the morning, and coming back before 6pm, otherwise she would again, have to sleep on the street.

Unfortunately, this situation did not last long, and her mom called her after a month to announce that she would not be able to keep her daughter anymore because the family refuses to have a misbegotten child under its roof.

Between confusion, anger, and despair, I personally still hardly imagine the weight of such continuoussorrow on someone's life. I try -unsuccessfully- to understand how destiny works. Are some peoplejust "meant" to live a life of pain, misfortune, and torment? Or are they here to be a living proof of our societies failingto provide the most basic formsof dignity to the individuals who form it?Are they lessons for us? Lessons of necessary fights for a democratic and more equal system that protects its own citizen rather than put them in even more troubles? Or are they lessons of resilience, courage, and strength for everyone who ever considered women as the "weaker sex"? Whichever response you, dear readers chose, it will not change anything in the course of this grotesque journey that is life for too many of our fellow women, and fellow humans in general.

And because it seems that "bad news" comealways in bulk, last week,Leila lost her second child, her little boy,in the darkest indifference of all. She is also pregnant for a third time, out of... I will again let you guess the response.

This week, the streets of the immaculateAlger la Blanche are stained by the blood ofan innocent angel; This week, as every week, the streets of Algiers arescreaming for justice, and crying a far too common story of indifference.

Comments 3

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Jill Langhus
Apr 04, 2017
Apr 04, 2017

Hi Soumeya. Welcome to World Pulse:-) Thanks for sharing the heart breaking account of Leila. Do you know her personally? Do you have a suggestion or a vision to help women such as Leila to give them a better life?

Apr 04, 2017
Apr 04, 2017


Thank you for reading the article:) I personnally don't know her directly but my mother and sister do, they are the ones who communicated me the terrible news of her loss last week, and her story in general. It affected them and then me so much that I decided to share it with the world.

Well to respond to your question, the first thing is that there is a huge lack of shelters, so I am thinking on how I could build and create one. As you know, building and managing one not only need timeand resources but also the involvement of professionals to take care of the women psychologically, which is also a lack we experience in Algeria (even in the capital.) but I am convinced that I have to do something practicle, I just need to effectively plan for it and get the appropriate support needed!

Jill Langhus
Apr 04, 2017
Apr 04, 2017

You're welcome. Indeed. That would affect someone. That is a great plan and vision. It will happen. Let us know how we can help and keep us posted on your progress. Much luck to you:)