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Horrific story of a very brave girl
on 3 May 2005
"I Choose to Live" is a very apt title for this book by Sabine Dardenne about her 80 days as a twelve year old held captive by Marc Dutroux, Belgium's notorious paedophile. Sabine describes her ordeal at Dutroux's hands pretty graphically, though understandably holds back on the worst of what happened to her. The conditions she describes being held in are almost unbelievable, and would not be believed if written in fiction. Sabine describes the events she was forced to go through with tremendous courage and really opens your eyes as to just what horrors some people are capable of.
Her perspective is almost unique, from the point of view that very few girls survive this sort of ordeal, and so you really get a sense of what it is like to be the victim in such a crime. Too often books focus on the perpetraitor, but here Sabine speaks for all victims of sex crimes and this makes the piece very moving.
Equally interesting is the events that happened after her rescue - how she dealt with her ordeal, the break up of her family, her treatment by the media and those whose daughters were killed by Dutroux, her friendship with her fellow cative Laetitia Dehlez and the trial. All these are described in detail and merely add to the respect you already feel for a person who has come through all this trauma sane. It is fascinating to see the differences between the Belgian legal system and our own. Sabine also gives her opinion on the idea Dutroux was merely a middle man in a large paedophile ring which are also fascinating to read.
I can't say I enjoyed this book, as the subject matter is horrendous. I also think it lost a little of it's power in translation and at times the chronlogy is a bit muddled and hard to follow. However, this is still an important and worthwile read, and I have a hgue admiration for it's tremendously brave author.