Ho Chi Minh

Annamese Women and French Domination

First Published: La Paria, August 1, 1922
Source: Selected Works of Ho Chi Minh Vol. 1
Publisher: Foreign Languages Publishing House
Transcription/Markup: Roland Ferguson and Christian Liebl
Online Version: Ho Chi Minh Internet Archive (marxists.org) 2003

Colonization is in itself an act of violence of the stronger against the weaker. This violence becomes still more odious when it is exercised upon women and children.

It is bitterly ironic to find that civilization — symbolized in its various forms, viz. liberty. justice, etc., by the gentle image of woman, and run by a category of men well known to be champions of gallantry — inflicts on its living emblem the most ignoble treatment and afflicts her shamefully in her manners, her modesty and even her life.

Colonial sadism is unbelievably widespread and cruel, but we shall confine ourselves here to recalling a few instances seen and described by witnesses unsuspected of partiality. These facts will allow our Western sisters to realize both the nature of the ‘civilizing mission’ of capitalism, and the sufferings of their sisters in the colonies.

“On the arrival of the soldiers,” relates a colonial, “the population fled; there only remained two old men and two women: one maiden, and a mother suckling her baby and holding an eight year old girl by the hand. The soldiers asked for money, spirits and opium.”

“As they could not make themselves understood, they became furious and knocked down one of the old men with their rifle butts. Later, two of them, already drunk when they arrived, amused themselves for many hours by roasting the other old man at a wood fire. Meanwhile, the others raped the two women and the eight year old girl. Then, weary, they murdered the girl. The mother was then able to escape with her infant and, from a hundred yards off, hidden in a bush, she saw her companion tortured. She did not know why the murder was perpetrated, but she saw the young girl lying on her back, bound and gagged, and one of the men, many times, slowly thrust his bayonet into her stomach and, very slowly, draw it out again. Then he cut off the dead girl’s finger to take a ring, and her head to steal a necklace. ”

“The three corpses lay on the flat ground of a former salt-marsh: the eight year old girl naked, the young woman disembowelled, her stiffened left forearm raising a clenched fist to the indifferent sky, and the old man, horrible, naked like the others, disfigured by the roasting with his fat which had run, melted and congealed with the skin of his belly, which was bloated, grilled and golden, like the skin of a roast pig.”