Ex-Supermodel Activist Says Taxi Driver Abducted Her | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 10.03.2008
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Ex-Supermodel Activist Says Taxi Driver Abducted Her

A Somali-born Austrian women's rights activist and supermodel who went missing for two days in Brussels originally said she's gotten lost. But Waris Dirie now says a taxi driver kidnapped and assaulted her.

Waris Dirie with a hat and a flower

Dirie was "in shock"

Waris Dirie went missing for two days in Brussels, Belgium. When she was found Friday, March 7, the 43-year-old ex-model and crusader against genital mutilation told authorities that she had simply gotten lost in the city.

Dirie said she was wandering around for days, not able to find her way due to her inability to speak French. Her manager, Walter Lutschinger, had chalked the bizarre disappearance up to "misunderstandings."

She originally thanked Belgians for their kindness in helping her through the ordeal and apologized for causing a media ruckus.

"I never would have imagined causing all this," Dirie said of the alarm her disappearance caused.

A terrifying taxi ride

The outline of a taxi driver can be seen sitting in his car

A taxi ride from hell

Dirie had last been seen getting into a taxi in the early hours of Wednesday. Dirie's attorney and manager told the Austrian news agency APA Sunday evening that the taxi driver kidnapped Dirie and tried to rape her, injuring her shoulder and leaving scratch marks on her legs.

The taxi driver allegedly took Dirie home to his apartment in the outskirts of Brussels and then refused to let her leave and tried to sexually assault her. She was kept in the house for the next two days until the taxi driver brought her back into the city Friday afternoon.

Dirie is a naturalized Austrian citizen and a United Nations ambassador in the campaign against female genital mutilation.

Ordeal left her "in shock"

Belgian flag and statue

Dirie was supposed to attend a conference in Brussels

She did not tell the Belgian police what happened.

"I think that she was simply in extreme shock," Lutschinger said Sunday evening in Vienna.

Dirie had been expected in Kerkrade, the Netherlands, on Friday to receive the Euriade Foundation prize. She had also planned to take part in a conference on female circumcision being held in Brussels Saturday as part of International Women's Day.

In addition to modeling work, Dirie became known for writing four books of memoirs and had a minor role in the 1987 James Bond movie "The Living Daylights."

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