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Rita la Fontaine de Clercq was born in Subang, Indonesia to a Dutch-Indonesia family. She was 12 years old at the time of the Japanese invasion in World War II. Her parents feared that occupation troops would sexually abuse her, so they disguised her as a boy named "Rick" -- an identity she maintained for a harrowing three-and-a-half years as her family was shuttled between prisoner-of-war camps. She learned to speak Japanese and English and became a translator for a number of Japanese commanders. More than 60 years later, she published an account of her experiences entitled Disguised: A Wartime Memoir (2001).
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