Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Half the Sky

I am currently reading the book "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide" by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. It is really incredible so far. It is also extremely sad and humbling to read about the terrible experiences of women in many developing nations who are sold into prostitution by desperate families, or who are kidnapped or tricked into the sex trade. It is all very affecting but what I love about the book is the positive tone and the hope given to such a vast and grave problem. When I think about these women I try not to just think of them as strangers living thousands of miles away in conditions wholly different than my own, but instead as Heavenly Father would, as spirits of INFINITE worth, created by God. I try to think of them as my sisters and it makes my heart YEARN to help them. To Reach out to them, to do SOMETHING. The book shares the personal experiences of the women in sexual bondage and the horrible conditions and experiences that are the daily expectation and norm. It has already opened my eyes to many things that I had not considered about human trafficking: About how hard it is to rescue girls from that lifestyle because often they are addicted to the drugs that they are forced to take to make them compliant and easy to handle. Also, how cultural traditions make it difficult for girls trying to get away from life in the brothel to succeed in other fields besides the few traditionally given them. It is a tough and complex problem with no simple solution. The book addresses this however, and merely invites us to consider the ONE girl that could be helped by our efforts. I think that is where the focus has to be: on the individual. This does not mean that the government and society are off the hook, just that it is more complicated to make lasting changes with a broad effort as opposed to doing what CAN be done now for the one.

A few months ago I went with two of my friends to a lecture on Human Trafficking given by an American who had been involved in U.S. military efforts to stop trafficking. It was, again, eye opening and very sad: Desperate people selling their girlfriends into slavery to get money to help their dying mothers, mobsters from former Soviet block nations running brothels in western European countries with kidnapped girls, and the immense difficulty of finding and punishing those responsible. Again, however, it was stressed that this situation must not be look at as hopeless. There IS hope and there are things that can be done. He talked about how the U.S. military is raising awareness that many of the prostitutes that servicemen might visit (which is a problem in and of itself...) can very possibly be trafficked women who are being held against their wills. Something that really struck me about the lecture, which was not addressed and just something that I noticed, had to do with the video we were shown about the experience of one Eastern European girl who was sold by her boyfriend to some traffickers. The video was narrated by the actress Angelina Jolie who obviously took the issue very seriously and was pleading for help for these women. HOWEVER, I could not ignore the fact that Angelina Jolie, who is a sex symbol and produces movies with pornographic content, was not addressing the fact that the sex trade is so lucrative because of the HUGE demand. The world is SOAKED in sexual filth and sex has lost all of its sacredness as a means of creating and bringing life into the world. (Here is an example of one of Angelina Jolie's more TAME photos) It is now all about excitement, passion, and arousal, pushing the envelope more and more. Prostitution, while it is the "oldest profession"- a saying that kills me because it makes something very serious seem like an old tradition where boys will be boys and girls will be exploited... but that's for another post, has become an acceptable and adventurous outlet for men. When the world takes sex and puts it back into marriage, instead of flaunting it these problems might disappear all together. Women like Angelina Jolie, while I applaud her efforts in publicizing the problem, make it worse by using their sexuality to sell, thereby adding fuel to the already blazing sexual inferno that has set fire to and engulfed societies throughout the world.

So, let's focus on the one. Let's realize that there IS a problem and let's FACE it. Let's also FIGHT against Pornography and the sexual exploitation of women and children. Even just praying for those who are victims will help.


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