Half the Sky- Ch. 2: Women Hold Up Half The Sky

Half the SkyI focused on Chapter Two: “Prohibition and Prostitution”, of the book Half The Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

Kristof was heading toward Nepal from India and when he got to the border he asked the Indian officer if they were monitoring for trafficked girls. The officer responded by saying that there are a lot of them but there is nothing they can do about it so they don’t seem to worry about it.  I found that disturbing because they were focusing more on smuggled and pirated goods, then actual human beings who were being deprived of their independence and human rights.  Then what made me even more furious was when the officer said not only that prostitution is inevitable but that it’s necessary because what else is a man supposed to do up until the time he is married. I thought that was repulsive but it just shows how normal and how social acceptable it is to some people.

The chapter looks at ways in which to find a solution to the problem.  They mentioned that prohibition against prostitution won’t work any more than it did against alcohol, so then they looked at ways to maybe legalize and regulate it, which is referred to as harm reduction.

Research found that harm reduction wouldn’t be a huge success, so they looked at other types of solutions like crackdowns, which ideally would decrease the profits that the brothel owners make.  As with any type of movement, they wanted to make a statement that would create a ripple effect and help spread the word and importance.

Relating that to what we have learned in our South Africa class, we learned how the media was used and other forms of protesting and making substantial statements to slowly create change during Apartheid.  The chapter emphasized how important it was to put the brothels out of business because it would be close to impossible to try to rescue each of the girls.  I also feel it is important to mention how the stories within the chapter all had a reoccurring theme of not giving up and persevering, even if you only get little victories.  Prostitution and the way women are treated is a social problem that should be addressed no matter the obstacles or resistance.

half the skyIn places where girls don’t have an equal status, they seem to disappear. Most of the issues and problems that go on in these countries and places where women are treated terribly, it does not appear in the news because it is not out of the ordinary, whereas if it happened in the United States, it would be a headliner on ever news station and printed news out there because it is noteworthy and deviant.

In countries like India, China, and South Africa, girls are at a much lesser value than boys in which they are not taken care of as much and are not worthy enough of certain things that are readily available to boys. It was interesting to learn about the word “gendercide” because I didn’t think it was as common as it actually is.

The introduction mentioned that women are the solution, not the problem, which is unfortunately not seen in the eyes of some people. The introduction also focused on ways that people and organizations have been trying to help the issue.  One example is that The United Nations Development Programme said that the empowerment of women helps the economy and helps reduce infant mortality.  Also, health and nutrition is improved and so are the chances of children receiving educations. The book focuses on sex trafficking, gender-based violence, and maternal mortality, which are all injustices in the world that happen not only in poor and struggling countries.

half the skyThe first sentence in the first chapter speaks volumes. The quote by Christopher Buckley states, “Women might just have something to contribute to civilization other than their vaginas.”  I found that quote interesting because it set the tone for the reader that explains how people previously thought or may still think about women and their value and capability.  The first chapter started off describing Meena Hasina’s story and how she was thrown into trafficking, beaten, and raped.  The first chapter mentioned that women who entered prostitution in their twenties did it willingly to support their children; yet, women who were sex trafficked early on in life more or less stayed in prostitution because of the stigma and that they felt they had no way out.  After reading that I wondered how many girls stay in the business compared to how many actually escape and make something of their lives.  I find stories of success and women who overcome their past remarkable, but I still wonder how many women don’t have the will power or strength to do so which is so heartbreaking.

In Meena’s case she became pregnant because of not being able to use condoms, and in other cases there is the issue of spreading sexually transmitted diseases around.  They held her children captive so she wouldn’t be able to escape.  I was most astonished and disgusted at the responses that she received from policemen.  They mocked her, told her to go back, and did not do anything to help her in the slightest bit.  What were the police even there for? Were the police there only to help any males in trouble? The same horrors that happened to Meena were happening to her daughter, Naina.  Eventually they escaped but the horrendous acts didn’t stop for other women who were not as fortunate to escape that lifestyle.half the sky

Another part of the book focused on the reality of the issue and possible ways to find solutions to the problems that revolve around how women are treated.  The author mentioned that the best way to save these girls is to prevent them from being trafficked in the first place, which means education has to play a big role in their lives.

Kun Sokkea, a student in Cambodia, said that she sometimes thinks she should be working because her mom doesn’t have a husband to support her instead of staying in school.  She was the first person in her family to graduate elementary school, which just goes to show how education is not put as a priority in other countries like it is in the United States.

The reason why people get away with doing such horrendous things is because they feel it is okay because the people who are being punished are perceived as not worthy.  It relates to how people of all minorities are treated throughout history because they are not considered normal human beings so that they actually deserve what is happening to them.  It is sickening and a viscous cycle because it happens in different places, in different times, and in various conditions and treatments.


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