I recently read a book called Half the Sky, that I found at our local English bookstore here in Zurich. It describes in heart-wrenching detail what is going on world-wide through three horrible types of abuse: sex trafficking and forced prostitution, gender-based violence, and maternal mortality. A large emphasis is placed on sex trafficking. You might be surprised to know that it takes place in every country worldwide, and in the places least expected. The majority of people it affects are women, in particular, young girls from impoverished countries and families. For many girls, they are given the “opportunity” to work a job in another city/country to help support their families. The opportunities they are told about include working jobs, such as, being a grocery store clerk, selling fruit from a cart, or cleaning houses. However, when the girls reach the destination where they were supposed to begin their jobs, they are instead sold to brothels or other types of prostitution rings and told that they have to “work” to pay back their debts. The book goes into sometimes brutal detail describing accounts from these women who were brave enough to share their stories.
Half the Sky explains that the best way to fight poverty and extremism is to educate and empower all women. For right now I feel that I can do my part by spreading awareness of these horrible types of abuse, and encourage others to do the same. Many people would think things of this nature do not exist, especially not in the more affluent countries, such as the U.S. Although the numbers are hard to track, since this is an illegal business, it really is happening everywhere and is affecting millions of lives. The crazy thing is that we see it all of the time, in the daily news you can hear about events such as mass rape in Congo, or the terrible flood in Pakistan, but few people stand up to make a difference. Perhaps, it is because we, as a society have become so immune to hearing stories of this nature, and have completely lost personal connection. There needs to be an end and it starts with realizing that slavery exists! Sexual slavery is the crisis of the 21st century. Believe it or not, there are more slaves today than any other century in history. I encourage each of you to take a look at this book; it’s written by two New York Times Journalists, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. It’s a phenomenal, bestselling book that will leave you wanting to contribute all that you can to this worthy cause!
There’s also a website that was created to spread the word. It really would mean the world to me if you took a look. http://www.halftheskymovement.org/