I’ve just watched the first half of PBS’s documentary called “Half the Sky”, named after the book by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn two NY Times journalists. I read the book a couple if years ago, and like many was moved by the stories and concentration of incredible adversity and violence of young girls and women throughout the world, and specifically in developing countries. Issues covered include sex trafficking, gender-based violence and maternal mortality.
The series is worth watching:
a. If you think the book might be worthy but your book list of “to-reads” is longer than a year’s worth of reading (the stories and information in this project are urgent); or
b. You enjoy watching celebrities take on, or at least flash a light beam on these issues. The authors chose celebrities such as Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, America Ferrara and Meg Ryan to follow them to meet the towns and people that the book covered. There is even a bit of George Clooney in the mix if this inspires you.
The moving image is most definitely harder to digest than the written word. Unlike other documentaries I’ve seen, “Half the Sky” actually shows you the three-year old girl that has been sold to a brothel, and interviews the serial rapist without putting a black bar over his face or disguising his voice. It’s alarming really.
While I remain flummoxed on my potential to help these girls and women, I remain optimistic that there are people actively doing beautiful work with a minority of these women and girls, such as Room to Read Which focuses on education as a vehicle for change in these poor communities.
I think awareness is a start though and hope that people will seek ways to help in any way they can. More ideas are here for where to begin. I just purchased a bracelet from the Brave Collection, benefitting survivors of the sex trade in Cambodia.
I remain aware that although these stories featured are about lands far away, 12 miles due south of my home lies one of north America’s most notorious sex trafficking places. We in the US are not immune to these devastating situations for girls and women.
Thanks for reading this post, and here’s to collective, mindful change for the future of these girls and women!
Girl at New Light Crèche in Kolkata, India. Photo by Joshua Bennett