Recently, I watched this documentary called “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.” This may sound dramatic, but the simple act of watching this important documentary I believe has actually impacted the course of my life.
This documentary-style television series (there is also a book which I have not read yet) is important for everyone to watch, but it is especially important for all women to watch, and it is even more critical that women of the Western World watch this.
Why is that? Because a majority of the women who reside in modernized, industrialized, developed countries are not aware of the fact that although it may seem that females have finally achieved a status of equality on the world scene, this is a grave misunderstanding.
Another reason being, women in our position actually have the power to help and to make a difference. We have the resources, the education and the know-how to do something, ANYTHING for the women who continue to be tortured by abuse, inequality, neglect, sexual oppression and who are seen as disposable objects by their patriarchal societies.
This documentary series features the lives of women and girls in 10 different countries: Cambodia, Kenya, India, Sierra Leone, Somaliland, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Liberia and the U.S. It reveals the shocking conditions that these women and girls must face in their everyday lives, conditions which would cause almost anyone to wish that they were no longer alive.
However, through the stories of these incredible women and girls, we see the strength, the resilience and the bravery of the female spirit. In many of these countries, young girls are sold by their families or abducted into brothels whereby they are forced into sexual slavery by unimaginably cruel brothel owners.
Some girls are sold into prostitution even as young as the age of 3 years old. Many of these girls serve up to 30 men a day. A nine year old girl who was infected by HIV-AIDS by a ‘client’ during her time spent in forced prostitution said in the film: “A few minutes of their pleasure kills me.”
One extremely emotional account was told by an inspiring young girl named Somana Long. I must warn you all, Somana’s following tale is a brutal one, but it is one that needs to be heard.
Somana was kidnapped and sold into prostitution in a Cambodian brothel at the age of 13 and was impregnated shortly after that time. On the day of her second abortion, she was still expected by the brothel owners to sexually serve the men who came to the brothel. On this day, Somana was so exhausted and sick from the abortion that she simply refused. As punishment, the brothel owners gouged out her left eye, and although she was bleeding and screaming in agony, men continued to use her body for their sexual pleasure.
Somana now spends her time working to help rescue other young girls who are forced into prostitution through the Somaly Mam Foundation, the same organization which rescued Somana from the brothel of her past.
I’ve never really considered myself what people call a ‘feminist,’ but the passion I feel for this issue is something entirely differently from modern-day feminism. This is not about the assholes who make politically incorrect comments about females, and it’s not about the fact that women make less money than their male counterparts in modern, industrialized societies. This is complete inhumanity and atrocious acts of violent horror being committed against women and girls around the world because they were born as females: half of the world’s population.
I am writing to make any woman (and man) who reads this aware of the fact that we really do not actually see the reality of the female plight, because we have been blessed by progress. Yet a vast majority of the world still live in under-developed, uneducated societies whereby the women and girls are forced to live silenced lives filled with savage abuse and degradation.
We as females must start to realize the impact that we can have on the world community. We must do what we can to lead the women of our community and of our world toward liberation from oppression. We must wake up everyday and be willing to act as an example for all women and girls across the world. We must show the world our true capabilities, our strength, our intelligence, our power, our infinite potential and our incredible value.
I do not think it’s true that we as women become leaders and examples to the world community only by travelling to the other side of the world. We can do it right here, right now simply by owning our potential and not being afraid to reveal it to the world. By the simple act of raising your hand in class or voicing your true opinion to your fellow co-workers or friends, the other half of the world will see that you are not afraid of expressing yourself and that you will stand proudly as an intelligent female who knows the value of her own mind.
We must educate ourselves, we must voice our opinions and no longer sit quietly in the corners of our classrooms and our offices while the men take the main stage.
As said many times in the documentary, “women are the solution not the problem.”
Education, I am realizing is such a deeply crucial factor in creating a better world not only for women to live in, but for all human beings to live in. Many of these women face such horrible conditions because their culture simply has not been given access to a system of formal education. Education allows us as humans to develop morally, ethically and socially, as well as in so many other ways that are necessary for the raising of our individual consciousnesses.
I understand this is probably a controversial post and many would rather not hear about what I have just written because it is difficult to think about and it is disturbing.
Many would prefer to spend their lives in ignorance, which may partly mask the painful realities of the world. However, I believe that an examined life– the opposite of ignorance, eventually leads to a profoundly deeper joy than the superficially dull pacifism which may be experienced under the conditions of an ignorant life.