Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Half the Sky

As I was riding the T I looked up and glanced at an advertisement, which stated “The Sex Trade Destroys Lives…” As I read the description, “Seductive Blonde Angel 19” I became overwhelmed in a cloud of anger and guilt. Why were girls and women in Boston being sex trafficked? Why is modern slavery allowed to exist? Why was I not fully aware of these issues? As these questions built up in my mind I finally arrived home and slept with these thoughts still lingering. Listening to the news and hearing about cases of domestic violence, rape, sex trafficking and politicians fighting over birth control policies I realized once again that women are victims of modern slavery all over the world, and many are unaware. After coming to terms with the fact that anger wouldn’t resolve any problems for women being sex trafficked, I made a decision to educate myself on this issue and do something to help. 

I went to my computer and searched “sex trafficking in Boston” and discovered a number of groups in addition to Amirah who are addressing the issue of human trafficking and helping women reclaim their lives. I was happy to see these programs, but at the same time sad when I realized these women had been trafficked in neighborhoods twenty minutes from my house.

The next step in educating myself was discovering a book titled, “Half the Sky” written by New York Times journalists Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The title comes from a Chinese proverb which believes that women hold up half the sky and must be treated with love and respect in order to have a prosperous society. This book, although focuses on women’s issues outside of the United States opened my eyes to a whole new world. Each chapter covers a different theme relating to women, including sex trafficking, prostitution, healthcare, education and others. This book not only informed me about tragic issues occurring in Africa, The Middle East and parts of Asia, but made me realize that ending sex trafficking will not happen overnight and there is not one answer. 

In my mind sex trafficking is wrong and it should be stopped. When reading the book this was the same perspective that the authors held, yet through their research they revealed the complexities of this corrupt system. Although sex trafficking is killing women certain victims become dependent on their work as sex slaves. Some become addicted to the drugs their “owners” give them. For others, it is their only source of income and for many, returning to their village involves the risk that they may be ostracized from their families or in some cases face death. These different views changed my understanding of sex trafficking and made me realize that education is one of answers to help women who are trapped in the chains of modern slavery. Education will allow women to support themselves, build their self esteem and show them that they are valuable.

I chose to educate myself and now I am more aware, but realize I have much more to learn. I recommend that everyone go out and buy or borrow “Half the Sky” from their local library. In the coming month I hope to learn more about sex trafficking in Boston and continue to spread the word on how we can all help end modern slavery.

Peace and Love
Angela Spignese

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