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Human Trafficking

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    Review: Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

    Half the Sky

    I read the nonfiction work Half the Sky a couple of years ago as a part of a summer reading assignment. Its content blew my mind. Husband and wife team of journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn touch on the many injustices faced by women internationally, a subject I was only briefly aware of prior to reading. 

    Raised in a safe community with trustworthy parents and adults surrounding me, I haven’t personally experienced many of the situations and lifestyles that the authors detail in the novel. However, I feel that it is important for everyone to learn about the oppression that many women worldwide experience. Awareness allows us to work together and end these injustices. 

    What I Loved

    My favorite aspects of the book were the nature in which the authors gathered information and the structure of the writing. Kristof and WuDunn not only did extensive literary research on the topics they investigated, but they actually traveled to several third world countries and interacted with the women there. The book is a series of interwoven essays and anecdotes that discuss the authors’ observations during their travels. It also highlights the personal stories that they gathered from the women they spoke to. In my opinion, the first-person narrative and anecdotal evidence were what made this book so stimulating and captivating.

    Half the Sky is divided into three main parts. The first third of the book focuses on sexual abuses faced by women around the globe. Then, the second third focuses on childbirth and family planning. Finally, the last third is all about education, micro-businesses, and the actions readers can take to help. Each section is filled with small anecdotes, commentary, and additional research that captivate readers as they make their way through the book. 

    The Book’s First Part: Human Trafficking

    In the first third of the book, readers are taken to a small village in Cambodia. Here, the harrowing realities of human trafficking are unveiled. I was shocked and heartbroken to hear that in this part of the world (and in several other countries), it is commonplace for girls as young as eight or nine years old to be captured and traded. These girls are stuck in a very abusive environment for a large portion of their lives. They must obey their master’s commands and remain completely shut away from their families and the rest of society.

    For many of these women, the contraction of HIV/AIDS is common and equivalent to a death sentence. For others, getting kicked out after youthfulness fades is customary. They are then left to fend for themselves in society. This is an incredibly difficult task given that they have been taken far from their families and the communities they grew up in. To make matters worse, they usually have minimal education since they were captured at such a young age.

    Kristof and WuDunn interviewed several young girls, and their stories are included. These personal anecdotes are an absolute must-read and are so incredibly emotional and intriguing. In this section, I also loved learning about organizations that help save the lives of women who have been trafficked through monetary, educational, and other forms of support.

    The Second Part of the Book: Limited Medical Access

    In the second part, the lack of doctors and medical personnel in third world countries is highlighted. One anecdote that stood out to me was that of a woman from Cameroon who was unable to give birth due to a blocked cervix. The birthing attendant decided that sitting on the woman’s stomach and jumping up and down would help. This ruptured the woman’s uterus, causing more problems. Living in the United States, many of us trust our health care providers and receive quality care from trained professionals. It was mind-opening to learn about the consequences of a lack of education. This section of the book taught me many important lessons about the power and value of humanity.

    The Final Section: Micro-Businesses

    The final section of the book was, in my opinion, the most optimistic. I learned about the concept of micro-businesses. Within these, women are given a small amount of money from a donor that they then use as an investment to start their own business. They are very powerful because they allow women to rebuild their lives and feel empowered after hard experiences such as trafficking and childbirth issues. Additionally, organizations that are offering resources for women are mentioned and several actions readers can take are detailed.

    Final thoughts

    Half the Sky was overall a very informative and thought-provoking read. This book really helps garner a better understanding of the oppression and injustices that some women around the world experience on a day-to-day basis. I highly recommend that everyone read this at some point in their life. If you are interested in learning more and/or taking action, visit http://www.halftheskymovement.org/.

    To learn more about Human Trafficking click here. If you or someone that you know is a victim of human trafficking, call 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733.

  • Human Trafficking, Local

    Human Trafficking – When Evil Hides in Plain Sight

    Human Trafficking

    Human Trafficking

    When Evil Hides in Plain Sight

    By Maggie Thompson

    There are more human slaves today than ever before in history.

    Generating up to $35 billion annually, human trafficking has become one of the greatest human rights challenges of this century. In the United States (U.S.), there is a 147-mile stretch of Interstate 20 between Atlanta, Georgia, and Birmingham, Alabama called “Sex Trafficking Superhighway.”

    Shockingly, 40% of human trafficking in the U.S. happens in the South. This is primarily due to the surrounding international travel hubs such as Atlanta and Houston. Although trafficking is so globally prevalent, it remains in the shadows of society. The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB) African American Studies program hosted a documentary screening and panel discussion on human trafficking in September (2017). Carlon Harris, an African American studies major and graduating senior, made and presented the documentary. 

    Through his research, Harris is hoping to transform the subject of human trafficking to an everyday conversation piece by localizing the issue and bringing awareness to the people of Birmingham. “Human trafficking happens 365 days of the year. So basically it can happen anytime, anywhere. Most victims, they will pass you,” Harris stated in an interview with Birmingham’s WBRC Fox 6 News. Kathy Taylor, a survivor, and human trafficking advocate is the center of Harris’ documentary. On camera, Taylor answered questions and shared some of her own experiences as a trafficking victim including the fact that her victimization began on a college campus.

    After the screening, panelists discussed the issues that accompany human trafficking, the steps law enforcement is taking towards prevention and what the public can do to help. The panelists included: Helen Smith of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Sergeant Anthony Williams of Birmingham Police Department and Dr. Robert Blanton, UAB Professor of Government. 

    Human trafficking, which is fueled by poverty and gender discrimination, is estimated to surpass the drug trade industry in less than five years.

    Subsequently, traffickers are becoming more powerful and knowledgeable as society continues to allow the submergence of the massive issue modern slavery has become. Although it is primarily men that run this trade, women are also included. Pimps and Johns are common names for these men and women. They control and terrorize these victims. Victimizers use fraud, force and coercion to lure their victims into captivity, sometimes even using victims as bait.

    However, not all traffickers look or act the same.

    Human trafficking does not discriminate and it is nowhere near being transparent. Therefore, anyone can become a victim or a victimizer. Some victims find that their only option toward escape is to become a victimizer themselves and view the “promotion” from prostitute to pimp as a natural process.

    In conclusion, creating awareness is the first step towards ending human trafficking.

    Panels and organized events that educate the public on the facts of human trafficking can act as a gateway to major prevention as well as putting an end to what has become the greatest human rights challenges of this century. The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Institute for Human Rights is working hard to promote prevention and awareness by informing students on the indicators of human trafficking and how to identify and help a potential victim.

    If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, call 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733.
    For tips on how to stay safe and aware of your surroundings, click here, https://www.girlspring.com/?s=Human+Trafficking
    And for the Human Trafficking Hotline site, click here.