In the first two chapters of Half the Sky, we hear the story of Meena, who was kidnapped and forced to work in a brothel. We learn that she is by no means the only girl who has been in this terrible situation, and that it is actually quite common, not only in her area of India, but all over the world. It really disheartens me to think that around the globe, so many girls and women have to go through this physical, sexual, and mental abuse that we are reading about. The numbers were shocking, but I think that as a person living in America, far geographically from the examples given, the full force of it doesn't hit until you think about the individual experiences, and think about how it has affected the lives of girls, over and over again. I enjoyed hearing about how Meena was able to find her freedom and steal back her children's freedom from those who had first stolen it. I thought it was incredibly brave of her to keep going back and fighting, even when it was dangerous and resulted in threats and punishments. I'm not sure what I would have done in her position, but I really think she was amazingly courageous, especially in continuing to speak out against the issue, despite what people thought of her and the possible danger she was putting herself in. I was so appalled at the reality of it all, especially that there are more sexual slaves than slaves during the slave trade, but I am not surprised. Girls have always been sexualized in this way, and there are terrible cruel people in this world that greatly prefer wealth over any form of morality. I honestly think capitalism is quite to blame in this, by unleashing the greedy, power-hungryness in people that will lead them to exploit their fellow human to the worst extent, but my issues with capitalism maybe are to talk about on a different day.
I did really like the part with the building of the school, and the lives that it directly impacted. A lot of times people in privilege like to pull that whole "White Savior" complex out and talk about how they're saving the lives of these poor, poor, victims in another country, which can obviously get problematic. However, this definitely was not the case. The kids truly, actually cared about the well being of the kids in Cambodia, and not simply the deed of doing something good. The trip that they took and the connections that they made with their Cambodian counterparts was so sweet, and I think it's great they could make a difference. Because even if it was a small difference, it meant all the world to some of the children there. Reading this made me appreciate all that I have, that I have the privilege to be writing this on my own laptop computer, in my own (at the moment) room with heating and a bed, and all these other luxuries that we may take for granted here. I agree with the girl in the book, Natalie, who was upset that the girl from Cambodia that she was keeping in contact with wasn't going to be able to pursue her dreams: it shouldn't occur that someone has less opportunities to be everything they want to be simply based on resources and money. Like in the Girl Effect video, it creates a cycle of poverty that can only be broken by education, which is so difficult to aquire in some of these places.