You don’t have to be a third world girl, mired in poverty, sold to a brothel, raped, shamed and disowned by your family and community to recognize the deep and universal roots of the problem. There is a gut wrench when you see it–how the sex trafficking of children and women is a crime for which no one is held responsible or seems to care.
When NYT columnist Nicholas D. Kristof and his wife, business executive and author Sheryl WuDunn wrote a book about it, they titled it, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. We are the world, right? Even at the microcosmic level of our own family, neighborhood and city. It’s a soul-churning subject but required reading for all of us if we want a more just and safe world, in the neighborhood and across the globe.
If you are unlikely to pick up a book about it, then turn on the TV. Last night (October 1) was the PBS premiere of a documentary based on the book. If you are having trouble persuading yourself or others to watch it, tell them that handsome, charming George Clooney made this documentary. Beautiful movie stars like Meg Ryan, Diane Lane, Eva Mendes and Gabrielle Union are in the film. Tell them it’s a reality show. Whatever it takes, just get people in front of a screen.
The episode I saw last night was mesmerizing. I was especially moved by the work of Somaly Mam in Cambodia. This woman, once sold into a brothel and brutally treated now works to rescue girls from that life.
The Somaly Mam Foundation supports anti-trafficking and helps women and girls who have been forced into sexual slavery. At one point in the film she points to a little girl at the shelter, seemingly overflowing with little girls rescued from brothels, and says, “There’s the girl I was telling you about…” She explains that the girl was sold to a brothel as a toddler. The girl, who looked no older than 10, is now dying of AIDS. Somaly Mam tells Meg Ryan that the girl had asked her to tell the men who did this to her that “a few minutes of their pleasure” is killing her.
Watch tonight on TPT2, 8 to 10 pm.
Check out the local broadcast schedule here, http://www.tpt.org/?a=programs&id=22401
More at http://www.halftheskymovement.org/