After being bombarded with stories like these, it becomes all too easy to grow jaded. I admit, I had. From Sandra Fluke to Ann Coulter, it seems I’ve been hearing non-stop chatter of the oppression, or lack thereof, facing millions of women in this country.
Then I got a reality check by way of “Half the Sky”, an Independent Lens documentary on PBS.
Shoma, a young woman living in the red light district of Kalighat, in the Indian city of Kolkata, was 13 years old when the man she had married sold her to a brothel shortly after their wedding.“In the beginning I would tremble and stand there and cry. I was abused and beaten up. They used to tie up my hands in the back and tie up my legs and beat me with a belt,” she recalled of her time as a victim of India’s sex trade.“There was no possibility of escape.” (more here)
For years, Amie Kandeh endured threats and beatings at the hands of her husband. The end finally came when the man, in an alcohol-fueled rage, told her she was going to die. What makes Kandeh’s story more salient is that at the same time she was being brutalized, she was counseling other women who were victims of similar abuse.“So I had this double life,” says Kandeh, the director of the Gender-Based Violence Program with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Sierra Leone. (more here)
While the World Health Organization and United Nations report that the number of woman dying from pregnancy-related causes is slowly decreasing, it remains a cause for extreme concern in many parts of the world where women are denied access to basic medical attention.“In much of the developing world, women don’t even have the basic right to go and see a healthcare professional. It’s not even considered something that women should do,” says Sheryl WuDunn, co-author of Half the Sky. “And that’s the attitude that is prevalent in so much of the developing world. So it’s discrimination and often it leads to death, so it’s discrimination to death.” (more here)
Below is part one. Part two will be aired tonight. If you get a chance, watch it. Warning: it tells the heart-wrenching stories of girls and women who have been beaten, sold, raped and disfigured. I wound up sobbing. They are horrendous- there is a three year old rape survivor. So please be cautioned.
Oh, and if for some sad and callous reason you feel you can dismiss these stories because it’s happening so far away, you should know things like this happen in America, too.