Ms. Susan Soltis
AP Language and Composition
13 April 2011
The Reality of Oppressed Women Around the World
An underdeveloped, underprivileged country cannot prosper and stabilize if half of its population is marginalized. A Chinese proverb states that women hold up half the sky, inspiring Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn to write the book, Half the Sky. Their intention is to open people’s eyes to less fortunate women’s oppression. Their argument incorporates both logic and emotion -through both statistics and horrifying anecdotal true stories. These two journalists show that women’s oppression with regard to sex trafficking, violence and lack of education is essentially the equivalent of slavery. Over 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, why does something so similar to slavery still exist? Kristof and WuDunn explain that the situation can be altered, with the help of American government and personal donations. If America used 1/12 of 1% of the amount of money it spends on militaristic necessities, women around the world could benefit. Others argue that prostitution is not forced but a right to females. And those people argue that the United States has little impact on reducing human trafficking and increasing women’s rights. But that kind of mentality is incorrect, due to the fact that even the smallest aid will make an impact.
Young females of Cambodia have to worry every time they leave their houses due to the disgusting acts of men and even women kidnappers. Kristof and WuDunn discuss one fifteen-year-old confident Cambodian girl, Momm, who was kidnapped, sent to a brothel, drugged, beaten, and forced to work every day- fifteen hours a day sleeping with male customers. The use of condoms was forbidden and she was never paid for her work. Food was just as infrequent; just enough was given to Momm to keep her alive. Kristof found Momm when he was writing about the local brothels, and negotiated with the brothel owner to eventually sell her for $203. Despite the appreciation she had for Kristof, she was plagued with the fear that her parents would not accept her back into the family. She was forced into prostitution with horrible conditions, and yet she felt guilty about the situation (Kristof and WuDunn 38). Kristof and WuDunn were disgusted; this girl had done nothing wrong but she felt as if she had. Fortunately, her family accepted her with feasts and happiness, but a little over a week later the journalists received bad news in an e-mail stating, “Srey Momm has voluntarily gone back to the Poipet brothel…” (Kristof and WuDunn 39). Like many other sex-trafficked girls, Momm had become addicted to methamphetamines. The brothel owners ensured that if the women became dependent on the drugs, they would turn around after running away. The reader feels a sense of guilt and despair while engrossed in Half the Sky. This emotional pull aids in the authors’ portrayal of both an emotional and moral argument. Kristof and WuDunn accompanied this emotional anecdote with statistics. The two authors are correct in that it’s no secret that forced prostitution is basically slavery -it should be banned and it is absolutely beyond unnecessary for women in third world countries to participate in. Somehow, some way, the idea of prostitution isn’t a problem to others. The idea of forced prostitution is necessary, a part of life, and is (wait for this one) actually beneficial. An article listing the fifteen reasons why prostitution is beneficial claims that “There are millions of sexworkers…who enjoy their profession and the largest risk is not bad clients, not STD's, since most insist on safe sex, but the law enforcement stings wasting resources on morality crimes with no victims” ("Prostitution Is Beneficial”). What about the millions of girls who are forced to sell themselves or they will be killed? Kristof, in Half the Sky reminds readers that, “far more women and girls are shipped...