I chose to use this photograph as my piece of original art. I took this photo one evening in my hometown of Reno, Nevada. My blog is about the issue of sex trafficking and my blog name is halftheskyosu. This photo represents not only the name, but it represents peace and tranquility. I wish to see the day where sex slavery is a thing of the past, just like slavery in our own country is a thing of the past. I wish to see the day were a woman can look up into the sky and know they she holds up half of that sky. She is not the same as a man but has the same right to opportunities that he does. He will one day realize that she is more than what he thought and that she keeps the world going. He must realize that she is strong, and that mistreating her is wrong and not right. I wish to see the day that women are no longer slaves, the day that they are not longer raped, and the day that every woman has a voice.

The Somaly Mam Foundation

A review of a feminist activist organization that does work around sex trafficking.

I have been working on this blog non stop for the past three days, procrastination is my way of life. At least when it comes to projects. I deal with the consequences, very single consequence. Throbbing back pain from carrying my laptop to and from the library, stomach pains from not eating enough, drowsiness from sleeping only five hours a night, and terrible mood swings. Call me crazy, but this always happens when I need to finish a project. Some day I may learn to not be a procrastinator, I can not wait for that day. Normally I would have given up by now, but my boyfriend recently called me weak because I did not want to work on the blog project one night. I wanted to prove him wrong, so that night I stayed up late and finished countless posts. Going home is another incentive. I’m like the little engine that could, chugging along until I reach my destination. I also have not given up on this blog yet because sex trafficking is a topic that I feel strongly about. I can not wait for the day when all the pimps and traffickers are in jail, and all the victims are set free. I have been trying to think of foundations, or a feminist activist organization that I could use for my blog component. After watching the documentary Half the Sky, and learning about Somaly Mam, I decided to write the component about her foundation, The Somaly Mam Foundation.  

I found this article about sex trafficking and the foundation was mentioned. The following quote from an article by Mary Silver, explains what Mam’s foundation does for the women and girls that have been victimized by sex trafficking.

“The  Somaly Mam Foundation funds groups that rescue girls that have been enslaved. It operates shelters where girls receive education, medical care, and learn work skills. The girls, too, became involved in ending demand, and began to visit boys’ schools to tell them about their experiences. At first the women were hesitant, but they found it had a powerful effect.”

 

A former executive director of the Somaly Mam Foundation, Bill Livermore said that “We need to go home today and tell two or three people. Conversations need to happen not just in universities but in shopping malls and streets.” He is referring to sex trafficking. Bill Livermore is also a member of the NYC Human Trafficking Task Force. I will now talk about Somaly Mam and how she founded the Somaly Mam Foundation with the help of two American men.

Somaly Mam is a strong woman. When she was a teenager she was sold in the sex trade by a man who posed as her grandfather. On her website, http://somaly.org, it says that she, to this day, still does not know who the man was to her. She was tortured and after watching her best friend die in front of her, decided to break her silence and escape the brothel where she was held as a slave.

Her vow was to never forget those she left behind, and so S=she dedicated her life’s work to saving victims, building shelters and programs for healing, and empowering survivors. She hoped to empower those survivors to become “agents of change.” In 2007 she founded the Somaly Mam Foundation in Southeast Asia with the help of two American men. Somaly crossed paths with the two American men. These men were determined to fight child slavery and wanted to build global awareness of the issue. Somaly wanted to expand and improve services to victims, and she wanted to build a platform where the voices of sex trafficking victims could be heard around the world. The two men, Jared Greenburg and Nicholas Lumpp worked with Somaly to establish the Somaly Mam Foundation.

I recently read about the foundation in an article in Glamour magazine. Shea Mitchell, an actress from the show Pretty Little Liars, has been heavily involved in volunteering with programs such as the Somaly Mam Foundation. She is a talented actress that chooses to use her high status to help others, and raise awareness and money. I admire her greatly. Here is a picture that I took of the article from Glamour magazine. It is titled, “My Secret Life Half a World Away From Hollywood.”

Shea Mitchell raises awareness about trafficking and supports the Somaly Mam Foundation

 

 

 

This foundation is an amazing way to help the survivors of sex trafficking. There are many ways you can help as well. Visit the website for more details on how you can change the life of a former victim. htttp://somaly.org

 

These are two books that I am currently reading. I started reading Half the Sky after watching the documentary. I felt this urge to read the book because I wanted to know where the inspiration came from for the documentary. I am about half way through the book right now and it is so intriguing! There was a Chinese Proverb on one of the first pages that said “Women hold up half the sky.” I’m assuming that is where the title of the book came from. Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn were inspired to write the book after they started researching all of China’s “Lost Girls.” Every year thousands of girls are unaccounted for in China and Nick and Sheryl were interested to learn why. In China, boys are preferred and girls are overlooked. A mother will take her son to the hospital if he is sick but if it were her daughter, the little girl may never reach the hospital and instead may die from injuries or sickness.  Girls in China are often sold or they also die because they are not as valuable as boys. I learned this from watching the documentary and I am also considering reading the couple’s (Nick and Sheryl’s) other books.

I learned about Somaly Mam from watching the documentary Half The Sky. She is a very courageous women and fights against sex slavery because she has first hand experience with it. When she was a child, she was sold into sex trafficking. Once she was able to free herself from this epidemic, she worked hard to save other girls and she started the Somaly Mam Foundation. The Road of Lost Innocence is a true story about her heroism in Cambodia. I am only a few pages into this autobiography but I cannot wait until I have more free time to read it. I hope Winter Break comes soon!

Today in Women’s Studies (11/2/12) we watched a film in class. The film was of the Michigan Women’s Festival. Our assignment was to reflect on how Audre Lorde’s “The Transformation of Silence Into Language and Action” relates to our blog topic. We were also supposed to touch on “What does using one’s voice mean?”

My blog is all about getting the word out there, to educate and motivate others out there about sex trafficking. Audre Lorde’s “The Transformation of Silence Into Language and Action,” relates to my blog topic because women that are victims of sex trafficking should let their voice be heard. The Somaly Mam Foundation provides a platform for survivors to let their voices be heard. They go out and speak to the young boys and their communities to educate them about the oppression women face with sex trafficking. Educating the young boys can hopefully stop them from treating women wrong as they grow up. The boys will hopefully want to help the women and treat them better. Using one’s voice actively helps spread education and knowledge. Knowledge is key in defeating trafficking. The Indigo Girls use their song, “Closer to Fine,” to let people know that life is short and we should take women for granted. That’s what I got out of the lyrics. I enjoyed listening to this song as well as   Ani DiFranco’s “Grand Canyon.” It was helpful having the lyrics on a piece of paper. People take risks when they let their voice be heard, but it is a way to take a stand. That is what I got out of the film about the Michigan Women’s Music Festival.

I first heard about Nicholas Kristof when I started researching the movement Half the Sky. Mr. Kristof is a reporter for the New York Times. He also co-wrote the book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide with his wife, Sheryl WuDunn. In the documentary he interviews women who have been trafficked and he tries to bring attention to the issues that women from poor countries are facing, such as maternal mortality and poor education, by asking actress such as Eva Mendes, to go with him to countries such as Sierra Leone. In Sierra Leone rape is used as a weapon of war, and once a girl is raped, her family is embarrassed and ashamed of her.  I am choosing to write a short biography about Nicholas Kristof because I believe that his activism in sex trafficking and other third world problems is astounding and I believe that he can make a difference. I find Mr. Kristof very inspiring and he is an outstanding feminist activist for sex trafficking. He blogs about issue from all over the world and he not only supports the fight to end sex trafficking, he also wishes to empower women and have their oppression turn into opportunity. His reports and book, Half the Sky, are meant to empower and also educate those who do not about the oppression that women face.

Nicholas D. Kristof was born on April 27, 1959 to Ladis and Jane Kristof and was raised on a farm near Yamhill, Oregon. He was the student body president and the school newspaper editor at Yamhill Carlton High School. After graduating from high school, he attended Harvard University where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He then graduated from Harvard and then he studied law and graduated with first class honors at Oxford. Writing articles to cover his expenses, he traveled all around Africa and Asia.

He then married Sheryl WuDunn and they have been a power couple ever since. The have co-written three books together and have three beautiful children. They reside outside of New York City, New York.

I chose Mr. Kristof for the feminist activist component because he is a great example for someone trying to get the word out to fight against things that he believes is wrong. He travels all around the word gathering stories and he tells the victims stories so that a woman living in the most remote places are heard. He exposes the harsh living conditions that people living in poverty face. Nick has had his life put in danger to get some of his stories. His blog shows that he uses his own voice and that he doesn’t use anyone else’s voice but his. He gets criticized but that doesn’t stop him from trying to make the world a better place. He cares about those living in poverty and he cares about the victims that people overlook. He cares about the people that help him when he goes to other countries, once his translator was not allowed into a country and Mr. Kristof refused to go on without him. I love how determined he is to get information out there to educate people. If you watch the documentary Half the Sky you will see how Nicholas Kristof cares about women and what happens to them. He cares about what they say and he wants them to know that they shouldn’t be treated certain ways. The book that he co-wrote with his wife is so inspiring because it shows the harsh conditions thousands of women live in day to day and how individuals stand up and fight for women who don’t have a voice. I chose Nicholas Kristof because he, along with his wife, created Half the Sky, and that is what has inspired me to create this blog.

Glamour Magazine Photograph

The magazine that started my interest in Half the Sky Movement. I read an article and I knew that I wanted my theme to be sex trafficking. I’m so very thankful for buying this magazine because it gave me an idea for my blog.

 

Mimi Chakarova, director of the documentary, The Price of Sex, (2011) exposes the world of sex trafficking in Eastern Europe and makes a point to show that sex trafficking thrives. The director supports her view that sex trafficking is a bad thing by going back to her country of origin, Bulgaria, to personally investigate and interview victims and officials involved. Chakarova’s purpose of creating such a powerful documentary is done in order to show the world that sex trafficking is prevalent in poor countries. Her audience: people who are unaware of the severity of this issue and the goal is to get people to understand the issue and in some way, try to help out and stop it.

The documentary focuses on women struggling in Eastern European countries. There are several interviews with victims of sex trafficking that tell their stories. Their stories consist of how they got into the trade, hardships of being trafficked, abuse suffered and how they got out. They are forced into prostitution and Chakarova tries to undercover how this happens. She interviews not only victims, but customers as well. The men who pay for sex do not care that what they are doing is inhumane to most people. They just want pleasure and believe that the prostitutes willingly want to do their job. The director interviews a government official in Greece. He says that corruption is a sensitive matter for the police. A lot of them accept money so that the traffickers can get away, or get out of jail when they are caught. Another interviewee is a representative from La Strada International. She explains to Mimi Chakarova that the reason that sex trafficking is not stopped is because government officials and politicians pocket the money that is supposed to go to poor villages in an effort to stop this type of trafficking. The aid money is supposed to discourage young women from wanted to go to abroad by providing money for their everyday lives. The main reason most young women in poor countries are forced into prostitution is because they believe that they will be given jobs that will benefit themselves and their families. They think it will end hardships but in reality, they are getting trafficked unwillingly. The source contributes to my research the best by interviewing the representative of La Strada and having her explain the corruption in politics and how the economy influences trafficking. Her words explain why sex trafficking thrives and how it is influenced politically and economically.

1. Somaly Mam Foundation: http://www.somaly.org

2. Half the Sky Movement: http://www.halftheskymovement.org

3. Not for Sale Campaign: http://www.notforsalecampaign.org

4. The Price of Sex: http://www.priceofsex.org

5. La Strada International: http://www.lastradainternational.org

6. Polaris Project: http://www.polarisproject.org (Search for Oregon volunteering)

7. OATH: http://www.oregonoath.org/

8. Lutheran Community Services: http://www.lcsnw.org/

9. Janus Youth Programs: http://www.jyp.org/

10. Sexual Assault Resource Center: http://www.sarcoregon.org/

This song is about sex trafficking. I found this song on YouTube and the lyrics are talking about a girl that is a slave. It has a religious vibe to it. Take No Glory wrote “Beautiful Slave” after reading a true story of a little girl that was trafficked and forced to be a child sex slave.

Invisible War Documentary Showing

1. I chose to attend the Invisible War event on the OSU campus at the International Forum after hearing about from a fellow classmate in class. It was hard to take notes at the event because it was so dark and I was sitting in the back. After the classmate told our class about the event I went home and looked it up. I remember seeing it in a recommendation when I bought the documentary Half the Sky, and I am a huge sucker for documentaries. I was excited that this documentary was being shown on the OSU campus and I was also excited that there was going to be food there. (To my surprise they had a full meal! Mini hamburgers, chips, fruit, brownies, and juice!) I loved this documentary, and being a poor college student I loved it even more because the viewing was free and there was free food. Thank you very much to the classmate who recommended this event!

2. I didn’t realize how many women were being sexually abused in the military. When you think of the military you think of it as being save and respecting women. I know that some of the individuals in the military do not respect women because they sexually assault and harass women but it was astonishing to see that higher ranking officials choose to ignore the outcries of the victims. I think that this needs to addressed and women should not be afraid to join the military and protect their country. It is sick to see that men think that they can get away from punishments from rape and it is worse that an institution such as the military allows this to happen.  It was tragic to see how many reported it, and even more tragic were the estimations of those who didn’t report being raped or harassed. Women in the military are raped and usually if they report it to someone higher in command, the perpetrator most often is not punished and held accountable. It is like the women were never raped and the men go on with their lives, continuing to rape and harass other women. One woman was raped and punched in the face. She now has been discharged and cannot collect the compensation she needs to treat her jaw injuries. She lives in pain. Another women was raped ans has PTSD. These women are veterans and they are treated differently than one would expect. They served our country and they are being treated like they did nothing.

3. Rape and harassment is what connects this event to my topic. Sexual assault is not always looked upon as being important but it is. I do not think that these women should have been raped. Men think that they need to have their sexual pleasures satisfied when in reality, it is just a sad excuse. I chose this event because it was brought to my attention by a fellow class mate. When I bought the Half the Sky documentary from Amazon, The Invisible War was a recommendation and I am thankful that it was showing at Oregon State.

4. The bigger picture; rape is a serious issue, not only in other countries but in our own country. People do not realize that sex trafficking is going on, they also do not realize that it is going on in our own military. A father of one of the rape victims said he regretted ever letting his daughter going into the military and he know how a different view on the military. This is coming from a man who was in the military. All of the women in the documentary said that they would never let their daughter join the military.

According to Dicker’s book, A History of U.S. Feminisms, in many cases, the victims of rape know the person who rapes them. (87) Watching the movie it was heartbreaking when the women have to continue working with the men that rape them. They live in fear. It is weird because we are in the third wave of feminism, and that wave usually fights against sexual oppression. (130. Dicker) Women should be fighting against sexual assault in the military. On page 290 in No Turning Back by Estelle Freedman, it says that women are often discriminated in the work place and sexual assault in the military is discrimination against women it is also gender inequality.

Works Cited:

Dicker, Rory Cooke. A History of U.S. Feminisms. Berkeley, CA: Seal, 2008. Print.
Freedman, Estelle B. No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women. New York: Ballantine, 2002. Print.