Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn are Pulitzer-prize winning authors who appear to have dedicated their lives to investigating injustice and trying to get the world to pay attention. In Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, they’ve written a guide for those who want to help, and examined programs that worked and those that didn’t – and why. If you are at all interested in this topic, this would be a great place to start. I read Half the Sky for bookbrowse.com about four (four!?) months ago.
The most surprising fact was this:
There are more women trafficked to brothels every year – right now, today – than the number of slaves transported annually at the peak of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
Does this shock you? I hope so. It surely shocked me when I read it. This is happening right now, and right here. These women are brought to the U.S. and all over the world so that they can be forced to have sex with men who pay money to someone who keeps these women as livestock. It is disgusting and unbelievable and ubiquitous. And makes my heart hurt.
I was impressed that the book didn’t sensationalize the good or the bad but treated this subject with the seriousness it deserved, and critiqued the results of aid programs, not just the intentions behind them.
The fact that we need books like this makes me sad. I’m glad that someone is writing them, but hoping for the day when the need for them becomes history.
On a lighter note – Kristof was speaking at the Public Library Association’s biennial conference here in Portland in March. I was working the exhibit floor for BookBrowse.com (with the fabulous Davina) so I probably could have gone to hear him talk 1) if I’d really wanted to, and 2) if I’d known about it beforehand. (Mary Roach was there as well, also didn’t find out about that one until it was too late – that one I would have attended for sure!). Kristof also writes a twice-weekly editorial column for the New York Times.