Monday, May 16, 2011

Half The Sky: Individual Assignment 2

Annotated Bibliography

Nicholas D. Kristof, S. W. (2009). Half The Sky: Turning Oppression into Oppurtunity for Women Worldwide. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
This text analyzes the life of women in parts of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. It provides personal experiences of the women there, and their lives. They share their stories, however heartbreaking they may be. It exposes controversial information about life in countries outside of the Americas and Europe. It proves that women can make a difference in the world around them, beating incredible odds. It explains that if we all help just a little, we can change the world. It’s a book that has the potential to change the world.

Half The Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
By Naomi Hill

An old Chinese proverb states, “Women hold up half the sky”. What does that mean, really? It can’t actually be true, considering that there are approximately 2 males to every female, so two thirds of the sky would be held up by the men in this world. So, if it can’t be scientifically proven, then it must mean something else. Basically, the role of a woman holds up half of the sky. Without women, the world could not go on. Women are the reason that men exist today. Life could not continue if it weren’t for women.
For some reason, despite their almost divine role, women are mistreated all over the world. In this book, stories of many women who were exploited, misunderstood, murdered, or convicted of crimes they did not do, are told, and it breaks one’s heart to hear of these ridiculous situations and horrible environments. Many of these women are victims of sexual crimes, such as rape, but also kidnapping. Many of them are forced into loveless marriages, where they are unwanted, and live a life of distress, and in most cases, abuse. Some are forced into marriage, only to be killed later, either by their husbands, or during childbirth.
One story of a young girl was particularly striking. Zainab Salbi was 20 years old, a brand new university student, when she was forced into an abusive marriage with an older Pakistani man who had moved to America. Zainab had spent the majority of her life living with Sadam Hussein. He was family to her, just not by blood. She spent many summers swimming in his pool with his children. Her father was Sadam’s personal pilot. Her mother forced her into this marriage, and she was confused. Eventually she divorced the man, and married a young Palestinian doctoral student. When Zainab finally gathered the courage to ask her mother what her reasons were for forcing her into the marriage, her mother was on her deathbed. Unable to speak, she wrote Zainab a note, which simply said, “He wanted you, Zainab. I didn’t see any other way.”  The “he” was Sadam Hussein. Her mother didn’t know what to do. Sadam wanted Zainab as a human plaything, a mistress, and when he tired of her, she’d be killed. Her mother forced her into the marriage to save her life.
Another issue discussed in this book was that of prostitution, the process of human trafficking, and life in the brothels. There are multiple accounts of girls as young as 12 being sold into the brothel lifestyle, and forced to have unprotected sex with much older men. Most of them contract HIV/AIDS. Some commit suicide. Many of them contract other sexually transmitted diseases, and are left untreated, eventually causing their deaths. The majority of them become addicted to illicit substances, especially methamphetamines. They are worn down, exhausted, and if they have the chance to escape, most of them return to the brothel because of their addictions. It’s a terrible thing, but in some places, it’s the only way these girls survive.They are fed, clothed, and sheltered. Most of them are there because their families couldn’t provide for them, and the male children were more important.
This book mentions an interesting paradox. That is that of honor killings. The societies with the most strict morals and values end up allowing the killing of innocents, an incredibly immoral behaviour. One girl was just seventeen years old. She fell in love with a boy, and they stayed out all night. Nobody actually knows if they had sex, but they both denied it. The men in her tribe banded together, and killed her. Another instance provided basically the same back story, except that an autopsy was performed and it was found that they had not had sex, but the girl was killed anyways. Honor killing is just a term. It has no meaning any more, as in some countries, they kill girls just because they are girls.
The relationship between globalization, democratization and human rights in this case boils down to one key item. That key thing is the treatment of women. Women are human too, and in some places, they aren’t treated that way. In the places where women are treated the worst, there is not a democracy, and if there is, a woman’s vote doesn’t count. As for globalization, because of the efforts of women and men all over the world, the situation is changing, slowly. It’s not going to change overnight, but the women in those places will tell you that it is getting better. They are allowed to to go to school. In some places, they are allowed to leave with their faces uncovered, and they don’t need to be accompanied by a man. Basically, if the world keeps changing the way it is, eventually women will have equal rights everywhere, which is what this book is trying to say. The bottom line is that women are changing the world. The effort they put forth is changing the way they are treated. It is a lot like bullying. If they stand up for themselves, for their beliefs, then it will get better. It’s only a matter of time.

Critique Assignment
Half The Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
By Naomi Hill

This text is incredibly amazing. It speaks of things that we don’t fully understand, because we’ve never had to go through it. We are able to feel the way these women feel, just by reading this book. Our hearts break as we learn of their situations. The message conveyed by the authors was one of hope, and we can all take something from it. There was nothing wrong with this book. Honestly, not a single improvement could be made. It tells the truth, however horrifying that may be, and we learn from it. I think if we all read the story of Zainab, we’d count our lucky stars. We have it good here, and this book teaches that. Our sex crime rates are nowhere near as high as they could be, and we should be so thankful for that. Overall, my only critique of this book is that there should be a sequel. We need to know more about these amazingly brave women. Their stories are not over yet, and their legacy needs to be upheld. They are strong, independent women, and they deserve recognition for the incredible things they have done. We have the opportunity to learn from their experiences, and we need to seize that. It can change their lives, but it can also change ours. Through helping them, we are able to gain a perspective of how truly wonderful our lives are. Take a minute and consider their experiences. We have nothing to complain about. This novel was well researched, and it was an easy read. You didn’t have to read the sections in order, but I did anyways. It didn’t read like a newspaper article, which I appreciated. It used strong vocabulary, and it made sense. It was the best non-fiction book I’ve ever read. It teaches lessons that everyone can learn from. These women, whose stories are told,  sacrifice themselves for a better world, and their stories could not have been told in a better way.

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