"You may choose to look the other way
but you can never say again that you did not know."
The authors don't waste any time attempting to soft-peddle the subject of their book: the brutalization of women around the globe. They take the reader immediately to the story of a young Cambodian teenager, tricked into sexual slavery with the promise of a good job to help her family who were struggling to survive. They present her story in gruesome detail as an example of what is happening to young girls and women who are sold into sexual slavery. The horrors faced by this segment of the population, simply because of their gender, are outlined briefly as a springboard for understanding the reason this book was so important to the authors to write and so important for us to read.
From the first page on, the reader is introduced to the harsh realities of life, and, all too often, the premature death, of these women and girls. I definitely found myself hesitating to want to go past the first page. One example that I found stunning, and that I had never heard before, was that “five thousand women and girls have been doused in kerosene and set alight by family members...for perceived disobedience, just in the past nine years.” p. xiv The authors maintain that there would be an enormous protest if the governments were involved in this type of crimes against women. But, since they are not “directly involved, people shrug.” p. xiv
The authors describe this book as their own awakening to the issues of oppression of women. They didn't start out there, but, once confronted with the evidence before their own eyes, they found they could not turn away. Their book details the harrowing and life threatening conditions of women and girls trapped in a culture that takes away their dignity and reduces them to chattel to be used and abused at the whim of their captors. The positive part of the book is the dawning awareness, in the global community, of the epidemic proportions of the problem and, with that awareness, the development of opportunities to help rescue these women and restore them to dignity and a future. The book is a call to arms for the rest of the world to wake up and care enough to do something about the problem, instead of choosing to pretend it doesn't exist.
Some Questions for Discussion:
What surprised you the most about the stories in the Intro and Chapter One?
What was the most positive thing you took away from reading through Chapter One?
Do you find the material so disturbing that you would prefer not to read it? Did you have an emotional response to what the authors describe?
The authors mention the fight to free African slaves, led by William Wilberforce. What do you think of this comparison – is it valid? Should the Church become more actively involved in this battle, just as Wilberforce did in the eighteenth century? Or is this a “political hot potato” that the Church should stay out of?
The authors state that: “...at any one time there are over 12.3 million people engaged in forced labor of all kinds, not just sexual servitude... And, The Lancet, a prominent medical journal in Britain, calculated that 'one million children are forced into prostitution every year and the total number of prostituted children could be as high as 10 million.” Do you wonder why, as I do, if the problem has reached these proportions, we hear so little about it from the press? I can't remember the last time I heard a news story about this issue...
Note to the Reader: Please feel free to comment on any of the questions above, or, offer your own question or comment on this material.
We will cover Chapter Two next Friday. Hope you can join us.