Friday, March 23, 2012

Fear and Trembling...

Say to those who are fearful-hearted, "Be strong, do not fear!"
Isaiah 35:4

Review of Half the Sky, Chapter 3: Learning to Speak Up

By: Shannon Walls

Fear. It is a powerful enemy to our souls that can cause paralysis, loss of hope, and capitulation. Victims of sex slavery are well acquainted with the tactic of fear used by their perpetrators. In the scope of this chapter, the concept of empowerment offers a possible solution to minimize victimization.  A delicate line separates the reality of two opposing harmful practices young girls/women are subjected to in this business. In one sense, complete surrender to the brothel manager’s instructions reaps repeated involuntary sexual acts with paying customers and the physical/emotional/mental damage that accompanies such acts. On the other hand, continual defiance leads to brutal repercussions in the form of beatings, mutilation, and other physical torture. What, if anything, can these victims do to break the chains of bondage?

Usha, a resident of one of India’s slum areas, offers one such solution: standing up to the bully. Instead of cowering, she reacts to the terrorists in such a radical way, which results in a small victory over victimization. The beautiful thing produced by this act of courage comes in the form of hope. Her bravery stirs something in the fearful hearts of her neighbors which leads to unity. They began to come out from the woodwork, so to speak, in order to rally behind Usha. I wonder if their thinking went something like this, “If Usha can stand up to the bully and make a difference, then I will stand with her. After all, there is safety in numbers.”

I am hard-pressed to think of many things that trump unity, especially if forged on the “rock of God.” Just like fear, it possesses much power. However, instead of negative impacts, it can release hope, courage, strength, and change. And, it begins with one. One person courageous enough to believe in the possibility of victory over the darkness. One person brave enough to take that first step of faith towards liberation for those enslaved and pray others follow.  One person like Zach Hunter, Sunitha, or the late Martin Luther King Jr. Sunitha, a petite woman in India, attacks sex trafficking fearlessly. And, because she has, others have joined her. By providing rehabilitation to rescued and former slaves, women are able to learn new skills that will empower and enable them to earn a living with dignity and freedom. So far, “85% of the women have been able to stay out of prostitution, while 15% have returned” (pg. 59). What an amazing number representing women’s lives changed. And, it began with one.

Questions to ponder:

1. In light of Akku Yadav’s repeat offenses towards those living in Usha’s district, do you believe it was justifiable for the women to attack and murder him in the courtroom? (detailed account found on pgs 51-52)
2. Imagine yourself in Usha’s shoes? What might you have done if Akku Yadav and his cohorts threatened you from the other side of your front door? (pgs 50-51)
3. Since this can be considered a war of sorts, do you feel that the casualties of war eliminate the necessity to engage in battle?

Note to My Readers:  It tickles me considerably to be able to introduce to all of you, the author of today's review, my friend, Shannon Walls.  Shannon is a gifted writer who hopes to write professionally someday after she completes her studies for her Bachelor's Degree in English.  Shannon and I met while we were attending church together in the Chicago area, some years ago.  But it was only recently that I discovered what a gifted writer she is.  I decided to invite her to "guest blog" for me and she so generously agreed!  Shannon will be reviewing every third chapter of the book, Half the Sky, so you will get a good introduction to this aspiring author.  Remember her name.  You just might see her on the New York Times Best Seller list sometime in the future! You can follow Shannon on her blog "The Main Thing" at

"Strengthen the weak hands,
And make firm the feeble knees.
Say to; those who are fearful-hearted,
"Be strong, do not fear!"
Behold, your God will come with vengeance,
With the recompense of God;
He will come and save you."  Isaiah 35: 3.4


  1. I believe it is very difficult for us to really imagine the incredibly abusive and corrupt conditions of life that Usha and the families in her community are subjected to. According to the authors, they are identified as "Dalits" or "Untouchables" in the caste system of India. As such, they were viewed as not worthy of legitimate protection under the law and could be used and abused at the whim of their abusers, with no worry of recrimination from the legal authorities. Police corruption, bribery, and even participation in the abuse is a reality of what these women lived with. The horrific crimes that the women were subjected to, with absolutely no hope of prosecution under the law, was just another part of the "official" abuse and dehumanization of their lives. They had no hope of justice under the law. In light of those realities, I believe the women did what they had to do to protect themselves from all of their abusers; in this case the actual rapist and, additionally, but no less significantly, the corrupt judicial system they were forced to live under. Corruption of this magnitude begets rage and vigilante justice because there is no other recourse.

    (2) Usha's courage is truly, truly, amazing, in the face of what had to be an absolutely terrifying confrontation. We can all second guess what we might have done under the circumstances, but it is usually not until we actually find ourselves in it, that we really know what we would do. I think she used the resources she had at her disposal, not the least of which was her strength of character and refusal to lay down and be a victim, to fight the mob with everything she had. I don't think I could have done any better, under those circumstances.

    3) No. The casualties of the war, who were the innocent victims of the murderous and vile gang that preyed upon them, made the necessity of engaging in the war essential. There would be casualties whether they acted or not. The question was, were they willing to engage in the battle to change the course of inevitable victimization they were living with. Though I don't know a great deal about the theology of a "just war" I believe there is such a thing. In this case, I would have to agree that engaging in war to liberate innocent victims, justifies the realities of casualties that cannot be avoided otherwise. Governments are charged with the very real responsibility of defending their people against cruel and violent treatment. When the government sets up a system that excuses such abuses on certain members of its community, the end result will be the kind of rampant abuses and violence against those citizens it has failed to protect. I believe the kind of "war" we see going on in these countries is the end result of the abuse and failure of the government to protect its own people.

  2. One other thing I have to comment on is the humbling story of Zach Hunter, only 12 years old when he became active in fighting human trafficking. He was a seventh grader!! Now, that should wake us all up to the reality that, if he can make a difference, so can we!! I love the fact that he is a young person stepping out and getting involved. He gives such hope for a young generation that can become impassioned and on fire for a just cause! This chapter begins to really direct our attention toward the possibilities we can pursue if we want to get involved in this cause and make a difference...

  3. Maureen, I completely agree with you on question #3. I figured that without a "war" there would still be casualties. So, a war fighting these atrocities in an effort to limit future casualties would justify casualties of war. I know that sounds cold-hearted to speak of people's deaths so casually, but I also think the alternative of refusing to fight leads to much more heartache for those being victimized.

    Yes, Zach's story is inspiring. How passionate and courageous for his age.

    I think if I were one of those women who had been victimized by Akku, I would have no problem taking a stab at him. Obviously, I do not know what I would do since I haven't been in that situation before, but I can imagine that's what I'd do.


How are you doing on your journey with the Lord? Started yet? Still searching. My prayer is that you will be encouraged to seek after Him with all your heart. Without a doubt, you will find Him. He is searching for YOU!