Half the Sky discusses several pressing issues facing women around the world. For instance, the book discusses sex trafficking in India and how it is contemporary slavery. Readers get to know Meena, who was kidnapped and trafficked around eight years old. Her story highlights how awful the world of sex...
Half the Sky discusses several pressing issues facing women around the world. For instance, the book discusses sex trafficking in India and how it is contemporary slavery. Readers get to know Meena, who was kidnapped and trafficked around eight years old. Her story highlights how awful the world of sex trafficking is and underscores the dire need to bring global attention to this issue.
This book also discusses how rape has become endemic in many countries. An Ethiopian woman named Woineshet shares her story about growing up in a village in which kidnapping and raping girls is “tradition.” She was kidnapped at thirteen years old and escaped. She was recaptured, and her kidnapper forced her to go to court and attempted to bully her into telling the judge she wanted to marry him. She refused, but she faced judgment from her community. Her story highlights how little value is placed on women’s lives in some places. As Woineshet’s father says: “More weight is still given to the crime of stealing a thing than to the crime of stealing a person.”
Another issue the book discusses is how acid is much more likely to be thrown in women’s faces than men’s. Readers learn about women like Naeema Azar, a real estate agent from Pakistan whose ex-husband threw acid on her and blinded her. We also learn about how men use acid, like when Usha files a complaint with the police against Akku Yadav and he says: “I’ll throw acid on your face and you won’t be in a position to file any more complaints.”
The book also brings attention to the pressing issue of female infanticide—when mothers kill their own daughters. They typically do this because men have threatened to hurt them for having a girl. For example, readers learn about Shahnaz, a woman who poisoned her daughter because her husband threatened to divorce her for giving birth to a girl, and Pervenen, who poisoned her daughter because her father-in-law beat her for having a girl.
A fifth issue that the book discusses is female genital mutilation. Recall how we read about the story of Edna from Somaliland. When Edna was eight years old her mother had her circumcised without her permission. The idea behind it is to “reduce girl’s sexual desire, curb promiscuity, and ensure that daughters will be marriageable.” This issue shows how women’s bodies are so often controlled by other people and objectified for the sake of patriarchal traditions.
Despite the unique challenges these women face, all of the women in this book are impacted by patriarchal oppression. Their opportunities, their responsibilities, and their levels of safety are all shaped by the men in their societies. However, the women also share a sense of resilience that shows how strong women are.