Travel Log 11 “Holding up Half the Sky” Brenda Kittredge. Lugano, Switzerland

I found this documentary to be even more impactful than I was anticipating. I think it is easy sometimes to get caught up in the narrow view we have and forget about some of the major problems the world is facing. The oppression of women has certainly come a long way, but it is clear that there is an incredible distance to go. I was not aware of some of the horrific conditions that women all across the globe are facing. Hearing the women’s stories about sexual abuse, violence, and simply lack of support from their loved ones broke my heart. The documentary, however, did not give just a bleak outlook of the monumental task that tackling the oppression of women is. It highlighted incredibly strong and bright women who are taking a stand to make a better life for themselves.

The story of Filamatu and several of the stories of the sex trafficking in Cambodia were the most powerful for me. With Filamatu, you have this courageous young girl that is willing to stand up for justice and it ends with her and her mother being thrown out of the house. The simple idea that a young child could be raped and it would somehow be her fault and she would have to feel shame for it is simply despicable. The movie discussed how the clinic has seen girls as young as two and a half months old. It is unbelievable that someone could inflict such harm on an infant and get away with it. An environment has been created in which it is shameful to seek support and justice for what has been done to you. This has allowed it to become acceptable for men to rape and get away with it.

The stories from the young women in Cambodia who have had to deal with sex trafficking were extremely hard to hear. I cannot begin to imagine the emotional and physical harm that those girls experience. Many of these girls already had so little and then were bought into slavery and held as hostages. These young girls managed to find some refugee in the recovery center. The community aspect allowed them to know they are not suffering alone. However, there are only so many people that can be helped by these few individuals. More action needs to be taken and on a larger scale before any major change can occur.

One of the qualifications that many people look at in a future profession is one that makes a difference. We all wonder what type of impact we will have on the world and whether we can say that we did all we can to make it a better place. Going into the field of biomedical marketing, I will get to work with surgeons and medical device manufactures to create innovative medical technology. Although this career will not put me on the front lines of care, it can certainly make a difference in peoples lives. One of the actresses mentioned that simply receiving an education is a privilege and it is our job to do something to help others with it. I want to use my career not only to help other people, but also to stand for the empowerment of women myself. The woman in charge of the Cambodian recovery center said that people often want to do so much that they do nothing at all. I think this often applies to many of us. We can watch a very moving documentary and be inspired for change but quickly lose faith and move on. However, change starts on an individual level and anyone can help with the changes they want to see in the world.

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