Travel Log 11: “Half the Sky” By Marc Capparelli. Perugia, Italia

If I were to convey the message of Half the Sky to my family and friends, I would tell them that the film/novel is about how women and girls all over the world are taking action to combat the oppression and hardships they face that people in first world countries would rarely ever think of. As Eva Mendes said in the video, I too consider myself an educated person. However, after watching this documentary I can certainly say that I had no idea that rape and sex trafficking are going on to this extent. I knew that things like that happen, but; when you put a face and a name to it and get into the stories, it becomes much more real. Just like the last blog post with globalization, I feel even smaller than before knowing that these things are occurring as I type these words on my computer screen. The documentary discusses things like rape, sex trafficking, education, physical beatings of women. It aims to enlighten and inform those who do not know about these things as well as demonstrate how powerful some of these women or girls are. One fourteen year old girl wakes up at 3:00 am every day to care for her younger siblings. Another girl spends her entire week every day selling lottery tickets just to make enough money to save for tutoring and school so she can escape her father who beats her when she does not sell the right amount of tickets. It is hard to believe that these things are going on and how drastically different my life is only because of two major things: the location I was born in and my sex.

One story in particular that really moved me was the story of the Cambodian girls who are forced into sex slavery in brothels. One woman who truly inspired me was Somaly Mam. Somaly is a woman who takes care of Cambodian girls who were raped and who were forced to have sex with countless men in brothels. Not only does she care for these girls, Somaly also goes out and rescues them from the brothels themselves. Because some of these brothels have armed military men guarding close by, Somaly will often go alone to rescue these girls in order to not out anyone else in danger. Somaly tells us in the documentary that she is just like them; that she lives the same life. When Somaly was about ten or eleven, a man came to her village telling her that he would help her find her family. While she trusted the man at first, she later realized she had made a huge mistake when she looked into his eyes. The man later forced her into sex and then sold her to a brothel where she was raped numerous times before she was beaten because she could not take the pain anymore. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Yet while Somaly was tearing up as she spoke, I could also hear the strength and bravery in her voice. Somaly said that she is strong and she knows when doesn’t want something so she let the men beat her because she didn’t care. The thing that Somaly said that moved me the most was when she said, “I have a nine-year old girl who had been raped and sold. Now she has HIV/AIDS and she’s going to die. She told me, ‘Mommy, when you go around the world, when you go to see the military in Cambodia, can you tell them a few minutes of their pleasure killed me?’” A nine-year old girl raped as child, who will die because of diseases brought upon her from rape and sex trafficking. The amount of compassion and strength Somaly has to be able to help hundreds of other girls just like this nine-year old girl is incredible. As I watched her story, I thought to myself, “How can I help? What can I do?” I did not even know the extent to which women and girls were raped until I watched this documentary. Yet, Somaly said that everyone can help. People think they cannot do anything but Somaly says anyone can help if they begin with their heart. When I heard her say this, I too felt that I could help if I tried. But, I also felt that Somaly was one of the most inspiring person in the world. Somaly is a hero you don’t hear about. Somaly isn’t someone who is on magazine covers or portrayed in movies or who has her face on posters and shirts. People don’t have a tattoo of her name or talk about her on the daily or discuss what she was wearing that day and how she dressed. What Somaly is, is an unseen hero never stopping to fight the oppression no matter how hard it gets, saving countless numbers of lives. That’s what a real hero does.

I am a math major and a psychology minor. With math, the only thing I can contribute to this issue would be gathering statistics… not much help if you ask me. But with psychology, I can take more classes on clinical psych and on the psychology of women. I can also volunteer my time to help out girls or even men who have experienced such horrific events as well as keep on educating myself on the subject. I can learn about the psychology of a rape victim as well as the psychology of a rapist to learn what to say and especially what NOT to say. Shortly after the documentary, I looked up how to talk to someone who went through the experience to learn how to handle that type of conversation. Watching Half the Sky has really opened up my eyes and made me feel like a blade of grass on this enormous, vast planet.

2 thoughts on “Travel Log 11: “Half the Sky” By Marc Capparelli. Perugia, Italia

  1. Marc, this video also really moved me. I think that everyone should need to watch this video in order to understand what happens in other places. I liked that you said that you considered yourself educated before watching this, but you had no idea this was happening. It’s interesting how we all think that we know so much and are the top of the educational food chain, yet we are still so ignorant about many global issues.

    Also, I think there is more that a math major can contribute to this than what you said. I think that we need mathematicians to crunch numbers and come up with ways that can help us spread resources further and maximize the volunteers there are.


  2. Marc, prior to watching this movie, I was also much less aware of the extent to which sex trafficking was occurring. I thought it was much less prevalent and I also did not understand the conditions in which these women were forced to live and work. The women were barely fed because they wanted them to be thin. They were denied condoms and forced to stay naked so that it would be harder to run away. It is horrible to even read about let alone that these women had to live through it is unimaginable.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s