Travel Log 11: “Holding up Half the Sky” by Nicoline Lovisa Tegnell. Barcelona, Spain.

The power of this book and the emotions that it caused me to have are indescribable. I am so glad that we had the opportunity to read this book for the class. I had trouble to even put the book down and began even reading it on the metro because it was so interesting. Although shocking, horrible, and disturbing, the message that this book sends is one of the greatest importance. The message from this book is one that so many women around the world are not in control of their lives, and more specifically, their bodies. As the book says, “Women hold up half the sky”. Women everywhere are being treated worse than animals, they are raped, abused, forced to live in rancid conditions, forced to have abortions, given sexually transmitted diseases, not provided an education, and so many other horrible things. Women have been fighting for rights and equality to that of men for so many years and although in America it seems as if things keep improving, we forget that there are so many other parts of the world where this is not the case. In places like Pakistan, Thailand, and India, women are still fighting for rights that we have had for so many years. We often forget how lucky we are. Both women and men alike need to watch this movie to remind ourselves that just because women in America are able to live so easily are well, we need to keep fighting for these other women around the world. No one deserves to be treated the way that the women in this book are treated, this is completely against the human rights that we have been discussing so much in this class. I want everyone to watch this movie because it has inspired me to want to look into these issues more and to spread the word about what is going on, things that I thought were not so extreme anymore as they clearly still are.

One woman’s story that affected me in particular in the movie was the story of Srey Rath. Srey lived in Cambodia but when her family ran out of money she moved to Thailand with friends in order to work as a dishwasher at a restaurant there. However, when she arrives in Thailand, she is given to gangsters who take her to Malaysia and put her in a karaoke lounge that is really a brothel. She is told that if she pays off her debt, she will be allowed to go home. Srey managed to escape the apartment where she was housed and went to the police station, where she was arrested for illegal immigration and kept in prison for a year. She thought she was finally being brought home when a policeman drove her to the Thai border, but instead he sold her to another sex trafficker who brought her to a new brothel in Thailand. I think that this story moved me so much and stuck with me because the book opened with it and when I first began reading and this story was what I started I was so disappointed. Srey lived through so many ups and downs. She gained and lost hope throughout her journey only to continuously be disappointed by people. She gained hope when she escaped, then was imprisoned. She gained hope when she was able to leave prison, only to be sold again into the sex trade. Srey was so strong and courageous to escape but it seems as if nothing could go right for her. Everyone she seemed to meet was another bad person who cared so little about a human life that they would rather make some money than save a woman’s life. It is so horrible what people will do to others for money, the amount of suffering they put these other people through for money is disgusting.

Because I am a pre-physician assistant major, a topic that was discussed in the book that I really connected to was the connection to women’s health. In the book, women were dying much too often during their pregnancies from issues such as anemia and hypertension. Women in the United States often suffer from these issues as well but these are issues that would not lead to death, and should not lead to death in other countries either. For my entire life, I have wanted to enter the medical field, I knew I wanted to make a difference in the world. This movie has inspired me greatly because it has made me want to travel to third world countries and help these women. I want to give them healthy babies, and long healthy lives for themselves. I want to make these woman feel valued, because they are worth so much and they deserve to know and be treated like it. There are so many mission trips available to third world countries and even opportunities for people in the medical field to spend a year or a few working in these countries and that is definitely something I am extremely interested in.

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