Travel Log 11 “Holding up Half the Sky” by Doug Beebe. London, UK

“Half the Sky” is probably one of the most powerful documentaries I have ever seen. It had the powerful to bring up so many emotions all at once to the point in which I had no idea how to feel or what to feel. I was so inspired to try and help; yet so depressed and saddened by the fact that these types of actions happen still, even in the 21st century. One of my friends had mentioned to me before I watched the documentary that she could only watch it in small segments because of how emotional it made her. Without knowing much context about the documentary, I thought she was crazy, that I wouldn’t be as emotional as her, but I was wrong. This documentary has to power to make you think and become emotionally invested in the lives of the girls you are seeing on the screen. It is so difficult to pick a part out of this documentary that I connected with the most or the part that moved me the most because all of them were equally as upsetting. As I watched the documentary the only thing I could think of were my family back home: my younger sister and all of my cousins, my mom and all of her sisters. It made the situation on the screen so much more real because I thought about it in the context of, ‘what is that was my sister or cousin or best friend?’ This type of thinking is what made this documentary so difficult to watch.

The word ‘destroy’ was used many times throughout “Half the Sky” and was a world that made me extremely uncomfortable sometimes. In the world I know, destroy is used in a context of “I destroyed that test” or “we are going to destroy this building to build a new one,” not in the context of “this ten year old girls life was destroyed by the men who owned the brothel she was kept at” or “this girl cant get an education because her parents do see her as an actual child.” To describe a ten-year-old girl as destroyed is heart breaking. Children should not be considered destroyed, they should be considered kids who always have a smile on their face because the have nothing to worry about besides living their life and being loved.

There were so many parts of this documentary that really affected me and upset me a lot just because of the sheer hell that girls are put through throughout their entire lives. The story of Fulumatu, the brave girl who stood up for herself against her uncle that had raped her, was truly infuriating and a part of this documentary that really did not sit well with me at all. The part that frustrated me the most was how even after standing up for herself, she is still considered unworthy and shameful to her family. I was really upset by the fact that she just went through such a traumatic time in her life yet she is given absolutely zero support or love from her family because she was raped. This isn’t something that happens once-in-a-blue-moon, but something that happens regularly. The craziest part for me is that a man can completely destroy a girl’s life and have her banished from her family, school, and the happiness she once held by forcing himself on her for his own personal pleasure. I relate this back to how loved I am, and how loved all of my family is and it is truly confusing to me how it is the complete opposite for other families around the world.

I could go on and on about all of the different parts of this documentary that broke my heart and then truly inspired me, but that would just keep reiterating my point about how disgusting the world can be but also how important to listen to these girls stories and hear how powerful and strong they are. This documentary has made me think a lot about my own life and my future and how I how I should appreciate the life that I lead and not complain about little things, because there are people who have it so much worse than me, especially these little girls. The girls who lived with Sumaly Mam really touched me. The fact that they were abused so incredibly much as children and were destroyed but still push through and strive to help girls just like them, to comfort them and make them feel like they are safe just like they were treated when they were saved, and to educate people about what was done to them in hopes that they can help stop more girls lives from being destroyed too is truly inspiring to me. These girls really made me want to help, to get involved in any way I possibly can, because the only thing I can think of when I watch these girls talk about their stories is, “what if that was my sister?”

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