Travel Log 11 “Holding up Half the Sky” by Steven Schnittger Split, Croatia

“Half the Sky” is a great documentary that follows Nicholas Kristof as he goes around the world to nations where women are being impressed with female celebrities to show atrocities that are committed against women. If I had to describe the message of the film I would say it shows the harsh realities that women face all around the world that many people either do not know about or ignore. The film shines a light on these atrocities and challenges the viewer to do something about it as it inspires the viewer to relate to the women in the movie with the heartfelt and humanizing stories. The film shows women being treated in truly unfathomable and disgusting ways that made me uncomfortable at times but I understood why it was so important to watch.

The part that struck the biggest cord was me when Nicholas was in Sierra Leone with Eva Mendes to look at the gender-based violence that occurred there and was often times sexual in nature. They were there to meet with Amie Kandeh who runs a clinic that helps rape victims with both medical treatment and counseling. One of the most disgusting facts for me personally was that 26% of the rape victims were under 12 years old. The way they attempt to explain why all of these rapes are occurring is because during a war there that was a normal occurrence but apparently many of the men have not changed their ways. It was frustrating to hear such disgusting behavior be normalized.

Some of the emotions that Eva Mendes showed, and I agreed with, included disgust and anger for the criminals. She also expressed sadness and sympathy for the victims, especially because many of the girls were so young. There was a temporary moment of relief when the uncle, who raped Falumantu was caught, but this was immediately changed to frustration and anger when it was realized that the police we incompetent and hardly cared to pursue the case. Because of this the rapist would not serve any punishment for the multiple rapes he had committed. Another moment of frustration was when Falumantu’s father kicked her and her mother out of the house because he did not like the attention he was receiving. The whole situation is a constant rollercoaster of emotion.

The actions that were taken were mostly by Amie and they were very inspiring. She herself was a domestic abuse survivor and had opened a center to help almost 10,000 rape victims in the area. She offered them counseling and medical help and seemed to be the only person providing any care or sympathy for these girls who were cast out if they said anything. She was truly inspiring as she was doing something rather than just complaining about the issue.

Some of the thoughts from the film center around more action needed to be taken. Without a doubt more needs to be done in that area and across the world to help these girls as one of the experts mentioned this is a global issue that effects women, rich, poor, in cities, and in rural areas. There also needs to be harsher punishment for these rapists because currently there is no punishment as most of the rapists don’t get prosecuted (less than 1%). And finally, as Eva Mendes mentioned, there needs to be an entire thought pattern change from the men who deem this socially acceptable.

My reaction to that section was mostly disgust for the entire situation, and sympathy for the girls. I could never imagine a situation where it would be acceptable to hit a woman, let alone do what is mentioned in this movie. It is sad to watch and know that these women have such a lower quality of life simply based on the situation that they were born into. It is really inspiring to see women like Amie doing so much to change a problem that seems insurmountable. Like I said before the story is definitely an emotional rollercoaster.

I am a supply chain major which has a lot to do with managing the logistics of goods and products coming in and out of a business. One of the things that struck me was how companies like Tom’s Shoes has taken this idea of buying one and giving one and I think a lot of other companies could use this model with a supply chain focus to give products to underprivileged women. I also like the idea of micro-lending that is brought up as that is a way for anybody that can help should help. It really brings together the idea that, if everybody in the world just put a little bit of effort into making the world a better place, it would cause huge changes.

 

Sources:

  • Kristof, Nicholas D, and Sheryl WuDunn. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. Print.
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