Monday, March 15, 2010

Child Brides (a book review)

I finished this book today. It is the story of a 10 year old Yemeni girl who was married off and then raped & beaten repeatedly by her husband. This brave young girl found a way (through near impossible circumstances) to escape. She made her way to the public courts, walked right up to a judge and demanded "I want a divorce!"

Her story reflects the horrors that little girls face in too many parts of the world. To be sure, the issue of child brides is not solely a religious issue. Often it is cultural in its roots or even just motivated by poverty or tribal traditions. Regardless of the cause, it is a tough issue to think about, read about, or fight.

The book, which just hit bookstores last week, was a quick and easy read. A ghost writer wrote Nujood's account (as at the time of her marriage/divorce, she could not read and could only write her first name). Its not a complex tale and not even written in an adult voice. In fact, much of her story consists of her admitting "I don't really understand what people are talking about" or "I didn't understand what was going on." Her experience is well beyond her years and her own processing will likely not unfold completely for years to come.

Her new life goal: first-- to never ever marry again, and next-- to become a lawyer in her home country to help fight for the rights of women in her land.

From Tragedy To Rape

I have read in books and seen reports in documentaries about the incidence of rape that takes place in temporary shelters. When communities are uprooted and disorganization rules the day, the evil that is our flesh finds new ways to manifest itself-- to take advantage of the chaos, and brutalize women.

It is sad to me that women living in refugee camps the world-over fear for their safety. They have already escaped such horrific circumstances to arrive in this "safe place of refuge"-- they've run from war, from persecution, from the clutches of death or poverty or disease. And they arrive to a new life where the possibility of rape is likely. That is simply devastating to think of.

"1 in 3 women globally are beaten, raped or abused in their lifetime." That statistic is cause for mourning.

Today I read an email update from CARE that reports the horrible suffering that is surfacing more & more in Haiti.

"Two months ago today, a massive earthquake struck Haiti, killing almost 225,000 people and leaving more than a million people homeless. For them, especially the women and girls, panic sets in every night as the sun retreats.

The women here talk of mauvais esprits (bad spirits) stalking the survivors of the devastating earthquake.

"Young men come with weapons and rape the women. They haven't reported it, because the hospitals, the police — everything was destroyed in the earthquake," reports Hannah, a nurse who sleeps in a makeshift tent in a volatile camp outside of Port-au-Prince.

Incidence of rape in Haiti was high before the earthquake and, now, women and girls are even more vulnerable: streets still are dark due to lack of electricity, and crowded camps and unprotected bathing and toilet areas leave women and girls vulnerable to harassment and sexual brutality."

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Why the Media Doesn't Cover Global Women's Oppression

What is challenging about how the media can work to fight or even raise awareness of global women's issues is that it's not news. What the media is good at is covering what happened yesterday. But we're really bad at reporting what happens everyday. And most all the issues that negatively affect women in the world today happen everyday... so they're not really news, they're just life. This frustration, which I feel as a journalist myself, is why Sheryl and I decided to write Half the Sky.

(paraphrased quote from my memory) ... from Kristof during the panel discussion at CARE's International Women's Day event when asked about the role of media in speaking to women's issues in this modern era.

For more info on the movement, click here.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Another Perspective on Islam & Women

I was reading my blog-roll today and found an interesting post from my friend Constance, who lives in Thailand. As if the global cause she works & fights for isn't enough to occupy her full attention... she finds time on the side to read about the plight of women in Islam the world over. Her post today catalogs a few books I hadn't heard of before (that I will now read) and points out one very important thing--
"what i don't think we consider enough is that perhaps people in places like iran and yemen fear their own governments. women and children in countries like this are not exactly on board with the fanatical clerical rulings and terrorism."

Go read her post. Its short & thoughtful!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New Micro-Loans from Seed Effect

Today, Seed Effect SUDAN handed out another round of loans to help empower those in need to break the cycle of poverty! Check out the video of the group huddled together signing loan documents & receiving their monies. Pray for these 20 souls to grow their incomes so they can provide for their children & families-- food, education, and healthcare. Pray that through the process, they will learn about Jesus' love for them!

Seed Effect - Togoleta B First Loan from thomas bell on Vimeo.

The third Seed Effect Cell Group, Togoleta B, receiving their first loans. These 20 group members are mothers, wives and business women who are taking loans ranging from $50 to $150 to grow their small businesses in Kajo Keji, Sudan.