I did something I very rarely do. I bought a best seller while it was still on the best seller list. It’s Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn. And based on my first blast through the book I have a suggestion that would put Mr. Polansky’s talents to good use and keep him too busy to enjoy the delights of either France or his home I Switzerland for a very long time. How about a life sentence to community service making documentaries? On location.
He could start with the stories of poor or rural girls from Nepal to Malaysia and Thailand. Lured with promises of decent work in the cities or outright kidnapped they end up in a brother. Drugged, beaten and terrorized until they submit. Discarded when they reach their early twenties as too old and often with added bonus of infection with the AIDS virus.
Then there’s the use of rape as a weapon of war in Central Africa, Sudan, Darfur, the Congo region of Africa, Rwanda, Kosovo, or Bosnia. Tracking down and telling the stories of the survivors and how they’re putting their lives back together one day at a time, one step of a time. That should keep him busy for at least a year.
I have a title for a third possible documentary. One Woman a Minute courtesy of Mr. Kristof’s book. Approximately one woman dies every minute, sixty minutes an hour, twenty four hours a day, three hundred sixty fire and a quarter days a year. They die in child birth or from complications of the birth. They die from ignorance, lack of pre natal care, or lack of post natal care. They die because they were married too young. They die because in too many parts of the world girls and women are the last in line when the food or medicine runs short. They die because they need surgery and the family has no money to pay the doctors that won’t help unless they’re paid first. They die because the doctors are willing and the supplies aren’t there or were stolen. I could go on and on.
Even with our teetering health care system an American woman has excellent odds of surviving; ours are 1 in 4,800 of dying in childbirth. Not the best; the odds are 1 in 47,600 for a woman in Ireland but it still beats the hell out of the 1 in 7 for a young other in the Western African country of Niger.
There’s hope in the world too. The Grameen Bank in Bangladesh pioneered the use of micro credit loans to help villagers start small businesses, very small businesses. The catch? Almost all the loans go to women. When a woman earns extra money she puts it into her family. And in parts of the world where access to education is severely limited those extra coins can make a difference between some education and no education at all. Here’s a statistic for you. Six dollars a year for a new school uniform for a South African school girl can help keep her in school and unmarried for another year. That education can help her put off early child birth and raise her chances of surviving to raise those children.
I could go on, but those four would do for starters. If he manages to get those done there’s a world full of hurt and courage to be recorded out there It would not only bring Mr. Polansky face to face with the pain of your girls forced into the sex trade. It would also remind the women of the United States, Canada and Western Europe of what too many of our sisters are still forced to endure.
Cross posted in Walking With Hope.