During the ongoing investigation, arrests and trial, I hadn't followed this case very extensively, so I learned a lot from this book. Very eye-opening...moreDuring the ongoing investigation, arrests and trial, I hadn't followed this case very extensively, so I learned a lot from this book. Very eye-opening considering how much these girls/women reached out for help from those around them (child welfare, teachers, family, etc.).
I had an "interesting" conversation with a woman last week about forced marriage and honour killings... She was very convinced that Muslims promote honour killings and subjugating women to violence... I replied saying that she was making quite broad generalizations. I wish I had read this book before speaking with her because I found it very interesting that while the Shafia family considered themselves Muslim, they didn't necessarily attend Mosque or (from what I could tell from the book) affiliate themselves with the Muslim religious community. The parents' and brother's notion of honour in the family and how the females should conduct themselves obviously stems from a very fundamental form of "Islam."
The only thing I found difficult about this book is reading the narratives of translated interviews, testimonies, etc. The translation from Dari/Farsi to English is very awkward to read (i.e. awkward sentence structures) and took some time to really understand and comprehend. (less)
A very detailed book, but I just couldn't get past the first quarter. I did not enjoy the author's style of writing; it was a little over the top and...moreA very detailed book, but I just couldn't get past the first quarter. I did not enjoy the author's style of writing; it was a little over the top and too journalistic for me to really get captured. (less)
A good read. Nothing really shocking or new, but I liked Valenti's honest, funny writing as she pointed out the vast double standards between the sexe...moreA good read. Nothing really shocking or new, but I liked Valenti's honest, funny writing as she pointed out the vast double standards between the sexes... After each double standard, she included a brief "So... what to do?" section to address very simple things that women can do to address the particular issue - nothing really earth-shattering or deeply profound, but funny nonetheless. Every woman should read this book - you don't need to classify yourself as a "feminist" or be knowledgeable of feminist theory to enjoy and learn something from this book.(less)
Fantastic book providing insight into gang-related prostitution/human trafficking. Although it is an academically published research, the book wasn't...moreFantastic book providing insight into gang-related prostitution/human trafficking. Although it is an academically published research, the book wasn't riddled with academic jargon. It is a book that is beneficial to academics and social workers alike as it provides research findings and presents practical best practices for interacting with survivors of gang-related prostitution. (less)
I am terrified of the responsibility of raising children - the impact and influence you have on shaping and molding a person's identity. After reading...moreI am terrified of the responsibility of raising children - the impact and influence you have on shaping and molding a person's identity. After reading this book, I am that much more terrified of raising girls... This is a great book, albeit the fact that it skims over some very important topics. I strongly recommend for any parent! (less)
I really enjoyed this book and the authors' insight into how they first identified with feminism or as feminists. My two favourite quotes from the boo...moreI really enjoyed this book and the authors' insight into how they first identified with feminism or as feminists. My two favourite quotes from the book are from Nellie Beckett and Miriam Zoila Perez (respectively): "This is not to say that all feminists are short-haired, hairy-legged, sensibly shod lesbians. In fact, I've found that feminist defenders often waste half their rhetoric dispelling this tired stereotype. Feminists come in all shapes, colors, and genders, and it's about time that our diversity is recognized in the mainstream. If there's a movement whose image shouldn't be the top priority, it's feminism" "I wish I could point to a day when one of these arguments really crystallized my feminist identity. I wish I could say that one night, over arroz con pollo, I declared to my family around the table - 'I'm a feminist!' Unfortunately I can't, and that's because I didn't come to feminism in any one single moment. I pretty much rejected the term for a long time, afraid of the connotations that came with it, not wanting to differentiate myself from my peers. But long before I embraced the term, my experiences slowly shaped my feminist perspective."
These quotes really define my "journey" (for lack of a better word) to feminism. Only recently have I felt comfortable enough to "label" myself as a feminist, but reading this book made me realize that there was not one moment where it "clicked" for me, where I realized "hey, I'm a feminist!" Rather, it has been a journey of learning, observing, experiencing.
One thing this book doesn't really address explicitly (maybe implicitly, however) is the fact that many feminists identify as a particular type of feminist (i.e. liberal, Marxist, radical, etc.) and that there are large differences between many of these feminisms. I was struck by this complex issue when trying to determine my "theoretical perspective" for my thesis proposal. I knew I wanted to write about sex trafficking from a feminist perspective, but which one? I was left to explore the various "types" of feminisms. And while all are concerned about issues of power and inequality, for the topic I am most interested in (the sex trade), there are vast differences between the feminisms. (less)
Half The Sky is written by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn and gives a comprehensive account of the marginalization of women. Outlining issues l...moreHalf The Sky is written by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn and gives a comprehensive account of the marginalization of women. Outlining issues like human trafficking, female genital mutilation/cutting, maternal mortality, gender-based violence, and education, Kristof and WuDunn combine both research and analysis along with first-hand accounts from females who have been victimized based on their gender. Each of these issues is so complex, entire books could be (and have been) focused on each individual topic. However, Kristof and WuDunn do a great job of outlining each of the issues and tying them together to demonstrate how issues like education (or lack thereof) contributes to human trafficking, gender-based violence, etc. Introducing these topics together and systematically demonstrates the interconnectedness and complexities of the issues that oppress and marginalize women. Being journalists, Kristof and WuDunn's writing styles allow for an "easy" read (though the subject matter is far from "easy"...).
One concern I do have with the book Kristof and WuDunn's typical definition and description of trafficking. On page 10 they say "Technically, trafficking is often defined as taking someone (by force or deception) across an international border. The U.S. State Department has estimated that between 600,000 and 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year, 80 percent of them women and girls, mostly for sexual exploitation. Since Meena didn't cross a border, she wasn't trafficked in the traditional sense. That's also true of most people who are enslaved in brothers. As the U.S. State Department notes, its estimate doesn't include 'millions of victims around the world who are trafficked within their own national borders.'" The authors discuss human trafficking extensively, but I found that much emphasis was placed on international trafficking, minimizing the amount of trafficking that goes on within borders. I appreciate Kristof and WuDunn's research focus on women in developing nations, however by neglecting to place more emphasis on domestic trafficking the authors minimize the amount of trafficking that occurs within North America's and Europe's borders, a prevalent issue that is rapidly growing and marginalizing women in "developed" countries.
Like others, I also have some questions about Chapter Twelve's references to sweatshops providing women with greater opportunities than work in agriculture. Some reviewers' comments have suggested that this suggestion is completely counterproductive to Kristof and WuDunn's arguments for equality, safety and human rights for females. However, I think that the authors are trying to suggest the benefits that manufacturing in the larger sense have for women. And I also think that Kristof and WuDunn don't necessarily agree with the working conditions of most sweatshops. However, the authors could have elaborated on this issue in greater detail explaining the benefits of the manufacturing sector for women, outlining the working conditions that must be changed for women to achieve greater equality, and suggesting that sweatshops aren't the final solution for women in Asia. Development is about taking steps to promote change, and while sweatshops aren't the ideal solution, they could have a place in taking steps forward in change.
All in all, this was a fantastic book outlining the struggles that women face in developing countries. There could have been so much more added as the difficulties most women in this world face are enormous. While some reviewers have suggested that this book was "pie in the sky," I think the book offers some realistic and achievable next steps and goals. Some of the ideas that Kristof and WuDunn suggest are likely never to be enforced (i.e. the requirement for all college students to participate in an experience that would take them to developing countries to gain first hand experience in poverty), I respect the authors for their passion for positive change.(less)