News / Asia

Exhibit Enlists Visitors in Helping Abused Women

Women who have enrolled in international's programs in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are shown sewing.
Women who have enrolled in international's programs in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are shown sewing.

Multimedia

Audio
  • http://www.voanews.com/MediaAssets2/english/2011_11/Osullivan_Opressed_Women_11_30_2011.mp3

There is a Chinese saying that “women hold up half the sky,” yet in many societies, the contributions of women are ignored and women are often the victims of sexual violence and abuse.

Husband-and-wife journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn documented some of those women’s stories in the 2009 book Half the Sky.

This photograph shows a young Pakistani girl, Javaria, who is now attending school.
This photograph shows a young Pakistani girl, Javaria, who is now attending school.

The exhibition at the Skirball Cultural Center features stories of women who have taken action to change their lives: Saima Muhammad, a Pakistani woman who built an embroidery business with a $65 dollar micro-loan and gained financial independence from her abusive husband and Goretti Nyabenda, a woman in Burundi, who started a business brewing banana beer to provide for her family.

It also shows women who have made a difference on a wider scale, including Edna Adan Ismail, the former first lady of Somalia.  She is a former nurse who has campaigned against female genital mutilation and used her life savings to build a maternity hospital in Somaliland.

Their stories are told through photographs, art works, and recorded sights and sounds.

Columnist issues moral challege

In his columns in the New York Times, journalist Nicholas Kristof has described sex trafficking, denial of education and other abuses of women, and he says the exhibit conveys several important themes to visitors.

“We hope that they will take away an appreciation that one of the central moral challenges for the world today is this oppression that is the daily lot of so many women and girls around the world.  Second, that if one wants to bring about positive change in a lot of countries, then using women as a catalyst for change tends to work better than most other approaches," Kristoff adds.

The display features women and girls in Africa, India and Latin America.  Kristof knows these people well and has written about them, but says it is emotionally moving to see them as part of this large display.

“It is a very strange and wonderful feeling to walk through this exhibit and see these people, who I’ve known for years, who I've sometimes met when they were just in terrible circumstances," Kristof says. "I look over there and I see a young woman who I saw for the first time in a brothel in Cambodia.”

Tales of oppression

A photograph shows two Cambodian teenaged girls who had been lured into prostitution. Kristof paid the brothel owners several hundred dollars to buy their freedom. One went on a new life. The other, addicted to drugs, would later return to the brothel.

There are tragic stories of women who died in childbirth, a serious problem in many developing countries. They include a Ugandan woman surgeon beloved in her town, who is memorialized in a pennant.

But there are also glimmers of progress. In one photo from Hyderabad, India, boys and girls are shown praying before eating. They are at an education center dedicated to preventing sex trafficking and rehabilitating survivors.

Some narratives have been captured in sound. Recording artist Ben Rubin created audio-visual displays of women held hostage as commercial workers or domestic servants in Los Angeles.

The recordings were made with help from the narrative history group StoryCorps. Rubin says the women are told they cannot leave until they repay their travel costs to come here.

“And you owe us $12,000 for all the expenses that brought you here, so you’ll work for us for 10 years without pay. This kind of a typical story." he says.

Consulting curator Karina White says these are not isolated cases, and that women face serious problems in many parts of the world.

“Women dying in childbirth, violence that’s perpetuated against girls and women is really prevalent and completely debilitating to women, especially in the poorest countries, and human trafficking,” says White.

Visitor Jay Segal, a retired immigration judge who has heard many similar stories during hearings for people requesting political asylum, is not surprised by any of the accounts in the exhibit.

“Not at all," he says. "But I’m happy to come, I’m happy to see and listen to what’s going on, and I think we have to do a lot more than we’ve done, although we’ve done a lot.  And I hope more things happen.”

Visitors empower abused women

Nicholas Kristof says this is also a story of hope and that change is happening, even here in Los Angeles.

Visitors to the exhibit “Women Hold Up Half the Sky” are each given one dollar to invest in a woman's business somewhere in the world.  They can make the investment on a computer at the center, connected to an Internet-based micro-loan site.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid