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

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

New methods for mapping pain in the brain not only validate sufferers of chronic pain but might someday also lead to better treatment More

Sierra Leone's Stray Dog Population Doubles During Ebola Crisis

Many dog owners fear their pets could infect them with the virus and have abandoned them, leading to the increase and sparking fears of rabies More

Fake, Substandard Medicines Pose Global Challenge

So-called 'fake drugs' include expired medicines, those with manufacturing defects, and bogus tablets 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.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
X
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs