12 April 2011
To be absolutely honest, I picked up the book, because my boss asked me to read it. I did so against my will, because I have never had much patience with people who advocate woman's rights while employing young girls to mind their own kids. I realised the need for empowering girls, but thought education and economic independence were the way to go about it. I genuinely believed that if we could keep girls in school, many of our problems would automatically get solved in a generation.
But then Melinda Gates was mentioned as saying "Both a brutal awakening and an unmistakable call to action, this book should be read by all.", and she is a lady I admire a lot. I overcame my objections, picked a chapter at random, and started reading.
After just 15 minutes, I put it down. I. Just. Could. Not. Go. On. The book was too real. How could the author speak so unemotionally about female candidates wearing extra pairs of stockings, so they could delay if not deter the rape that their political opponents would order to 'teach them a lesson'? Could those statistics on the number of girls having their first initiation to sex through abuse be true? Were areas so unsafe that women would actually wear a tampon-like attachment that would function like a zipper if they were sexually assaulted? Were there areas where women went into the forest to fetch sticks to burn, knowing they would be mass raped if seen (they prefer not to send the men, because the men would be killed, while they are "only" sexually assaulted)? Could the punishment for relatively minor transgressions ever be the ritual rape of unmarried relatives? What was the mysterious value of a woman's hymen that everyone seemed to want a share of it?
But a month later, I can honestly say that though I was not even aware of the magnitude of the problem, the solution remains the same - educate and empower girls and women. Because when a woman is educated, she can assert herself more, and when a woman is economically empowered, the money goes doesn't get spent on drink and other women.
Join the movement!