Our names are Olivia and Elizabeth. In December, our class launched a social justice project and divided into small groups to learn about and work on behalf of important civil and human rights issues in our world. Our group chose women’s rights with a focus on the prostitution and sexualization of women in our media. We decided to call our group “EMPOWER”, which stands for “the Education, Motivation, and Protection of Women and their Equal Rights.” Along with two other girls in our eighth grade class, we interviewed author Patricia McCormick . The four of us are all thirteen years old.
Guest Blog by Olivia and Elizabeth
Women are treated as objects rather than people far too often in our communities. Women are objectified, which leads to rape, the trafficking of young girls, STDs, and pregnancy. Some women are so desperate, that they have to become prostitutes to get money. They become the ones to blame, instead of the men who have sex with them.
In an attempt to learn more about this topic, our group was lucky enough to arrange an interview with Patricia McCormick, the author of the novel, Sold. Sold is the story of a young girl from Tibet named Lakshmi, who was sold into prostitution by her stepfather and unknowing mother. We found the book very powerful because Lakshmi was our age. It was shocking to think that if we were born somewhere in a developing country we could also have been sold into prostitution and raped hundreds of times a day, too.
McCormick said she thought the best way to communicate the issue of sexual slavery in a developing country was to write a story about one individual—Lakshmi–as an example for what is happening everywhere. “People are writing about it as an issue, a giant topic. And I thought, the way to really make an impact, and a way I could make an impact, was to write about an individual story, about one girl,” McCormick said.
We were empowered reading about Lakshmi because we could connect with her an share her feelings. We would also feel violated and afraid of men, yet defiant to change the world, as she did. Lakshmi felt alone, trapped and afraid–but she had the resilience to go on. We believe that as soon as we let the abusers get the best of us, it begins to take away our power and we begin to accept the treatment as normal. However, when a girl is raped and she comes out of it defiant and dedicated to fighting, she empowers other women and girls to make a difference.
McCormick used the word “sisterhood” to describe how important our work is to empower women and young girls. It reminded us of Martin Luther King Jr.’s sermons on brotherhood and working together hand-in-hand to create a better future; how crucial this bond is for success in freedom and equality. This idea of unity is something that I admire and I hope our EMPOWER group will help bring together communities to make an impact on stopping sexual slavery.
“It affects all of us because we’re all part of a great sisterhood,” McCormick said. “One of our sisters is hurt in this way, it hurts all of us.”