ghU: Half the Sky Screening

Looking back on 2012, our discussions in global health have covered a great range of heavy issues, all paramount to society and especially, our chapter. We've discussed everything from poverty to education to women's rights. Focusing the spotlight on this last issue, we're taking a look back on an event we hosted this past November, our successful screening of the documentary Half the Sky. Hopefully this little snippet, written by ghU staff member Kevin Xie, will take you right back to the documentary, if you were able to make it to the screening, or if you weren't, give you your first step into the Half the Sky Movement and the disparity between women's rights in countries throughout the world. We hope it will continue to inspire you throughout 2013 to take action in what is ultimately one of the more pressing issues of our time.

In Solidarity,

Karen, Director of Communications 

                                                                    Featuring Guest of Honor, Dr. Ann Graham
                                                                                       (Photo cred: Alexa Juarez) 

“Women hold up half the sky.”

        This Chinese proverb inspired the touching and heart-wrenching documentary by Nicholas Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn. Their film, “Half the Sky,” derived from their eponymous national bestseller Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, touches upon a broad spectrum of poverty and exposes the anguish that many around the world experience. Our GlobeMed chapter at Rutgers University is proud to have had the opportunity to present this exceptional and eye-opening screening.
        Held on November 13 at the MPR inside the Cook Campus Center, we were surprised at the number of students who came to view the documentary (given the horrible weather) and to listen to our guest speaker, Dr. Ann Graham. Dr. Graham is a professor at the Edward Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and additionally, provides advising on philanthropic and charitable giving. Invited by our globalhealthU Coordinator Sai Khisty, she compared her personal experiences with poverty alongside the message conveyed by "Half the Sky," and provided a though provoking dialogue in addition to the screening.
        The documentary highlighted horrifying extents of human animosity and mistreatment of women, exposing the relatively sheltered students at our university to the terrors of rape and prostitution. The film begins its journey in Sierra Leone, a less economically developed country known for its lax stance in women's rights and its rampant rape cases. We learn of a woman, Amie Kandeh, who is brave enough to stand up for the abused women by running a health clinic that helps rape victims. Unfortunately, we also learn that blame is often placed on the victim rather than the rapist and more often than not, in cases brought to court, justice is not served to the perpetrator.

“International Rescue Committee rape centers have treated more than 9,000 patients since 2003 — and fewer than one-half of 1 percent of the rapes have resulted in criminal convictions.” - International Rescue Committee

        Nicholas Kristof then moves on to cover the hopelessness of brothels in Cambodia, where girls are sold into prostitution as early as three years old. Although we're introduced to a side of Cambodia that depicts bleak outcomes for young girls, we learn that there are heroes like Somaly Mam who bring hope and visions of the future for these trapped girls. In one scenario, a young girl, only thirteen years old, had been stabbed in the eye while taking a client. A decision made by the brothel owner, indicative of the abominable side of human nature, prevented the girl from going to the hospital and receiving treatment until the man was done with her. This is where Somaly Mam's work comes into play. In addition to rescuing these girls from brothels and placing them in constructive, recovery-oriented communities of those who have had the same experiences, she also tries to publicize safe sex and the use of condoms to laymen, hoping to prevent STD transmission and pregnancy at the very least. Moving our audience, gut-wrenching stories like these make it increasingly apparent that similar situations do exist and often run rampant and unchecked in many parts of the world. 

                                                           Somaly Mam with a young Cambodian girl she rescued.
                                                                (Photo cred: New York Times)

“Somaly dedicates her life to battling forced prostitution, for she herself was sold as a child to a Cambodian brothel.”
-Nicholas Kristof

        This event truly highlighted the monstrosities that humankind can commit, but it also gave insight into the bravery and perseverance of many underrepresented heroes worldwide who continue to fighr for a good cause against all odds. For our GlobeMed chapter, “Half the Sky” essentially became the portal into Southeast Asia ,where our partner Cooperation for Social Services and Development is located, and it offered the students at Rutgers University an insight into the field of women's rights, of which our chapter is ultimately a part of. Hopefully, it inspired many to take action in whatever way possible. Women are essential, irreplaceable, and crucial to life anywhere. It's impossible for us not to realize that they truly do hold up half the sky. 

                            Authentic Cambodian goods for sale!                         
                                                                                          (Photo cred: Alexa Juarez)

Written by Kevin Xie, ghU Staff Member

To learn more about the Half the Sky Movement and how you can get involved, please visit

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