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Call to Action: Human Rights and Freedoms for Women

One of the most important topics we have covered this semester is that of human
rights and freedoms. Through our readings and outside sources, I have been inspired to
answer the “call to action” addressed by our text books. The area that was most
prominent to me in this section was the issue of inequality and oppression of women
worldwide, from alarmingly high maternal death rates to the suffering of human
trafficking victims. I was first shocked by the documentary Half the Sky and later the
book it is based on. A husband-wife team travels worldwide to unveil the hidden
suffering of women in remote Asian villages and large American cities alike, chronicling
their discoveries in a series of written and recorded media. After seeing one of the
authors, Sheryl WuDunn, in a presentation at the University of Utah, I was fully
committed to learning about and helping resolve the issues as best as I can, now and in
the future. What struck me the most was how close these problems hit to home and the
sheer injustice women and girls suffer every single day. Through the staggering stories
and statistics shown in It Begins with Our Questions: the Humanities as a Call to Action
and my own research, I have come to realize that the oppression of females is a dire issue
that affects all races and gender.
The average age of sex trafficking victims is eleven to fourteen. Children make up
so many drugged and abused sex slaves in the United States and abroad. Though statistics
are generally a more scientific aspect of issues rather that an emotional one, the numbers
first drew me to the severity of this problem. When I read that a prostitute in Asia can be
bought for a thousand dollars or less, I was astounded—people spend more money than
that on Apple devices and clothes. Often, the humanity of those people suffering far away
is overlooked because people cannot physically see them. It is painful to realize that the
girl with her eye stabbed out by a brothel owner, even a female brothel owner, is the same
age as me; it is not easy for the fortunate populace at large to accept that they could easily
be in the same position as an abused mother suffering from deadly disease if they had
been born in poorer conditions. It is certainly true that all people could be susceptible to
the same issues if conditions were more similar, but the problems of abuse and human
trafficking stretch closer still to those who haven’t even heard of these instances. The
sinister veins of trafficking rings reach well into Western cities, into the homes of people
who think they are safe. In the documentary A Path Appears, one ex-traffic victim
described her routines in a painfully matter-of-fact tone, including her working hours in
Salt Lake City, Utah. Such atrocities are committed right in my own backyard, and I
never understood what was happening until now.
While I am focusing on the specific hardships of women, they are not the only
ones affected by this vicious cycle. Most issues start with the undervaluing of girls’
education in developing countries especially, or the undervaluing of girls and women in
general in countries worldwide. Girls who are not properly educated are forced to find
work wherever they can to support their family, which makes them susceptible to
traffickers or child marriages. This phenomenon is harmful to everyone, not just the
females who are primary victims. Men, women, and children of every race and religion
can be benefitted by the education of women. Ghanaian scholar Dr. James Emmanuel

Kwegyir-Aggrey is credited with the well known proverb, “If you educate a man you
educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family (nation).” In
traditional roles around the world, women assume the responsibility of childcare. The
mother is the first and sometimes only teacher their sons and daughters will have, so it is
critical to give her the means to teach her children well. Hopefully, this cycle will
eventually lead to a turnaround for the acceptable treatment of women everywhere.
However, we have to learn to educate the girls before this can happen.
There are several wonderful organizations fighting for the rights of women, but
some issues, such as human trafficking, are widely unheard of in Western cultures and
considered banal in Eastern cultures. I want to help the women and girls of the world who
are in the worst possible conditions of abuse. For now, I must make the best of my rather
limited funds and voice. I can start by promoting education about situations that make
girls susceptible to trafficking and other forms of sex abuse and emphasizing the
seriousness and size of the issue. In the future, I hope to be able to use my education to
help women who do not have the means to defend themselves. In a cutthroat and fastpaced world, many ideas, no matter how valuable, are left behind because people do not
have the skills to keep up with such competition. I want to make a positive impact on the
world. To succeed in any venture, it takes more than just good intentions; it takes
ambition, effort, and education. Studying ways to navigate communication, business,
journalism, and other subjects could set a foundation for awareness and action in the
future of the fight for women.
It is inexcusable that forms of slavery still exist in a world that is so advanced in
ideas, technology, and communication. Those suffering have done nothing to deserve it.
Women are being bound by centuries-old, sexist beliefs—a fact that is nothing short of
tragic in the modern world. There are many who cannot see past their own lives, and
therefore do not accept responsibility to help these people; that is why it is so important
for those of us who recognize the reality of suffering to do everything we can to help.
Every slave, battered woman, and forced prostitute is someone’s mother, daughter, or
sister. All of them deserve relief.