WRITTEN by the Pullitzer Prize-wining couple, this book is a ground-breaking work which takes the reader on a journey through Africa and Asia to meet an array of extraordinary women. They show that women are the solution to tackle poverty, disease and conflicts, just as the chief economist of World Bank had once written, “investment in girls’ education may well be the highest-return investment available in the developing world.”
The authors have cited a very moving case study of 15-year old Srey Rath, a self-confident and bubbly Cambodian teenager, who, to meet the expenses of her family, goes to Thailand with four friends but gets taken in by the words of a gangster called ‘boss’, who takes them to a brothel instead. Here they have to serve their customers seven days a week. Desperate to escape the torture, they manage to escape but are caught by the police for illegal immigration. After spending a year in prison, a Malaysian policeman escorts Srey to the Thai border, where he sells her to a trafficker who peddles her to a Thai brothel. Two months later, she escapes to Cambodia, where she meets a social worker who puts her in touch with an aid group – American Assistance for Cambodia who gives her 400 dollars with which she buys a small cart and starts selling goods. She then marries and has a son.
Srey’s eventual triumph is a reminder that if given a chance, in the form of education or a micro-loan, girls can be “more than baubles or slaves; many of them can run businesses.’ The central truth is “women aren’t the problem but the solution. The plight of girls is no more a tragedy than an opportunity.” Moreover, Srey’s saga offers glimpse of the brutality inflicted routinely on women and girls in much of the world, a malignancy that is slowly gaining recognition as one of the paramount human rights problems of this century.
The authors cite another case and this is set in Afghanistan where an Afghan national named Sedanshah tells the authors that his wife and son are sick and he wants both to survive but his position is clear – “a son is an indispensable treasure, while a wife is replaceable.” He purchases medication for the boy alone. “She’s always sick,” he gruffly says of his wife, “so it’s not worth buying medicine for her.”
The authors visit Shunshui in China where they find young men toiling industriously but young women and girls are scarce to be seen. They discover that the young girls are employed on the assembly lines in coastal China because “they have smaller fingers, so they’re better at stitching.
All kinds of blood-chilling practices as prevalent in Ethiopia, Yemen, Senegal, Bedouin Arabs are discussed and case studies presented. What is more, in Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia, it is common for all girls to undergo infibulation to prevent them from becoming promiscuous. Countless cases are presented of atrocities on women – but many of them are of women who have overcome unimaginable hurdles in order to change the world. (newhachette.co.uk)