Courageous Work of Women

I was very touched by the story of Anuradha Koirala, 2010’s CNN Hero. I learnt about her because Manisha, an F.I. colleague, assisted in a compiling interviews for a story about her work. My heart just collapsed and I couldn’t stop myself from crying when I watched the documentary about her work. There is a connection between people that enables us to relate to the pain of others. Saving many many young girls from the cruel trade of prostitution and trafficking, Koirala appeals to us to asks ourselves “What if it was my daughter? Wouldn’t you want to do something about it?” It is realizations like this that frustrates me when people say “You cannot do anything about the situation in X country.” Or “Women will always be treated that way, nothing will change”. What if it was your daughter, your sister, or your mother — in the face of that realization, I would even kill another to prevent anyone from hurting them.

The women in these shelters are now my sisters. I will not turn my back away from them. I hope after watching this, you will make a donation, or share this video with others, or sponsor a former prostitute, pay for the medical bills of children suffering from HIV AIDS……just anything.

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The Somaly Mam Foundation

RescueThe first step in saving a life begins with a rescue mission conducted by our partners’ legal and investigations departments. The investigations team visits sex establishments undercover, and gathers information about the status and nature of the young women and girls present. Once victims have been identified, the team prepares an investigative report and submits the report to legal workers who engage the police and appropriate legal agencies, setting the legal process in motion.

RecoveryThe victim is then taken to a recovery center. In addition to safety and protection, the recovery centers offer a medical/psychological assessment, evaluation of educational/social development, child care, and legal assistance.

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Recently a story of my exp was featured in Prestige Magazine, influential role models. I wrote a write-up about the source of my inspiration and why we must continue to persists to help others.

There is a certain novelty in the way life unfolds, that I found myself at 17 years, at Kabul Airport in my baggy pajamas with less than a hundred dollars in my pocket. It is strange to others how I had come to fall in love with this ravaged land, blighted by poverty and violence. I am constantly advised by many, in all their wisdom, the utter impotence of my work. But in the defiant eyes of the Afghan women, I see a kind of courage the first world cannot afford to conceive – and the impotence of cynicism is exposed. There is little point in being cynical. Brittle hopes are still hopes. Those hopes rely on a belief that persistence will pay off. Theirs are the voices, where in the face of unremitting pressure, still insist on the primacy and inviolability of their fundamental rights; from the parliamentarian who fought against the abolition of the Women’s Ministry, to the activist who bravely told me ‘They will not stop me’ even after her sister was murdered in cold-blood, to my child friend who whispered to me ‘I am scared to go to school. But it is important for my future.’ Perhaps the media’s victim-centered narratives of Afghan women have negated their empowering nature. But in light of this revelation, it is unsurprising how truly inspiring they are to me. I cannot but want to give my all to these people. From my diary I write, “ I sit with little girls on a slab plateauing the hill-side and we watch kites wrestle with each other in the wind. No words are exchanged because the silence is so beautiful. And she knows from my eyes how much I love her and I always will.

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2 thoughts on “Courageous Work of Women

  1. This is a great post – and really made me think about the negative portrayal of Afghan women and indeed, women in many countries who are victims of sexual assault or gender based violence. All too often these women are presented as victims with no agency and no voice. The truth is that there is immense change taking place and women are driving it forward.

    It’s important to acknowledge that women are often victimized – but it’s also important to highlight how they are acting behind the scenes, working together, exercising their voice, and truly being empowered. Women are so much stronger than we see from the media.

    This can be said of any images of poverty – poor people are often portrayed without agency or voice. Again, it’s important to acknowledge situations where this is true, but it is also important to show the opposite.

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