What I’m Reading Now

by jenna on May 3, 2013

Lately I’ve become increasingly interested {or perhaps the better word is aware} of the oppression of women around the world.

I think it all started really when I became a Noonday ambassador a couple months ago and, in that, joined a dynamic group of world-changing women who daily encourage and inspire me to be a better human being. In our ambassador Facebook group, we keep up a daily ongoing conversation about different books, documentaries, current events … all relating to social injustices and many, if not most, involving the oppression of women. To say I’ve learned a lot is a complete understatement.

So, all that said, I watched the Half the Sky documentary a few weeks ago and was blown away. If you haven’t seen it, you should watch it as soon as possible. Somaly Mam was one of the women featured in the documentary and the one that made the most impact on me. She was sold into sex slavery as a very young girl, managed to escape and now has a nonprofit geared at rescuing Cambodian girls from brothels. After hearing her story on Half the Sky, I couldn’t stop thinking about her. What an absolutely amazing human being to overcome such horrendous life circumstances and then use her experience to help others. People like that inspire me so much. As I continued to research her and her nonprofit, I found out that she wrote a memoir and I instantly downloaded it on my Kindle. I read it in less than 24 hours!

This book is Somaly’s story of life. It’s incredibly hard to read at times but the words are so important. Sex trafficking horrifies me. The fact that young girls, some just four years old, are sold into prostitution and forced to take up to 30 clients a day makes me want to vomit. I can’t fathom that amount of evil and cruelty to another human being….a CHILD at that. The girls are severely beaten, their lives completely disposable, and their innocence lost forever. It disgusts me to no end. Many of the clients are American men on business trips. And also? Speaking of America, sex trafficking isn’t just an issue in Cambodia…as many as 17,500 people are trafficked in the United States every single year. Half of these people are just children.

Y’all, I’m just one person and this is obviously a huge problem. But call me an optimist because I do believe one person can make a difference. Just look at Somaly Mam! Read the book, educate yourself on sex trafficking and see how you can get involved. Maybe, like me, that just involves using your voice to raise awareness. Maybe it involves taking further action. I don’t know. But I do know that sex slavery should not exist. Four year old girls should be home helping their mothers bake cookies, not raped continuously by strange evil men.

/…end rant

**if you’re interested in learning more about what you can do to make a difference, check out Somaly Mam’s nonprofit as well as The Polaris Project

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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenny D. May 3, 2013 at 9:59 am

What a message to my heart – the Lord is good to continue seeking after my heart with this. As a therapist who works with eating disorders, I am someone who has always experienced major disdain towards the objectification of women. To have seen Half the Sky and to be currently reading Not For Sale, I can tell God is stirring something up in our generation, both on and off of our soil. I am honored to be a part of this movement and grateful to hear you are, as well. Please keep outreach information that you may hear posted publicly. I’d love to partner even across the miles:)

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Leslie May 3, 2013 at 10:05 am

Great post, Jenna! And a very important topic. I also recommend checking out the work of International Justice Mission and reading any of Gary Haugen’s books. IJM does work with several grave injustices around the world, including trafficking; and Gary’s books are excellent on the topic of justice.

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Sarah Pope May 3, 2013 at 10:59 am

Jenna, my heart has been burdened about this epidemic since I started to learn about it a little over a year ago. I am an elementary teacher and it breaks my heart to think that children just like the ones in my classes are being taken advantage and abused in such horrific ways. On the other hand, I am so excited to see great organizations like Noonday and The Polaris Project making such a difference. I know the more we talk about this difficult issue the more we can help to end it.
This week the online apparel store Sevenly – http://www.sevenly.org , is supporting The Polaris Project with $7 from every purchase. Thought you might want to check them out and thanks for sharing your heart with us!

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Caitlin May 3, 2013 at 11:08 am

I’m glad you brought up the Half the Sky Movement and Somaly Mam. My mother told me about her last year after she and my grandmother watched the documentary. I received a scarf from Somaly Mam’s nonprofit for my birthday back in December and the meaning behind it means so much. I gave several necklaces as Christmas gifts, too. I have not yet watched the documentary, but I really should. To be honest, I’m afraid to, but in some ways we need to expose ourselves to things that make us uncomfortable so we DO start doing something about it. I’m definitely beginning to look for more groups that help oppressed women, and people in general, so I can support them in some way.

Thanks for posting about Somaly Mam’s book. I had no idea she had a memoir. I should let my mother know as I’m sure she’d be interested in it as well.

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Sarah @ Yogi in Action May 3, 2013 at 11:25 am

This absolutely horrifies me- as I’m sure it does all women.

I’ve been through Cambodia, and Thailand, and while I never saw any children, I would often see these young, beautiful women with these old, fat white men. It made me so sad to witness it, and powerless to do anything about it.

Do you know if the proceeds from her memoir are going back towards her non-profit organization?

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jenna May 3, 2013 at 11:30 am

Yes! I believe a portion of the proceeds from the book do go back to her foundation.

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Elle May 3, 2013 at 1:12 pm

I hope she keeps the proceeds! She needs to earn a living, first and foremost.

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Caroline L. May 3, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Thank you for sharing – this is definitely a topic that’s been getting lots of attention lately (for good reason) – it’s definitely something I want to educate myself on. Will go find the book asap!

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Tee May 3, 2013 at 12:33 pm

jenna,

i’ve been reading your blog daily (it’s part of my morning routine when i get work) and i love all your recipes. i’m so so happy to see that you’ve taken it upon yourself to research and educate, and bring this horrible epidemic to your readers. you’re right, one person CAN make a difference, and i think a lot of times people forget that. or maybe they just think ignorance is bliss. it’s really refreshing to see people like you be affected by this, enough to want to do something about it. it affects all of us. i was part of a nonprofit that worked with sex-trafficking victims, and it has really changed me. anyway..just, thanks for this. more people should get involved…bc really, we should be protecting the most precious thing in this world–our children.

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Tee May 3, 2013 at 12:36 pm

oh, and one more thing..

check out the movie Whistleblower if you get a chance. it’s starring rachel weisz, and it’s based on a true story. as well as a book called Girls Like Us by Rachel Lloyd–a sex trafficking survivor who started her own non-profit org based out of NY. she’s amazing and very empowering. :)

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Maryz May 3, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Thanks for sharing this book. I have become more and more aware of the injustice to women in the past few months. I will be picking this book up!

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LB May 3, 2013 at 1:21 pm

This is another great movement if you’re interested in slavery in America – in all forms. Too close to home. My company just did some amazing awareness advertising for them.

http://enditmovement.com/

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Halle May 4, 2013 at 6:25 am

I’m in it to end it! :)

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Lisa May 3, 2013 at 2:31 pm

I became aware of human trafficking through Christine Caine and her nonprofit, The A21 Campaign (http://www.thea21campaign.org/). What these girls and women are put through is absolutely heartbreaking.

Thank you for bringing this book to my attention. I will definitely be reading it soon.

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Cristen May 3, 2013 at 6:56 pm

I first heard about human trafficking back in December through the Passion Conference as well as the End It Movement (http://enditmovement.com/). It’s quite heartbreaking to hear the statistics when it comes to human trafficking/sexual trafficking in our own country let alone those around the world. It’s heartbreaking to hear that there are more slaves in the world now than at any other time in history.

Thank you for mentioning this book seeing as this is a topic I am becoming quite interested in, as well as adoption. (Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis is completely wrecking me in the best of ways at the moment.) I’ll have to check it out sometime along with The White Umbrella by Mary Frances Bowley.

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Kim May 3, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Jenna, thank you for sharing this. My church works a lot with Restore NYC (http://restorenyc.org), which works with law enforcement to rescue sex slaves along the eastern seaboard and houses them in a secret apartment building where they’re receive holistic healing services. They’re an incredible organization. I honestly wish I did more to help and am praying about small things I can do to show love to the women. Also, someone mentioned the A21 campaign in a comment above. A women I met at the (in)RL conference sends letters to the women who have been rescued on the 21st of each month, and I loved that idea!

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Emily @ Life on Food May 4, 2013 at 3:38 am

I was a reading fool for a few months but lately I haven’t felt like I had the time. Must get back into the game.

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Vicki Esh May 4, 2013 at 5:20 am

Hi Jenna,

I am a student working on my MA in Theology. I’m pursuing this degree with an emphasis in social injustices and what responsibility followers of Christ have in this fight for justice. This book was one of the first I read on the topic of human trafficking and since I became aware of what was happening around the world, I have done extensive research in this area. I am also a mother of 3 daughters so when I consider what is happening to girls caught in trafficking, it is very real and poignant for me. So I commend you for using your blog to bring awareness to this issue. You are absolutely right, one person can make a difference and it begins with awareness!

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Halle May 4, 2013 at 6:24 am

Hi jenna,
Have you ever heard of the End it Movement? It is a worldwide movement working to see the end of Modern Day Slavery. It all started at the Passion Conference (A giant worship conference for high school seniors and college age students created by Louie Giglio (!!), and crazy things are happening. I strongly suggest you watch the 1 minute video on their website. It is also a great tool with many different heartwrenching stories and stats. You can also buy tshirts/hats/other apparel to support it! Check it out right here- http://enditmovement.com/

I CANNOT recommend this enough. Oh! and Follow it on instagram #enditmovement

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Christine May 6, 2013 at 11:49 am

i love how many people have become aware and are in it to end it! SO amazing!

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Rebecca May 4, 2013 at 7:42 am

What a great post! When I was a Peace Corps volunteer, we learned all about this (although it wasn’t such a problem in the site I worked in). You should really check out Mountains Beyond Mountains By Tracy Kidder- it really made me believe in the power of one person to make important changes in the world!

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Ashley Lynn May 4, 2013 at 9:27 am

So happy to see you getting involved in such incredible work. I read Somaly’s book last year and was horrified. I was in Cambodia doing some humanitarian work the previous year and was aware of this issue but had no idea the extent. I love how she says she doesn’t believe she can change the world but she couldn’t sleep at night if she didn’t try to change it for at least one girl. So empowering. If you have any ways I can help get in loved with y’all I would love to hear about it. Thanks for beig wonderful and inspiring Jenna!

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Meghan May 4, 2013 at 10:41 am

I’ve been devotedly reading your blog for your delicious recipes for quite a while now, and like others, have to say that I’ve been impressed and touched by your sharing of posts like this one. I never comment, but wanted to take the time to say… Good for you, Jenna, for taking the time and investing the emotional energy to educate yourself on such devastating issues as human trafficking and sex trafficking. I also wanted to thank you for using your lovely blog as a platform to raise your powerful and compassionate voice to speak out on these issues. I completely agree that awareness and education are some of the most important tools toward working to end these horrors – we should all be raising our voices against them. Seriously, good for you.

That being said, as a former rape crisis counselor, I feel I have to add a little PSA. It’s important to recognize that, given the terrible prevalence of child abuse and sexual assault in our own country (and everywhere, really), I’m sure some of your readers are survivors of these forms violence. For those who are, reading something like this can be very triggering, bringing on symptoms of PTSD. Fortunately, if these people are not already connected with help around these issues, there are some great national resources that provide crisis counseling, and can connect someone with their local agencies for further support. I don’t know how often you’ll write posts like this, but you might consider closing with a quick message and some links and phone numbers, to help people reach out if they need to. Some good resources are:

- ChildHelp at http://www.childhelp.org, which operates the National Child Abuse Hotline at *1-800-4-A-Child* This is a 24/7 crisis hotline offering support to abused children, adult survivors of child abuse, and parents of abused children.

- RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) at http://www.rainn.org, which also operates a 24/7 crisis hotline at *1-800-656-HOPE*

If you are reading this, and you or someone you know has been affected by any of these issues, please know that there is support for you. We all need help sometimes, and you are absolutely deserving of it.

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Lauren May 4, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Jenna, I just wanted to encourage you and say that, I, like many others, have been reading your blog for years and constantly making your recipes, and I can’t tell you how awesome it is to see you growing in your faith and letting your light shine for all to see, even when you get persecuted for it at times. Although we’ve never met, you are my sister in Christ, and I’m so proud of you!!! I used to always pass along your blog whenever people asked for the recipe (this happened a lot!), and now I get to add in there how you share your faith and what the Lord is teaching you too, and that is such a blessing!

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Emily May 4, 2013 at 12:40 pm

What an amazing cause. I signed up to make a recurring monthly donation after looking into this nonprofit. I hope other readers will consider doing this as well. Can we really afford not to?

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Errign May 4, 2013 at 3:31 pm

I took several classes on women in world politics that focused on women’s issues and Half the Sky was one of the required readings for one of my courses. Definitely an eye opening book, though I haven’t seen the documentary.

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Erin May 4, 2013 at 3:44 pm

GREAT post!! I’m sure you already know about this but just wanted to remind you that that sevenly.org’s current cause is rescuing women who’ve been forced into sexual slavery — definitely check it out!!

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Sarah May 5, 2013 at 2:33 am

Agreed – such a huge issue that requires addressing. I think one great move by Canada (where I’m from) is passing legislation that ensures that Canadian criminals who go on “sex tourism” travels are charged for sleeping with children under Cdn law – they can be extradicted if they try and stay away, I believe. All nations need to pass and actively monitor/prosecute in line with this legislation. The knowledge that things like sex traffiking and other atrocities continue as I live my comfortable Canadian life forces me to try and take action in whatever small way I can. Great post, Jenna. Please keep these up!

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Nikki May 5, 2013 at 3:01 am

It’s such a tragic and horrifying realisation that this goes on. Part of me wants to not read this book because of how confronting it will be but the other part knows that the more people who accept that this happens the more people there will be to fight to end it. Thanks for sharing.

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Jennifer May 5, 2013 at 6:25 am

I have a three-year-old daughter. I just cannot imagine. Thank you for using your voice to bring light to these issues.

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Alison May 5, 2013 at 11:33 pm

I’m with you on my recent “awareness” of the subject! I haven’t seen the documentary, but I did read “Half the Sky” last summer and it was one of the hardest books I’ve ever read; but also one of the ones that had the most impact. I think you’d also appreciate “Half the Church” which references “Half the Sky” a lot. I read it in 48 hours on vacation a couple of months ago. I can’t wait to see the documentary that you mentioned! I’ll try get my hands on that this summer (I live in Kuwait [where trafficking is a HUGE problem], and I can’t get the documentary until I’m back in Canada this summer). I’ve saved the title of this book though; can’t wait to read it! Thanks for sharing. :)

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Kat May 6, 2013 at 10:07 am

If you are interested in programs that combat sex slavery here is another one. My church has a group that supports it and one of our member is over in SE Asia right now working with the missionaries there.

http://love146.org/

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Lesley May 6, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Thank you for talking about this, and that it is a world-wide issue, not just some far off place. Once I learned about the trafficking and operations that go on in my very own community, I couldn’t “unknow” it, as they say, and I had to find at least some way to contribute. I hope as this reaches your readers, they feel the same way.

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Ashley May 6, 2013 at 2:45 pm

If I may, Polaris Project works to combat all sorts of human trafficking, not just sex trafficking. If you’re really interested in sex trafficking, Shared Hope International works just against that and they are an amazing non-profit!

http://sharedhope.org/

Not that I’m saying labor trafficking etc are not awful, but if sex trafficking is what really gets to you, check out Shared Hope. They have safe houses all across the world and raise awareness in America on the poor nature of our own sex trafficking laws (I worked for them as policy counsel last year).

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The Budgeting Babe May 7, 2013 at 10:06 am

Thanks for the recommendation. Can’t wait to check it out!

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Kim May 7, 2013 at 7:21 pm

My church partners with an organization called War International. They sell jewelry made by women who have been rescued from sex trafficking. I would like to recommend the book Kisses from Katie, a younger girl that up and started an orphanage in Uganda, very motivational…

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Gretchen June 10, 2013 at 7:58 pm

I’m not usually one to comment (although I love your blog!), but I have always loved your book recommendations and this one particularly spoke to me. I just spent three months in Cambodia volunteering for an organization similar to this one focused on rescuing girls from prostitution. I too read Half the Sky and loved it. It was an amazing experience to go and teach these young girls how to knit, bake, and speak English, and particularly hard since I’m 18 years old and many of them were my age and even younger. I suggest looking into Transitions Global (the organization I volunteered for, founded by my mom’s cousin), and even donate if you can! It is a very real and prominent issue in Cambodia, and I’m so glad I could go and do a little part to help.

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