The atrocity of sex trafficking is highlighted in this heartbreaking book simply titled “SOLD.” I read it for a book club recently and was completely floored at the power of Patricia McCormick’s writing. It is the story of Lakshmi, a 13 year Nepalese girl whose stepfather sells her to help with his family’s financial troubles. She is taken to India and forced into prostitution to survive.
McCormick traveled to Nepal and India to retrace the steps that a young girl like Laskhmi would follow as part of her nightmarish journey. She interviewed aid workers who rescue girls from brothels as well as survivors, to ensure the authenticity of Lakshmi’s experience. Girls are sold for a few hundred dollars and transported to brothels where they are forced to “pay off their family’s debts” through prostitution. If they don’t obey, they are beaten, starved, intimidated, drugged and raped.
The U.S. State Department estimates that nearly half a million children are trafficked into the sex trade annually. They are being taken from their families as early as 6 years old and are forced to have sex with men twenty to thirty times per day. Yes, you heard me correctly. Take a moment to let that data soak in and to be really angry about it.
Then, when you’re ready to do something about it, visit Ms. McCormick’s link to web sites that combat sex trafficking.
The first organization Ms. McCormick lists on her site is Maiti Nepal. The founder of this organization, Anuradha Koriala, won CNN’s 2010 Hero of the Year award. What did she do to earn this honor? She has rescued 12,000 girls from brothels and rehabilitated them. Yes, you heard me correctly again: 12,000. Twelve thousand. TWELVE THOUSAND since 1993.
Here is an interview with Ms. Koriala (The video will require that you click to youtube – CNN won’t allow their videos to be embedded. Please forgive any ad that plays prior to the video – it is beyond my control. But trust me, two and a half minutes of this video will move you to the core):
Educators around the world have a responsibility to share the truth of what is happening to girls around the world. The book SOLD is an excellent vehicle for teaching our youth about the reality of what is happening to vulnerable girls, particularly when girls in many parts of the world think that their biggest challenge may be what color dress to wear to the prom or what to post to Facebook that day!
SOLD can be read by students as young as 13 years old (or 9th grade in the US.) It is written in a free flowing manner – no chapter is more than three pages and there is much room for dialogue because there is a lot of white space to fill with your students’ imagination and questions.
Please read this book. Find it at your library or you can purchase it here. I don’t really care how you find it – just make sure you read it and then share what you’ve learned and act to change it.