'Half the Sky' aims to end sex trafficking

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In 1833, England enacted the Slavery Abolition Act, outlawing what we now call human trafficking. In the U.S., the abolitionist movement was no less strong. America, of course, fought the Civil War from 1861 to 1865 to end slavery.

In addition to their book –– the most horrifying that I have read –– Kristof and WuDunn are embarking on what they call a “transmedia” project to spread the word about the evils of modern slavery, which largely subjugates “women,” a term that includes adults of all ages and girls as young as 6.

I first heard about the transmedia project at the Columbia University Journalism School’s Social Media Weekend in February. Kristof and WuDunn are employing as many media as they can to reach the widest possible audience and spark a worldwide movement that will at long last free repressed women from the bonds of slavery. The couple are on Twitter and Facebook, and even have a Facebook game, complete with cartoon characters. I haven’t tried it, but I assume that it is targeted at teenagers to encourage them to tune in and get involved.

And then there’s the four-hour PBS series inspired by “Half the Sky.” Two segments of this “Independent Lens” series will air in the coming week –– “Strong,” at 2 p.m. on March 23, and “Whatever It Takes,” at 2 a.m. on March 28, both on Channel 13. The series, filmed in 10 countries, follows Kristof and celebrity activists America Ferrera, Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Gabrielle Union and Olivia Wilde as they meet with inspiring women who are making a difference in the lives of other women. The series, we are told, is solution-oriented.

And so, I might add, is “Half the Sky,” the book. In this masterpiece of modern-day abolitionism, Kristof and WuDunn offer myriad ways that most anyone can join what appears to be a burgeoning movement ready to explode. It is undeniably hard to read. Many times I had to put it down for a moment and regain my composure before I could continue. It is not a book for children. I’m not even sure that teenagers should read it. But it should be required reading for every adult living in law-abiding Western nations.
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