Kellye McGrew – Reaction Paper

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​Through the past few weeks so much in class has stood out to me but recently after reading the 8 different goals for the United Nations Millennium Development project. While reading the article I realized that all 8 of the goals all had something in common, and that is that they all allow ways for improvement in the world and room to grow. Making a change and allowing a time span for that change shows room for improvement. By the year 2015 the project had estimated that all goals be completed to some extent, and although its only 2013 its going to take even longer due to problems within other governments that will not allow certain things to go on. Hopefully a more efficient action is taken advantage of to make a serious change.
​One of the most important goals on the list to me would be to promote gender equality and empower women. “In one third of developing countries, women constitute less than 10 percent of members of parliament.” With this goal the situations that call for this to happen are the main points. Which actually are to educate girls and women and this is to promote the fact that educated girls tend to become women with greater economic independence. Also overcoming barriers to schooling girls, which there has been tremendous MDG focus on expanding enrollment in primary school. But these gains for girls are often lost in translation to secondary school due to lack of separate, private, safe girl’s sanitation facilities, sexual harassment or violence at and en route to school, and due to the need for curriculum reform and teacher training for higher quality schools with greater relevance to girls’ lives. Another main point is promoting mechanisms that give women a voice in politics and governance institutions. These mechanisms can vary widely from proportional representation systems that increase the probability women will be elected, to more transparent political party selection processes, public funding for campaigns and more. Another point is to enact and implement equal economic rights for all, which would have legislation on equal pay for equal work, free choice of profession or employment, equality in hiring and promotions, leave and unemployment benefits, freedom from sexual harassment in the workplace, and other critical rights are increasingly being legislated. This to me seems like the most important because women suffer in the workplace because of discrimination and that is absolutely horrible in my eyes. Lastly this goal wants women’s work to count, which continues the lack of political will and financial resources necessary to collect good quality data and so forth and so on. These main points for this goal stood out to me because I am women and a women of color so I have a lot to fight for in the work force.
​The progress for the goal promote gender equality and empower women so far states that only seven countries are still not parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against women. Between 1990 and 2005, all regions expect Europe, Central and East Asia saw an increase of women in national parliaments. This to me excites me because I am happy to know that around the world there has been some type of change for women.

​Bacha bazi the Dancing boys of Afghanistan by Tiffany Dyer

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One of the topics of our project’s website design is trafficking stories, though Danny did an amazing job finding female trafficking stories she had difficulty finding a male survivors story so I decided to embark on that adventure not understanding how difficult it really was. Trafficking of women and girls is talked about thoroughly thru half the sky, but I feel that the voices of the boys involved with trafficking are solemnly heard. The subject of sexual violence against males is taboo; most male victims do not report their abuse because they feel emasculated. Adding to the silence of their abuse is that striking fact that there are fewer services available to them and virtually no concern about the matter socially or politically in many countries including the US. This facts the crime and the victims virtually invisible and allows their offenders to continuously victimize the young boys without fears of consequences. This deeply troubles me because we often talked about civil rights for all, equal rights for men and women, that we are one in the same yet we do not have equal rights for victims of rape and trafficking. It seems to be almost one sided to me, I know that it is hard for women to come forward in developing countries due to shame I cannot imagine that it would be any easier for a boy to come out and say I’ve been raped/trafficked.
​As I researched more and more I could only find statics and facts, mere snips of blind stories with no face or name to make it relatable for site viewers. But as you know I never give up, so I found the Bacha bazi , the term literally translates to the “dancing boys”. At first I thought how bad could this be? Boys dance in the US all the time, I honestly was not prepared for what I was about to read. The bacha bazi is a common practice in Afghanistan; in fact it is a hobby among the wealthiest and most powerful men (tribal warlords) in northern Afghanistan. The boys are kidnapped and forced to dress as women and dance at huge gatherings and functions. The boys are simply sex slaves, who are routinely raped by these tribal warlords or whoever owns them. The rape and kidnapping of the boys are largely ignored. When I listen to any news or discussion about the conditions of the country I never hear about this widely accepted practice. The owners often prey on the system in the countries kidnapping young Afghan boys who were poor or rejected by their families; continuously abusing them and then tossing then away once then are aged out at nineteen. I found one story of a young boy who had been sexually assaulted by a mechanic in his town, and when the boy came forward to his family they blamed him kicking him out to the streets where he was forced to live with the man who attacked him. This story instantly reminded me of half in the sky about the women who were raped and then forced to marry their rapist and I honestly sit by my computer and cried. The thought of the world not just prey on innocent young women but on innocent age boys troubled me greatly. The age range of desired boys is eight to nineteen, after nineteen they are longer desired by their owners, they longer have value in society and their masters, and are often severely emotionally damaged after the years of abuse. This completely sickened me, I couldn’t imagine being continuously raped repeated for years by an owner and his friends and then being threw away like garage onto the streets of Afghanistan. I think the thing that really “frosted my cupcake” (it’s a phrase my old professor would say instead of cursing lol) is that the boys are owned by not just single men but by married men to who keep and trade the boys as concubines.
​The boys often face the same living conditions as the brothel girls who are trafficked. Boys who try to escape often face severe physical beatings and sometimes are even killed. I found a story about a 15-year-old boy who tried to escape from his former owner (believed to be a wealthy drug baron) after being kidnapped and was murdered by his owner and a policeman (friends with the owner). The officer was set free after a few months of jail time. The boy’s family was grief striking; this brought me to think of half the sky again. In chapter 4 the father who the girl who was refusing to marry her rapist said that stealing a animal is a harsher crime then stealing a person and the same is true in the middle east. In Afghan society the victims of rape and assault (both male and female) are often persecuted and punished rather than the perpetrator and kidnapping of a person is not taking seriously as a crime. I felt that the stories of the dancing boys needed to be told through our website. I almost feel that I have a duty to tell these boys stories and expose the Afghan culture for not just their not lack of respect for the women in their society but for the young men in their society. I feel that no one is safe from the injustices that the society is hindering. After three days of research I found a story with a face, Farhad age nineteen at the time of his interview and Jamel twenty at the time. The two men were grown dancers who were forced in bacha bazi, just five years before the interview. Farhad story broke my heart, he was thirteen when is older neighbor tricked him into coming over. It was there in his neighbor’s home that he was forced to watch sex tape and continuously raped, he was then taken to another location and locked up like an animal where he was raped daily for five months. “I got used to him,” Farhad said “He would sometimes take me to parties, and sometimes other places. I was with him all the time”. I immediate thought to myself how could you get used to be raped, how could you die inside. When I was rape the first time at fifthteen I felt sick, ashamed and empty, I didn’t talk for weeks. After the second time at sixteen I felt empty and hallow as if my life had no purpose, I didn’t even want to live and tried to overdose on pain medication just to make the empty feelings go away. Even now at twenty-three I still feel broken, so I couldn’t understand how Farhad could say these words. So I sit back for a day or two and thought about it, and then on the third day I understood that Farhad had no choice but to get used to it he was trapped in the situation and I wasn’t, though I am haunted by a memory he was living a nightmare every single day for months. The emptiness I felt after one day most have consumed him over the five months.
​Jamel was Farhad’s friend and dance partner his story was different than Farhad’s Jamel danced to provide for his younger brothers and sisters, “I make them study, dress them, feed them. Any money I make I spend on my family. I don’t want them to be like this, be like me,” he said. Thinking about Jamel I felt that a huge confusion , why would you go out and dance and be subjected to sexual abuse htat their most have been another way. Once again I took a break from this project (I had to take a lot of breaks the stories are overwhelming and overbearing to be honest), When I got all my thoughts together I realized that I wasn’t thinking the situation all the way through Jamel had to do this to protect his young siblings from having to do it in search of money for food and shelter. He was sacrificing his innocence and manhood for them which made him a hero in my eyes. Farhad also told a story where he was taken from a party by four police officers one night and almost gang raped at the station before their commander walked in and stopped the assault. But then, “He said if I wanted to be set free I should give him my money and my mobile,” Farhad said. “I had no real choice, so I gave him my money and mobile.” Again I cried for about two hours because the law victimizes Farhad even more. The dancing boys are often threatened, beaten and raped by the men who attend the parties at which the dance, they are surrounded by drugs and alcohol which can make experience completely unbearable and the spread of HIV is rapid. Jamel risks his safety for only $30 for the night, a night that usually ends in assault. Jamel says he goes because it is the only thing he know and his only way to make money. After the website is completed more people will know about what Jamel, Farhad and the other boys go through. And if they feel at least half of what I felt during the research phase I would have done what I set out to do, which is to help people completely understand the horrors victims go through when they are kidnapped and trafficked

Felicia Manoliu – Course Reflection

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Going over the Chapters 3, 4, 5, and 6 of the Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, it surely brought the whole class back to discussing the issues that have been going on in the developing and periphery countries, and how mistreated are the women there. A great terminology that was introduced in the book is stoic docility, which is defined as woman’s acceptance of any decree by men. As discussed in class, us living in a core and wealthy country where people are more civilized and educated do not frankly understand why women in the developing countries accept abuse from men rather than fighting back. Firstly, we need to understand that there’s a culture difference. Women in the United States are independent, attend schools, have careers and earn their own money, and they don’t have to obey men or depend on them. American women have the freedom that women from poor countries don’t know what freedom means or feels like. Here, women express themselves the way they want and how they want, they can also contact the police and press domestic violence chargers or reporting rape or kidnap, which definitely all of these are inexistent or are not respected in the developing countries.
The human trafficking and raping cases are devastating to listen to, especially, what was discussed in class, how peasants are preferred for traffickers, because they are uneducated and mostly to obey orders; another fact discussed was how a girl gets killed because she doesn’t bleed on her wedding, or stoning a girl because she isn’t a virgin and so on. These are catastrophic so called “traditions” that we clearly don’t understand them entirely. But there’s always a solution as the authors of the Half the Sky inspire and guide us to be the solution to these tragedies.
A great and inspiring example that was mentioned in the book, is how an ordinary boy named Zach Hunter created a campaign called “Loose Change to Loosen Chains”, which focuses against modern slavery. Another, fascinating example is how Sonnette Ethlers developed a product called Rapex- which resembles a tube with barbs inside, so that when men try to rape a woman, their genitals get caught in this product and cannot remove it unless the doctor takes it out. All these ideas and campaigns are incredible, but the book indicates that the most important way to encourage women and girls to stand up for their rights is education. It is necessary to promote universal education in poor countries, so that way we can prevent all these horrible incidents.
In chapter 6, we learned how the maternal mortality has been an issue in several countries. Especially in the poor countries where there’s a lack of healthcare and medication. For example, a girl named Mahabouba, who after being raped and beaten up by her much older husband, she ended up having an obstructed labor that lead giving birth of a dead baby. She later suffered from fistula. Fistula as it’s being talked about in chapter 6, it isn’t so familiar to people throughout the world, and because of that there is not enough treatment for it in the Western Africa. There are 30,000 to 130,000 new cases of fistula develop each year in Africa alone, and there are only a few organizations that help the fistula hospitals in Africa, which is tragic but this is the reality.
Recently we had two speakers – Shawn Wright and Dr. Dorothe von Huene GreenBerg informing us about the several abolitionists and social activists such as Lucretia Mott, Abby Kelly Foster, David Ruggles, Moses Pierce, Susan B. Anthony, Lydia Maria Child and so on. What I found fascinating about these abolitionists is that each of them took a risk and didn’t give up to help the hopeless and innocent people. David Ruggles impressed me with the fact that he helped 400 fugitives in the 1830s including newly escaped Frederick Douglass. Lucretia Mott fascinated me with the fact that even though back then when women were partially independent, and men didn’t consider women equal to men is that Mott with her ambitiousness made it to become the first president of the American Equal Rights Association, and empowered many women to become independent and outspoken.

Gabriela Gonzalez – Reflection paper

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These past few weeks had been full of new learning. I was really thankful to Dr. Von Huene-Greenberg and Shawna for coming and teaching us about the Underground Railroad and the people who made it possible for slaves to escaped and have a better life. I am still bother by the thought that people were able to buy or sell another people as if they were furniture or animals. It is really shocking imagine how a slave’s life was at that time. As a mother of two, I can’t bear the idea that someone could sell my kids to the best bettor. I was really happy to hear the story of Sojourner Truth, and how she challenged a white man through a United State court and won her son back! I think that was an important step in the abolishment of slavery through America at that time. However, slavery still exists around the world and is more common that what we imagine. I still believed that slavery can be eliminated through education and awareness. Sometimes slavery comes in different forms to make it harder for us to see it. While reading “Half of the Sky”, I came across the story of Dai Manju, a thirteen years old Chinese girl that had to drop out of school due to his family’s extreme poverty. Luckily, thanks to some American good hearts and a lucky mistake her community received the financial support to build a new school, and she was able to go back to study without having to paid tuition for as long as she kept her grades up. After a few years Dai Manju earned a degree in Accounting and landed a job that give her the chance not just to help her family, but her entire community as well. Stories like this one could be repeated every day if people from developed countries, who have the resources, would just take a look at these less fortunate countries and the families that live in them and simply help them! If every one of us would give up just a little of all we have, thousand of kids in these poor countries could have the chance to go to school and achieved their dreams. Even though Dai Manju was a slave of poverty, she broke the chains and changed her future and the ones around her forever.

I was also glad to learn about the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). I am very happy that the United Nations is putting its influence to work. I am very hopeful that the MDGs would be achieved, especially with programs such as the UNDP cash for work program for destitute rural women in Bangladesh. Thanks to this program 91 percentage of the children of participating women now attend school, compared to a previous 57 percent. According to the United Nations, as women emerge from extreme poverty, they prioritize their children’s education and nutrition over most other spending. This is one more reason why we should fight for women right and gender equality. Having women lifted out of poverty will immensely increase children’s chances of success. I really hope that the UN keeps creating programs like this one and the developed world keeps supporting them. I think as the ones with more resources is our responsibility to look after these countries and help them develop.

I look forward to our social action project!!!

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Greenburgh Nature Center – Center for Community Action & Research at Pace

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I had such a wonderful day, during Pace Makes a Difference Day at the Greenburgh Nature Center.  The Center for Community Action & Research at Pace (CCARPLV) with the help of  the Eta Tau chapter of Gamma Sigma Sigma, whom dedicate their time to volunteer work and unity, together they planned an exceptional way to give back.

The day started off with a small tour of the 33-acre woodland perserve with nature-themed playgrounds, and a wide variety of indoor and outdoor animals.  We then gathered our tools and began to clear out what will soon be the new compost area.  In this compost haven, the center can effectively create new compost and educate visitors in the process on how it’s done.  We sweated and heaved and wheelbarrowed everything and anything we could, all under the close supervision of Ann, one of the staff members.  When we cleared out about as much as we could, we realized only an hour had passed, yet we accomplished so much!

We settled down and decided to chill with the sheep, turkeys and African goats inside their holding area.  I was able to see at that moment that the Greenburgh Nature Center, wasn’t a zoo or a just any place to see some animals and trees, this was a truly hands-on experience with nature.

What we didn’t realize was that the real work was just around the trail (literally.)

We were then led by Travis Brady, Director of Education & Living Collections, to a beautiful area off one of the trails that was covered with weeds and brush.  He related to us his visions of a Fairly-like Village with tables and organic huts to attract families onto the trails.  A sort of safe place that stimulates the imagination to create new worlds in the minds of children and adults alike.  Challenge Accepted!!  We got to work.  We lugged logs and  pulled weeds, lifted and pushed God knows what, let’s just say none of us were complaning about not having gone to the gym that morning!  With a alot of imagination and even more team work we we able to clear out the whole area and even got started on our Fairy Fortress made out of vines and twigs!

When it was time to go none of us wanted to put down our tools to stop and were already making plans to come back and finish our “masterpiece” next week.

Travis and the staff were so appreciative of all of our work and decided to treat us to a little hands-on time with some of the animals back inside.  A beautiful Boa Constrictor and the smart White-Necked Raven.

Besides being a significant wildlife habitat, the Greenburgh Nature Center is a hands-on learning center that focuses on how natural enviornment and ecosystems function and allows us to learn how we as human beings can live more sustainably.

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With Jonathan (left) and Travis (right) holding the Boa Constrictor after a long day of work.

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Our own personal sheep whisperer, Victoria.

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With the group discussing how we were going to go about the Fairy Village.

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Clearing out the future Compost haven….

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Building our Fairy Fortress (teamwork was a MUST!!)

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ME attempting to umm…. you know what, I have no idea what I was attempting to do!

A HUGE SHOUT-OUT to everyone at Greenburgh Nature Center for allowing us to help out, Gamma Sigma Sigma, and the Center for Community Action & Research at Pace University, Pleasantville, for bringing us all together to make it happen.