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March 5th, 2010
02:00 PM ET

'Half the Sky' fights oppression of women

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="The humanitarian organization CARE held their second annual International Women’s Day event Thursday."]

By Dashira Harris, CNN

“Women hold up half the sky” – Chinese proverb

Woishenet was just 13-years-old when she was abducted from her village in Ethiopia by four men and raped for two days.

Bride abduction is a practice in which a man who cannot pay high bride prices abducts the woman he wants to marry, rapes her and then consequently marries her. Once a girl is abducted, she becomes "soiled" or "tainted" and her parents often consent to the marriage at a reduced price.

The rape is not considered a crime if the two marry. Woishenet’s father, Zebene Negash, vowed to take the case to court. The accused, Aberew Jemma Negussie, was released on bail and then kidnapped Woishenet and raped her again, this time for 15 days.

Last year, Negussie was sentenced to 10 years and released after serving only one month. Woishenet and her father are now appealing to Ethiopia’s highest court.

Woishenet’s story was just one of the many illustrated in the New York Times bestseller, “Half the Sky,” written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The humanitarian organization CARE held their second annual International Women’s Day event, Half the Sky Live, Thursday to bring the book to life onscreen for a special one-night-only event in movie theaters worldwide.

Half the Sky Live featured musical performances, book readings, a panel discussion on the future of “turning women’s oppression into opportunity” and the world premiere of “Woishenet,” the on-screen adaptation of her story, a short film directed by Marisa Tomei and Lisa Leone.

The forthcoming short film is the first of future films inspired by the book. Kristoff affirms he will not stop with the book and is calling to action anyone who believes in human rights.

To find out what you can do, visit CARE.

Filed under: World
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. tyhouston

    This will never end until the world adopts a policy like the USA.
    Freedom of religion is nice, but using "god" as a way to commit child rape, murder of women, ect ect yeah, it's barbaric, evil and inhuman but it's ok cause GOD says so.

    March 8, 2010 at 2:19 pm |
  2. A. Smith, Oregon

    I hope this film and the readers also consider the horrific plight of Muslim women living under the egregious cold steel boots of the Muslim Clerics, Ayatollahs, Mullahs and Immans that routinely punish them for imagined slights in the most horrific and violent manner.

    Untold numbers of former Muslim women that have successfully fled the Muslim religion have sought and gained refuge in the homes of Hindu Indian family's and elsewhere in the world that are willing to shield and protect them.

    Photographs of these women brutally beaten, tortured by whips, canes and chains are posted on the internet for the world to see and sometimes Islamic country's pressure the webmasters to remove them before the world wakes up to the horrific treatment of Muslim women at the hands of the Muslim faithful men.

    March 6, 2010 at 1:33 am |