Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sold by Patricia McCormick


I finished reading "Sold" by Patrica McCormick a little while ago but had to let the book sink it because it was a light read but heavy content. What shocked me the most was that when I went to go find the book, I found it in the Young Adult Summer Reading section, after reading it it made me question, what grade was reading this for their summer reading? The word sex was not mentioned in the book but it was such a powerful book that I am not sure how a 7th grader or 8th grader would grasp the significance and the importance of such a book. I really enjoyed the author's style of writing and her eloquence. The story is about a 13 year old Nepal girl, Lakshmi, who is sold by her step-father into the industry; however, she thinks that she is going to go be a nanny and can send home money to her mother. Her family is dirt poor, due to her step-father's disability and his ruthless spending.

Here are some of the passages she wrote that I found very significant and relevant to understanding sex-trafficking.




Titled: "DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SON AND A DAUGHTER"
"A son will always be a son, they say. But a girl is like a goat. Good as long as she gives you milk and butter. But not worth crying over when its time to make stew." (page 8)

This quotation highlights the mentality around girls that allows men to objectify and force them into the sex-industry. Reword that statement is it means: girls are good as long as she gives you sex and children(male children) but not worth crying over when she dies, is sick or we need to sell her.


Titled: THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS
" Each day, a thousand people pass below my window. Children on their way to school. Mothers hurrying home from the market. Rickshaw pullers, vegetable sellers, street sweepers, and alms-seekers.
No one looks up." (Page 109)

This highlights how invisible of the sex-industry is. Here is this girl, taken from her country and put into a brothel hundreds of miles away. She knows no one and doesn't even know the language. No one sees her and no one knows what is happening to her. The girls in the brothel have been told that the Americans, if the come to help them, will only shame them and make them walk naked in the city.(see passage: A STRANGE CUSTOMER). Also the American offer them a better life, exactly like the first woman who bought the girl, how are they supposed to trust again now? Mumtaz tells them that they must stay to pay off the debt that they have (for her buying them) and they have to do this by having sex with the "johns." However, as Lakshmi, this is not even possible, she only says that to make the girls keep seeing clients. If they don't want to see clients, they are beaten, refused food and may even be sold to another brothel. Lakshmi can not run away because she knows no one, does not know where she is and does not know the language. If the girls get "sick" (HIV or any STD) they are kicked to the street and left to die. They are not allowed to ask the men to wear condoms, and are required to "clean" themselves with water after- as if this will solve the problem of getting an STD. Virgins are sold to men who have STD because someone one day thought of a brilliant idea: that virgins would cleanse the man of his STD. What a brilliant fucking idea.

Titled: A STRANGE CUSTOMER
"I have never seen such a queer- looking person. He has the pink skin of the pig. His hair is the color of straw. his eyes are ice blue. And he is wearing short pants that show his hairy monkey legs.
He is too friendly, this pink American man. He grips my hand in greeting, a strange and uncouth gesture that makes me pull back in alarm.
He says hello in my language.
I say nothing in reply.
"What is your name?" he says.
His words are slow and clumsy, as if he has a mouth full of roti.
"Your name," he says again, more slowly still. "What is your name?"
This pink man is the first man here to ask my name, but I don't give it to him.
" How old are you?"
I know what I am supposed to say. But something keeps me from lying to this stranger. I shrug.
He is unmoved by my rudeness. Indeed, he smiles, his ice-blue eyes oddly warm.
"Are you being kept here against your will?"
My will? That is something I lost long ago, I want to tell him.
I want to pummel this pink-skinned man with my fists.
I want to spit on this stranger with his eyes of cold pity, his idiot way of speaking my language, and his bad-mannered questions that make me look at the humiliation that is my life.
I fold my arms across myself.
He takes a little book from one of his pockets, consults its battered pages, and then looks up at me. Slowly, with care, he asks me a question.
"Do you want to leave here?"
I know about these Americans. Anita has told me all about them. I will not be fooled into leaving here only to be stripped naked and have people throw stones at me and call me a dirty woman.
I shake my head no.
"You don't want to leave here?"
I just stare at him.
"I can take you to a place where you will get new clothes," he says. "And good food. And you will not have to be with men."
I pretend I don't understand. Because I don't.
I don't understand how I will pay off my debt to Mumtaz in this new place.
"Do you want to go there?"
I shake my head no.
"Its a clean place," he says.
I don't even blink.
He takes his wallet from his jacket. I wait to catch a glimpse of his riches, but what he hands me in a small white card. It is full of American words I cannot read, and in the center is a drawing of a bird in flight.
I put the card in my waistcloth.
And then he is gone.
He odd he is, this man who pays for a girl and does nothing but talk" (page 203-205)


Titled: POLICE
"Tonight I saw a curious thing. Usually the men give their money to Mumtaz (women brothel keeper). What I saw tonight, as I came downstairs, was Mumtaz handing a fat roll of rupee notes to a man.
He was dressed all in tan, like the man at the border, and he had a gun on his hip. While the man was counting his money, Shilpa (one of the girls) who spies for Mumtaz, spotted me and chased me away.
"Is that man a goonda (pimp)?"- I asked Shahanna.
"He's worse," she says. "He's a policeman."
I don't understand.
"Policemen are supposed to stop people like Mumtaz from selling girls," she says. "But she gives this one money each week and he looks the other way."
I don't understand this city. It is full of so many bad people. Even the people who are supposed to be good." (page 159)

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