"Sold" in a Few Hours

Sold-imageI picked up the book “Sold” and literally read it in less than a day. My heart is in any direction but up right now.

The beautifully written tale is about a 13-year-old Nepalese girl being sold into child prostitution. (Click here to find out how it was written – Sold-About PDF). But it’s not just in India or Nepal.

The trafficking in children for sex was once thought to be a problem beyond America’s borders. But the FBI and the Justice Department have now started focusing intently on the issue–and what they’ve found is shocking. Thousands of young girls and boys are falling victim to violent pimps, who move them from state to state, which makes it a federal matter. The younger they are, the more they’re worth on the street.

Two years ago, the FBI and the Justice Department launched something called the Innocence Lost initiative. More than 40 FBI agents have been dedicated to task forces in the 14 cities with the highest incidence of child prostitution–places like Atlanta, Detroit, and Minneapolis.

It’s in the city I live in. There are friends working to free child sex slaves, but the thought strikes me that many of my Asian American brothers and sisters are more concerned with their 401K’s or making partner or landing that account than issues like this. I know of very few Asian American activists in this arena, in my generation, or in my city. Where are we?

In conjunction with this thought came the question of whether our lack of activism comes from our long held understanding of the woman’s place within the social hierarchy. This chapter from the book in particular captivated my attention to how rarely women triumph in the world I come from.

Everything I Need To Know

Before today, Ama says, you could run as free as a leaf in the wind.

Now, she says, you must carry yourself with modesty, bow your head in the presence of men, and cover yourself with your shawl.

Never look a man in the eye.

Never allow yourself to be alone with a man who is not family.

And never look at growing pumpkins or cucumbers when you are bleeding. Otherwise they will rot.

Once you are married, she says, you must eat your mal only after your husband has had his fill. Then you may have what remains.

If he burps at the end of the meal, it is a sign that you have pleased him.

If he turns to you in the nights, you must give yourself to him, in the hopes that you will bear him a son.

If you have son, feed him at your breast until he is four.

If you have a daughter, feed her at your breast for just a season, so that your blood will start again and you can try once more to bear a son.

If your husband asks you to wash his feet, you must do as he says, then put a bit of the water in your mouth.

I ask Ama why. “Why,” I say, “must women suffer so?”

“This has always been our fate,” she says. “Simply to endure,” she says, “is to triumph.”

The very notion that the sex trade exists and thrives at the expense of young girls makes me sick to my stomach and ashamed to call myself a man.

I will be ashamed to call myself a Christian if I do not lend my voice against it.

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Comments

  1. e cho says:

    david,
    i include myself in this implication. as you speak of the silence of asian americans, i would say that pastors of asian american/multiethnic churches need to shoulder some blame. we have influence and we are yielding little of it beyond personal spiritual piety and love your family theology.

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