Because I am a Girl
Bruce Elder: 8/5/10,
Irvine Welsh and others; Vintage, 189pp, $24,95
If you believe we should all be treated equally, regardless of race or sex, then you will already be appalled by those countries and societies where prejudice against young girls, simply because they are female, is part of the fabric of everyday life. It is easy to register that the life of a female child in Egypt, the Sudan, Brazil, Togo, the Dominican Republic, Liberia and Sierra Leone is far worse than it is for a boy but it is hard to break free from the easy torpor of indifference and attempt to do something about that horrific injustice.
Mary Staunton, chief executive of Plan UK (a community development organisation that has helped more than 9 million children in the past
73 years) persuaded seven writers to travel to countries where girls were disadvantaged and write about the experience. This book brings together a diverse collection of writers, including Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh, Australian humorist Kathy Lette, Chinese filmmaker Xiaolu Guo and Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat. Because they have a novelistic sensibility, they present the worlds of the girls with a level of honesty and intensity that no formal report could evoke.
Harris presents a disturbing vignette of the dangers of child slavery and exploitation in Togo. Lette goes to Brazil and tells a depressing story “of child prostitution, teenage pregnancy, HIV, no contraception, illegal back-street abortion, sex tourism, single mothers, irresponsible absentee fathers and domestic violence”. And, in the collection’s true masterpiece, Welsh tells a fictional story of two sisters in the Dominican Republic.
This is a remarkable collection. If you want to make a contribution to Plan UK, all you have to do is buy this book; proceeds from the sale go directly to the charity.
Womens Rights, Global, Children