Role of Women in Other Cultures & Human Trafficking
Pamala Kennedy Chestnut’s More Than Rice exposes the shocking treatment of women in many Asian cultures through the evocative fictional portrayal of three women in a Malaysian brothel.
Gabriela Mendoza is only seventeen years old when she is captured in the Philippines and taken to Malaysia, where she is forced to work in a brothel. It is not only through the story of Gabriela and the other girls while they are in the brothel that is shocking to readers, but also the narratives of each of the girls who Gabriela meets, whose treatment and conditions before coming to the brothel represent lives of tragedy, all based in real cultural norms of other societies.
Perhaps the most heart-rending of all of the tales is that of Maylin, a Chinese girl whose arranged marriage results in disastrous consequences. Her sad tale begins before her birth, when her mother refused to have a sonogram, as many Chinese women of her era did—In hopes that the one child they were permitted would be a male. Although her mother accepts her as a daughter, her father remains bitter that she is female and Maylin is a great disappointment. Maylin’s family arranges a “very appropriate” marriage for her just before her seventeenth birthday, which will ostensibly restore honor to the family, as her parents hope for a grandson from an honorable family.
More Than Rice is a shocking expose’ both of human trafficking and the low regard in which women are held in many cultures. Through the abuses and injustices that her fictional characters endure, Chestnut raises awareness for the many women who are relegated to similar lives throughout the world, victims of their culture, providing readers with a thought-provoking social commentary.
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