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Questions for Mira Sorvino

The actress holds Harvard degree in East Asian language and civilization, has lived in Beijing, wrote a thesis on racial prejudice in China and is fluent in Mandarin.

By JANE AMMESON

When Amnesty International approached Academy Award-winning actress Mira Sorvino about becoming an ambassador in its Stop Violence Against Women campaign, it seemed to be a match made in humanitarian heaven. With a Harvard degree in East Asian language and civilization, Sorvino has lived in Beijing, wrote a thesis on racial prejudice in China and is fluent in Mandarin.

Where did you get your interest in activism? I grew up with stories about how my mom marched with Dr. Martin Luther King.Back thenthe whole country seemed to be more fervent about social change, and then something about the '80s and '90s really turned us around and made us very egocentric and shallow in our interests. September 11 made us feel victimized. Instead of taking that experience and broadening our hearts to other people who suffer, it distanced us from the rest of the world, which I think is sad.

Why Amnesty International? When I first started with them, they were looking for someone to host an evening about the disappeared women of Juarez, Mexico. Hundreds of women have been murdered over the past few years, and it hasn't stopped. The government really hasn't done enough to find who is committing the murders to stop them and protect these young women who are underprivileged.

What have you experienced on your Amnesty trips to Sudan's Darfur region? In Darfur, they have rape huts where they drag women who are foraging outside the refuge camps, looking for firewood and water for their families. They would abduct them and rape them for days on end and then send them back. Rape has been used consistently as a tool in Darfur.

What can people do to help? If people want to help, they have to put pressure on our president and Condoleezza Rice and their senators and representatives to say that we want to support the United Nations in making a special resolution to get adequate peacekeeping troops on the ground to protect the civilians. [We need] to tell our government that we really deplore the violence there.The best way is to fax or phone your representative or senator.I've been told that letters are thrown away because of fears of anthrax and that they get too many emails. We have to get George Bush to make good on his promise to help the people of Sudan.

Mira Sorvino recommends donating to the International Rescue Committee or calling the White House comment line (202-456-1111).

Published: August 01, 2006
Issue: Fall 2006