Your Letters: Moldova; Italy; Football Brain Injuries

Host Scott Simon shares listener letters about sexual exploitation in modern day Moldova as well as in 17th-century Italy. He also reads a letter reacting to a piece on brain injury among professional football players.

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Time now for your letters.

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SIMON: Several listeners pointed to parallels between two stories on last week's show. The first featured Emma Thompson talking about an art installation that tells the story of 18-year-old Elena from Moldova who was trafficked into the sex industry. The second was Italian mezzo-soprano Cecelia Bartoli performing arias made famous by castrati - boys who were castrated so their voices wouldn't change at puberty.

Douglas Braun Harvey of San Diego writes: I was struck by the link between poverty, childhood survival, sexuality and exploitation. Eighteen-year-old Moldavian Elena is a current example of the sacrifice of prepubescent boys in 18th century Europe. Both involved powerful adults willing to exploit the lives of the poor to provide pleasure. Both involved the destruction of life barely begun, to indulge the fantasies and restricted laws of nature or society. Both exploit the mind of a child for momentary dream of a better life out of poverty.

Donna Reynolds, who listens on member station WABE in Atlanta, posted this comment on our Web site: Ms. Bartoli has a profound respect and sympathy for the Castrati and the unique social position in which they found themselves. They were both admired and sought after as musicians, while at the same time viewed as less than persons worthy of respect in their own right. I applaud Ms. Bartoli and the producers of this wonderfully provocative and evocative multidimensional work of art and commentary.

Jeff Fox of Sarasota, Florida found a link between the sacrifice made by castrati and the pro football players I spoke about in my essay last week on brain injuries in the NFL. He writes: Today we no longer require young, often poor young boys to go this barbaric route to rock idol status; indeed, though we have substituted a far more barbaric path to fame. Today, all that we require of our often poor young men is that they be willing to sacrifice not only their future physical health and manhood but very possibly their future fullness of humanity. The potential loss of brain function due to repeated traumatic brain injury that many players suffer is a powerful repudiation of considering football, as today's game is played, to be a civilized sport.

We'd like to hear from you. You can go to and click on the Contact the Show link. You can post your thoughts in the comments section of each story. You can also reach out to us on Twitter. My Twitter name, NPRScottSimon - all one word. You can tweet the entire staff at NPRWeekendEdition - all one word. You can also join in on the discussion on Facebook. Go to

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