Zimbabwean activists are fighting against the violence and oppression their country has felt under president Robert Mugabe, who was named Foreign Policy's "second worst dictator in the world," after North Korea's late leader Kim Jong Il:
"Mazvarira was abducted in 2000 from her home in Chivhu, a small town south of Harare, and raped by two ZANU-PF CIO officers after her 17-year-old daughter, an MDC organizer, was killed by a petrol bomb. Mazvarira contracted HIV from the assault. 'They told me, ‘You and your daughter are Tsvangirai’s bitches.’' When Mazvarira went to the police station to report the attack, the officer in charge refused to hear her case. 'The police are only ZANU-PF,' she said.
"The two women are not placid about what happened to them, but what converted them from victims into activists is that they were never able to hold their attackers to account. 'The government won’t help us. No one can help us. It is up to us, ourselves, now. That is where we are.' In 2009 Munengami launched Doors of Hope, a nonprofit organization that supports and speaks for victims of politically motivated rape. Doors of Hope now has 375 members from all over the country. 'We are standing for women,' Munengami said. 'Those so-called war vets raped so many women during the liberation struggle, but they don’t want to talk about it. So we are going to talk about it. Whether it’s 1975, or now, we don’t want this to continue. We have had enough. We are sick and tired of being quiet. Where has silence got us?'"
PUBLISHED: April 15, 2013
LENGTH: 10 minutes (2744 words)
A writer discusses the awful living conditions of China's booming cities after seven years of living in the country for seven years, and visiting 21 of China's 22 provinces:
A Beijing-based blogger who lived in Harbin in 2003 told me about leaving Blues after several drinks and flagging a taxi driver, whom he recognized. 'The taxi driver told me, "Hi, I just came from a wedding and I'm soused. You drive."' So he drove himself home through Harbin's icy, deserted streets.
Like many Chinese cities, Harbin can be extremely challenging to the health — and not just due to the sometimes scandalously toxic food served in dim, poorly lit restaurants. Hospital bathrooms in Harbin and elsewhere often lack soap and toilet paper, ostensibly out of fear that residents will steal the items. Six months after I arrived, a benzene spill in the nearby Songhua River briefly left the city without running water. The air in Harbin was so polluted that I felt as though the coal dust had sunk into my lungs, and a fine layer of black soot seeped in through our windows overnight. But even Harbin wasn't as filthy as Linfen, a city of 4 million people in central China's Shanxi province that Time in 2007, on a list of the world's 20 most polluted cities, said made "Dickensian London look as pristine as a nature park."
PUBLISHED: Aug. 13, 2012
LENGTH: 10 minutes (2724 words)
How Hilary Clinton carefully negotiated blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng's freedom and proved herself to be a tenacious Secretary of State.
"By the time the American diplomats acknowledged what had happened and went back to cut a new deal for Chen, the Chinese were in no mood to talk. In the meantime, Clinton herself was pulled away by the hours of unrelated meetings that had brought her to Beijing in the first place. The two sides had used the dialogue to schedule an intensive series of small discussions with Clinton and Dai on the most pressing -- and divisive -- issues between the countries, from thorny nuclear talks with Iran and what to do about North Korea's erratic new leader to the bloody crackdown in Syria and the mounting crisis between the Philippines, a major U.S. ally, and China over disputed waters in the South China Sea. It was quite a performance by both sides; no one mentioned Chen. 'This was all taking place in the eye of the storm,' said one Clinton aide."
PUBLISHED: June 18, 2012
LENGTH: 25 minutes (6325 words)
A call for justice for women in the Middle East. The writer, who was sexually assaulted by Egyptian police last year, says the revolutions have not addressed the plight of women:
"Yes: They hate us. It must be said.
"Some may ask why I'm bringing this up now, at a time when the region has risen up, fueled not by the usual hatred of America and Israel but by a common demand for freedom. After all, shouldn't everyone get basic rights first, before women demand special treatment? And what does gender, or for that matter, sex, have to do with the Arab Spring? But I'm not talking about sex hidden away in dark corners and closed bedrooms. An entire political and economic system -- one that treats half of humanity like animals -- must be destroyed along with the other more obvious tyrannies choking off the region from its future. Until the rage shifts from the oppressors in our presidential palaces to the oppressors on our streets and in our homes, our revolution has not even begun."
PUBLISHED: April 25, 2012
LENGTH: 12 minutes (3098 words)
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Paul Salopek treks through "the hunger zone" in northern Kenya with a nomadic goat herder to get a better understanding of a region persistently devastated by famine. While describing his experience, Salopek also takes us through a history of hunger and foreign food aid:
"Mister Inas then showed us a few wild plants the Daasanach resorted to during famines: the berries of the kadite bush and a gnarled tree that produced a currant-like fruit called miede. People were forgetting their use. 'Today, we eat food aid instead,' he said.
"At that time, the U.N. World Food Program was helping feed 265,000 people in the Turkana region. The nomads, once canny at eking out a livelihood on the gauntest of Kenyan landscapes, had been settling into ramshackle outposts, essentially rural slums, where each household received a monthly allotment of 10 kilograms of maize. They were losing what relief workers termed "famine-coping mechanisms" -- their ancestral survival skills. Cutting off assistance cold was unthinkable; countless people would die. So after having helped fund these supplemental feeding programs for decades, the U.S. government, through its African Development Foundation, decided last year to put its foot down. It earmarked $10 million for a pilot program in the Turkana area that might be called aid methadone -- still more aid, but this time in the form of fishponds and irrigated market gardens, all intended to pry people off the old aid."
PUBLISHED: March 2, 2012
LENGTH: 23 minutes (5844 words)
How did more than 160 million women go missing from Asia? The simple answer is sex selection -- typically, an ultrasound scan followed by an abortion if the fetus turns out to be female -- but beyond that, the reasons for a gap half the size of the U.S. population are not widely understood. And when I started researching a book on the topic, I didn't understand them myself.
PUBLISHED: June 27, 2011
LENGTH: 10 minutes (2651 words)
"That scum!" Boris Yeltsin fumed. "It's a coup. We can't let them get away with it." It was the morning of Aug. 19, 1991, and the Russian president was standing at the door of his dacha in Arkhangelskoe, a compound of small country houses outside Moscow where the top Russian government officials lived. I had raced over from my own house nearby, after a friend called from Moscow, frantic and nearly hysterical, insisting that I turn on the radio. There had been a coup; Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev had been removed from power.
PUBLISHED: June 20, 2011
LENGTH: 10 minutes (2569 words)
Welcome to the new food economics of 2011: Prices are climbing, but the impact is not at all being felt equally. For Americans, who spend less than one-tenth of their income in the supermarket, the soaring food prices we've seen so far this year are an annoyance, not a calamity. But for the planet's poorest 2 billion people, who spend 50 to 70 percent of their income on food, these soaring prices may mean going from two meals a day to one. Those who are barely hanging on to the lower rungs of the global economic ladder risk losing their grip entirely. This can contribute -- and it has -- to revolutions and upheaval.
PUBLISHED: April 26, 2011
LENGTH: 16 minutes (4048 words)
Teodorin's 68-year-old father, Brig. Gen. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, seized power of Equatorial Guinea in a 1979 coup and has made apparent his intent to hand over power to a chosen successor. Obiang has sired an unknown number of children with multiple women, but 41-year-old Teodorin is his clear favorite and is being groomed to take over. That's a scary prospect both for the long-suffering citizens of his country and for U.S. foreign policy. As a former U.S. intelligence official familiar with Teodorin put it to me, "He's an unstable, reckless idiot."
PUBLISHED: Feb. 23, 2011
LENGTH: 19 minutes (4983 words)