Departure of our old Universe to the Source of All Suns !

More Truth About Women

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INTENT - ИНТЭНТ   (кое-что перевела на русский)






















Алекс Колие "Защищая Священную Землю"  -  Alex Collier - "Defending Sacred Ground"  - in english

на русском

"COSMIC JOURNEYS" - book by Rosalind McKnight - "Космические Путешествия" - Розалинд Макнайт










"ПЛУТОНИЯ" - ОБРУЧЕВ - книга на русском

in english и на русском


"I remember Lemuria" book by R. Shaver - "Я помню Лемурию" Ричард Шэйвэ

“ALONE” book by admiral Richard E. Byrd - "Один" книга адмирала Ричарда Бёд

Brice Taylor's book - "Thanks for the Memories"

Cathy O'Brien's book - "Trance-Formation in America"

Cisco Wheeler and Fritz Springmeier's book
- "The Illuminati Formula Used to Create an Undetectable Total Mind Controlled Slave"



This Website is in english and in russian

Announcement - this Page has been modified to be viewable on mobile devices !
Важное Сообщение - эта Страница теперь может быть просмотрена на мобильных телефонах !

"Cosmic Journeys" Rosalind Mcknight :
"Everything, that is learned, must be released into the Universe. Nothing in the Universe can be possessed. No person can possess another person without negative energies creating internal destruction. Flow and release is the secret of growth.
It is unnecessary to hold onto anything in the physical universe. Nothing is real in this physical realm, and it will all pass away...Greedy and selfish Souls will continue to come back into energy situations, where they will lose everything, that is meaningful to them. This will happen again and again, until the Soul learns the meaning of release."

All Women are Dreamersthough among them there are more gifted, then others. Dreamer is a person, who can hypnotize herself and lift herself up, to a faster and higher vibrational level aware of it or not. All Women are Dreamers, but Dreamers among Men are usually: Sorcerers, Robert Monroe' s Institute explorers, some magicians, indian gurus, some buddists, some priests/cledgy and so on. All Women, because of their Womb (if it's still inside), have this gift, but Men have to work a great deal to develop this ability ! Dreaming-Awake is self-hypnosis, means consciously or subconsciously raise herself to a higher consciousness level (vibration), without loosing control and to perform certain tasks.

For thousands of years most Women of Earth have been living under unbearable conditions in order to make them to fly without physical bodies to the New Universe and create new worlds there (esp. new worlds of New Earth).
"Unfortunately women must rally around them (men), lest (for fear) they want to lead themselves." Florinda Donner "BEING-IN-DREAMING", p. 12.



Millions of Women have been kept in underground cities and in genetic laboratories of alien bases with the purpose of giving birth to human babies (or alien hybreds) one after another. Usually human babies are eaten up by aliens or used as genetic material ! This situation has been happening not only on Earth, but on millions of other planets, moons, comets, asteroids of our Old Universe ! If all Women leave Old Universe for the New one, then the dreadful 3d physical level of Consciousness in the Old Universe will collapse ! The reason: all worlds exist only because of creative abilities of Women. Smooth Transition from Old Universe to the New one will occur, where Women would finally be respected !

MIXING OF INORGANIC BEINGS WITH OUR PHYSICAL WORLDS ARE HAPPENING IN FORMS OF LIGHTNINGS, RED SPRITES, BLUE JETS, FIRE BALLS, GAMMA RAYS etc. - hitting our skies, planes/helicopters/rockets/traines/ships/cars, people, trees, buildings like oil refineries or oil plants or atomic power stations, ground like volcanos, bridges etc. (fotos below). 

Все Женщины - Dreamers, правда некоторые - более одарённые, чем другие ! Dreamer - это человек, который умеет себя гипнотизировать и поднимать себя на более высокую вибрацию, зная или не зная этого. Обычно среди мужчин это : Колдуны, первопроходцы Роберта Монро, маги, индийские гуру,  некоторые монахи и буддисты, т.д. У всех Женщин этот дар есть из-за того, что у них есть Матка (если она не вырезана), но эта способность имеется у очень малого количества мужчин и этот дар ещё должен быть развит огромным трудом. Dreaming-Awake - означает быть в самогипнозе, т.е. сознательно или бессознательно поднимать себя выше, на более высокую вибрацию, не теряя контроль над собой и исполняя поставленные задачи ! В отличие от людей, загипнотизированных инопланетянами или гипнотизёрами, людей, которые не помнят, что они делают в этом состоянии!

Большинство Женщин Земли в течение тысяч лет были поставлены в невыносимые условия для того, чтобы заставить их улетать без физ. тел во время сна в Новую Вселенную и создавать там новые миры (особенно миры Новой Планеты Земля)!
"К сожалению, Женщины должны собираться вокруг мужчин, если не хотят сами себя вести!" из книги Флоринды Доннер "БЫТЬ В ПОЛЁТЕ!"

Вот об этом и речь! Не ждать когда мужчины поведут Женщин в Новую Вселенную. Все Женщины 
просто обязаны уйти не в материальной форме, а в своих Энергетических телах из Старой Вселенной (по одиночке , группами или все вместе) и перейти в Новую Вселенную ! Время, чтобы оставаться в Старой Вселенной, уже истекло и кроме ещё больших мучений, пребывание в Старой Вселенной Женщинам ничего не даст!


Миллионы Женщин содержатся в заключении в подземных городах и в генетических лабораториях инопланетных баз только чтобы рожать одного за другим, и чтобы затем младенцы были съедены! Это происходит не только на нашей Планете, но и на миллионах других планет, астероидах, лунах, кометах Старой Вселенной ! Если все Женщины покинут Старую Вселенную, то произойдёт колапс: потому что все миры держатся на плечах Женщин, их способностей создавать !
Мучительный 3й физический Уровень Сознания в Старой Вселенной перестанет существовать ! Произойдёт тот самый Переход, о котором столько лет так много говорили, или скорее не Переход, а Перелёт из Старой Вселенной в Новую, где Женщины воспрянут духом !

СМЕШЕНИЕ НЕОРГАНИЧЕСКИХ СУЩЕСТВ ИЗ НАШЕГО МИРА- БЛИЗНЕЦА С НАШИМИ ФИЗИЧЕСКИМИ МИРАМИ ПРОИСХОДИТ В ВИДЕ МОЛНИЙ, СИНИХ ДЖЕТОВ И КРАСНЫХ СПРАЙТОВ, ОГНЕННЫХ ШАРОВ, ГАММА ЛУЧЕЙ и т.д., ударяющих в : наше небо, самолёты/вертолёты/ракеты/поезда/корабли/машины, здания как нефте-перерабатывающие заводы или атомные станции и т.д., ударяют в людей и в землю в любом месте, например в вулканы или мосты и т.д. Ниже картинка показывает широкий диапазон восприятия у женщин и , сводящийся на нет, диапазон восприятия мужчин.

Permanent Role of Women: give birth and raise one generation after another ! Most important extracts from “BEING - IN - DREAMING", in connection with Women, which I translated into russian. Below is english version of extracts from this book.

This Coning Process limits Men on how far they can reach."

She retraced the cone on the first figure. "As you can see, Men can only reach a certain height. Their path toward Knowledge ends up in a narrow point: the tip of the cone."
She looked at me sharply. "Pay attention," she warned me and pointed her pencil to the second figure, the one with the inverted cone on its head.
"As you can see, the cone is upside down, open like a funnel. Women are able to open themselves directly to the Source (the Source of All Suns, LM), or rather, the Source reaches them directly, in the broad base of the cone.
Sorcerers say, that Women's connection to Knowledge is expansive. On the other hand, Men's connection is quite restricted. Men are close to the concrete," she proceeded, "and aim at the Abstract. Women are close to the Abstract, and yet try to indulge (satisfy personal wishes) themselves with the concrete."

"Why are Women, being so open to Knowledge or the Abstract, considered inferior?" I interrupted her. Esperanza gazed at me with rapt (deeply absorbed) fascination. She rose swiftly, stretched like a cat, until all her joints cracked, then sat down again.
"That Women are considered inferior, or, at the very best, that female traits are equated (regard as equal or as average) as complementary to the male's, has to do with the manner, in which males and females approach Knowledge," she explained: 
"Generally speaking, Women are more interested in Power over themselves, than over others. Power over others is clearly what males want." "Even among Sorcerers,"
Nelida interjected, and the Women all laughed.
Esperanza went on to say, that she believed, that originally Women saw no need to exploit their facility (ease in doing) to link themselves broadly and directly to the Spirit (to the Source of All Suns to be exact! LM).
She said Women saw no necessity to talk about or to intellectualize this natural capacity of theirs, because it was enough for them to put their natural capacity in action, and to know, that they had it. Men's incapacity to link themselves directly to the Spirit was what drove them to talk about the process of reaching Knowledge," she stressed. "They haven't stopped talking about it. And it is precisely this insistence on knowing how they strive (exert much effort) toward the Spirit; this insistence on analyzing the process, that gave them the certainty, that being rational is a typically male skill."
Esperanza explained, that the conceptualization of reason has been done exclusively by men, and that this has allowed men to belittle (speak of as unimportant) Women's gifts and accomplishments. And even worse, it has allowed men to exclude (reject, disregard) feminine traits from the formulation of the ideals of reason. By now, of course, Women believe what has been defined for them," she emphasized: "Women have been reared to believe, that only men can be rational and coherent. Now men carry with them a load of unearned (granted) assets, that makes them automatically superior, regardless of their preparation or capacity."
"How did Women lose their direct link to Knowledge?" I asked.
"Women haven't lost their connection," Esperanza corrected me. "Women still have a direct link with the Spirit. They have only forgotten how to use it; or rather, they have copied men's condition of not having it at all. For thousands of years, men have struggled to make sure, that Women forget it. Take the Holy Inquisition, for example. That was a systematic purge to eradicate the belief, that Women have a direct link to the Spirit. All organized religion is nothing, but a very successful maneuver to put Women in a lower place. Religions invoke (to site in support of) a divine law, that says, that Women are inferior."
I stared at her in amazement, wondering to myself how she could possibly be so erudite (erudite- having or showing profound knowledge).
"Men's need to dominate others and Women's lack of interest in expressing or formulating what they know and how they know it, has been a most nefarious alliance 
(evil union based on common interests)," Esperanza went on:
"It has made it possible for Women to be coerced (forced) from the moment they're born into accepting, that fulfillment lies in homemaking, in love, in marriage, in having children, and in self-denial. Women have been excluded from the dominant forms of Abstract Thought and educated into dependence. Women have been so thoroughly trained in the belief, that men must think for them, that Women have finally given up thinking."
"Women are quite capable of thinking." I interrupted her.
"Women are capable of formulating what they have learned," Esperanza corrected me, "but what they have learned has been defined (also manufactured and prepared) by men. Men define the very nature of knowledge (not Higher Knowledge, LM), and from that knowledge they have excluded that, which pertains (relates) to the Feminine. Or if the Feminine is included, it is always in a negative light. And Women have accepted this."
"You are years behind the times," I interjected. "Nowadays Women can do anything they set their hearts to do. They pretty much have access to all the centers of learning, and to almost anything men can do."
"But this is meaningless as long, as Women don't have a support system; a support base," Esperanza argued: "What good is it, that Women have access to what men have, when Women are still considered Inferior Beings, who have to adopt male attitudes and behaviors in order to succeed? The truly successful Women are the perfect converts: they too look down on Women. According to men, the Womb limits Women both mentally and physically. This is the reason why Women, although they have access to Knowledge, have not been allowed to help to determine what this kind of 'knowledge' is. Take for instance, philosophers," Esperanza proposed. "The pure thinkers. Some of them are viciously against Women. Others are more subtle in that: they are willing to admit, that Women might be as capable, as men were, it not for the fact, that Women are not interested in rational pursuits. And if Women are interested in rational pursuits, they shouldn't be, because it is more suitable for a Woman to be 'true to her nature': a nurturing, dependent companion of the male."
Esperanza expressed all this with unquestionable authority. Within moments, however, I was assailed (attacked) by doubts. "If knowledge (this "knowledge" is just for the Planetary Game on low 3d Level of Consciousness, it is not Higher Knowledge, LM) is but a male construct (concept, formation), then why your insistence, that I go to school," I asked.
"Because you are a witch, and as such you need to know what impinges (strike, encroach) on you and how it impinges on you," she replied: "Before you refuse something, you must understand why you refuse it. You see, the problem is, that Knowledge, in our day, is derived purely from reasoning things out.
But Women have a different track (the Source, LM), never, ever taken into consideration. That track can contribute to Knowledge, but it would have to be a contribution, that has nothing to do with reasoning things out."

"What would it deal with, then?" I asked.
"That's for you to decide after you master the tools of reasoning and understanding."
I was very confused.
"What Sorcerers propose," she explained, "is that, men can't have the exclusive right to reason. Men seem to have it now simply because the ground, where men apply reason, is a ground, where maleness prevails. Let us, then, apply reason to a ground, where Femaleness prevails; and that ground is, naturally, the inverted cone I described to you; Women's connection with the Spirit (the Source) itself." 
She tilted her head slightly to one side, considering what to say.

"That connection has to be faced with a different aspect of reasoning. An aspect never, ever used before: the Feminine side of Reasoning," she said.
"What is the Feminine side of Reason, Esperanza?"
"Many things. One of them is definitely Dreaming... I know what you expect from Sorcerers. You want rituals, incantations. Odd, mysterious cults. You want to sing. You want to be 'One with Nature'. You want to commune with water spirits. You want paganism. Some romantic view of what Sorcerers do. Very Germanic. To jump into the Unknown," she went on, "you need guts and mind. Only with them will you be able to explain to yourself and to others the treasures you might find...
You need to act on your MAGICAL SIDE," she said.
"And what is that?"
"THE WOMB." She said this so distantly and calmly, as if she were not interested in my reaction, that I almost missed hearing it. Then suddenly, realizing the absurdity of her remark, I straightened up and looked at the others.
"THE WOMB !" Esperanza repeated. "THE WOMB is the Ultimate Feminine Organ. It is THE WOMB, that gives Women that extra edge; that extra force to channel their Energy."
She explained, that men, in their quest for supremacy, have succeeded in reducing Woman's Mysterious Power, HER WOMB, to a strictly biological organ, whose only function is to reproduce;
"to carry man's seed". As if obeying a cue, Nelida rose, walked around the table, and came to stand behind me.

"Do you know the story of the Annunciation (festival Lady Day)?" she whispered in my ear. Giggling, I turned to face her. "I don't."
In that same confidential whisper, she proceeded to tell me, that in the Judeo-Christian tradition, men are the only ones, who hear the voice of God. Women have been excluded from that privilege, with the exception of the Virgin Mary. Nelida said, that an angel, whispering to Mary, was, of course, natural. What wasn't natural, was the fact, that all the angel had to say to Mary was, that she would bear the son of God. The womb did not receive Knowledge, but rather the promise of God's seed. A male-god, who engendered (produce, give rise to) another male-god in turn. I wanted to think, to reflect on all, that I had heard, but my mind was in a confused whirl.
"What about Male Sorcerers?" I asked. "They don't have a womb, yet they are clearly connected to the Spirit."
Esperanza regarded me with undisguised pleasure, then looked over her shoulder, as though she were afraid to be overheard, and whispered:
"Sorcerers are able to align themselves to Intent, to the Spirit (the Source), because they have given up what specifically defines their masculinity, and they are no longer males..."
There is really no way to teach Dreaming to Women. All that can be done is to prop them up, so as to make them realize the Enormous Potential they carry in their organic disposition (Power - WOMB). Since Dreaming for a Woman is a matter of having Energy at her disposal, the important thing is to convince her of the need to modify her deep socialization in order to acquire that Energy. The act of making use of this Energy is automatic; Women Dream Sorcerers' Dreams the instant they have the Energy."
She confided, that a serious consideration about Sorcerers' Dreams, stemming from her own shortcomings, was the difficulty of imbuing (inspire) Women with the courage to break New Ground. Most Women- and she said she was one of them- prefer their safe shackles to the Terror of the New.
"Dreaming is only for Courageous Women," she whispered in my ear. Then she burst into loud laughter and added, "Or for those Women, who have no other choice, because their circumstances are unbearable, a category, to which most Women belong, without even knowing it......Men are more overt (open). Ordinary Women fight underhandedly (secret, deceitful, sneaky). Their preferred fighting technique is the slave's maneuver: to turn the mind off. They hear without paying attention. They look without seeing."
She added, that to instruct Women was an accomplishment worthy of praise.
"We like the Openness of Your Fighting," she went on. "There is high hope for you. What we fear the most is the agreeable Woman, who doesn't mind the New, and does everything you ask her to do; then turns around and denounces (condemn openly, censure, criticise, accuse formally) you as soon, as she gets tired or bored with the Newness... To Reach a Point of Detachment, where the Self is just an Idea, that can be changed at Will, is a true Act of Sorcery and the most difficult of all. When the Idea of the Self retreats, Sorcerers have the Energy to align themselves with Intent and be more, than what we believe is normal. Women, because they have a WOMB, can focus their attention with great facility (ease) on something outside their Dreams while Dreaming," she explained: "That's precisely what you have been doing all along, unbeknownst to yourself. That object becomes a bridge, that connects you to Intent."
"And what object do I use?"
There was a flicker of impatience in her eyes. Then she said, that it was usually a window or a light or even the bed ... she went on to explain, that in a Woman, feelings originate in the WOMB. In men," she claimed, "feelings originate in the brain...a Woman is heartless, except with her brood (children), because her feelings are coming from her WOMB. In order to focus your attention with your WOMB, get an object and put it on your belly or rub it on your genitalia...
Every night since my arrival, I had Dreamt the same Dream, which I had forgotten about, until that very moment. I Dreamt, that all the Women-Sorcerers came to my room and drilled me in the Sorcerers' rationales (logic). They told me, on and on, that Dreaming is the Secondary Function of the WOMB - the primary being reproduction and whatever is related to it. They told me, that Dreaming is a natural function in Women; a pure corollary (natural consequence or effect) of Energy. And given enough Energy, the body of a Woman by itself will awake the WOMB'S secondary functions; and the Woman will Dream inconceivable (unbelievable) Dreams. The Dreaming Energy needed, however, is like an aid to an underdeveloped country: it never arrives. Something in the overall order of our social structures prevents that Energy from being free, so Women can Dream. Were that Energy free, the Women - Sorcerers told me, it would simply overthrow the 'civilized' order of things. But Women's Great Tragedy is, that their social conscience (feeling of remorse/guilt, conformity to one's sense of right or wrong, in fairness) completely dominates their individual conscience. Women fear being different and don't want to stray too far from the comforts of the known. The social pressures, put upon them, not to deviate are simply too overpowering. And rather than change, Women acquiesce (accept without protest) to what has been ordained (decree/law as a part of nature or Universe; prearrange unalterably, predestine): 'Women exist to be at the service of man.' Thus, Women can never Dream Sorcery Dreams, although they have the organic disposition (WOMB, the Power) for it. Womanhood has destroyed Women's chances. Whether it be tinted with a religious or a scientific slant (incline direction), it still brands Women with the same seal: Women's main function is to reproduce, and whether they have achieved a degree of political, social, or economic equality is ultimately immaterial. The Women - Sorcerers told me all this every night.

The more I remembered and understood their words, the greater was my sorrow. My grief was no longer for me alone, but for all of us; a Race of Schizoid Beings, trapped in a Social Order, that has shackled us to our own incapacities. If we ever break free, it is only momentarily; a short-lived clarity, before we plunge willingly or forced back into the Darkness..."

"Революция Колдунов," продолжал Дон Хуан, "это когда они отказались признать соглашение, в составлении которого они не принимали никакого участия. Никто меня никогда не спрашивал, буду ли я доволен чтобы меня съели существа другого типа сознания. Мои родители родили меня в этот мир, чтобы я был пищей для кого-то, как и они, и это конец истории."

"The Sorcerers' revolution," he (Don Juan) continued, "is, that they refuse to honor agreements, in which they did not participate. Nobody ever asked me, if
I would consent to be eaten by beings of a different kind of awareness. My parents just brought me into this world to be food, like themselves, and that's the end of the story."

"Когда движение Точки Восприятия (Assemblage Point) максимально," продолжал Дон Хуан, "и обычный человек, и ученик Мага становятся Колдунами, так как, доведя до максимума это Движение, повседневная рутина разбивается в дребезги !!!"...Он сказал, что людей сейчас, больше, чем когда-либо, нужно учить новым идеям, тем, которые всецело связаны с их внутренним миром. Идеи Колдунов, а не социальные идеи, это - идеи человека, имеющего отношение к Неизвестному, стоящего лицом перед личной смертью (только тела). Сейчас, больше чем что-либо, его нужно учить СЕКРЕТАМ ТОЧКИ ВОСПРИЯТИЯ (неправильно называемой Точкой Сборки. ЛМ).

Mannish Women with Higher Knowledge are those, who work whole-heartedly for the Source of All Life (and without expecting awards), they are the real Warriors ! It is aliens, whom Human Women need to blame, because invisible aliens (mainly reptilians) are getting into males' human bodies through the Holes in Human Luminous Spheres and perform rapes, killings and all kinds of violence for thousands of years!
Laws wouldn't help! Women need to detach themselves from Earth's Planetary Game and sincerely attach themselves to the Intent - the most powerful Force in the Universe! Intent to serve the Source of All Life,
Intent to help Androgynous Holographic Old Mother-Universe of White Vibration to depart and the New Daughter-Universe to take over; Intent not to participate in this Planetary Game
and mentally ruin it;
Intent to become ANDROGYNOUS, not to be afraid to lose their human form (body) and conitnue to live in their Energy Bodies on Higher Level of Consciousness, which is more fun; Intent to study Higher Knowledge, which is available on this site ! Then no men or aliens will touch Earth's Females any longer!

Here is a highly recommended extract about how a Mexican teacher-sorcerer (Nagual) was teaching a lesson to a young male (future Nagual Don Juan), to make him to give up his ideas about females' role in life (which was 'just to serve males'). Don Juan had to wear females' clothes and do women's chores for a month (against his will), to get rid of old upbringing, that females exist
only to care and please males.
In this extract ancient mexican sorcerers give answer to the question "Why do many people become fat, especially women?"
Carlos Castaneda "The Power of Silence", p. 54-68:

"I've already told you the story of how the Nagual Julian took me to his house, after I was shot, and he tended my wound, until I recovered," don Juan continued. "But I didn't tell you how he dusted my link, how he taught me to stalk myself.
The first thing a Nagual does with his prospective apprentice is to trick him. That is, he gives him a jolt on his Connecting Link to the Spirit. There are two ways of doing this. One is through seminormal channels, which I used with you, and the other is by means of outright Sorcery, which my benefactor used on me."
Don Juan again told me the story of how his benefactor (Nagual Julian) had convinced the people, who had gathered at the road, that the wounded man (Don Juan) was his son. Then he had paid some men to carry , unconscious from shock and loss of blood
don Juan, to his (Nagual Julian's) own house. Don Juan woke up from the shock there days later and found a kind old man and his fat wife tending his wound. The old man said his name was Belisario and that his wife was a famous healer and that both of them were healing his wound. Don Juan told them he had no money, and Belisario suggested, that when he recovered, payment of some sort could be arranged.
Don Juan said, that he was thoroughly confused, which was nothing new to him. He was just a muscular, reckless twenty-year-old Indian, with no brains, no formal education, and a terrible temper. He had no conception of gratitude. He thought
it was very kind of the old man and his wife to have helped him, but his intention was to wait for his wound to heal and then simply vanish in the middle of the night. When he had recovered enough and was ready to flee, old Belisario took him into a room and in trembling whispers disclosed, that the house, where they were staying, belonged to a monstrous man, who was holding him and his wife prisoner. He asked don Juan to help them to regain their freedom, to escape from their captor and tormentor. Before don Juan could reply, a monstrous fish-faced man right out of a horror tale burst into the room, as if he had been listening behind the door. He was greenish-gray, had only one unblinking eye in the middle of his forehead, and was as big, as a door. He lurched (roll, pitch suddenly) at don Juan, hissing like a serpent, ready to tear him apart, and frightened him so greatly, that he fainted
(giving me a jolt).
"His way of giving me a jolt on my Connecting Link with the Spirit was masterful." Don Juan laughed. "My benefactor, of course, had shifted me into Heightened Awareness, prior to the monster's entrance, so that what I actually saw as a monstrous man was what Sorcerers call an Inorganic Being, a formless Energy Field."
Don Juan said, that he knew countless cases, in which his benefactor's devilishness created hilariously embarrassing situations for all his apprentices, especially for don Juan himself, whose seriousness and stiffness made him the perfect subject for his benefactor's didactic (moralising) jokes. He added as an afterthought, that it went without saying, that these jokes entertained his benefactor immensely.
"If you think I laugh at you - which I do - it's nothing, compared with how he laughed at me," don Juan continued. "My devilish benefactor had learned to weep to hide his laughter. You just can't imagine how he used to "cry", when I first began my apprenticeship."
Continuing with his story, don Juan stated, that his life was never the same after the shock of seeing that monstrous man. His benefactor made sure of it. Don Juan explained, that once a Nagual has introduced his prospective disciple, especially his Nagual Disciple, to trickery, he must struggle to assure his compliance (flexibility). This compliance could be of two different kinds. Either the prospective disciple is so disciplined and tuned, that only his decision to join the Nagual is needed, as had been the case with young Talia. Or the prospective disciple is someone with little or no discipline, in which case a Nagual has to expend time and a great deal of labor to convince his disciple (to join him). In don Juan's case, because he was a wild young peasant without a thought in his head, the process of reeling him in, took bizarre turns. Soon after the first jolt, his benefactor gave him a second one by showing don Juan his ability to transform himself. One day his benefactor became a young man. Don Juan was incapable of conceiving of this transformation as anything, but an example of a consummate (skillful) actor's art.
"How did he accomplish those changes?" I asked.
"He was both a magician and an artist," don Juan replied. "His magic was, that he transformed himself by moving his Assemblage Point into the position, that would bring on whatever particular change he desired. And his art was the perfection of his transformations."
"I don't quite understand what you're telling me," I said.
Don Juan said, that Perception is the hinge for everything human is or does, and that Perception is ruled by the location of the Assemblage Point. Therefore, if that point changes positions, man's Perception of the World changes accordingly.
The Sorcerer, who knew exactly, where to place his Assemblage Point, could become anything he wanted.
"The Nagual Julian's proficiency in moving his Assemblage Point was so magnificent, that he could elicit (evoke, draw out) the subtlest transformations," don Juan continued. "When a Sorcerer becomes a crow, for instance, it is definitely a great accomplishment. But it entails a vast and therefore a gross shift of the Assemblage Point. However, moving it to the position of a fat man, or an old man, requires the minutest shift and the keenest knowledge of human nature."
"I'd rather avoid thinking or talking about those things as facts," I said. Don Juan laughed, as if I had said the funniest thing imaginable.
"Was there a reason for your benefactor's transformations?" I asked. "Or was he just amusing himself?"
"Don't be stupid. Warriors don't do anything just to amuse themselves," he replied. "His transformations were strategical. They were dictated by need, like his transformation from old to young. Now and then there were funny consequences,
but that's another matter."
I reminded him, that I had asked before how his benefactor learned those transformations. He had told me then, that his benefactor had a teacher, but would not tell me who.
"That very mysterious Sorcerer, who is our ward
(guard, defence) taught him," don Juan replied curtly (abruptly).
"What mysterious Sorcerer is that?" I asked.
"The Death Defier," he said and looked at me questioningly.
For all the Sorcerers of don Juan's party the Death Defier was a most vivid character. According to them, the Death Defier was a Sorcerer of Ancient Times. He had succeeded in surviving to the present day by manipulating his Assemblage Point, making it move in specific ways to specific locations within his total energy field. Such maneuvers had permitted his Awareness and Life Force to persist. Don Juan had told me about the agreement,  that the Seers of his Lineage had entered into with the Death Defier centuries before. He made gifts to them in exchange for vital energy. Because of this agreement, they considered him their ward (guard, defence) and called him "the Tenant."
Don Juan had explained, that Sorcerers of Ancient Times were expert at making the Assemblage Point move. In doing so they had discovered extraordinary things about Perception, but they had also discovered how easy it was to get lost in aberration (deviation from a proper course). The Death Defier's situation was for don Juan a classic example of an aberration.

Don Juan used to repeat every chance he could, that if the Assemblage Point was pushed by someone, who not only saw it (
the Assemblage Point), but also had enough Energy to move it, it slid, within the Luminous Ball, to whatever location
the pusher directed. Its brilliance was enough to light up the Threadlike Energy Fields it touched. The resulting Perception of the World was complete, but not the same as, our normal perception of everyday life, therefore, Sobriety was crucial to dealing with the moving of the Assemblage Point (of our Spirits). Continuing his story, don Juan said, that he quickly became accustomed to thinking of the old man, who had saved his life, as really a young man masquerading as old. But one day the young man was again the old Belisario don Juan had first met. He and the woman don Juan thought was his wife packed their bags, and two smiling men with a team of mules appeared out of nowhere.
Don Juan laughed, savoring his story. He said, that while the muleteers packed the mules, Belisario pulled him aside and pointed out, that he and his wife were again disguised. He was again an old man, and his beautiful wife was a fat irascible (easily angered) Indian.
"I was so young and stupid, that only the obvious had value for me," don Juan continued. "Just a couple of days before, I had seen his incredible transformation from a feeble (weak, frail) man in his seventies to a vigorous young man in his mid-twenties, and I took his word, that old age was just a disguise. His wife had also changed from a sour, fat Indian to a beautiful slender young woman. The woman, of course, hadn't transformed herself the way my benefactor had. He had simply changed the woman. Of course, I could have seen everything at that time, but Wisdom always comes to us painfully and in driblets."
Don Juan said, that the old man assured him, that his wound was healed although he did not feel quite well yet. He then embraced don Juan and in a truly sad voice whispered, "the monster has liked you so much, that he has released me and my wife from bondage and taken you as his sole (only) servant. I would have laughed at him," don Juan went on, "had it not been for a deep animal growling and a frightening rattle, that came from the monster's rooms."
Don Juan's eyes were shining with inner delight. I (Carlos)  wanted to remain serious, but could not help laughing.
Belisario, aware of don Juan's fright, apologized profusely for the twist of fate, that had liberated him and imprisoned don Juan.
Belisario clicked his tongue in disgust and cursed the monster. He had tears in his eyes when he listed all the chores the Monster wanted done daily.
And when don Juan protested, he confided, in low tones, that there was no way to escape, because the Monster's Knowledge of Witchcraft was unequaled. Don Juan asked Belisario to recommend some line of action. And Belisario went into a long explanation about plans of action being appropriate only if one were dealing with average human beings.
In the human context, we can plan and plot and, depending on luck, plus our cunning and dedication, can succeed. But in the face of the Unknown, specifically don Juan's situation, the only hope of survival was to acquiesce (accept) and understand. Belisario confessed to don Juan in a barely audible murmur, that to make sure the Monster never came after him, he was going to the state of Durango to learn Sorcery. He asked don Juan if he, too, would consider learning Sorcery. And don Juan, horrified at the thought, said, that he would have nothing to do with witches.
Don Juan held his sides laughing and admitted, that he enjoyed thinking about how his benefactor must have relished their interplay. Especially when he himself, in a frenzy of fear and passion, rejected the bona fide (genuine) invitation to learn Sorcery, saying, "I am an Indian. I was born to hate and fear witches."
Belisario exchanged looks with his wife and his body began to convulse (hiding laughter). Don Juan realized, he was weeping silently
, obviously hurt by the rejection. His wife had to prop (help) him up, until he regained his composure.
As Belisario and his wife were walking away, he turned and gave don Juan one more piece of advice. He said, that the Monster abhorred (abominate, regard with horror) women, and don Juan should be on the lookout for a male replacement on the off chance, that the Monster would like him enough to switch slaves. But he should not raise his hopes, because it was going to be years before he could even leave the house.
The Monster liked to make sure his slaves were loyal or at least obedient. Don Juan could stand it no longer. He broke down, began to weep
, and told Belisario, that noone was going to enslave him. He could always kill himself. The old man was very moved by don Juan's outburst and confessed, that he had had the same idea, but, alas, the Monster was able to read his thoughts and had prevented him from taking his own life every time he had tried. Belisario made another offer to take don Juan with him to Durango to learn Sorcery. He said it was the only possible solution. And don Juan told him his solution was like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Belisario began to weep loudly (hiding laughter) and embraced don Juan. He cursed the moment, he had saved the other man's life and swore, that he had no idea they would trade places. He blew his nose, and looking at don Juan with burning eyes, said, "Disguise is the only way to survive. If you don't behave properly, the Monster can steal your Soul and turn you into an idiot, who does his chores, and nothing more. Too bad I don't have time to teach you acting." Then he wept even more (hiding laughter). Don Juan, choking with tears asked him to describe how he could disguise himself. Belisario confided, that the Monster had terrible eyesight, and recommended, that don Juan experiment with various clothes, that suited his fancy. He had, after all, years ahead of him to try different disguises. He embraced don Juan at the door, weeping openly. His wife touched don Juan's hand shyly. And then they were gone.
"Never in my life, before or after, have I felt such terror and despair," don Juan said. "The Monster rattled things inside the house, as if he were waiting impatiently for me. I sat down by the door and whined like a dog in pain. Then I vomited from sheer fear."
Don Juan sat for hours incapable of moving. He dared not leave, nor did he dare go inside. It was no exaggeration to say, that he was actually about to die, when he saw Belisario waving his arms, frantically trying to catch his attention from the other side of the street. Just seeing him again gave don Juan instantaneous relief. Belisario was squatting by the sidewalk watching the house. He signaled don Juan to stay put. After an excruciatingly long time, Belisario crawled a few feet on his hands and knees toward don Juan, then squatted again, totally immobile. Crawling in that fashion, he advanced, until he was at don Juan's side. It took him hours. A lot of people had passed by, but no one seemed to have noticed don Juan's despair or the old man's actions. When the two of them were side by side, Belisario whispered, that he had not felt right leaving don Juan like a dog tied to a post. His wife had objected, but he had returned to attempt to rescue him. After all, it was thanks to don Juan, that he had gained his freedom. He asked don Juan in a commanding whisper whether he was ready and willing to do anything to escape this. And don Juan assured him, that he would do anything. In the most surreptitious
manner, Belisario handed don Juan a bundle of clothes. Then he outlined his plan. Don Juan was to go to the area of the house farthest from the Monster's rooms and slowly change his clothes, taking off one item of clothing at a time, starting with his hat, leaving the shoes for last. Then he was to put all his clothes on a wooden frame, a mannequin-like structure he was to build, efficiently and quickly, as soon as he was inside the house.
The next step of the plan was for don Juan to put on the only disguise, that could fool the Monster: the clothes in the bundle. Don Juan ran into the house and got everything ready. He built a scarecrow-like frame with poles he found in the back of the house, took off his clothes and put them on it. But when he opened the bundle he got the surprise of his life. The bundle consisted of women's clothes!
"I felt stupid and lost," don Juan said, "and was just about to put my own clothes back on when I heard the inhuman growls of that monstrous man. I had been reared to despise Women, to believe their only function was to take care of Men. Putting on Women's clothes to me was tantamount (the same as) to becoming a woman. But my fear of the Monster was so intense, that I closed my eyes and put on the damned clothes."
I looked at don Juan, imagining him in women's clothes. It was an image so utterly ridiculous, that against my will I broke into a belly laugh. Don Juan said, that when old Belisario, waiting for him across the street, saw don Juan in
disguise, he began to weep uncontrollably (laugh). Weeping, he guided don Juan to the outskirts of town, where his wife was waiting with the two muleteers. One of them, a very daringly asked Belisario if he was stealing the Weird Girl (don Juan) to sell her to a Whorehouse. The old man wept (laughed) so hard, he seemed on the verge of fainting. The young muleteers did not know what to do, but Belisario's wife, instead of commiserating (feeling pity for Belisario), began to scream with laughter. And don Juan could not understand why. The party began to move in the dark. They took little-traveled trails and moved steadily north. Belisario did not speak much. He seemed to be frightened and expecting trouble. His wife fought with him all the time and complained, that they had thrown away their chance for freedom by taking don Juan along.
Belisario gave her strict orders not to mention it again for fear the muleteers would discover, that don Juan was in disguise. He cautioned don Juan, that because he did not know how to behave convincingly like a woman, he should act as if he were a girl, who was a little touched in the head. Within a few days don Juan's fear subsided a great deal. In fact, he became so confident, that he could not even remember having been afraid. If it had not been for the clothes he was wearing,
he could have imagined the whole experience had been a bad dream. Wearing women's clothes under those conditions, entailed, of course, a series of drastic changes. Belisario's wife coached don Juan, with true seriousness, in every aspect of being a Woman. Don Juan helped her cook, wash clothes, gather firewood. Belisario shaved don Juan's head and put a strong-smelling medicine on it, and told the muleteers, that the Girl had had an infestation of lice. Don Juan said, that since he was still a beardless youth it was not really difficult to pass as a woman. But he felt disgusted with himself, and with all those people, and, above all, with his fate. To end up wearing women's clothes and doing women's chores was more, than he could bear. One day he had enough. The muleteers were the final straw. They expected and demanded, that this strange Girl wait on them hand and foot. Don Juan said, that he also had to be on permanent guard, because they would make passes.
I (Carlos) felt compelled to ask a question: "Were the muleteers in cahoots with your benefactor?
"No," he replied and began to laugh uproariously. "They were just two nice people, who had fallen temporarily under his (benefactor's) spell.
He had hired their mules to carry medicinal plants and told them, that he would pay handsomely, if they would help him kidnap a young woman."
The scope of the Nagual Julian's actions staggered my imagination. I pictured don Juan fending off (turn aside) sexual advances and hollered (yell) with laughter. Don Juan continued his account. He said, that he told the old man sternly, that the masquerade had lasted long enough, the men were making sexual advances. Belisario nonchalantly (casually) advised him to be more understanding, because men will be men, and began to weep (laugh) again, completely baffling don Juan, who found himself furiously defending Women. He, don Juan, was so passionate about the plight (situation of difficulty) of Women, that he scared himself. He told Belisario, that he was going to end up in worse shape, than he would have, had
he stayed as the Monster's slave. Don Juan's turmoil increased when the old man wept (laughed) uncontrollably and mumbled inanities (absurd silly remarks): life was sweet, the little price one had to pay for it was a joke, the monster would devour don Juan's soul and not even allow him to kill himself.
"Flirt with the muleteers," he advised don Juan in a conciliatory (peaceful) tone and manner. "They are primitive peasants. All they want is to play, so push them back, when they shove you. Let them touch your leg. What do you care?" And again, he wept (laughed) unrestrainedly. Don Juan asked him why he wept like that.
"Because you are perfect for all this," he said and his body twisted with the force of his sobbing (laughing). Don Juan thanked him for his good feelings and for all the trouble he was taking on his account. He told Belisario he now felt safe and wanted to leave.
"The Art of Stalking is learning all the quirks (oddities) of your disguise," Belisario said, paying no attention to what don Juan was telling him. "And it is to learn them so well, noone will know you are disguised. For that you need to be ruthless, cunning, patient, and sweet."
Don Juan had no idea what Belisario was talking about. Rather than finding out, he asked him for some men's clothes. Belisario was very understanding. He gave don Juan some old clothes and a few pesos. He promised don Juan, that his disguise would always be there in case he needed it, and pressed him vehemently (intensity of emotion) to come to Durango with him to learn Sorcery and free himself from the Monster for good. Don Juan said no and thanked him. So Belisario bid him goodbye and patted him on the back repeatedly and with considerable force. Don Juan changed his clothes and asked Belisario for directions. He answered, that if don Juan followed the trail north, sooner or later he would reach the next town. He said, that the two of them might even cross paths again, since they were all going in the same general direction - away from the Monster. Don Juan took off as fast as he could, free at last. He must have walked four or five miles,
before he found signs of people. He knew, that a town was nearby and thought, that perhaps he could get work there, until he decided where he was going. He sat down to rest for a moment, anticipating the normal difficulties a stranger would find in a small out-of-the-way town, when from the corner of his eye he saw a movement in the bushes by the mule trail. He felt someone was watching him. He became so thoroughly terrified, that he jumped up and started to run in the
direction of the town; the Monster jumped at him lurching out to grab his neck. He missed by an inch. Don Juan screamed, as he had never screamed before, but still had enough self-control to turn and run back in the direction, from which he had come.
While don Juan ran for his life, the Monster pursued him, crashing through the bushes only a few feet away. Don Juan said, that it was the most frightening sound he had ever heard. Finally he saw the mules moving slowly in the distance, and he yelled for help. Belisario recognized don Juan and ran toward him displaying overt (open) terror. He threw the bundle of women's clothes at don Juan shouting, "Run like a Woman, you fool."
Don Juan admitted, that he did not know how  to run like a Woman, but he did it. The Monster stopped chasing him. And Belisario told him to change quickly, while he held the Monster at bay. Don Juan joined Belisario's wife and the smiling muleteers without looking at anybody. They doubled back and took other trails. Nobody spoke for days; then Belisario gave him daily lessons. He told don Juan, that Indian Women were practical and went directly to the heart of things, but that they were also very shy, and that, when challenged, they showed the physical signs of fright in shifty eyes, tight mouths, and enlarged nostrils. All these signs were accompanied by a fearful stubbornness, followed by shy laughter. He made don Juan practice his womanly behavior skills in every town they passed through. And don Juan honestly believed he was teaching him to be an actor. But Belisario insisted, that he was teaching him the Art of Stalking. He told don Juan, that Stalking was an Art applicable to everything, and that there were four steps to learning it: ruthlessness, cunning, patience, and sweetness..."

Эликсиры жизни - это такая чушь. Когда можно намного проще из старого человека сделать молодого; из некрасивого - красивого; и старение можно остановить! Если знать куда перемещать яркую Точку Восприятия в своём Светящемся Шаре! Это знали и знают настоящие маги, только хотят ли это наши Высшие Существа? Как маги отучают своих учеников (Мужчин) от чувства превосходства над Женщинами. Обо всём этом смешной и поучительный отрывок из книги Карлоса Кастанэды "Сила Молчания" на русском ниже, стр. 54-68:

"Я уже рассказывал тебе историю как Нагуал Джулиан (маг-учитель Дон Хуана) взял меня к себе в дом, после того, как меня застрелили, и он залечивал мою рану до тех пор пока я не поправился," продолжал Дон Хуан. "Но я не рассказывал тебе как он научил меня бороться с самим собой. Первое, что Нагуал делает со своим учеником это - надувает (разыгрывает) его. Таким образом ученик получает удар по энергетическому шнуру, связывающего его тело с Душой. Есть два способа это проделать. Один - это через естественные каналы, и это я использовал на тебе; другой - это с помощью прямого колдовства, что мой учитель проделал надо мной."
Дон Хуан снова рассказал мне историю как его маг-учитель Нагуал Джулиан убедил крестьян, которые собрались вокруг
раненого Дон Хуана, лежащего на дороге, что этот человек был его сын. Затем он заплатил мужикам, чтобы они несли Дон Хуана, потерявшего от шока сознание и много крови, к дому Нагуала Джулиан. Через несколько дней Дон Хуан проснулся от шока и увидел как старый добрый человек и его толстая жена лечат его раны. Старик сказал, что его имя Белисарио, что его жена известный знахарь и что они оба лечат его раны. Дон Хуан сказал им, что у него нет денег, тогда Белисарио ответил, что когда он выздоровеет, какая-то плата может быть осуществлена.
Дон Хуан был в полной растерянности, что было не впервые. Тогда ему был 21 год, он был мускулистый, бесшабашный, безмозглый, необразованный индеец ужасного нрава, незнакомый с чувством благодарности. Он думал, что со стороны старика и его жены это была нужная ему помощь, но цель его была подождать пока раны пройдут и исчезнуть в середине ночи. Когда он встал на ноги и был готов бежать, старый Белисарио взял его в другую комнату и дрожащим шёпотом поведал ему, что дом, в котором они жили, принадлежал человеку-монстру, кто держал его и его жену в заключении. Он попросил Дон Хуана помочь им сбежать от их мучителя и обрести свободу. Ещё до того, когда Дон Хуан смог ответить, страшный мужчина с рыбьей головой как из фильма ужасов, ворвался в комнату, как-будто он подслушивал под дверью. Он был серо-зелёным с одним немигающим глазом в середине лба, и был огромный как дверь. Он подкатился к Дон Хуану, шипя как удав, готовый разорвать его на части, и напугал его так, что тот потерял сознание (это и был удар по энергетическому шнуру Дон Хуана).
"Его способ дать мне удар по энергетическому шнуру, соединяющим моё тело с Душой, был мастерским," засмеялся Дон Хуан, - "мой учитель, конечно, поднял мою вибрацию на более высокий Уровень Сознания до появления монстра, поэтому то, что я в сущности увидел как монстра, было что маги называют "неорганическое существо", безформенное энергетическое поле."
Дон Хуан признался, что он знал бесчисленное множество случаев, когда дьявольское воображение его учителя создавало позорные, но смешные ситуации у всех его учеников и особенно у самого Дон Хуана, чья несгибаемая серьёзность делала его лучшим объектом для поучительных шуток учителя. И добавил, что эти шутки невероятно развлекали его учителя.
"Если ты думаешь, что я смеюсь над тобой - и это действительно так - то это ничто по сравнению с тем как мой учитель смеялся надо мной," продолжал Дон Хуан. "Мой дьявольский учитель наловчился прятать свой смех под маской плача. Ты не можешь представить себе как он бывало "плакал", когда я только начал своё обучение."
Продолжая историю, Дон Хуан заявил, что его жизнь уже никогда не была той же после шока от вида этого монстра: его учитель в этом преуспел. Дон Хуан объяснил, что когда Нагуал разыгрывает своего будущего ученика, особенно преемника Нагуала (того, кто в будущем должен заменить учителя), Нагуал должен изощряться, чтобы незаметно добиться согласия ученика, перетянув его на свою сторону. Влияние или воздействие учителя может быть 2х видов. Если будущий ученик сам по себе дисциплинирован и настроен на нужный лад, то необходимо только его решение присоединиться к Нагуалу, как произошло в случае молодой Талии (молодая Женщина-Нагуал). Но если выбранный ученик тот, у кого нет или мало дисциплины, в таком случае Нагуалу придётся потратить много времени и сил, чтобы убедить такого человека присоединиться к нему. В случае с Дон Хуаном, так как он был дикий молодой крестьянин без образования, без всяких идей в своей голове, процесс склонения его на свою сторону приобрёл странный оборот. Вскоре после первого шока, Нагуал дал ему второй, показав Дон Хуану свою способность трансформировать себя. В один прекрасный день Нагуал превратил себя в молодого юношу. Дон Хуан не был способен признать трансформацию, объясняя это искусным актом актёра.
"А как он добился такой трансформации?" спросил я (Карлос).
"Он был отличным актёром и магом," ответил Дон Хуан. "Магия его трансформации была за счёт того, что он двигал свою Точку Восприятия в своём Светящемся Шаре в то положение, которое давало ему желаемый результат. И его искусством было постоянное совершенствование своих трансформаций."
"Я не совсем понимаю о чём ты говоришь," сказал я.
Дон Хуан объяснил, что Восприятие (это и есть самая яркая Белая Точка Души) есть тот ключ для всего, что человек делает и что из себя представляет. И что Восприятием правит то положение, на котором Точка Восприятия находится. Так что, если местоположение Точки Восприятия меняется, Восприятие Мира у человека соответственно меняется. Маг, который знал точно куда направить свою Точку Восприятия, мог трансформироваться во что угодно.
"Способность Нагуала Джулиан двигать свою Точку Восприятия была непревзойдённой: он мог изобразить малейшие ньюансы в своих трансформациях," продолжал Дон Хуан. "Когда колдун становится вороной, например, это определённо большое достижение. Но это достигается значительным передвижением Точки Восприятия со своего обычного места. Однако двигать Точку Восприятия в положение толстого или старого человека требует наималейшее передвижение и прекрасное знание человеческой натуры."
"Мне лучше избегать думать или говорить об этих вещах, как о фактах," сказал я. Дон Хуан засмеялся так, как-будто я сказал что-то невероятно смешное.
"Была ли какая-то причина для трансформаций твоего учителя или он просто развлекал себя?"
"Не будь глупцом. Бойцы никогда и ничего не делают чтобы развлекаться," ответил он. "Его трансформации носили стратегический характер и диктовались необходимостью (как его трансформация от старого к молодому человеку). Правда иногда со смешными последствиями, но это другая история."
Я напомнил ему, что меня интересовало кто научил его учителя трансформироваться. Тогда он мне поведал, что у его учителя тоже был учитель, но не сказал кто.
"Тот, слишком таинственный маг, он является нашей защитой, он и научил моего учителя," отрубил Дон Хуан.
"Какой таинственный маг?" спросил я.
"Сопротивляющийся Смерти," произнёс он и посмотрел на меня вопросительно.
Для всех магов группы Дон Хуана "Сопротивляющийся Смерти" был самый живой персонаж и, согласно им, он был магом древнейших времён. Ему удалось выжить до сегодняшнего дня за счёт манипулирования своей Точки Восприятия, заставить её двигаться особым путём в особые положения внутри его тотального энергетического поля. Подобные манёвры позволили его Сознанию и Жизненной Силе сопротивляться смерти тела. Дон Хуан рассказал мне о договоре, который маги его линии заключили с "Магом Сопротивляющимся Смерти" много столетий назад. Он им делал подарки в обмен на их жизненную энергию. В результате этого договора они считали его своей защитой и называли его "Жилец". Дон Хуан добавил, что Маги древних времён были экспертами в передвижении Точки Восприятия. Продолжая свою историю Дон Хуан пояснил, что он быстро привык думать о старике, кто спас его жизнь, как о молодом человеке, прикидывающимся старым. Но однажды молодой человек опять превратился в старого Белисарио, которого Дон Хуан встретил первый раз. Он и его женщина, кто Дон Хуан думал была его женой, паковали свои мешки и двое улыбающихся мужчин с группой мулов появились ниоткуда.
Дон Хуан засмеялся смакуя свою историю и добавил, что пока погонщики снаряжали мулов, Белисарио оттащил его в сторону и признался, что ему и его жене снова пришлось изменить внешность. Он снова превратился в старика, а его красивая жена в толстую и злую индианку.
"Я был такой молодой и таким дураком, что только очевидное, явное для меня имело цену," продолжал он. "Только пару дней прошло когда я видел его невероятную трансформацию от слабого немощного 70летнего старика в энергичного молодого 20летнего юношу. Я верил Белисарио, что старый возраст это - только маска. Его жена тоже изменилась и вместо раздражительной и толстой индианки я увидел изящную молодую девушку. Женщина конечно не могла трансформировать себя так как это делал мой покровитель-учитель. Он просто поменял женщину. Конечно я мог увидеть всё в тот момент, но Мудрость всегда приходит к нам с болью и по каплям."
Дон Хуан сказал, старик заверил его, что его рана зажила, но это не значило что он поправился. При этом старик обнял его и печальным голосом прошептал:"Ты Монстру так понравился, что он освободил меня и мою жену от обязательств и взял тебя в качестве своего единственного слуги. Я бы посмеялся над ним, если бы не услышал глубокое животное рычание и устрашающую возню, доносящуюся из комнат Монстра."
Глаза Дон Хуана светились от удовольствия. Я намеревался оставаться серьёзным, но не смог сдержать смех. Белисарио, уверенный в страхе Дон Хуана, долго извинялся за судьбу, которая освободила его, но взяла в плен Дон Хуана. Он щёлкнул языком от отвращения и проклял Монстра, в его глазах стояли слёзы когда он перечислял все ежедневные обязанности, которые Монстр хотел, чтобы Дон Хуан исполнял.
А когда Дон Хуан запротестовал, он тихо, по секрету поделился, что пути бежать - нет, так как Монстр обладал непревзойдёнными способностями колдовства. Дон Хуан спросил Белисарио, что ему делать и Белисарио стал долго объяснять план действий, но который мог подойти, если это случилось бы с обычными людьми. С нашей точки зрения, мы можем планировать и замышлять в зависимости от удачи, вдобавок наша хитрость и упорство, тогда мы можем добиться успеха. Но перед лицом Неизвестности, особенно в ситуации Дон Хуана, единственной надеждой выжить было принять условия. Белисарио откровенно признался Дон Хуану едва слышимым шёпотом, что чтобы быть уверенным Монстр не погонится за ними, он собирался в штат Дюранго изучить колдовство. Он спросил Дон Хуана может он тоже подумает изучить колдовство. Но Дон Хуан ужаснулся от одной только мысли и сказал, что с ведьмами не хочет иметь ничего общего. Дон Хуан засмеялся держась за бока и признался, что ему доставляет удовольствие думать как его учитель забавлялся этой игрой. Особенно когда он сам, в пылу эмоций и страха, отвергнув откровенное приглашение изучить колдовство, возразил:"Я - Индеец. Меня воспитали ненавидеть и бояться ведьм."
Белисарио обменялся взглядами со своей женой и его тело начало дёргаться (пряча смех). Дон Хуан подумал, что он молчаливо плачет, явно расстроенный отказом так, что его жене пришлось поддержать его пока он не успокоился. По мере того, как Белисарио и его жена уходили, он повернулся и дал ему ещё один совет, что Монстра ужасают женщины. Дон Хуан должен это иметь ввиду и подыскивать в замену мужчину, если будет шанс, и что Монстру он нравится настолько, что согласится на замену рабов. Но не следует особо надеяться, так как это может занять несколько лет прежде, чем он покинет дом.
Монстр любит быть спокоен, что его рабы были ему верны или по крайней мере - покорны. Дон Хуан больше не выдержал, сломался, начал плакать и сказал Белисарио, что никто его рабом не сделает и что он убьёт себя. Старик расстрогался этим и признался, что у него была такая же идея, но Монстр мог читать мысли и мешал ему покончить с собой каждый раз когда он это замышлял. Белисарио предложил ему ещё раз взять с собой в Дюранго изучать колдовство, сказав, что это был единственный выход. На это Дон Хуан ответил, что его предложение было как прыгнуть с горящей сковородки в огонь. Белисарио начал громко всхлиповать (пряча смех) и обнял Дон Хуана. Он проклинал тот день когда он спас его жизнь и поклялся в том, что не представлял что им придётся поменяться местами. Он высморкался и, посмотрев на Дон Хуана горящими глазами, добавил:"Замаскироваться - это единственный путь выжить. Если ты не будешь себя правильно вести, Монстр возьмёт твою Душу и превратит тебя в идиота, выполнящего все его услуги и больше ничего. Жаль, что у меня нет времени учить тебя актёрскому мастерству." И затем стал всхлипывать ещё больше. Несмотря на то, что Дон Хуана душили слёзы, он попросил Белисарио описать как бы он мог замаскировать себя. Белисарио признался, что у Монстра было плохое зрение и посоветовал Дон Хуану проэксперементировать с разной одеждой какая ему нравится, ведь он мог теперь менять внешность годами. Он обнял Дон Хуана в дверях, не скрывая всхлипывания, а его жена застенчиво дотронулась до руки Дон Хуана и они ушли.
"Никогда в своей жизни, ни до, ни после не испытывал я такое отчаяние и ужас," сказал Дон Хуан. "Монстр гремел вещами внутри дома, как-будто нетерпеливо ожидая меня. Я сел возле двери и завыл как собака от боли. Потом меня вытошнило от страха."
Дон Хуан сидел часами неспособный двигаться, не смея сбежать или войти вглубь дома. Без преувеличения можно сказать, что он чуть не умер, когда он увидел Белисарио, махающего ему рукой
на другой стороне улицы, безуспешно старающегося привлечь его внимание. Увидев его снова, дало Дон Хуану мгновенное облегчение. Белисарио сидел на корточках на тротуаре, наблюдая за домом. Он дал ему сигнал оставаться на месте. После мучительно долгого ожидания, Белисарио прополз на четвереньках пару метров к Дон Хуану, затем снова сел неподвижно на корточки. Ползая таким манером он продвигался вперёд пока не достиг Дон Хуана. Это взяло несколько часов. Много людей прошло мимо, но никто казалось не замечал действия старика и отчаяние Дон Хуана. Соединившись вместе, Белисарио зашептал, что чувствовал себя плохо, оставив Дон Хуана как собаку, привязанную к столбу. Хоть жена и протестовала, но он вернулся, чтобы попробовать спасти его, так как благодаря ему им удалось освободиться. Он спросил Дон Хуана тоном командира готов ли он сделать всё возможное чтобы спастись. И Дон Хуан заверил его, что он готов на всё. С ужасно таинственным видом Белисарио протянул Дон Хуану узел с одеждой и объяснил свой план. Дон Хуану нужно было пойти в самый дальний угол дома вдали от комнат Монстра и немедленно поменять свои одежды, снимая каждую вещь отдельно, начиная со шляпы и кончая туфлями. Потом он должен был оставить всю свою одежду на деревянной раме, вроде манекена-пугало, которое он должен был быстро построить сам как только войдёт в дом.
Следующим шагом плана для Дон Хуана было замаскировать себя так, чтобы обдурить Монстра: одеждой в узле. Дон Хуан побежал в дом и всё приготовил: построил пугало из палок на заднем дворе, снял свою одежду и одел на пугало, но когда он открыл узел он потерял дар речи: в узле были женские одежды!
"Я чувствовал себя отпетым дураком," сказал Дон Хуан, "и уже собрался одеть свои одежды обратно, как услышал нечеловеческий вопль Монстра. Меня воспитывали презирать женщин и верить, что единственной их фунцией было заботиться о мужчинах. Одеть женские одежды означало для меня стать женщиной, но мой страх Монстра был настолько сильным, что я закрыл глаза и надел эту проклятую одежду."
Я посмотрел на Дон Хуана и представил его в женской одежде. Вид был настолько нелепый, что я невольно расхохотался. Дон Хуан сказал, что когда старик Белисарио, поджидавший его на другой стороне улицы, увидел Дон Хуана в этих одеждах, он начал всхлипывать без удержу (смеяться). Так всхлипывая, он довёл Дон Хуана до окраин города, где его ждала жена с двумя проводниками. Один из них довольно смело спросил Белисарио не украл ли он эту странную девушку (Дон Хуана), чтобы продать её в публичный дом. Старик начал всхлиповать так сильно, что казалось потеряет сознание. Молодые проводники не знали что делать, но жена Белисарио начала, смеясь, кричать, а Дон Хуан не мог понять почему. Группа начала двигаться в темноте, выбирая нехоженные тропы и направляясь упорно на север. Белисарио не говорил много, казалось что он был напуган и ожидал беды. Жена спорила с ним всю дорогу и жаловалась, что, взяв Дон Хуана с собой, у них пропал шанс освободиться.
Белисарио строго ей наказал не упоминать это снова (из страха, что проводники обнаружат маскарад Дон Хуана). Он предупредил Дон Хуана, что тот должен вести себя как не вполне нормальная девушка, так как он не знал как ведут себя женщины. В течении нескольких дней страх Дон Хуана значительно приутих. Даже наоборот, он стал настолько уверен в себе, что и не  вспомнил бы прошлый страх и, если бы не одежды, которые были на нём, он бы подумал, что этот случай был только жутким сном. Ношение женских одежд в тех условиях конечно заключало в себе серию поразительных перемен. Жена Белисарио на полном серьёзе муштровала Дон Хуана как быть женщиной. Дон Хуан помогал ей готовить, стирать одежду, собирать дрова. Белисарио сбрил голову Дон Хуана, намазал её вонючим лекарством, а проводникам сказал, что у девушки вши. Дон Хуан пояснил, так как он был ещё безбородый юнец, то ему было нетрудно сойти за женщину, но он был противен самому себе и все те люди были противны ему, а больше всего он ненавидел свою судьбу. Закончить жизнь тем, чтобы носить женские одежды и выполнять женскую работу было больше, чем он мог вынести. Настал день когда с него было достаточно: проводники стали последней каплей. Они ждали и требовали, чтобы эта странная девушка согласилась на сэкс. Дон Хуан сказал, что его заранее предупредили быть начеку, так как проводники могли изъявить свои желания.
У меня (Карлоса) было сильное желание задать вопрос:"Не были случайно проводники в сговоре с твоим учителем?"
"Нет," ответил он и начал смеяться от Души. "это были просто два хороших парня, кто временно стал жертвой гипноза моего учителя. Он нанял их мулов чтобы везти медицинские травы и сказал им, что хорошо заплатит, если они помогут ему похитить молодую девушку."
Масштаб действий Нагуала Джулиан поразил моё воображение. Я (Карлос) представил как Дон Хуан отвергал сексуальные поползновения и давился от смеха. А Дон Хуан продолжал свою историю. Он заявил старику твёрдо, что маскарад продолжался слишком долго и что парни надоели ему со своими атаками. Белисарио, как бы между прочим, посоветовал ему быть более снисходительным к мужчинам: мужчины всё равно останутся мужчинами, и начал опять всхлипывать, оставив Дон Хуана в полном недоумении, так как вдруг сам стал воодушевлённо защищать Женщин. Дон Хуан говорил с такой страстью о трудной доли Женщин, что испугался самого себя. Он сказал Белисарио, что закончит ещё хуже, чем рабом в доме Монстра. Эмоции Дон Хуана только усиливались когда старик начинал всхлиповать безудержно и бормотать глупости: вроде жизнь прекрасна; Монстр сожрёт Душу Дон Хуана и не позволит ему убить себя.
"Флиртуй с парнями," посоветовал он Дон Хуану мирным тоном. "Они - примитивные крестьяне. Всё, что они хотят это - поиграть, отталкивай их когда они слишком настойчивы. Дай им потрогать свою ногу, что такого?" И снова начинал всхлипывать без остановки. Дон Хуан спросил его почему он так всхлипывает?
"Потому что ты идеален для всего этого," ответил он и затрясся всем телом. Дон Хуан поблагодарил его за сочувствие и за все беды, которые выпали на его долю. Он сказал Белисарио, что сейчас чувствует себя вне опасности и хочет уйти.
"Искусство Маскировки - это научиться всем странностям полной маскировки," произнёс Белисарио, не обращая внимания на то, что Дон Хуан говорил ему. "И изучить их так хорошо, чтобы никто не догадался, что ты маскируешься. Для этого нужно быть беспощадным, хитрым, терпеливым и приятным."
Дон Хуан понятия не имел о чём говорил Белисарио и вместо того, чтобы попросить объяснить, он попросил Белисарио дать ему мужскую одежду. Белисарио понял его, дал ему кое-какую старую одежду и несколько песо, пообещав, что его маскарадная одежда будет с ними на случай если она ему понадобится. Он опять настойчиво попросил его идти с ним в Дюранго изучать колдовство, чтобы навсегда освободить себя от Монстра. Дон Хуан отказался и поблагодарил его, так что Белисарио не оставалось ничего делать как сказать досвидания и с силой похлопать его по спине несколько раз. Дон Хуан поменял одежду и спросил его направление. Тот сказал, что если Дон Хуан будет следовать тропой на север, то рано или поздно он доберётся до следующего города, добавив, что им обоим может быть даже придётся пересечь дороги снова, так как они все в общем шли в одном направлении: подальше от Монстра. Дон Хуан наконец обрёл свободу и пошёл так быстро, как только мог, пройдя наверно 4-5 миль пока не увидел признаки жизни. Он знал, что город где-то недалеко и надеялся найти работу пока он окончательно решит куда ему податься. Он сел отдохнуть на момент, ожидая обычные трудности для странника в маленьком городке, как вдруг углом глаза он заметил движение в кустах рядом с тропинкой. Он чувствовал, что кто-то за ним следит, его обуял ужас, он подпрыгнул и начал бежать по направлению к городу. Монстр прыгал за ним, вытянувшись, чтобы схватить за шею, но не достал пару сантиметров. Дон Хуан закричал так, как никогда в жизни не кричал, и повернул обратно в том напрвлении, откуда пришёл. Пока он бежал, Монстр мчался за ним по пятам, ломая всё на своём пути. Дон Хуан сказал, что это был самый страшный звук, какой он когда-либо слышал! Наконец он увидел мулов вдали и закричал о помощи. Белисарио узнал Дон Хуана и побежал навстречу ему с выражением ужаса на лице. Он бросил ему узел с женской одеждой, крича:
"Беги как женщина, глупец!"
Дон Хуан признался, что не знал как женщины бегают, но всё равно побежал как женщина. Монстр остановил погоню за ним и Белисарио приказал ему быстро переодеться, пока он сдерживал Монстра. После этого Дон Хуан, не глядя ни на кого, присоединился к жене Белисарио и двум улыбающимся проводникам. Они отошли назад и пошли другими тропами. Никто не говорил днями; тогда Белисарио давал ему ежедневные уроки. Он объяснял Дон Хуану, что Индейские Женщины были практичны и шли прямо к делу, но они также были очень застенчивы и во время натиска в их бегающих глазах виднелся страх, рты сжимались и ноздри раздувались. Все эти знаки сопровождались упрямым страхом и затем застенчивым смехом. Он заставил Дон Хуана практиковать уроки женского поведения в каждом городе, который они проходили. И Дон Хуан абсолютно верил, что он учил его быть актёром. Но Белисарио настаивал, что он учит его Искусству Маскировки. Он сказал Дон Хуану, что маскировка - это искусство, применяемое везде, и что для этого необходимо выучить 4 вещи: беспощадность, хитрость, терпение и завораживающую мягкость..."

Обратите внимание, что такие важные русские слова как Вселенная, Галактика, Планета, Комета, Звезда, Земля, Страна, Душа, Любовь, Гармония, Жизнь, Эмоция, Семья, Красота, Нежность, Печаль и т.д. - Женского рода, а не Мужского ! Слова как Сознание или Солнце - среднего рода, т.е. мужской и женский род объединены (ANDROGYNOUS) !
Important Russian words: Universe, Galaxy, Planet, Comet, Earth, Country, Star, Soul, Love, Harmony, Life, Emotion, Family, Beauty, Tenderness, Sorrow etc. are of Feminine
gender, not Masculine one, in Russian language ! But words like: Consciousness or Sun are Androgynous in Russian language, means female and male - together !

Females-Seers of Don Juan lineage could easily defend themselves: they knew all kinds of forms of Martial Arts ! That I will recommend mordern European (esp. German) females: to learn how to defend themselves against any attacker ! Below are videos with old addresses.

Ukraine crisis: Violent brawl at Kiev parliament - video
8 April 2014
Tempers flared and punches were thrown in Ukraine's parliament on Tuesday as opposing nationalist and separatist factions traded blows. The punch up was preceded by a heated debate about recent events in several Ukrainian cities, where pro-Russian activists seized government buildings. Tensions remain high between Kiev and Moscow following the recent referendum and annexation of Crimea - a move condemned as illegal by the West and Ukraine.

 Женский мозг активнее мужского?
Шум подняла работа нейробиологов под руководством Дэниеля Амена (Daniel Amen), опубликованная в журнале Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. В статье описывается большая и кропотливая работа: учёные сравнили результаты сканирования мозга 26 мужчин и женщин, сделанных в Amen Clinics. Сканировали при помощи метода однофотонной эмиссионной компьютерной томографии (ОФЭКТ или ОЭКТ); доктор Амен — большой энтузиаст этого метода, и в его собственной сети клиник его используют, возможно, шире, чем где бы то ни было. ОФЭКТ позволяет, кроме прочего, измерять количество проходящей через некоторый участок мозга крови. Амен и его коллеги установили, что кровоток с женском мозге сильнее чем кровоток в мозге мужчины и когда человек расслаблен и не сосредоточен, и во время напряжённой умственной работы. Разница в показателях невелика, но всё-таки больше погрешности, а размер выборки заставляет верить в то, что эта небольшая разница действительно зависит от пола. Снимки мозга здоровых людей, которых использовали в качестве контрольной группы, подтвердили выводы. сделанные по снимкам пациентов клиник: разница между кровотоком в мужском и женском мозге у этих людей оказалась даже больше.

Ukraine MPs throw punches in parliament  - video
15 November 2016
A fight broke out between two MPs in Ukraine when one party leader accused another of working with the Kremlin. Opposition Party leader Yuriy Boyko jumped up and threw punches at Oleh Lyashko, the leader of the Radical Party.

Ukraine names woman, 23, anti-corruption head
23 November 2016
Ukraine's "Lustration" committee aims to purge officials tainted by corruption. A 23-year-old lawyer has been given the task of leading Ukraine's anti-corruption drive, the second major appointment of a young woman in weeks. Anna Kalynchuk's promotion has provoked consternation among some Ukrainians who say she is unqualified and too young. She will direct Ukraine's department of "lustration", which aims to purge officials tainted by corruption. Corruption was a key complaint of protesters who forced President Viktor Yanukovych from power in February 2014. Ms Kalynchuk's appointment comes days after Anastasia Deyeva, 24, was named by Interior Minister Arsen Avakov as deputy minister, one of Ukraine's top police and security posts. That announcement was met with anger, which only intensified when nude photos of Ms Deyeva were shared on social media. Anastasia Deyeva is Ukraine's youngest ever deputy minister. As well as the private photos shared on social media, she has also been the subject of a more tasteful photo-shoot in Ukrainian lifestyle website Style Insider. Interior Minister Avakov defended the appointment as a breath of fresh air, but that has not satisfied those who wonder whether there were other factors behind her appointment. Kiev political analyst Vadim Karasyov told Associated Press that Ukrainian politics increasingly resembled "a circus show in which clowns come to succeed frustrated professionals". Why so young and are they qualified? The majority of Ukraine's ministers are now in their thirties, ever since a reshuffle in February. The Prime Minister, Volodymyr Groysman, is only 38. In a country as ridden with corruption as Ukraine, the promotion of younger talent could be seen as an antidote to the wasted decades associated with older politicians. Despite the outcry in the social media about age and lack of experience, these two young women are well suited to their posts. Anna Kalynchuk was already deputising for the previous head of the anti-corruption department, Tatiana Kozachenko. As a freshly qualified lawyer, two years ago she was engaged in setting up the very institution she now temporarily heads. On her Facebook page, she said she was prepared for claims that she was too young and inexperienced for the post. Anastasia Deyeva is Ukraine's all-time youngest deputy minister. Anastasia Deyeva was appointed on 11 November, having acted as an assistant to the former deputy minister, a Georgian who resigned from her position earlier this year. In a recent interview, her predecessor as deputy minister was full of praise for her abilities as a negotiator.
What's the bigger picture?
At the heart of the storm is the frustration of ordinary Ukrainians at the pace of the drive to clean up Ukrainian politics. Perception of corruption is worse in Ukraine than in Russia, according to Transparency International. Little more than two weeks ago, the charismatic governor of the Odessa region, former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, resigned, accusing Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko of backing corrupt officials who, he said, were undermining his reform efforts in Odessa. His resignation followed that of the Odessa police chief, fellow Georgian Giorgi Lortkipanidze. Only days before, top officials were forced to reveal their huge wealth - hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and collections of luxury items - under new anti-corruption rules. None was accused of criminality, but it was a stark illustration of the trappings of power and the gulf between some officials and the mass of Ukrainians. The lustration department says hundreds of officials have been forced to resign over corruption, but Ukraine's corruption problem clearly still remains crippling.

Storm as woman, 24, gets key Ukraine job
23 November 2016
Anastasia Deyeva is Ukraine's youngest ever deputy minister. Political storms are nothing new to Ukraine, but unusually the latest surrounds a young woman who has landed one of the country's top police and security jobs. Anastasia Deyeva, 24, has been appointed a deputy interior minister, unprecedented for anyone of her age. And some Ukrainians think she is not qualified for the job. There's nothing wrong about a woman being an adviser, especially if she's pretty and smart," was one typical comment on Facebook. "But it's very wrong if she's that young and has no experience. Or the wrong kind of experience. As debate swirled around Ms Deyeva's appointment, another young woman was selected for the highly charged job of running a campaign to purge the government of corrupt officials. Anna Kalynchuk, 23, studied law and was already part of the government's anti-corruption department. Ms Deyeva had to deal with closer scrutiny than most public officials when nude photos of her were posted online. More tasteful pictures have since appeared on Ukrainian lifestyle website Style Insider. Ms Deyeva's appointment unleashed a storm of criticism. Nothing to do with her work, insisted Ms Deyeva. She defended her credentials, telling one interviewer (in Russian) she had exactly the right experience for the job. She was an aide to an MP, worked for a Swedish energy company and was considered suitably qualified enough to be offered an interior ministry job in 2015. But her promotion to become Ukraine's youngest ever deputy minster unleashed a torrent of criticism.
"I knew that I'd end up in the limelight, that there would be criticism and biased commentary. But I never expected such vile attacks," she says. The new deputy interior minister has been given strong backing from her boss. Ms Deyeva's boss, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, is firmly behind her: "The main thing people have against her is that she's young," he wrote on his Facebook page (in Russian), adding that the criticism was based on outdated attitudes. "In the Soviet tradition, this sort of job was for a monster, but we've hired a girl. Maybe so, only we do things differently in my ministry," he said. He is not alone in thinking it is time for Ukraine to move on. "I am extremely glad that you're one generation younger than me," wrote Denis Kazvan, formerly an interior ministry adviser. "People like you do not need to spend 40 years wandering through the desert to get rid of the Soviet gene of slavery. People like you are free inside."

100 Women 2016: The Pakistani woman defying her family - video
24 November 2016
Naema may not seem rebellious in what she wants. But in a conservative Pakistani family, her desire for independence has seen her come under attack and her car vandalised. As part of the BBC's 100 Women season, we meet a woman engaged in small acts of defiance...

100 Women 2016: Are Mexican women less corrupt, than men? - video
24 Nov 2016
Doling out fines was traditionally an opportunity for police to make a little extra money. Corruption in Mexico's police force has become such an endemic problem, that in Mexico State they have been looking for drastic solutions. So far, they appear to be working. The officers in Mexico State's Transit Police are dressed smartly in black trousers, orange and black shirts and smart black caps. A pair of white gloves hang from their waistbands, along with a ticket machine ready to dole out fines to motorists on the wrong side of the law. Most officers have also added a personal touch to their uniform - whether it is beautifully manicured nails with French polish, or smoky eye shadow, they have spared no effort in looking tip-top for their job. There has been a small revolution at Mexico State's Transit Department. Five years ago, authorities got rid of every man and decided only women should do the job because they are more trustworthy. There are now nearly 400 women in the force. Woman police commanders with squadron of female officers behind her.
There are now exclusively women in the Transit Police for Mexico State. Corruption is a massive problem in Mexico - it costs the country billions of dollars a year and gives Mexico a bad reputation. Paying a bribe or a "mordida" is the equivalent of paying a 14% tax for an average household, according to a report by Transparency International.
In Mexico State, the country's most populous and one of the poorest, it is an even bigger problem than elsewhere. Out on patrol with some of the team, Judith Morales Garduno is behind the wheel, and accompanying her is Rosa Baeza Pena. In charge of issuing fines on this shift, Rosa's dazzling pink eye shadow, matching lipstick and nails stand out against her mostly black uniform. "Some drivers are aggressive and feel uncomfortable with a woman giving them a fine," Judith says. "They're used to being the strong, powerful one - controlling." But, she says, these are all life experiences and help her grow. The job has taught her to be stronger emotionally. As a mum working long hours and looking after her son, it can be a struggle. But her eight-year-old boy is proud of what his mum does for a living, she says with a huge smile. Judith and Roa, ready to go on patrol. Judith with her son Angel. Angel is proud of what his mother Judith does for a living. The first offender of the day is a taxi driver who is not wearing a seatbelt. Rosa hands out a $20 (£16) fine which, if you pay on the spot, is reduced to $6. It may not be his day, but Pascual Monsenor is still pretty positive. "Things have improved," he says, as he waits to receive his fine. "Man to man, corruption is easier. The treatment you get from women is different."
Women in charge
The director of Transit Police for Mexico State is Rosalba Sanchez Velazquez. She has been in the police for 25 years and was made head of the force in 2011 when the women-only policy was implemented. Although there is some evidence that women can be good for policing, it is not the whole story, experts say.
"A study was done which showed that a woman is more responsible and knows what happens if she does something bad," she says. "There were lots of complaints about corruption so the governor took the decision to create this unit made up just of women. For every 100 complaints that there used to be, now there's one or two. What we have seen with the police is that only three in 10 men pass police vetting the first time, whereas seven out of 10 women pass," says Maria Elena Morera, a public security activist. "So economically, it is better to employ women, because you are going to be able to recruit much quicker."
Judith directing the traffic. Rosa and Judith helping in an accident. Women can be less corrupt simply because they are new to a role, some critics say. Women do seem to be less corrupt," she says. "But it's an issue that is far more complex than the differences between men and women. It's a structural issue whereby we need to change the way institutions do things. Women can behave in less corrupt ways simply because they are new to a role, says Prof Anne-Marie Goetz. "Women are often very keen to impress and to demonstrate that they perform with integrity," she argues. "Other formerly excluded social groups do this too; lower caste groups in Indian local government perform better, for example.
"But corruption really does not come down to identity; it is about opportunities and incentives or the opposite - penalties. It is not right to employ women as political cleaners. Women should be included in the workforce for reasons of gender equality and social justice, not because there is some expected efficiency pay-off."
Over time, as the women get more settled into the job, they could become corrupt too. Most people in Mexico agree people pay bribes or receive them because they can. Impunity rates are more than 90% and even when people are caught, nothing happens. Machismo versus corruption. Mexican culture is very macho - the traditional roles of men and women are much more pronounced here. And some say an initiative like this does not help. What I find really problematic about this idea is that you are reinforcing gender stereotypes," says Ximena Andion, the executive director of the Simone de Beauvoir Leadership Institute. Because of the roles that women have played in society, mostly as caretakers and in nurturing positions, they tend to think about the social wellbeing of society and I think that is one of the reasons why they probably will be less corrupt," she says. "But I think that comes from their experiences and the roles they've played in life. I don't think it is inherently part of your sex, of being a woman."
Much of what Transit Police officers do needs empathy and calm. After stopping several drivers for not wearing seatbelts, Judith and Rosa come across a road traffic accident.
It is a hit and run involving a motorcycle and a truck. While Judith moves the traffic on, Rosa puts to use what she calls her caring side to calm the victim. But can we conclude that these stereotypically feminine qualities will help deal with corruption?
"After working on gender and leadership for more than 20 years I was surprised to see how little research there is on the impact women can have on corruption", says Kristin Haffert, from Project Mine the Gap, an organisation that promotes the benefits of a gender inclusive workforce. "Because of this we've decided to do an impact study on this policy in Mexico State. I'm convinced that women are less corrupt and this may be about a combination of factors but I've seen around the world women bringing a different approach to problems and we also know women are more risk adverse," she says. Many experts believe women have just had less time to develop corrupt patterns in public institutions. There is still much research to be done to see if women can be a weapon in the fight against corruption.

Ana Gabriela Guevara - a  World Champion
Mexican  Senator - Ana Gabriela Guevara was beaten up by 4 men
13 December 2016
Ana Gabriela Guevara posted a picture of herself after the beating. Mexican Senator Ana Gabriela Guevara, 39, is in hospital after being beaten up by four men following a traffic collision near Mexico City. Ms Guevara was riding her motorcycle on Sunday evening when a car hit her and caused her to fall, she said. Ms Guevara, a former Olympic medal winner, said the men in the car got out and hit her in the ribs and the head. She said the attack had been "cowardly and vile" and that the car had rammed her on purpose. She said the men had insulted her for being a woman and a motorcyclist. Ms Guevara, an Olympic-medal winning athlete before entering politics, has reported the incident to the police.
Mexican runner Ana Gabriela Guevara celebrates her gold medal for the 400m, 25 July 2007 during the Pan American games in Rio de Janeiro. She posted a photo of herself on Twitter looking bruised after having surgery on her face with the hashtag #bastadeviolence (#NoMoreViolence). Violence against women is a major problem in Mexico and across Latin America, where there have been mass protests demanding authorities do more to protect women from aggression.

The National Front member who fell in love with Calais Jungle migrant
5 June 2017
Béatrice Huret stood on a beach on the northern French coast before dawn, watching as her lover headed off across the English Channel in a rickety boat. Would she ever see him again? Had she been taken for a ride, used by a man she met just a few weeks earlier to help him fulfil his dream of a new life in England? Would he drown on the way?
As the boat disappeared over the dark horizon, Béatrice returned to her car, her head full of hope but also full of doubt. The 45-year-old had just a couple years previously been a card-carrying member of the far-right National Front (FN), and she was the widow of a policeman who she says was racist. Now here she was helping her migrant lover, Mokhtar, whom she had met in the so-called Jungle migrant camp in Calais, to sneak into Britain. She recounts the story of how her life changed the day she offered a lift to a teenage migrant in a new book titled Calais Mon Amour. Béatrice says that before his death from cancer in 2010 her husband had been one of the huge number of police officers deployed in Calais to keep migrants from breaking into the Channel Tunnel terminal or the ferry port, in their bid to get to the UK. As a policeman he was not legally allowed to join a political party, so he got his wife to sign up instead to Marine Le Pen's FN, which paid her to distribute pamphlets. He came over and very gently he asked me if I would like a cup of tea. She says that, unlike her husband, she was not really racist. But she admits she was worried about "all these foreigners, who seemed so different, and who were getting into France". Béatrice lived with her teenage son and her mother about 20km (12 miles) from the Jungle, but she had never seen the giant shantytown built of tents and shacks on waste ground on the outskirts of Calais. On her way home from work one very cold day in 2015, she took pity on a Sudanese boy and agreed to drop him off at the camp, which at its peak last year was home to 10,000 people, most of whom had fled war or poverty in Africa, the Middle East, or Afghanistan. Then, for the first time, she saw for herself what conditions there were like. "I felt as though I was in a war zone, it was like a war camp, a refugee camp, and something went 'click' and I said to myself that I just had to help," she says. Suddenly migrants were no longer just a word, no longer an abstraction. Béatrice, who works at a centre where young people are trained to become carers, started to bring food and clothing to people in the Jungle, roping in friends and family members to help. Slowly she got to know the camp and its people, ranging "from shepherds to lawyers to surgeons". Then, in February last year, she laid eyes on Mokhtar, a 34-year-old former teacher who had had to flee his native Iran, where he faced persecution, and was ostracised by his own family for having converted to Christianity. Iranian protester at Calais migrant camp (March 2016). She met him just at the moment when photos of him, and of several of his compatriots, were being published in newspapers around the world, because they had sewn their lips together in protest at the appalling living conditions in the Jungle. "I sat down and then he came over and very gently he asked me if I would like a cup of tea, and then he went and made me tea, and it was a bit of a shock. It was love at first sight," she says. "It was just his look, it was so soft. There they were with their lips sewn up and they ask me, do I want some tea?"
But communication was an obstacle, as Mokhtar spoke no French and she, unlike him, had little English. Their solution was to use Google Translate. A romance blossomed and Béatrice offered to put up Mokhtar and some of his friends in her house, ignoring advice from her friends that she was making a big mistake. She was under no illusions about her new lover's goal. Mokhtar had already tried to get to England by hiding in the back of lorries and now he was about to try a change of tack. He and two friends gave Béatrice about 1,000 euros (£980; $1,130) and got her to buy a small boat for them. The youngest was vomiting from fear, the toughest one was smoking cigarettes and saying 'Well, if you have to die, you have to die, that's life'. On 11 June last year, Béatrice towed it to a beach near Dunkirk, and the trio of migrants, none of whom had been in charge of a boat before, set off at about 04:00 on a perilous journey across the world's busiest shipping channel. "We dressed them up so they would look like men out on a fishing trip, with fishing rods," she says with a smile. That was the moment when the whole thing might have ended, when Béatrice hoped for the best but worried that she might have been had, and worried that Mokhtar and his friends might even drown. That very nearly came to pass, when the boat started taking water around 06:30, as it approached the English coast.
It was terrifying, but with hindsight there was something comic about it. "The youngest was vomiting from fear, the toughest one was smoking cigarettes and saying 'Well, if you have to die, you have to die, that's life,' and there was Mokhtar scooping out the water and phoning the emergency services at the same time," she says. The British coastguard sent out a helicopter which eventually spotted them and sent a boat out to the rescue. The three migrants were later questioned by immigration officers, and after a couple of days Mokhtar was sent to an asylum centre from where he could finally contact his beloved, who had been waiting anxiously on the other side of the Channel. "He gave his address in Wakefield. I went to see him the next weekend," Béatrice says. And ever since then she has taken a ferry every second week and driven up to see her lover, who is now in a refugee hostel in Sheffield and who has successfully applied for asylum in the UK. They keep in touch via webcam nearly every night. Beatrice on Skype with Mokhtar. So what of the future? The couple have no plans, Béatrice says, noting that "it hurts when you make plans that don't work out. If our relationship ends, then so be it [but] I owe Mokhtar a beautiful love story, the most beautiful one of my life." The story for her does not end on a purely happy note. Last August she was arrested and charged with people smuggling. She laughs when she speaks of the charge, as for her the idea that she was in it for the money is nothing short of ridiculous. She was taken into custody at the same police station where her late husband used to work. Released on bail, she was placed under judicial supervision, and has to report to police once a week, as she waits for her trial to begin later this month. If found guilty, she could in theory be sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined 750,000 euros, though in her case the penalty would probably be less severe. Béatrice has also been put on the government watchlist of people who are deemed a potential threat to the security of the state. Most people on this list are radical Islamists. This too makes her laugh. Was it all worth it? "Yes," she replied without hesitation. "I did it for him. You do anything for love."

Правда ли, что Мальмё - европейская "столица изнасилований"?
24 февраля 2017
Насколько оправданы заявления о том, что Мальмё превратился в криминальный центр Швеции? Тема роста преступности в Швеции, связанного с ростом числа мигрантов, привлекла всеобщее внимание благодаря недавним высказываниям президента США Дональда Трампа. Сторонники этой теории утверждают, в частности: Швеция за последние годы приняла беспрецедентное количество беженцев. Среди них - множество молодых мужчин. После этого в стране, и в особенности в южном городе Мальмё, наблюдался резкий рост числа преступлений на сексуальной почве. "Пропорционально Швеция приняла больше молодых мужчин-мигрантов, нежели любая другая страна в Европе. В Швеции наблюдался невиданный рост числа преступлений на сексуальной почве. Положение дел ухудшилось до такой степени, что Мальмё превратился в европейскую столицу изнасилований", - заявил на днях депутат Европарламента и бывший лидер ультраправой Партии независимости Соединенного Королевства (UKIP) Найджел Фарадж, обсуждая в эфире радиостанции LBC недавние ремарки президента Трампа по поводу терроризма в Швеции.
Попробуем ответить на следующие вопросы: действительно ли в Швеции в последнее время наблюдался резкий рост числа преступлений на сексуальной почве, и увеличилось ли количество изнасилований в Мальмё после невиданного наплыва беженцев? На самом деле в Мальмё, наравне с другими крупными городами в Швеции, - один из самых высоких в ЕС уровней числа зарегистрированных полицией изнасилований пропорционально количеству жителей. Однако это объясняется главным образом строгостью шведских законов и особенностями процедуры регистрации преступлений на сексуальной почве. При этом нельзя сказать, что число зарегистрированных полицией изнасилований за последние годы в Мальмё существенно выросло. Напротив, в сравнении с пиком 2010 года, еще до наплыва мигрантов, оно даже снизилось. Ультраконсерватор оплатил журналисту поездку в "преступный Мальмё" Чего добилось "феминистическое правительство" Швеции? Групповое изнасилование в Швеции транслировали через Facebook Live. Нет возможности провести связь между преступлениями и определенными этническими группами, поскольку подобная статистика в Швеции не публикуется.  Статистика по зарегистрированным случаям изнасилований в Мальмё не выше, чем в других крупных городах Швеции. Что касается роста числа беженцев в стране, то в этой части утверждения действительно соответствуют истине. По данным агентства Евростат, в 2015 году в Швеции было подано свыше 162 тысяч ходатайств о предоставлении убежища. На каждые 100 тысяч населения приходится, таким образом, 1667 мигрантов, желающих получить убежище - среди стран ЕС это наиболее высокое соотношение прибывших к местным жителям. Большинство тех, кто в 2015 году ходатайствовал об убежище в Швеции, - или 11470 человек - мужчины; 45790 из них - в возрасте от 18 до 34 лет. Стало ли больше преступлений на сексуальной почве?
"Преступления на сексуальной почве" - понятие очень широкое. В Швеции оно относится ко всем преступлениям, так или иначе связанным с сексом. Изнасилование - одно из них. Однако к преступлениям на сексуальной почве также относятся и оплата сексуальных услуг, и сексуальное домогательство, и непристойное обнажение в общественных местах, и развратные действия в отношении несовершеннолетних, и торговля людьми. Многие из прибывающих в Европу мигрантов стремятся попасть в Швецию. В 2015 году, когда наблюдался наибольший наплыв беженцев, число зарегистрированных преступлений на сексуальной почве в Швеции снизилось по сравнению с показателями предыдущего года на 11%, число изнасилований - на 12%: в полицию было заявлено о 18100 преступлений на сексуальной почве, 5920 из них были классифицированы как изнасилование.
В 2014 году, напротив, в стране наблюдался рост количества преступлений на сексуальной почве. Как поясняет шведский Национальный совет по предупреждению преступности (Brå), этот рост был связан с ужесточением законодательства годом ранее. Подобное наблюдалось и в 2006 году, после того как в апреле 2005 года вступили в силу новые законы, регламентирующие наказания за преступления на сексуальной почве. С тех пор каждый эпизод сексуального насилия в Швеции регистрируется отдельно. Как на самом деле обстоят дела в Мальмё?
По словам представителя Brå Сюзанны Лекенгорд, это означает, что если кто-то за последний год ежедневно приходил в полицию и сообщал о сексуальном насилии со стороны партнера или мужа, полиция была обязана регистрировать каждое обращение этого человека. Во многих других странах полиция зарегистрировала бы подобные инциденты лишь единожды: одна и та же жертва, один и тот же тип преступления, одна учетная запись. Кроме того, оплата секс-услуг в Швеции с некоторых пор также считается преступлением, регистрируется и учитывается статистикой. Власти Швеции не обнародуют данные об этнической принадлежности и национальности человека, совершившего любое преступление, в том числе и на сексуальной почве.
Покупка сексуальных услуг является в Швеции преступлением. Однако, по данным Brå, с тех пор, как в страну прибыло большое количество беженцев, в коммуне Мальмё существенного роста числа зарегистрированных случаев изнасилования пропорционально численности населения зафиксировано не было. Самое большое число обращений в полицию в связи с изнасилованиями пришлось на 2008, 2010 и 2011 годы - цифры тогда были выше, нежели в 2015 и 2016 годах, когда наблюдался наплыв мигрантов. Более того, статистика по зарегистрированным случаям изнасилований в коммуне Мальмё не выше, чем в других крупных городах Швеции - Стокгольме или Гётеборге. Если сравнивать в международном масштабе
Сравнить международную статистику по числу преступлений на сексуальной почве и изнасилований крайне трудно. Правила полицейского делопроизводства и юридические определения в разных странах мира настолько разнятся, что их сравнение представляется занятием довольно бессмысленным. В 2012 году ООН обнародовала сравнительные данные по числу изнасилований в различных странах: Швеция вышла на первое место в Европе и второе в мире. Шведы обращаются в полицию в связи с преступлениями на сексуальной почве чаще жителей других стран Европы. Тот доклад ООН, однако, не включал в себя данные по 63 странам, вообще не представшим никакой статистики. Речь идет, к примеру, о Южной Африке, которая в предыдущих докладах по числу изнасилований занимала первые строчки. Согласно недавней статистике Евростата, обобщающей данные по 28 странам ЕС по числу преступлений на сексуальной почве, Швеция вновь оказалась в лидерах. При этом агентство предупреждает, что проводить сравнения между странами на основании этих данных не следует - из-за различий в законодательстве, системе уголовного правосудия, порядке регистрации преступлений, показателях отчетности, эффективности работы органов юстиции и правопорядка и типах правонарушений, подпадающих под определенные категории. Следует учитывать, что в последние два десятилетия в шведском обществе шли активные дебаты, призванные повысить информированность населения и убедить женщин непременно обращаться в полицию в случае нападений и домогательств. Неудивительно, что число обращений в полицию в связи с преступлениями на сексуальной почве в Швеции оказалось выше, нежели в других странах Европы.

The man who cycled from India to Sweden for love
20 February 2017
In 1975 a 20 year old Swedish woman called Lotta von Schedvin drove to India with some friends for a few weeks' holiday. While she was there, she met a man in his mid-twenties, called PK Mahanandia, an impoverished art student, who made a bit of cash in the evenings by sketching tourists.

Video : Trafficking victim: 'I was every day raped and blindfolded underground'
21 February 2017
'Anna' was trafficked from Albania into the UK last year by someone pretending to be her boyfriend.

Afghan woman's ears cut off by husband
1 February 2017
Zarina, recovering in hospital, said her husband had tried to stop visits to her parents. A 23-year-old Afghan woman has described to the BBC how her husband tied her up and cut off both her ears in a domestic violence attack in the northern province of Balkh. The woman - Zarina - is now in a stable but traumatised condition in hospital.
"I haven't committed any sin," she said. "I don't know why my husband did this to me." The woman's husband is on the run in Kashinda district following the attack, police have told local media. Zarina told Pajhwok news that the unprovoked attack took place after her husband suddenly woke her up. She was married at the age of 13, and told BBC that "relations with her husband were not good". Zarina complained that her husband had tried to prevent her from seeing her parents, she said in another interview, with Tolo News. She said she no longer wanted to remain married to him. Zarina recovering in hospital (01 February 2017). "He is a very suspicious man and often accused me of talking to strange men when I went to visit my parents," she said. She has demanded his arrest and prosecution. Her account is the latest in a series of high-profile domestic abuse incidents and cases of violence against women in Afghanistan. In January 2016, a young woman, Reza Gul [pictured, below], had her nose cut off by her husband in the remote Ghormach district of north-western Faryab province. Some months later, a woman was critically ill after being nearly beaten to death by her husband. In November 2015, a young woman was stoned to death in Ghor province after she had been accused of adultery. Earlier that year, a young Kabul woman, Farkhunda, was beaten and burned to death by a mob over false allegations she had set fire to a Koran. In September 2014, a man cut off part of his wife's nose with a kitchen knife, in central Daykundi Province, according to police. It is not clear whether he was ever caught. The case of Aisha featured on the front cover of Time magazine in 2010, after the 18-year-old was mutilated by her husband who cut off her nose and ears as punishment for running away. Reza Gul is waiting to be transferred for further treatment in Turkey. The Afghan government has repeatedly tried to introduce laws to protect women from domestic abuse. But President Hamid Karzai during his time in power was unable - or unwilling - to sign off legislation even though it had been approved by both houses of parliament. In 2014, for example, he ordered changes to draft legislation that critics said would severely limit justice for victims. Mr Karzai's successor, Ashraf Ghani, has also yet to give his assent to legislation passed by Afghan parliament late last year. It was drafted to protect women and children from violence and harassment. The latest attack, on a woman called Zarina, was in the Balkh province.

UN condemns 'devastating' Rohingya abuse in Myanmar
3 February 2017
A Rohingya woman in the makeshift house she shares with 6 other refugees at a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Almost half of the Rohingya interviewed by the UN said a family member had been killed. The UN has accused security forces in Myanmar of committing serious human rights abuses, including gang-rape, savage beatings and child killing.
It made the allegations in a damning report compiled after interviews with more than 200 Rohingya refugees who fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh. One mother recounted how her five-year-old daughter was murdered while trying to protect her from rape. She said a man "took out a long knife and killed her by slitting her throat". In another case, an eight-month-old baby was reportedly killed while five security officers gang-raped his mother. An estimated 65,000 members of the Muslim minority community have fled to Bangladesh since violence broke out in Myanmar - also known as Burma - last October. Rohingya face move to Bangladesh island. Rohingya being killed and raped - UN.
Truth, lies and Aung San Suu Kyi
Nearly half of those interviewed by the UN said a family member had been killed. Of 101 women interviewed, 52 said they had been raped or experienced sexual violence from the security forces. Many told investigators that members of the army or police had burned hundreds of Rohingya homes, schools, markets, shops, and mosques. Numerous testimonies "confirmed that the army deliberately set fire to houses with families inside, and in other cases pushed Rohingyas into already burning houses", the report states. Many victims said they were taunted as they were being beaten or raped, with the perpetrators telling them: "What can your Allah do for you? See what we can do?"
Rohingya Muslims "hated and hounded from Burmese soil". UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad Al Hussein said: "The cruelty to which these Rohingya children have been subjected is unbearable - what kind of hatred could make a man stab a baby crying out for his mother's milk? I call on the international community, with all its strength, to join me in urging the leadership in Myanmar to bring such military operations to an end."

The Stunning Transformation Of Michelle Obama  Jan 19, 2017

Michelle Obama's legacy by her biographer - video
8 March 2016
The White House's first black first lady Michelle Obama once told her aides not to "just put me on a plane, send me someplace and have me smile". Peter Slevin, her biographer, talks about her legacy. He looks at the first lady to do a hula hoop on the White House lawn and dance in public to Uptown Funk. Mrs Obama has also taken a proactive stance on education and obesity among young people.

Michelle Obama joins James Corden for 'Carpool Karaoke' - video
20 July 2016
Michelle Obama is joining James Corden in his hit sketch Carpool Karaoke this week. In the latest edition, Mrs Obama was picked up outside the White House and sang a spirited version of Beyonce's girl-power anthem Single Ladies while taking a ride with the British TV host. The US first lady also revealed she hasn't travelled in the front seat of a car for over seven years.

Is Sweden's deputy PM trolling Donald Trump in Facebook photo?
3 February 2017
Sweden's climate minister Isabella Lovin in a photo posted on Facebook of her signing the country's new climate law, 3 February 2017. Isabella Lovin's photo posted on Facebook is being compared to an image of President Trump. Sweden's deputy PM is causing a stir after posting an image appearing to parody Donald Trump's signing of an anti-abortion executive order. Isabella Lovin, who is also the country's climate minister, published a photo that shows her signing a new law surrounded by female colleagues. The image has drawn comparisons with Mr Trump's photo in which no women were present. Within hours the post was shared and liked thousands of times on Facebook.
"Why is it so difficult to see a picture with just women and not difficult to see a picture with only men?" she questioned. Meanwhile, users of the social media site Twitter have praised what is being described as Ms Lovin's "dig" at the US president. "Love how the Swedish Deputy PM is taking a dig at Donald Trump in her publicity photo for passing climate change law," writes user Ian Sinkins.The comparisons are being made to a photo last month of Mr Trump signing an executive order to ban federal money going to international groups which perform or provide information on abortions. The image of Mr Trump signing the document surrounded by male colleagues was ridiculed on social media.
On Friday, while signing Sweden's new climate law, Ms Lovin urged European countries to take a leading role in tackling climate change as "the US is not there anymore to lead".
Ms Lovin said Sweden wanted to set an example at a time when "climate sceptics [are] really gaining power in the world again". Mr Trump, who has previously called climate change a hoax...The Swedish government, which claims to be "the first feminist government in the world", has also issued a statement affirming that gender equality is "central" to its priorities. "Gender equality is also part of the solution to society's challenges and a matter of course in a modern welfare state - for justice and economic development," the statement reads.

Michelle Obama hits out at Donald Trump
26 July 2016
Michelle Obama opened this year's Democratic convention with a rallying cry for Hillary Clinton and a warning for Republican Donald Trump. The First Lady focused on the responsibility for the next president, the legacy they will leave, and the historical significance of the first female party nomination. She reinforced her support for Hillary Clinton, while making several pointed references about Mr Trump.

Harriet Harman breaks record for long service as MP - video
16 December 2016
Daily Politics looked at some of the highlights of Harriet Harman's career in 2015. Labour's Harriet Harman has become the longest continuously serving female MP, racking up 12,468 days in the Commons. Since Ms Harman was elected in a Peckham by-election in 1982, she has worked with seven different Labour leaders and been acting leader twice.
Friday marks the day she surpasses Gwyneth Dunwoody's record, although the late Labour MP served longer overall in two separate periods. The longest-serving MP is Sir Gerald Kaufman who was first elected in 1970. Gordon Brown and Harriet Harman. Ms Harman was elected as Labour's deputy leader in 2007 - but was not made deputy PM. Ms Harman is a long standing campaigner for women's rights. Harriet Harman and the pink bus. Ms Harman's pink bus attracted mixed responses on the 2015 general election campaign trail. Sacked as social security secretary from Tony Blair's first cabinet, Ms Harman returned to the front bench as solicitor general in 2001 and served in various roles including Commons leader and equalities secretary under Gordon Brown. Ms Harman has served as Labour's deputy leader, under Gordon Brown's premiership, and as acting leader after Mr Brown stepped down following the 2010 general election and in 2015, when his successor Ed Miliband quit. She has long campaigned for more women MPs and more family-friendly policies and has sometimes been dubbed "Labour's in-house feminist", but she has also criticised the number of men in top jobs in the party. And it has been a source of embarrassment to Labour that they have never had a female leader - while the Conservatives have had two. In a speech in Westminster in 2014, Ms Harman admitted she was "surprised" by Mr Brown's decision not to make her deputy prime minister - as deputy leader John Prescott had been under Tony Blair, saying: "If one of the men had won the deputy leadership would that have happened? "Would they have put up with it? I doubt it." Among those congratulating her on Friday was her Labour colleague in the neighbouring London constituency of Dulwich and West Norwood, Helen Hayes, who tweeted: "Thank you for the huge difference you have made, esp for women." Ms Harman thanked her adding: "Much done but so much to do." Mrs Dunwoody, who was 77 when she died in 2008, served for more years overall, having been first elected in 1966 as MP for Exeter. She lost the seat in 1970 but was elected as MP for Crewe in 1974 and remained in the Commons until her death.

First US Somali lawmaker gets 'Islamophobic threats' in taxi
8 December 2016
The first Somali-American lawmaker in the US has said she was subjected to "hateful" anti-Muslim threats from a taxi driver in Washington DC. Minnesota Representative-elect Ilhan Omar said the cabbie threatened to remove her hijab during a confrontation on Tuesday. The 34-year-old said the incident occurred just after she attended policy training at the White House. Ms Omar, a Democrat, came to the US as a child from a refugee camp in Kenya. She made history and national headlines last month when she defeated a Republican to gain a seat in Minnesota's state house of representatives. Historic win for Somali-American woman. America's invisible Muslims.
"On my way to our hotel, I got in a cab and became subjected to the most hateful, derogatory, Islamophobic, sexist taunts and threats I have ever experienced," she wrote in a post on social media. "The cabdriver called me ISIS [so-called Islamic State] and threatened to remove my hijab, I really wasn't sure how this encounter would end as I attempted to rush out of his cab and retrieve my belongings. I am still shaken by this incident and can't wrap my head around how bold being (sic) are becoming in displaying their hate toward Muslims. I pray for his humanity and for all those who harbor hate in their hearts."
Ms Omar was attending policy training at the White House. Washington DC's Metropolitan Police Department told the BBC it was not aware of having received any complaint about the incident. "At this time, no report could be located with the name you provided," said Officer Hugh Carew. Responding to an inquiry on her Facebook page, Ms Omar said she would report the incident once she returned to Minneapolis, noting she did not feel safe as the driver knew where she was staying. Ms Omar declined to provide more details, because
"she wants to focus her time in DC attending the trainings, conferences and meetings she has scheduled over the next few days", a spokesperson told the Minnesota Star Tribune.
Election 2016: Muslim-Americans 'grieving' after Trump win. Her election came days after US President-elect Donald Trump accused Somali immigrants in Minnesota of "spreading their extremist views". Ms Omar also serves as director of policy at the Women Organizing Women Network, a group that aims to encourage East African women to participate in civic leadership. Minnesota has the nation's largest Somali community - about 50,000, according to the US Census.

The Swedish physicist revolutionising birth control
7 Aug 2017
Elina Berglund Scherwitzl, co-founder of Natural Cycles. Inventing the first app in the world to be approved as a contraceptive started as a hobby project for Elina Berglund Scherwitzl. The nuclear physicist, who'd been working on the team that discovered the Higgs boson, was tired of using hormonal contraception but wasn't ready to have a baby.
So the Swede set about using her data skills to find an alternative. "Like many women I had tried many different contraception options since my teenage years and hadn't really found a solution that fit me," she explains. "It was in my quest for an effective natural alternative that I discovered that you can see when you're fertile by your temperature, and for me that was really a revelation." The Natural Cycles app tells users when they are ovulating. Using complex mathematics and data analysis, Mrs Berglund Scherwitzl began developing an algorithm designed to be so precise it could pinpoint exactly when in her cycle she would ovulate. This enabled her to map out the days when she would need to use protection, to a much higher degree of certainty than similar "rhythm" or natural planning methods. Close monitoring. She was so pleased with the results that, together with her Austrian husband, fellow physicist Raoul Scherwitzl, she set about founding her own business called Natural Cycles. It offers an app designed to help women around the world with their fertility and contraception needs, by allowing them to collect their own temperature data sets and closely monitor their cycle trends. Birth control. Mrs Berglund Scherwitzl was tired of using birth control but not ready to have baby. Launched in 2014, it now has some 300,000 users, who pay a monthly or annual fee for the service. In the UK a yearly deal costs £50, which includes the cost of a thermometer. The company has attracted $8m ($6.1m) in investment and has so far made sales of more than $6m. However, if it wasn't for the timing of another large scientific discovery, the project may not have got off the ground so quickly. Mrs Berglund Scherwitzl, who was raised in Malmo in southern Sweden, had been working at Cern, the Geneva-based European Organization for Nuclear Research. In 2012, after decades of research, the team she was part of finally found the Higgs boson particle, crucial to our understanding of how the universe works. Mrs Berglund Scherwitzl founded the business with her husband Raoul. "A lot is about coincidence and also timing. We had just got married. The experiment was shutting down for a couple of years and I was thinking, 'If I would ever try something outside of physics, now would be the time'. "My husband had always wanted to become an entrepreneur, so he suggested, 'Okay let's leave physics and make this algorithm into an app'." Following several medical trials, their app became the first tech-based device on the planet to be formally certified for use as contraception, in February 2017. It gained approval for use across the EU after getting the green light from the German inspection and certification organisation Tuv Sud. Yet the journey from launch to European certification was "a rollercoaster", she says. An initial approval from the Swedish Medicinal Products Agency was revoked in 2015, amid headlines about the app encouraging risky behaviour among young women in her home country, where the couple had returned to develop their business. 'So naive'
The company was banned from marketing the app for 18 months, resulting in "a big bump in the road" for the growth of the firm. "Since I came from the scientific angle I thought that if I just create a product that's really good, it will sell itself and everyone will trust it. I realise that that's not at all the case," she admits. The entrepreneur wants to support women with their health issues. "But it was maybe good that I was so naive, because if I would have known all the challenges ahead, maybe I wouldn't have dared to do it." The start-up now markets itself as being "as effective as the pill", following one of the largest clinical studies in contraception involving more than 4,000 women, published in the peer-reviewed European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care. The researchers - which included the co-founding couple - found that 7% of women who used the app in a "typical" way (allowing for some human error) got pregnant, compared to 9% taking the pill and less than 1% using IUD coils. Against this background, Mrs Berglund Scherwitzl accepts that her product relies on women sticking closely to the app's instructions and therefore might not be for everyone, not least because it also fails to protect its users from sexually transmitted diseases. The firm now wants to help women with family planning. "Just like the pill we need some effort from the user on a daily basis. But we really hope to be the default alternative if you don't want to use hormonal contraception or IUDs," she argues. While the product is only currently certified in the EU, where its users are concentrated in the UK and the Nordics, it is available worldwide and, despite its earlier controversies has attracted users in some 160 countries.
Mrs Berglund Scherwitzl says that global sales have already shot up since its EU certification was confirmed in February, with the firm already more than doubling last year's turnover of $2m. Alongside expanding its subscription base of women seeking to avoid getting pregnant, the company is also trying to attract more customers using the app from a family planning perspective - to work out when is the best time to conceive. Visionary couple
Continuing to build their company - which now has 30 employees based in Stockholm - while also caring for a young child has not been easy, she says. However it has guaranteed they spend plenty of time together. "It's our passion and our hobby. At night when we come home and have a glass of wine we talk about our goals and we become a bit more visionary than we have time to do during the work day." That vision involves raising awareness of how technology can be used to tackle issues linked to women's health, something which she says has been "largely ignored because researchers are often men". The pair also hope to increase the number of the app's users in developing countries and nations where religion is a barrier to contraception. "We've come even further than I first hoped, and that's an amazing feeling. But I feel like we should not stop here, she says. "Now is really the time to grow and reach all these women in the world...Every pregnancy should bring happiness."

На свадьбе в Индии невестам вручили биты для защиты от пьяных мужей
1 мая 2017
Массовые свадьбы - нередкое явление в Индии; как правило, к ним прибегают семьи с небольшим достатком. Несколько сотен невест во время массового бракосочетания в индийском штате Мадхья-Прадеш получили в подарок деревянные дубинки. Министр правительства штата Гопал Бхаргава, вручая полуметровые биты, которыми обычно пользуются при стирке для выколачивания белья, призвал девушек применять их, если их мужья, выпив, попытаются их оскорблять. Таким образом, отметил министр, он хочет помочь бороться с домашним насилием. Но он все же призвал девушек перед применением дубинок попытаться поговорить с мужьями. И уж если это не поможет, тогда "пусть дубинки поговорят с ними". Он сообщил, что заказал для этой цели в общей сложности 10 тысяч деревянных бит. В ходе этой массовой свадебной церемонии такой подарок получили около 700 невест. На всех дубинках была сделана надпись: "Для битья пьяниц", а также "Полиция не будет вмешиваться". Массовые свадьбы - нередкое явление в Индии. Такими церемониями обычно пользуются семьи с небольшим достатком, чтобы сократить расходы на проведение свадьбы.

Женщина или корова: кто в Индии важнее?
28 июня 2017
Неужели женщины менее важны, чем коровы? Этот неудобный вопрос лежит в основе фотопроекта, который буквально "взорвал" соцсети и вызвал ярость местных интернет-троллей в адрес 23-летнего фотографа за то, что тот запечатлел индийских женщин в масках коровы. "Меня беспокоит тот факт, что в моей стране коровы считаются более важными, чем женщины; что изнасилованной или пережившей нападение женщине гораздо дольше надо дожидаться правосудия, чем корове, которую индусы почитают священным животным", - так разъяснил идею своего проекта живущий в Дели фотограф Суджатро Гош. Действительно, Индия часто попадает в новостные сводки именно из-за количества преступлений против женщин, поскольку изнасилование в этой стране происходит каждые 15 минут. "Эти дела рассматриваются в судах годами, прежде чем кого-нибудь осудят, тогда как когда убивают корову, то экстремистские индуистские группы тут же идут и убивают или избивают того, кого они подозревают в забое животного", - говорит фотограф. Фотопроект, как говорит Суджатро, это его протест против растущего влияния групп народных бдителей по защите коров, которые совсем распоясались с приходом к власти 2014 году ультраправой националистической партии "Бхаратия джаната".
"Меня взволновало линчевание в Дадри [поселок в штате Уттар-Прадеш, где индуистские экстремисты убили мусульманина, про которого говорили, что он хранил и ел говядину] и другие подобные нападения на мусульман на религиозной почве со стороны бдителей интересов коров", - говорит Гош. В индийском штате ввели пожизненное заключение за убийство коровы. 
Первое фото было сделано на фоне знаменитого и одного из самых посещаемых мест в Индии - монумента "Ворота Индии". В последние несколько месяцев кроткая корова стала в Индии символом, поляризовавшим общество. Правящая партия настаивает на том, что корова - священное животное и должно охраняться. В некоторых штатах запрещено забивать коров, а против нарушающих этот запрет введено строгое наказание, и теперь парламент рассматривает закон о смертной казни за это правонарушение. Однако говядина - это одно из основных блюд, которое едят мусульмане, христиане и миллионы представителей самых низших каст (далитов или неприкасаемых), и именно они подвергаются насилию со стороны народных бдителей. За последние два года во имя коровы были убиты около 10 человек, причем часто жертвы избираются на основании одних слухов, а на мусульман нападают даже за перевозку коровьего молока. Гош, который родился в Колкате (бывшей Калькутте - городе на востоке страны), говорит, что узнал "об этой опасной смеси религии и политики", только когда переехал в Дели несколько лет назад, и надеется, что этот проект станет беззвучным протестом, который изменит ситуацию. В начале июня Гош, будучи в Нью-Йорке, купил в магазине развлекательных принадлежностей маску коровы и по возвращении начал снимать женщин в этой маске в различных местах - на фоне туристических достопримечательностей, правительственных зданий, у них дома, на корабле, на поезде и т.д. - поскольку женщины уязвимы повсюду. "Я фотографировал женщин из всех слоев общества. Я начал этот проект в Дели, поскольку столица - это центр всего: политики, религии и всех общественных дебатов. Я снял первое фото на фоне знаменитого и одного из самых посещаемых мест в Индии - монумента "Ворота Индии". Затем я сфотографировал другую модель на фоне президентского дворца, третью - на лодке на реке Хугли в Колькате на фоне моста Ховра", - рассказывает автор проекта. В проекте пока приняли участие знакомые автора. Отчего же не сняться на фоне президентского дворца? Пока что все его модели - это приятельницы или знакомые, поскольку, как объясняет Суджатро, "эта тема вызывает настолько обостренную реакцию, что трудно было бы обращаться по этому поводу к незнакомым". Две недели назад он запустил этот проект в "Инстаграме" и получил положительную реакцию: "Он за неделю стал "вирусным" - и все мои благосколонные подписчики, и даже те, кого я не знал, - все его оценили". Но после того, как о проекте написали индийские газеты и поместили статьи об этом на свои страницы в "Фейсбуке" и "Твиттере", началось невообразимое. Некоторые в комментариях начали мне угрожать. В "Твиттере" меня стали троллить; писали, что меня вместе с моим моделями надо отвезти в Соборную мечеть в Дели и там забить, а наше мясо надо скормить женщине-журналистке и женщине-писательнице, которых националисты ненавидят. Они писали, что хотят посмотреть, как моя мать будет обливаться слезами над моим телом", - говорит фотограф. Некоторые даже обратились в полицию Дели с просьбой арестовать автора , обвинив его в разжигании беспорядков. Гош не удивлен этой злобой и признает, что его работа - это опосредованный выпад в адрес правящей партии "Бхаратия джаната". "Я делаю политическое заявление, поскольку этот вопрос имеет политическое значение, но если мы заглянем глубже, то увидим, что индуистский национал-шовинизм всегда существовал, просто за последние два года с этим правительством он вылез наружу". Угрозы не напугали молодого фотографа. "Я не боюсь, потому что я делаю это во имя всеобщего блага", - говорит он. Кроме того, положительной стороной столь широкой популярности его проекта стало то, что он получил огромное количество посланий от женщин из разных уголков земного шара, которые сказали, что хотят поучаствовать в его кампании. Так что корова, как он говорит, продолжит свое путешествие.

The defiance of an 'untouchable' New York subway worker
25 July 2017
Gidla was the first Indian woman to be employed as a conductor on the New York City Subway. The memoir of an Indian woman who was born a so-called untouchable and now works as a conductor on the New York City Subway has been hailed by critics for its unflinching account of caste and family in India. Journalist Sudha G Tilak spoke to Sujatha Gidla about her life story and how it became Ants Among Elephants. In Sanskrit, the main language used by scholars in ancient India and sometimes referred to as the language of gods, her first name means one of noble birth. The irony is laid bare by Sujatha Gidla whose recent memoir speaks of her life and her family and the plight of 300 millions Dalits ("oppressed" in Sanskrit), formerly known as untouchables in India. An expressive personal examination of her life, her parents, especially her mother, grandparents and Satyamurthy, a Maoist uncle who hoped revolution would help improve the caste discrimination his people suffered, Ants Among Elephants has quickly become the toast of critics and readers in America. India's Dalits still fighting untouchability. The New York Times said the "unsentimental, deeply poignant book" gives "readers an unsettling and visceral understanding of how discrimination, segregation and stereotypes have endured throughout the second half of the 20th Century and today". Reviewer Michiko Kakutani wrote that Gidla's family stories reveal how "ancient prejudices persist in contemporary India, and how those prejudices are being challenged by the disenfranchised". The Minneapolis Star Tribune described the book as the "boisterous life of an Indian family that fought the caste system". "Gidla is our Virgil into the world of the untouchables and their acts of defiance; not just as an observer, but as a participant," wrote reviewer Peter Lewis. She is bitten by the revolutionary bug, and bitten hard: arrested by the Indian authorities, tortured, left to rot, released. She has been party to the heights and the depths of living a revolution." Sujatha Gidla with her brother, Abraham. Michael D Langan, a culture critic for, wrote that Gidla breaks away her "indomitable soul" and tells her family stories, adding: "They are not stories of shame, but of grace." Gidla's story is one of personal struggle and a certain freedom she has found in America today. She writes that caste is an accursed state in India, especially for Dalits: "Your life is your caste, your caste is your life." With her memoir, Gidla joins the ranks of India's many Dalit women who are telling stories to be heard and counted in a system that seeks to keep them down. Gidla hails from the Dalit community of Kazipet, a small town in southern Telangana state.
Unflinching look
The 53-year-old subway conductor has been luckier than most Dalits back home, women especially, who suffer unspeakable cruelty, are employed in menial jobs including cleaning of human excreta and are segregated by their communities. Unlike most of her lot, her family was "middle class", thanks to the help of Canadian missionaries in her region who aided in education and offered them religion. Her family was thus Christian and benefited with education. Her parents held jobs as college teachers. Gidla says that proselytization didn't help her lot. "Christians, untouchables - it came to the same thing. All Christians in India were untouchable. I knew no Christian who did not turn servile in the presence of a Hindu." The book chronicles unflinchingly the caste slurs and segregation Gidla and Dalits like her have to endure in India. Separate plates and glasses in eateries; a junior school classmate who refused to eat the sweet she offered; barred from access to the community's source of drinking water; riding a bicycle or wearing sandals and the many rejections of love and opportunities that remind Dalits of their status as social outcastes. Since her teens Gidla was spurred to rebel with her uncle, the rebel Telugu language poet Shivasagar, setting an example. His call to join the Communists and later the guerrilla movement of the region demanding social justice held appeal for the young Gidla.
'Culture of protest'
Gidla admits that she has had it better than many Dalit students who are "driven to suicide" despite securing education under affirmative practices She was able to study physics in an engineering college in south India. She also joined India's top and most sought-after engineering school, the Indian Institute of technology (IIT), as a researcher in applied physics. In Madras (now Chennai) she found most of her classmates clearing the tests to study further abroad. "For me, what was appealing was the idea of America, especially Bob Dylan's music, the culture of protest, and the draw of joining a society where debates on rights and equality could be articulated," she told the BBC.
At 26 she came to America "where people know only skin colour, not birth status", she writes. There are some 300 million Dalits in India. There, she says, she faced racism. And caste was right here too. She says she found "petty caste discrimination" among the Indian community. Yet life was much more liberating. As she says: "If you are educated like me, if you don't seem like a typical untouchable, then you have a choice." Her siblings, too, have left their life behind in India to find livelihoods and build families. Her sister is a physician in America and her brother is an engineer in Canada. Writing the book has almost been a family affair as well, with her mother who was "involved in this book as it is her story too" and her young niece Anagha who wanted to design the book.
'Hindu conductor'
After she was laid off from her bank job in 2009, Gidla took up the job at the New York subway. She was the first Indian woman to be employed as a conductor on one of the busiest mass transit systems in the world. In her job she is often identified as "that Hindu conductor", she says. She is "a novelty", she says, to fellow Indian commuters. And if she hears an Indian language she is familiar with, especially the south Indian language Telugu, she calls out a greeting and watches them in glee "as they do a double take" and smile back. In America, writes Gilda, "people know only my skin colour, not birth status". "One time in a bar in Atlanta I told a guy I was untouchable, and he said, 'Oh, but you're so touchable'."

Jasvinder Sanghera: I ran away to escape a forced marriage
24 February 2017
Jasvinder Sanghera was locked in a room by her parents when she was 16, when she refused to marry the man they had chosen for her. Here she describes how she escaped with the help of a secret boyfriend - but lost all contact with her family as a result. Growing up we had no freedom whatsoever. Everything was watched, monitored and controlled. We understood that we had to be careful how we behaved so as not to shame the family. I'm one of seven sisters and there's only one younger than me so I'd watched my sisters having to be married at very young ages - as young as 15. They would disappear to become a wife and go to India, come back, not go back to school and then go into these marriages and be physically and psychologically abused. And my impression of marriage was that this is what happens to you - you get married, you get beaten up, and then you're told to stay there. My parents were Sikh and Sikhism was born on the foundation of compassion and equality of men and women, and yet here we have women who were treated very differently. My brother was allowed total freedom of expression. He was also allowed to choose who he wanted to marry. But the women were treated differently and that was reinforced within the communities. It's gone unchallenged and it's deeply ingrained. I don't think I was smarter. I just don't know what it was within me. My mother used to say: "You were born upside down, you were different from birth." Maybe she helped me out by saying that, because it made me question a number of things, and then when I was shown the photograph of this man, as a 14-year-old, knowing that I'd been promised to him from the age of eight and being expected to contemplate marriage, I looked at this picture thinking: "Well he's shorter than me and he's very much older than me and I don't want this." And it was as simple as that. But within our family dynamic we were taught to be silent. Saying no to the marriage meant my family took me out of education and they held me a prisoner in my own home. I was 15 and I was locked in this room and literally I was not allowed to leave the room until I agreed to the marriage. It was padlocked on the outside and I had to knock on the door to go the toilet and they brought food to the door. My mother was the very person who enforced the rules. People don't think of women as the gatekeepers to an honour system. So in the end I said yes, purely to plan my escape. And it was as simple as that, because then I had freedom of movement. The only friends we were allowed had to be from an Indian community as well. And my best friend, who was Indian, it was her brother who helped me in the end. He became my secret boyfriend. He saved some money and said, "I want to be with you and I'll help you to escape." He would come to the house at night and stand in the garden and we would secretly mouth things to each other through the window. One day he dressed up as a woman and went into a shoe shop and pretended he was shopping. He handed me a note which said, "I'll be at the back of the house at this time - look out of the window." So I did, and he mouthed for me to pack my wardrobe and I lowered two cases down using sheets tied together, and flushed the toilets so my mother wouldn't hear. And then one day I was at home with my dad, who was at home because he worked nights, and the front door was open, and I just ran out. I ran all the way, a good three-and-a-half miles, to where my boyfriend worked and hid behind a wall and waited for him to come out. He went and got my cases and then picked me up in his Ford Escort and got me to close my eyes and put my finger on a map, and it landed on Newcastle.
Jasvinder, now 51, helps others who are in the same situation as she was. I sat in the footwell of the car all the way so no-one would see me and then when I saw the Tyne bridge I was absolutely amazed by it because I had never been anywhere outside Derby. My parents reported me missing to the police and it was the police officer who told me I had to ring home to let them know I was safe and well. My mother answered the phone and I said: "Mom, it's me. You know, I want to come home but I don't want to marry that stranger."
Her response has stayed with me for the rest of my life. She said: "You either come back and marry who we say, or from this day forward you are now dead in our eyes."
It was only later on when things settled down that I begin to think, "I've done it but where's my family? I want my family." I was missing them terribly. You feel like a dead person walking. My boyfriend used to drive me to my hometown at 3am just so I could see my dad walking home from the foundry. What changed how I felt was the death of my sister, Robina. She was taken out of school at 15 for nine months, married to a man in India, and then came back and put in the same year as me and nobody questioned this at all. But he treated her terribly and when her son was around six months old she severed the relationship. She then married for love and my parents agreed to it because he was Indian - Sikh and from the same caste as us. She again suffered domestic abuse but my parents made it clear that because she had chosen him she had a duty, doubly, to make it work. She went to see a local community leader - they have a lot of power, my parents would have seen his word as the word of God - and he told her: "You need to think of your husband's temper like a pan of milk - when it boils it rises to the top and a woman's role is to blow it to cool it down." When she was 25 she set herself on fire and she died. When she was - I say - driven to commit suicide, that was the turning point for me.  I've learned to live my life with no expectations of family whatsoever. I've never had a birthday card in 35 years and neither have my children. For my children it's a total blank on their mother's side when it comes to family. I've got nephews and nieces that I'll never meet because all of my siblings sided with my parents. I have actually stipulated in my will that I do not want any of my estranged family to be at my funeral because I know the hypocrisy that exists within them. They will want to show their face, but if they couldn't show it when I was alive, I'm not going to give them that privilege when I'm gone. I have three children - Natasha who's 31, Anna who's 22 and Jordan who's 19. You almost live vicariously through your children because you want them to have everything you never had.
My daughter married an Asian man and I was worried - I didn't want this family to take it out on her that her mother was disowned and had run away from home. But thankfully for me my fears were completely unfounded because here was an Indian family that did the exact opposite of what my family did. Starting a charity, Karma Nirvana, in 1993 from my kitchen table allowed me for the first time to start talking about my personal experiences and what had happened to my sister. My family wanted us to never speak about Robina again. Sometimes at Christmas my children would meet these different women at the dinner table - survivors disowned by their family - and they had no idea who would be the next person at our table, but they understood why. The charity will be 25 years old next year. We have helped make forced marriage a criminal offence, we have a helpline funded by the government which takes 750 calls a month - 58% of callers are victims and the others are professionals calling about a victim. We do risk assessments, offer refuge and help plan escapes. We still don't have enough responses from professionals and we've got to try to increase the reporting, but we're getting there. This is abuse, not part of culture where we make excuses - cultural acceptance does not mean accepting the unacceptable. Abuse is abuse. I'm a grandmother now - my daughter's expecting her second child in March. And you know when I look at them I think to myself, 'they're never going to inherit that legacy of abuse because of that decision I made when I was 16.' And that really makes me feel a lot stronger.

Phnom Penh's No 1 ladies taxi scooter agency (in Italy women were driving scooters for years, LM)
5 February 2017
In Cambodia's capital, motorbike taxis are everywhere - but it's extremely rare to see women drivers transporting tourists. Those who do are judged harshly. Katya Cengel meets the young entrepreneur trying to change that. When they show up at a Phnom Penh hotel in their tight red T-shirts and skinny jeans, people tend to get the wrong idea about Renou Chea and her fellow Moto Girl Tour guides. "They think we're not 'good girls'," says Renou, a slight 26-year-old with long dark hair. "They think we're 'bad girls'."
It is an important distinction to make in Cambodia, where women, who associate with foreigners are often assumed to be "bad girls" - or women who work in the sex trade.
"Sometimes they think that when we hang out with the men, it's just like for sex or something like that," adds her sister, Raksmey Chea, 23. The Moto Girl Tour website doesn't help, offering motorbike tours of Cambodia's capital by "young and beautiful lady drivers". Because they are all young and beautiful, Renou doesn't understand why advertising this might seem strange. What is strange, at least in this South East Asian country, is women driving tourists. It just isn't done, says Siv Cheng, owner of Phnom Penh-based CS Travel. "Mostly, you see, all moto (taxi) drivers are male," says Cheng. Moto Girl Tour, Photo Left to right: Sreynich Horm, Raksmey Chea and Renou Chea.
Many women drive the little Vespa scooters and Hyundai motorbikes that zip around the city - everyone does - but they don't usually carry tourists. Renou got the idea after an aunt told her about schoolgirls offering a moto taxi service in Thailand. To make sure they kept their reputations safe, the women established a rule - no holding on to the guide
Having ridden a motorbike since high school, and having studied English in college, Renou figured showing tourists around her city would be a fun way to earn money. Having also studied accounting, she no doubt saw a good business opportunity as well. In 2015 almost five million tourists travelled to Cambodia, according to the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism. Renou recruited her younger sister and Sreynich Horm, 22 - both as petite and pretty as Renou - and occasionally a fourth woman to be Moto Girl Tour guides. But before they took their first tourists on board their bikes in early 2016, they had to convince their families that they would be safe. Horm's father worried that a foreigner riding behind her could touch her and do other things to her - things "good" virgin girls should not have done to them. To make sure they kept their reputations safe, the women established a rule - no holding on to the guide, hold the handlebar on the seat behind you instead. When they have night tours and tours outside the city they team up. Still, friends and family often worry about the women carrying around large foreigners. At 4ft 9in (1.45m) and 6st 5lb (40kg), Renou is the "tall" Moto Girl. Her Vespa is more than twice her weight, but she gets upset when people think she can't handle it or heavy loads. For years she has been helping her father with his grocery store by making deliveries on her Vespa. Plus, as a woman, she believes she is actually a safer driver, something Hong Ly, guest relations' manager at Mito Hotel agrees with. Renou would like to see more female travellers in Cambodia. "Tourists like girls who drive slow, not weave in and out of traffic," said Ly, who keeps a stack of Moto Girl Tour brochures on her desk.
The Moto Girls may be on to something. In early 2016 Vespa Adventures motorbike tour-company opened a branch in Phnom Penh and began hiring both male and female drivers, says Alex Meldrum, manager of the Phnom Penh branch. So far the majority of the company's 50 or so customers have been male. An American man founded the original Vespa Adventures in Vietnam. But a Cambodian woman who plans to hire mainly female drivers in the group's other Cambodian location of Siem Reap runs Cambodian Vespa Adventures. Chanel Sinclair, a 31-year-old lawyer from Australia, was both thrilled and comforted to find female tour guides when travelling solo in Phnom Penh for the first time in spring 2016. She was so pleased with the attentive service she received from the Moto Girls, including regular cold water deliveries and help with bartering, that she went on three tours with the group.
Renou would like to see more women travellers like Sinclair, but so far the majority of the company's 50 or so customers have been male. Scottish photographer Ross Kennedy, 44, took a custom tour with the Moto Girls in March 2016. To find more authentic scenes for Kennedy to shoot, Horm went to a region outside the city where her father has family and asked locals' advice. Kennedy's tour began with crashing a wedding in the morning and ended with a Buddhist blessing ceremony in the afternoon. "Those are the memories that make a trip special," Kennedy wrote in an email. In addition to being female, the Moto Girls try to differentiate themselves as well-informed guides who can discuss Cambodian art, history and culture. Finding the right spots are not the only challenges they face. There are the cultural differences as well, like the Indian customer who said "Yes" while shaking his head in a fashion Renou mistook for "No", or the man from New Zealand who screamed when he saw a chicken on the road. On one occasion Renou and her client were so absorbed in their tour of the National Museum that neither heard the alarm sounding the museum's closing. Renou finally glanced at her watch at 17:30, half an hour after closing time. As they raced to the gate, her client promised to book another tour - if she could get them out of the museum. "OK. Fantastic," Renou thought. The locked gate proved a dead end, but some workers were able to find a security guard who let them out. Renou's customer proved true to his word and booked another tour. Other difficulties are in the driving itself. Passengers unfamiliar with riding motorbikes sometimes lean to the left when they should lean right, says Horm. Then there was the tourist who got the wrong idea and asked her out on a date. She turned him down, not wanting to confuse her work with her social life. Plus, she didn't fancy him.

The Afghan girls with silver swords

6 February 2017
Students of the Shaolin Wushu club show their Wushu skills to other students on a hilltop in Kabul, Afghanistan. Led by 20-year-old Sima Azimi, the Shaolin Wushu club practises on a snow-covered mountaintop to the west of Kabul. Developed from ancient Chinese martial arts, the sport of wushu sees these young women moving fluidly, slicing the air with silver swords. Sima Azimi, 20, a trainer at the Shaolin Wushu club, shows her Wushu skills to other students on a hilltop in Kabul, Afghanistan. Students of the Shaolin Wushu club climb a hill as they arrive to practice in Kabul, Afghanistan. Sima Azimi, a trainer at the Shaolin Wushu club, and Shakila Muradi, show their Wushu skills to other students on a hilltop in Kabul, Afghanistan. Latifa Safay (right), Hanifa Doosti (centre) and Suraya Rezai (left), students of the Shaolin Wushu club, take a selfie before practicing on a hilltop in Kabul, Afghanistan. After learning the sport in Iran, Sima won medals in competition and says: "My ambition is to see my students take part in international matches and win medals for their country." Despite the popularity of martial arts in Afghanistan, women's sport is severely restricted. All of the women in the club are Hazara, a Dari-speaking, mainly Shia group. They have generally more liberal social traditions that allow them to practise sports outside the home. Hatifa Rezai , a student of the Shaolin Wushu club, is reflected in a mirror as she adjusts her scarf before her exercise in Kabul, Afghanistan. The girls sit in a circle on the floor. In addition to the regular dangers of life in Kabul, these women face intimidation and abuse. One member, Shakila Muradi, says: "There are many people harassing us, but we ignore them and follow our goals."
Sima Azimi, a trainer at the Shaolin Wushu club, talks with her father Rahmatullah Azimi, in Kabul. Sima Azimi (left), a trainer at the Shaolin Wushu club, eats lunch with her students at a restaurant in Kabul. Sima has been teaching in Kabul for about a year, training at the club's gym with her father. This gym has a large poster of stuntman Hussain Sadiqi, a Hazara martial arts champion who fled to Australia to work in film. Her father declares his pride in his daughter. "I am really happy that I helped, encouraged and supported Sima," he says.

The women banished to a hut during their periods - Video

29 April 2017
An ancient Hindu tradition meaning menstruating women are banished to an outhouse is still alive in western Nepal. Meet those who have to sleep outside every month, and the women fighting to end the practice. Banished for bleeding. The women forced to move out of home when they have their periods. The landscape of Nepal is a geographical staircase, descending  from snow-capped Himalayan mountains, through steep middle hills, to the lush flat plains of the south. In the middle step, in the remote far west of the country, life has changed little over the decades. For 18-year-old Ishwari Joshi, this means doing as her mother and grandmother did before her and leaving her home when she has her period. The practice is called “chhaupadi” - a name for menstruation which also conveys the meaning that a woman is unclean when she is bleeding. “The first time I had my period I was 15. I had to stay out for nine days,” she says. 'We have to sleep outside'. Ishwari's village Dhamilekh clings to an exposed hillside, commanding breathtaking views of high mountains and a low green valley criss-crossed by two rivers. About 100 families live here, snugly squeezed together in three-storey, mud-plastered houses. Cattle sleep on the ground floor, families on the middle, while the top floor is used for cooking. These are tiny spaces, shared by several families, without proper beds or bedding. When the women are isolated here, they can't cook, eat nutritious food, drink from or bathe in the village water source. They are forbidden from touching plants, cattle or men. “It is said that if we touch a cow, they will not give milk,” says Ishwari's friend Nirmala. “We've never seen anything like that happen, but our elders say we must not touch the cows.” Kalpana Joshi, 45, is resigned to her monthly stays in her “chhau” hut, a room little bigger than a crawl space beneath her village shop. “Nothing will happen,” she says, reassuring the younger women who fear attacks by animals and drunk men. A few metres away is the village toilet Kalpana helped build as part of a government drive to stop open defecation.
It's out of bounds to her because it's believed she will pollute the water supply. “We're not allowed to touch the toilet because it's the same water we use at home,” she says. “We have to go to the fields far away from the house where nobody can see us.” After four days in the hut, the village women bathe in a stream an hour's walk away and are “purified” with cow urine. Only then can they return to normal life. Ishwari's mother herding cows. They say chhaupadi is not enforced as strictly as it used to be, telling stories of mothers and grandmothers who were exiled during their monthly bleed. But even this more relaxed interpretation of chhaupadi is too much for some. “I told my parents, 'I won't go, why should I?',” says 22-year-old Laxmi. “My parents got angry, but my brothers understood so they don't mind if I stay at their house,” she says. Laxmi knows her protest is unlikely to continue when she marries and moves into her husband's household, as is the tradition in Nepal. “If the family insists I have to sleep outside, I will have no choice,” she says. “I will be forced to do it.” 'Menstrual blood is a poison'. In the evening twilight, the men in Dhamilekh chat by a fire in front of the village store.
There's talk of the new road that reaches the village - a precarious, narrow rock path prone to landslides during the monsoon. The road was built to bring prosperity. But instead it has meant that village men can no longer earn a living carrying goods on their backs, forcing them to India and the Gulf states to work as migrant labourers. With so many men away, the women are needed more than ever to tend to the cattle and bring in the harvest. But the men still believe in the necessity, and power, of chhaupadi. “I used to get sick if my wife touched me during her period - of course I did,” says 74-year-old Shankar Joshi. A younger man, Yagya, also thinks the tradition should continue, but for different reasons. “In the old days, people might have said the gods get angry and that's why the practice was followed,” he says. “But I believe it's more about keeping a clean environment and health and safety in the house,” he says, noting that village women only have cloth rags to soak up their flow. “Menstrual blood is a poison,” he says.
No-one can pinpoint exactly where the idea that periods are unclean comes from, but it is often attributed to Hindu scriptures. The villagers of Dhamilekh, like 80% of Nepal's population, are Hindus. They look for guidance to priests like Narayan Prasad Pokharel, who sees menstruation as sacred, but also dangerous. “If the woman does not restrict herself, then the impurities that have been in her body could transfer to the man during sexual intercourse. That will result in terrible diseases,” he says. There is even an annual religious ceremony for women to atone for accidentally touching a man, or polluting their environment. During Rishi Panchami, women fast and bathe in sacred water. Chhaupadi may have its roots in religious scriptures, but it's become a widespread social practice. “There are some communities who do it because they put religion as a reason, but there are some communities that do it because they live in places where it's practised,” says Pema Lakhi, a development worker specialising in reproductive health.
“So we've had incidences where even Buddhists are doing it because everyone else is,” she says. In 2005, the Nepalese Supreme Court outlawed the practice of chhaupadi. But, especially in the remote far west of the country, traditions are slow to change. And it's not just the men who think women should remain isolated during their periods. “You have to engage with the mothers-in-law,” says Pema Lakhi. “It's a power dynamic. They make sure their daughters-in-law do it because they had to do it.” City girls. Hundreds of miles to the east of Dhamilekh's steep hillsides is Nepal's crowded capital, Kathmandu. Here children learn about menstruation at school and women can easily buy sanitary protection.
But the taboos surrounding periods have not completely disappeared. Nirmala Limbu and Divya Shrestha are recent graduates in their early 20s. “The rules didn't make sense to me growing up. My mother told me I was not allowed to touch plants, especially fruit trees,” says Nirmala. “I used to keep on touching those plants - none of them died,” she says.
For Divya, getting her period meant being banned from attending a religious festival. “I had prepared everything for worship and had worked all day and suddenly I had my period and everyone said we had to purify everything I had touched,” she says. “It was really sad for me as a young girl. Why should I be called impure. It's a natural thing that every woman goes through.” Nepalese society is changing. Although Nirmala and Divya faced some restrictions, they were mild compared with those endured by their mothers. “When we had our periods, people seemed disgusted by us,” says Divya's mother Sudha. “They would keep us apart. We had to use separate plates, wear different clothes. Nobody could touch us,” she says. When Sudha gave birth to Divya, she decided that she could not put her own daughter through the same humiliation. “Even though my family were angry with me, I didn't listen to them. It was my decision,” she says. Because of her mother's determination, Divya grew up largely without restrictions, believing she could live life normally during her period. “It's built up my confidence,” says Divya. “I've got a better education because of it - I have a better position in society.” In Nepal there are now many girls like Divya who are not held back by taboos surrounding periods. But Pema Lakhi, who runs a programme on reproductive health, says that even in the city, old attitudes can be hard to shift. “I feel the biggest danger comes from educated women,” she says. “It's the woman I can meet at a party in Kathmandu who tells me she doesn't go into the kitchen when she's menstruating. “These are the women who are indirectly perpetuating all of this.” Changing minds. In the grasslands of southern Nepal, health worker Laxmi Malla is mounting a small, but determined, campaign to bring an end to chhaupadi. On the plains - known as the Terai - the huts that women must sleep in during their periods are open-sided, with roofs made of straw. It's not unusual to see three or four women sleeping in one small hut, using old clothing for bedding. There's no protection from monsoon rain, or the snakes that inhabit the long grass. Laxmi works in the area around the town of Dhanghadi. Here plenty of shops sell sanitary towels, but they are too expensive for the village women, who use balls of cloth instead. “They wash, dry and reuse them,” says Laxmi. “I teach them how to wash them properly - to leave them to dry in the sun to kill off bacteria.”
Laxmi's advice on hygiene is readily followed, but when it comes to telling villagers to stop chhaupadi, she's faced angry resistance. “We go door to door,” she says of her campaign which attempts to persuade families that the gods will not be angry if the old ways are abandoned. “It's very difficult. People quarrel with us. They even curse. Most of the time we have to go to villages with the police.” But slowly, over the years, Laxmi has witnessed change in the rural communities she visits. “People are no longer forcing girls to sleep outside,” she says. “I think in our area, the practice of chhaupadi will stop in a year.” Breaking down the huts. Back in the hills of far west Nepal, there has been another drive to end chhaupadi. Over the past two years, the local government and NGOs have helped organise a campaign to tear down the huts in the village of Majhigaun.
Devaki Joshi owns the local shop and was part of the organising committee. “In the old days, people didn't shower or wash their clothes so it was more unhygienic during periods - perhaps this is why chhaupadi began,” she says. “But now at school they have a cupboard with sanitary towels for students.” But not everyone has accepted the change. A few houses down from Devaki's shop, Chiutari Sunar sits outside with her mother-in-law. “We still follow the same practices,” she says pointing to the space beneath the house where the buffalo are kept. It's her new chhaupadi sleeping spot now her old hut has been demolished. “In our house, when we are menstruating, we can't go inside at any cost, no matter what the government says. This is even more important to me than going to the temple.” Even Devaki, who is enthusiastic about the success of her project, admits that some people may never accept the change. “We don't want to hurt the feelings of the older people like my mother,” she says. “We still don't touch them when we have our period.” Lila Ghale, the local head of the government department for women and children, says it may take another generation before chhaupadi is fully eliminated. “We are working with everyone - men, women and even witch-doctors,” she says. “Our culture is patriarchal and many women are illiterate which makes it hard to change things.” And, says health worker Pema Lakhi, changing attitudes is not just about telling people chhaupadi is bad. She wants Nepalese girls to celebrate their monthly bleed. “Who says it is impure? It gives life. We tell women there is power in their periods,” she says. “We tell them there's power in your blood.”

A woman's life in South Africa
13 May 2017
Being a woman in South Africa is like being trapped in a locked room - you can hear someone walking outside and you know they will come in one day and you won't be able to stop them. Nothing can protect you - not the pepper spray in your bag, not the self-defence classes you got as a gift for your birthday when your breasts developed, not travelling in groups, not the saying NO, you've been taught to say, should that day come - nothing. It is learning to be "vigilant" before you even know what it is to feel safe. It is feeling unsafe everywhere, all the time. African societies are built on patriarchy - every young girl grows up knowing that a man is the head, that he is powerful, that he is a go-getter, a conqueror. We are taught to admire these very traits. But dear God I am afraid of you - and with good reason. The statistics in this country are not in my or any woman's favour. They say that one day I, or someone I know, will be your victim. Women hold signs during a protest against ongoing violence against women, in Gugulethu, on May 21, 2016. Last year, women protest took to the streets near Cape Town to protest against violence against women.

Debate over #MenAreTrash in South Africa
12 May 2017
The brutal murder of a woman in South Africa has sparked a debate in the country over gender-based violence. There has been widespread outrage after the burnt remains of a young woman, Karabo Mokoena, were found. People have been using the hashtag #MenAreTrash to highlight the issue. But some are angry with the generalisation.

Наперекор традициям: таджикские женщины с "мужскими" профессиями, Душанбе
25 мая 2017
Представления о разделении профессий на "мужские" и "женские" в таджикском обществе сохраняются до сих пор. Стоит ли их делить? Водитель троллейбуса Садбарг Саидова, сварщик Рохила Муродова и тракторист Сайрам Шарипова уверены, что не надо. Однако их истории - скорее исключение из правил, потому что большинство таджикских женщин по-прежнему боятся идти наперекор традициям и общественному мнению. Для наших героинь возможность самостоятельного выбора профессии - огромное достижение, но, прежде чем они смогли им воспользоваться, каждая из них прошла непростой, а порой даже горький жизненный путь. Их пример показывает юным девочкам, что они могут достичь того, о чем мечтают. Садбарг Саидова работает водителем троллейбуса уже семь лет. Садбарг Саидова, 46 лет, Душанбе. Я - водитель троллейбуса. Работаю уже на линии семь лет. Признаться честно, за руль я села от безысходности, просто потому, что в какой-то момент у меня не было другого выбора. Я родилась и выросла в сельской местности. Окончила школу на "отлично", мечтала стать милиционером, но продолжить образование не получилось. На селе в мое время редко кто из девочек после окончания школы поступал в ВУЗ. Нас готовили к замужеству, в этом состояло наше главное предназначение - так нас воспитывали. Мои родители не были исключением, и они придерживались таких же взглядов. Большинство женщин смиренно принимают свою судьбу; тех, кто отвергает принятые веками нормы поведения, очень мало. Вы должны понимать, что ты не просто борешься с традициями, ты можешь обидеть родителей, они могут отвернуться от тебя, а это - самое страшное. Слово старших - закон. Так меня в 20 лет выдали замуж. Согласия моего никто, конечно, не спрашивал. Таковы национальные традиции. Вскоре я родила четверых детей. Но семейная жизнь не заладилась, и мы скоро расстались. После развода я вернулась к родителям. Своей жилплощади у меня не было, мы с мужем жили в доме его родителей. В родительском доме все изменилось. Братья успели жениться, появились невестки, у них родились дети. Стало тесно всем вместе. Я не могла оставаться там и решила попытать счастья в городе. В Душанбе я стала заниматься тем, что умела делать хорошо, - готовить. Устроилась поваром. Сначала в столовой на базаре, потом в заводской столовой. Уставала страшно, получала немного. Как-то один из моих друзей предложил мне пойти выучиться на водителя троллейбуса. Сначала я не приняла это предложение всерьез, потом очень сильно испугалась. Я - за рулем общественного транспорта в городе с оживленным движением? Вокруг машины, народ, смогу ли я с этим справиться? Я, сельская девушка, управляю троллейбусом? Готовить еду, мыть посуду, убирать - это да, это могу, это женское дело, но водить? Испугалась сильно. Дворник по традиции в Таджикистане - женская профессия. Однако решила - попробую. Сколько можно мыть кастрюли и чистить картошку! Поступила на курсы вождения. Проучилась несколько месяцев; постепенно страх уходил, появилась уверенность в своих силах. Вот уже семь лет я вожу троллейбус. Мои дети очень меня поддержали. А вот у окружающих было неоднозначное отношение к моей работе. Мужчины одобрительно относятся к моему занятию, а вот женщины не всегда ведут себя адекватно. Осуждают меня замужние домохозяйки. Они просто не понимают меня. Их обеспечивают мужья, которые решают за них все проблемы. Сами они не задумываются, что жизнь - она разная, и завтра они могут остаться без этой поддержки. И что тогда? Я встаю в четыре часа утра, а в пять уже заступаю на смену. Мой рабочий день заканчивается в шесть, восемь, а иногда и в 11 часов вечера. Это сложная физическая работа, сидячее положение, работа с людьми, у каждого из которых разный характер и настроение, но я должна всегда быть приветливой и собранной. Трудная работа, но мне она нравится. Своим дочерям и сыновьям я не смогла дать образования. У меня не было возможности, но я очень бы хотела, чтобы они получили специальность, профессию. Дочерей выдала замуж. Мой папа сейчас очень меня поддерживает и гордится мной. Он приводит меня в пример братьям; он сожалеет, что когда-то не дал мне разрешения учиться. К сожалению, жизнь не повернуть назад, потому я очень советую родителям: нужно детям давать возможность делать свой выбор в жизни самостоятельно. Девушек в Таджикистане с детства готовят к замужеству, образование не поощряется
Рохила Муродова, 22 года, Куляб. Я - сварщик. Это был мой выбор. На моем курсе в кулябском строительном лицее учатся 27 человек, из них только я одна девушка, а все остальные - мужчины. Мне очень нравится выбранная специальность. Осваивать сварочное дело тоже было нетрудно. Мои родители спокойно отнеслись к тому, что я решила стать сварщиком; это было мое первое решение, принятое самостоятельно. После окончания школы я хотела поступить в вуз, но родители решили выдать меня замуж. Моему мужу моя идея с учебой не понравилась, потому о ней пришлось забыть. Мы прожили вместе два года. За это время у меня появилось двое детей. Муж периодически уезжал на заработки, а я жила в доме его родителей. Свекровь меня невзлюбила, меня часто били, оскорбляли. Я молча терпела все, но свекровь настояла на разводе. Муж не стал перечить матери. Он собрал мои вещи и отвез меня, детей к моим родителям. Просто привез и оставил, сказал, что я им не понравилась, не оправдала их надежд. Без денег, без квартиры, без поддержки. Развод стал поворотным моментом не только для меня, но и для родителей, осознавших свою ошибку. Я понимала, что детей надо ставить на ноги, родителям помогать. Я устроилась на работу продавщицей, скопила немного денег и поступила в строительный лицей. Кондитером, кулинаром, медсестрой, портнихой не хотела быть, а вот специальность сварщика мне нравится. Нужная специальность. В будущем планирую открыть сварочный цех и сама зарабатывать деньги. Женщина это должна уметь делать, а не ждать и терпеть. Многим не нравится мой выбор. Меня осуждают, задают вопросы, но мне безразлично мнение окружающих. Я действительно хочу быть, как мужчина, потому что много в жизни выстрадала. И теперь хочу научиться быть сильной, чтобы защищать себя, детей, родителей. Если бы мои родители не выдали меня замуж, моя жизнь, возможно, сложилась бы иначе. Теперь они раскаиваются, но это уже невозможно изменить. Швея - это еще одна из традиционных женских профессий.
Сайрам Шарипова, 17 лет, Шахринав. Я тракторист-машинист. Я выросла в неполной семье - с мамой и младшей сестрой. Отца у меня нет. Смогла получить девятилетнее неполное образование, а потом пришлось уйти из школы. Нужно было маме помогать по хозяйству, да и денег у нас не было. О поступлении в вуз даже и не думала. Для этого нужно много денег, а их сначала надо заработать. Решила поступить в лицей и выучиться на тракториста-машиниста. Я - единственная девушка на курсе. Девушки редко выбирают специальности, которые в обществе считаются мужскими. Обычно приходят те, у кого сложная жизненная ситуация. Разведенные женщины, нередко девушки, чьи родители находятся в разводе, а дочерей воспитывает мать. Я учусь и работаю. Зарабатываю тем, что привожу товары из города и продаю в родном городке. На мои заработанные деньги мы и живем. Я считаю, что полученная мной специальность очень востребована. В сельских регионах это важная и нужная работа, потому я всегда смогу найти работу и зарабатывать деньги. Многие из моих знакомых и соседей надо мной подтрунивают. Когда я прохожу мимо, они кричат: "А, вот идет тракторист, смотрите, идет тракторист!" Я спокойно реагирую на эти выпады, понимая, что им просто пока повезло и в жизни им не пришлось решать сложные, взрослые проблемы. Мне рано пришлось начать работать, я быстро стала понимать, что маме нужно помогать. В жизни я столкнулась с большими жизненными проблемами, которые научили меня многим вещам. Первое время было сложно осваивать эту специальность. Особенно, когда впервые села за руль трактора. Мне показалось, что машина такая большая… Но потом привыкла и теперь свободно вожу трактор. Пришлось много потрудиться, но я понимала, что, выбрав что-то, нельзя отступать. Я же понимала, что все это я делаю ради собственного будущего, для того, чтобы помогать маме, поддерживать младшую сестренку. Теперь я хочу найти работу по специальности. Я думаю, что многие девушки хотят осваивать мужские профессии, но они боятся общественного мнения, а это неправильно, потому что в трудные времена посторонних людей в твоей жизни нет. Они не придут помочь, не поддержат словом и делом. Нужно брать свою жизнь в свои руки и быть смелее. Когда к нам в первый раз пришли сваты, наши соседи их пытались отговорить. Им сказали, что я учусь среди мужчин, что я - тракторист. "Ну, какая из нее может получиться жена? Вдруг она не девственница?" - говорят они. Я потом долго думала о том, что я выбрала, зачем это было нужно и что плохого в том, что я решила выучиться на тракториста. Они ведь уверены, что женщины, работающие и учащиеся среди мужчин, не могут быть порядочными. Эти стереотипы до сих пор широко распространены в таджикском обществе, они продолжают осложнять жизнь. Пусть говорят. Не нужно бояться того, что думают и говорят о тебе другие. Я научилась не слышать и не думать о них. Главное для меня честная работа и чистые деньги.

A woman’s world for South Sudanese refugees
13 June 2017
An estimated 86% of the more than 900,000 South Sudanese refugees in Uganda are women and children, says the UN. Massive numbers have streamed in since the brutal civil war at home reignited last July. The flight from violence and chaos, often without time to plan, has left many families separated. Mothers and children run alone. Husbands and fathers are either staying behind to work, fighting, missing or presumed dead. As a result, many women are leading their extended households and communities in Uganda's refugee settlements. With the support of each other, the authorities and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs), they are trying to build a life. They didn't plan it, but they now find themselves living in a woman's world. Women walking in Mungula. In many refugee settlements, women are working together to pool their skills and resources.
Members of one of 120 mother-to-mother support groups set up by charity Action Against Hunger near Adjumani, northern Uganda, have established a new kitchen garden outside the settlement of Mungula. In each group, the NGO trains an elected lead mother to teach the others about nutrition, infant feeding, hygiene and staying healthy. Agnes Namadi, 29, explains she has learned about the importance of avoiding illness and malnutrition, and adds: "When you eat cassava it gives you energy and these greens and mangos can give you vitamins." Agnes talks to the group about the importance of eating the right food. Many groups also take on income-generating projects like making soap, keeping poultry or growing extra vegetables, which gives them cash and a communal savings pot from which they can borrow at low interest. They also support each other emotionally and practically. Some of the women in Mungula are longer-term refugees who have married since arriving, while others are alone. Refugees are given basic food rations, which have been halved for all but the most vulnerable, malnourished or newly arrived, because of the new influx since 2016. One staple meal is porridge, to which the mothers add items like ground silver fish, peanut paste or milk added for extra nutrition. "It's important for women to stay together and interact and share ideas," says Agnes. "Women are very strong. Those without husbands might feel isolated, but in the mothers' group they have their sisters."
Group member Keji Roda, 29, fled South Sudan without her husband in 2014. She visited him near the Ugandan border last year and now she's expecting their fifth child. She's also caring for her widowed sister's three children. "What forced me to come was the killings. People were picked from their homes and shot." When she arrived she had to master constructing their house: "I laid the bricks and cut the grass, then sold some food rations to pay men to help." She says her husband is afraid to leave South Sudan. "Most of the husbands who come here are accused by our government of being rebels. Once you disappear there's no going back. I don't know when I'll see him again. Now I just hear the voice through the phone." The Mungula group has started making liquid soap to sell. Action Against Hunger provided the initial start-up materials and is helping them get going with a loans system that will grow their profits before they're redistributed. They make 20 litres of soap at a time, pour it into used water bottles and each sell their own share at 1,000 Ugandan shillings (22p; 28 US cents) per 500ml. So far they've saved 600,000 shillings (£130; $165). Half and hour from Adjumani, in Boroli settlement, Josephine Eiyo (pictured right), lives alone for much of the time. Her son and daughter live with their grandmother in Adjumani, where they go to school, and her husband is missing in South Sudan. Having arrived in 2014, she supports the community by working in a village health team, receiving patients at her home and doing house calls, which takes some pressure off the health centre. A mother has come with a sick child and Josephine does an instant blood test for malaria which comes up negative. "We women have different ways of supporting each other. We can mobilise ourselves and dig a small parcel of land, then next day we do it for someone else. We also help by visiting each other. Whether old or young, we live jointly."
"We ran from our village when fighting began at midnight and people were asleep," says Josephine. My husband had gone away to Malakal, to work. There was no communication between us. I haven't seen him since 2013 - I am thinking that he has died. I've been trying to find him via the Red Cross but they can't get through to him."
Josephine, 30, is paid a flat monthly rate of 34,000 shillings (£7.45) for her health work. To get extra money she also brews alcohol and cooks bread, but it's still difficult to cover food and school fees. "Sometimes we eat rats. You can buy five for 1,000 shillings (22p) then you have something good, and tasty, for your diet. Meat costs 10,000 shillings (£2.20) per kilo, but rats have the same food value so there's no need to struggle to buy other meat." Bidi Bidi refugee settlement.
A four-hour drive west of Adjumani, across the River Nile, is Bidi Bidi. It's now the largest refugee settlement in the world, housing more than 270,000 people since the recent influx which at times neared 3,000 arrivals per day. Uganda's progressive refugee policy means they're all accepted, given a plot of land for a house and garden, and are free to work and travel. In return, the host community benefits with jobs, infrastructure and access to services, although the system is under immense strain. When Action Against Hunger arrived last August, Bidi Bidi was a sea of white plastic UN tents, but refugees are gradually creating homes. Programme manager Joel Komakech says now the emergency is subsiding, refugees are taking leadership roles "to help rebuild their lives". "Undeniably, we see the women taking centre stage in that."
Mother-of-four Rejoice Sunday, 38, arrived in Uganda in September and is already working in Bidi Bidi as a hygiene promoter. She goes house to house checking for latrines, dish-drying racks and washing facilities, and giving breastfeeding advice. Her husband is working in northern South Sudan as a driver. He was away when she fled the fighting in Yei, with her in-laws and four children. They met two lone teenagers en route and have brought them into the family, which she heads. "We are nine now," she says. "As we fled, the soldiers tried to follow us, then the rebels killed one of them - we heard gunshot behind us but just kept going. We thought we wouldn't reach the border... those people have no mercy." Her husband has visited them once to bring money but it's far and expensive. "Coming here without him has been difficult. I haven't experienced this before."
Veronica Yabang, 45, is also responsible for eight other people in her household - her two-year-old twin sons and their older brother, three nephews, her elderly brother and very elderly mother. She doesn't know where her husband is and says "there's no hope of him coming - he has no idea we're here". By the time they were brought to Bidi Bidi, twins Dickson and Daniel were suffering from malnutrition. "They were well nourished at home but when we came here there was a great change in their diet. I saw the signs - their hair was going brown and their eyelashes were lighter. They were admitted to the malnutrition programme and had weekly feeding. Their bones were exposed and I was afraid I could lose a child at any time, but they're doing fine now." As Veronica's mum Christine Kakune has a 77-year-old son, she's estimated to be aged between 90 and 100, but she doesn't know for sure. She also had to be treated for malnutrition after a difficult start in Uganda without enough food. Caring for everyone sometimes takes its toll, says Veronica. "There are times when I don't sleep at night. I am worried about handling all the responsibilities - providing things, taking care of the children and also my mum." Earlier this month the UN said more than one million children have now fled South Sudan, which has the world's fastest growing refugee crisis. "Women and children bear the brunt of this senseless war," UNHCR's Uganda representative, Bornwell Katande, said recently. With "chronic underfunding" tipping the relief effort towards breaking point, a UN summit in Kampala in June will attempt to raise $2bn (£1.6bn).
With no end to the South Sudan conflict in sight, the refugee situation is unlikely to change soon, but the Ugandan government has vowed to maintain its open-door policy.
Action Against Hunger nutrition officer, Dorothy Namayanja, who works with refugee families every day, says perhaps one could argue the situation is unsustainable.
"But we don't have any choice. They are our neighbours - tomorrow it could be us."

Is it foolish for a woman to cycle alone across the Middle East?
1 April 2017
When Rebecca Lowe set off solo from the UK for Iran by bicycle, her friends thought she had taken leave of her senses. But although she had to endure gropers, extreme heat and heavy-handed police, most of the people she met were a long way removed from stereotypes. The day I left London to embark on a 6,000-mile (10,000km), year-long cycle to Tehran, I was deeply unprepared. I wasn't fit. I had never used panniers. I had no sense of direction. It was six years since I had last ridden up a hill. But for all my doubts, I was dedicated to the task at hand. My aims were simple: develop enviably shapely calves, survive and shed light on a region long misunderstood by the West. Mostly, I wanted to show that the bulk of the Middle East is far from the volatile hub of violence and fanaticism people believe. And that a woman could cycle through it safely. Not everyone had faith in my ability to do so, however. "We think you'll probably die," one friend told me before I left. "We've put the odds at about 60:40." Others were less optimistic.  A man in the pub said I was a "naive idiot who would end up decapitated in a ditch - at best". A good friend sent me a copy of Rudyard Kipling's If, stressing the importance of keeping "your head when all about you / Are losing theirs". Yet I remained tentatively confident. The region may be politically precarious, but the people I knew from experience to be warm and kind. Crime rates were low and terrorist strongholds isolated and avoidable. Even exposed on a bike, I felt my odds of staying alive weren't bad. I'd chosen a bicycle for its simplicity and slowness of pace, and its immersive, worm's-eye view. On a bike you don't just observe the world but are absorbed within it. You are seen as unthreatening and endearingly unhinged, and are welcomed into people's lives. I set off in July 2015. Over the next four months I inched my way with sluggish determination across Europe. As summer bled into autumn, my stamina gradually grew - along with my thighs. By Bosnia they were formidable. By Bulgaria they had developed their own gravitational field. But leaving Europe was nerve-wracking. I was now outside my comfort zone, in the relative unknown.
In front of me lay Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Oman, the UAE and Iran. Pre-warned about men, terrorists and traffic, I began the Asian leg of my journey with caution. I swiftly relaxed, however. A truck driver stopped just to hand me a satsuma. A cafe owner gave me his earmuffs. Dozens of others offered food, water, lifts and lodgings, and endless varieties of kebab. Throughout the Middle East, it was the same. Doors were forever flung wide to greet this strange, two-wheeled anomaly who was surely in need of help, and possibly psychiatric care. My hosts varied widely: rich and poor, mullahs and atheists, Bedouin and businessmen, niqab-clad women and qabaa-robed men. Every person and community was different, but certain traits linked them all: kindness, curiosity and tolerance. Rebecca meets an Egyptian named Aisha Adham In Sudan, families fed me endless vats of ful (bean stew) and let me sleep in their modest mud-brick houses. One Nubian family gently restored me to health after I ran out of water in the Sahara and collapsed, vomiting and delirious, on their doorstep: the lowest point of the trip, and the only time I experienced true panic. Iranian hospitality felt like a soft protective cloak, omnipresent and ever-reliable. So much wonderful, impractical food was given to me by passers-by - watermelons, bread, bags of cucumbers - that much had to be discarded. Persian culture pulsed with contradictions. On my first day, the police admonished me for removing my headscarf in blazing heat under a tree. Minutes later the officer's sister-in-law was serving me khoresh gheimeh (lamb and split pea stew) in her nearby bungalow. The trip was not all blissfully trouble-free, of course. There were the sex pests, for a start. In Jordan, Egypt and Iran, I was groped, ogled and propositioned with disappointing regularity. In Egypt, one randy tuk-tuk driver got his comeuppance following a juicy bum squeeze by being beaten to a pulp by the police convoy on my tail - my horror at their brutality only outdone by my undisguised glee. In Jordan, a truck driver who'd picked me up following a puncture repeatedly asked for kisses and grabbed my breasts. Fortunately his bravado ceased abruptly at the sight of my penknife wafting ominously close to his crotch. Such incidents angered me intensely, and were often frightening and unsettling. Lechery is hardly a preserve of the Middle East, but there were areas where strains of patriarchy and entitlement ran deep. I realised quickly, however, that these men were not monsters. They were ignorant and often ill-educated. Not to mention severely sexually frustrated within a culture where physical intimacy is shameful and stigmatised. They were more cowardly opportunists than malicious aggressors, and it was usually easy enough to send them scuttling cravenly on their way.
There were certain things no-one could help with, however. The traffic was obscene by Turkey and got progressively worse. The heat was obscene by Sudan - upwards of 40 degrees C - and also got progressively worse.
Toilets were a serious concern. In the remote gold mining regions of northern Sudan, where few women ventured, there simply weren't any. "Look around you," a man at one roadside shack told me, gesturing to the entirely exposed desert behind him. "The Sahara is your toilet." The most worrisome issue, however, was political. Across the region, repression was palpable, and foreign journalists clearly weren't welcome. Don't tell the authorities your profession, I was told, or others would pay the price too. I took this advice - yet it was hard to feel at ease.
Police car in Egypt
In Egypt, ruled by a heavy-handed military regime, tourists were tightly controlled and protected. The police were suffocating in their oversight, escorting me 500 miles (800km) down the Nile and aggressively grilling everyone I met. In Iran, I was given more freedom. Yet foreigners are not permitted to stay with locals without permission, and several of my hosts endured an intense grilling by police. Some of those aware of my profession declined any contact at all due to fear of repercussion. Everywhere I went, security and oppression continually curbed freedom and dissent. In Turkey, pro-Kurdish human rights lawyer Tahir Elçi was killed by an unknown gunman a few days after we met. In Sudan, two students were killed in clashes with regime forces and supporters during my brief stay in Khartoum. In Jordan and Lebanon, refugee camps were visibly struggling to cope with the growing numbers of Syrians fleeing war. The enduring impression was a region in crisis, stretched hopelessly between tyranny and terror. Yet there was light along the way - and that light was the people.
"The world shouldn't judge us by our politics," a member of the Center for Civil Society and Democracy, a Syrian activist group I spent Christmas with, told me. "We hate our politics. We should be judged by ourselves."
And that, for me, is the nub of the matter. The Middle East is a risky place, but the risks are primarily political. Beyond the pockets of conflict and terror highlighted daily in the media lies a broader reality: that of warm, compassionate communities living normal, everyday lives. So is it safe for a woman to cycle alone across the Middle East? With the right precautions, yes. Would I let my daughter do it? Absolutely not in a month of Sundays - are you mad?
15 May 2017
Pili Hussein wanted to make her fortune prospecting for a precious stone that's said to be a thousand times rarer than diamonds, but since women weren't allowed down the mines she dressed up as man and fooled her male colleagues for almost a decade. Pili Hussein grew up in a large family in Tanzania. The daughter of a livestock keeper, who had many large farms, Pili's father had six wives and she was one of 38 children. Although she was well looked after, in many ways, she doesn't look back on her upbringing fondly.
"My father treated me like a boy and I was given livestock to take care of - I didn't like that life at all," she says. But her marriage was even more unhappy, and at the age of 31 Pili ran away from her abusive husband. In search of work she found herself in the small Tanzanian town of Mererani, in the foothills of Africa's highest mountain, Kilimanjaro - the only place in the world where mining for a rare, violet-blue gemstone called tanzanite takes place. An outreached palm with tanzanite stones on it. Maasai herders first discovered tanzanite in 1967 - it's now one of the world's best-selling gems but is in limited supply. "I didn't go to school, so I didn't have many options," Pili says.
"Women were not allowed in the mining area, so I entered bravely like a man, like a strong person. You take big trousers, you cut them into shorts and you appear like a man. That's what I did."To complete the transformation, she also changed her name. "I was called Uncle Hussein, I didn't tell anyone my actual name was Pili. Even today if you come to the camp you ask for me by that name, Uncle Hussein." In the tight confines of the hot, dirty tunnels - some of which extend hundreds of metres below the ground - Pili would work 10-12 hours a day, digging and sieving, hoping to uncover gemstones in the veins in the graphite rock. Miners in the Mererani mine. The miners dig using chisels and fill bags with rubble which are hoisted up to the surface using a rope. "I could go 600m under, into the mine. I would do this more bravely than many other men. I was very strong and I was able to deliver what men would expect another man could do." Pili says that nobody suspected that she was a woman. Pili Hussein tells Outlook's Matthew Bannister how she succeeded in becoming a miner. "I acted like a gorilla," she says, "I could fight, my language was bad, I could carry a big knife like a Maasai [warrior]. Nobody knew I was a woman because everything I was doing I was doing like a man." And after about a year, she struck it rich, uncovering two massive clusters of tanzanite stones. With the money that she made she built new homes for her father, mother and twin sister, bought herself more tools, and began employing miners to work for her. And her cover was so convincing that it took an extraordinary set of circumstances for her true identity to finally be revealed. A local woman had reported that she'd been raped by some of the miners and Pili was arrested as a suspect. "When the police came the men who did the rape said, 'This is the man who did it,' and I was taken to the police station," Pili says. She had no choice but to reveal her secret. She asked the police to find a woman to physically examine her, to prove that she couldn't be responsible, and was soon released. But even after that her fellow miners found it hard to believe they had been duped for so long. "They didn't even believe the police when they said that I was a woman," she says, "it wasn't easy for them to accept until 2001 when I got married and I started a family." Finding a husband when everyone is accustomed to regarding you as a man is not easy, Pili found, though eventually she succeeded. "The question in his mind was always, 'Is she really a woman?'" she recalls. "It took five years for him to come closer to me." Pili has built a successful career and today owns her own mining company with 70 employees. Three of her employees are women, but they work as cooks not as miners. Pili says that although there are more women in the mining industry than when she started out, even today very few actually work in the mines. "Some [women] wash the stones, some are brokers, some are cooking," she says, "but they're not going down in to the mines, it's not easy to get women to do what I did." Pili's success has enabled her to pay for the education of more than 30 nieces, nephews and grandchildren. But despite this she says she wouldn't encourage her own daughter to follow in her footsteps. "I'm proud of what I did - it has made me rich, but it was hard for me," she says. "I want to make sure that my daughter goes to school, she gets an education and then she is able to run her life in a very different way, far away from what I experienced."

Uganda's Punishment Island: 'I was left to die on an island for getting pregnant'

27 April 2017
Unmarried girls who got pregnant used to be seen as bringing shame to their families in parts of Uganda, so they were taken to a tiny island and left to die. The lucky ones were rescued, and one of them is still alive. The BBC's Patience Atuhaire tracked her down. "When my family discovered that I was pregnant, they put me in a canoe and took me to Akampene [Punishment Island]. I stayed there without food or water for four nights," says Mauda Kyitaragabirwe, who was aged just 12 at the time. "I remember being very hungry and cold. I was almost dying." On the fifth day a fisherman came along and said he would take her home with him. "I was a bit sceptical. I asked him whether he was tricking me and wanted to throw me into the water. But he said: 'No. I am taking you to be my wife.' So he brought me here," she reflects fondly, seated on a simple chair on the veranda of the house she shared with her husband. She lives in the village of Kashungyera, just a 10-minute boat trip across Lake Bunyonyi from Punishment Island, which is actually just a patch of waterlogged grass. This is where Mauda Kyitaragabirwe was left to die. At first, Ms Kyitaragabirwe was unsure how to greet me until Tyson Ndamwesiga, her grandson and a tour guide, told her that I spoke the local Rukiga language. Her face cracked into a nearly toothless smile. She held my arm from the elbow, in the tight grip that the Bakiga people usually reserve for long-lost relatives. The slender-built Ms Kyitaragabirwe walks with steady steps and estimates that she is in her eighties, but her family believes she is much older. She was born before birth certificates were common in this part of Uganda so it is impossible to be sure. The island where pregnant girls were sent to die.
"She used to have a voter's registration card from just before Uganda's independence [in 1962]. That is what we used to count backwards. We think she's around 106," says Mr Ndamwesiga. In traditional Bakiga society, a young woman could only get pregnant after marriage. Marrying off a virgin daughter meant receiving a bride price, mostly paid with livestock. An unmarried pregnant girl was seen as not only bringing shame to the family, but robbing it of much-needed wealth. Families used to rid themselves of the "shame" by dumping pregnant girls on Punishment Island, leaving them to die. Because of the remoteness of the area, the practice continued even after missionaries and colonialists arrived in Uganda in the 19th Century and outlawed it. Most people at the time - especially girls - did not know how to swim. So if a young woman was dumped on the island, she had two options - jump into the water and drown, or wait to die from the cold and hunger. I asked Ms Kyitaragabirwe if she was scared. She tilts her head to one side, frowning, and fires back: "I must have been about 12 years old. If you're taken from your home to an island where no-one else lives, in the middle of the lake, wouldn't you be scared?"
Some of the islands on Lake Bunyoyi. There are 29 islands on Lake Bunyoyi, including one that used to be a leper colony. In another part of the region, present-day Rukungiri District, pregnant girls would be thrown off a cliff at Kisiizi Falls. Legend has it that it was not until one of them dragged her brother down with her that families stopped pushing their daughters to their deaths. No-one ever survived Kisiizi Falls. But a number of girls are said to have survived Punishment Island, thanks to young men who could not afford to pay a bride price. Marrying girls from the island meant a dowry-free wife. After her husband took her to his home in the village of Kashungyera, Ms Kyitaragabirwe became a subject of curiosity and gossip. Over the decades, she has become a tourist attraction - her home a regular stop for tourists on the trail of the history of the area. While discussing her life story, she often stopped talking and stared at her hands contemplatively. At other times, like when I asked how she lost her eye, she was quite evasive, instinctively raising her hand to touch it. The touchiest subject seemed to be the fate of the baby she was pregnant with when she was left to die. "The pregnancy was still quite young. I never had the baby. Back then you could not fight back to defend yourself. If you did, they would beat you up," she says, lifting her head-wrap from her lap to wipe her face. Even though she did not say it outright, I understood what she meant - she was beaten up and had a miscarriage. I have three daughters. If any of them had got pregnant before they were married, I wouldn't blame them or punish them. Punishing girls - known in the local language as Okuhena, from which the island draws its local name Akampene - was an age-old practice. And Ms Kyitaragabirwe would have known about the consequences of a pregnancy. "I had heard about other girls that had been taken to Punishment Island, although not anyone close to me. So, it seems I was also tempted by Satan," she chuckles. She never saw or heard from the man who led her down "Satan's path". However, she had heard, many years ago, that he had died. Of her husband, James Kigandeire, who died in 2001, she said: "Oh, he loved me! He really looked after me. "He said: 'I picked you up from the wilderness, and I am not going to make you suffer'. "We had six children together. We stayed in this home together until he died." Mauda Kyitaragabirwe and her grandson, Tyson. Ms Kyitaragabirwe's grandson, Tyson, works as a tour guide in the area. And while it took decades, she was finally reconciled with her family. She smiled and said: "After I became a Christian I forgave everyone, even my brother who had rowed me in the canoe. I would go home to visit my family, and if I met any of them I would greet them."
Ms Kyitaragabirwe is believed to be the last woman who was dumped on the island, with the practice having died out after Christianity and government became stronger in the region. Still, unmarried pregnant women were frowned upon for many years. Condemning this attitude, Ms Kyitaragabirwe said: "I have three daughters. If any of them had got pregnant before they were married, I wouldn't blame them or punish them. "I know it can happen to any woman. If a young woman got pregnant today, she would come to her father's house and be taken care of. The people who carried out such practices were blind."

Women of Africa: Inspiring Malawi's children with ambition - Video
11 November 2015
Monica Makeya Dzonzi is a co-ordinator at the youth centre in the Malawian city of Blantyre that organises training in computer, sports and life skills. A Unicef Youth Ambassador, she is an inspiration for the children who flock to the Ayise Bangwe Youth Centre. She tells the BBC about how her tough childhood made her determined to get an education.

Bhanwari Devi: The rape that led to India's sexual harassment law
17 March
Bhanwari Devi is a grassroots government worker. Bhanwari Devi is an unlikely heroine. Nearly a quarter of a century after the illiterate, low-caste woman was allegedly gang-raped by her high-caste neighbours in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, she refuses to give up her fight for justice. It was her case that resulted in the Indian Supreme Court formulating guidelines to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace, but her attackers remain free, cleared of rape charges by the trial court while her appeal has been heard just once in the high court over the past 22 years. In the interim, two of the accused have died. The attack took place on 22 September 1992 and with the passage of so much time, Bhanwari Devi, now 56, no longer remembers the days and dates clearly, but the memory of the assault is still vivid in her mind. "It was dusk. My husband and I were working in our fields when they started beating him up with sticks. There were five of them," she told me when I visited her at home in Bhateri village, 50km (about 30 miles) from the state capital, Jaipur. She ran to help her husband, pleading with the men to show some mercy, but two of the attackers pinned him down, while the remaining three took turns to rape her. The attackers were Gujjars, the affluent and dominant caste group in the village. Bhanwari Devi and her husband, Mohan Lal Prajapat, are from the low-caste potter community, Kumhar. The men were angry with her for trying to prevent a nine-month-old Gujjar girl's wedding a few months earlier. Bhanwari Devi had worked as a saathin (friend) for the state government's Women's Development Programme (WDP) since 1985, says Jaipur-based women's rights activist Prof Renuka Pamecha. Bhanwari Devi shows off her work register
Her job involved going door-to-door in the village, campaigning against social ills - she would tell women about hygiene, family planning, the benefits of sending their daughters to school, and she would discourage female foeticide, infanticide, dowry and child marriages. Rajasthan has a huge tradition of child marriages and thousands of children, many just months old, are married off every year. Bhanwari Devi herself was a child bride - she told me she had been married when she was five or six and her husband was eight or nine. Her campaign against child marriage was not an attempt to challenge patriarchy or fight the feudal mindset, but she was just doing her job. And she knew that meddling in the affairs of the Gujjars could invite a backlash, says Dr Pritam Pal, who headed the WDP's training programme and worked very closely with Bhanwari Devi. But, Bhanwari Devi says, she had no choice in the matter. A protest rally in Jaipur. Massive protests were held in Jaipur with thousands marching through the city streets, demanding justice for Bhanwari Devi. Women's rights activists who helped Bhanwari Devi. Many women's rights activists in Rajasthan have worked tirelessly for years to help Bhanwari Devi. "I told the officials that these people were dangerous and that they would come after me. But they said we had to stop all child marriages and a policeman was sent to stop the wedding. But he came, ate wedding sweets, and left." The family accused her of humiliating them, and still managed to marry off the baby the next day - then seething with anger, they came after Bhanwari Devi. In India's conservative society, even now victims of rape often hesitate to talk about their ordeal because of the shame and stigma associated with sexual crimes. Twenty-five years ago, the situation was worse. "But Bhanwari Devi is nothing if not a fighter," says Dr Pal. When she went public with her complaint, she was accused of lying. Her attackers denied rape and said there had only been a quarrel. A rally was held in Jaipur on 15 December 1995 to protest against the acquittal of the rape accused. When Bhanwari Devi (centre) went public with her complaint, she was accused of lying Dr Pal says the police treated her with derision, didn't take her complaint seriously and botched up the investigation. Her medical test was conducted 52 hours later when it should have been done within 24 hours, her scratches and bruises were not recorded, her complaints of physical discomfort were ignored. After local newspapers reported Bhanwari Devi's plight and protests by women's activists, the case was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), India's federal police. The five accused were finally arrested more than a year after the crime, and were charged with harassment, assault, conspiracy and gang rape. While denying them bail in December 1993, Rajasthan high court Judge NM Tibrewal wrote in his order: "I am convinced that Bhanwari Devi was gang-raped in revenge for attempting to stop the marriage of [one of the accused] Ramkaran's daughter, a minor." The judgement acquitting the accused men caused immense outrage in India and globally. Things, however, went downhill for Bhanwari Devi from there. Over the course of the trial, judges were inexplicably changed five times and, in November 1995, the accused were acquitted of rape - instead, they were found guilty of lesser offences like assault and conspiracy and were all given just nine months in jail.
"It was a dubious judgement," says Bharat of the Jaipur-based NGO Vishakha, one of the groups fighting to get justice for her. He cites some of the "bizarre reasons" the judge gave while clearing the accused of rape. The judgement caused immense outrage in India and globally. Massive protests were held in Jaipur with thousands marching through the city streets, demanding justice. Congress party MP from Rajasthan Girija Vyas called the decision "politically motivated". Mohini Giri, who was then head of the Indian government's National Commission for Women, said the court order "ignored principles of justice" and wrote a letter to the chief justice appealing to him to "intervene". Dr Pritam Pal described Bhanwari Devi as a fighter
The state government, which seemed reluctant to appeal against the order, finally challenged it in the Rajasthan high court, but only one hearing has been held in 22 years. Prof Pamecha says justice has remained elusive for Bhanwari Devi, but she is the reason why millions of Indian women are now legally protected against sexual harassment in the workplace. "The state authorities had refused to help her, saying as her employer, they were not responsible since she was assaulted in her fields. We said the government must take responsibility since the attack on her was because of her work."
So a group of activists from Jaipur and Delhi-based organisations filed a public interest petition in the Supreme Court, demanding that "workplaces must be made safe for women and that it should be the responsibility of the employer to protect women employee at every step". Bhanwari Devi's plight was covered by the local media. In 1997, the top court came out with Vishakha Guidelines, laying down norms to protect women from sexual harassment in workplaces. "It was a revolutionary judgement based on the fundamental rights of women. And the guidelines later became the basis for a 2013 law passed by the Indian parliament to prevent sexual harassment of women at the workplace," says Prof Pamecha. "Bhanwari Devi had no direct role in this law, but she was the catalyst for this, she was the main factor," she adds. "Bhanwari is a very brave woman," says Dr Pal. "The couple were ostracised by the villagers who refused to sell them milk or buy their clay pots. Even their families boycotted them. "She didn't even get invited to family weddings. But I have never seen a moment when she said she wouldn't fight. She has always wanted justice." She continues to live in the same village as her attackers. Over the years, she has won several awards for her exceptional courage, most recently being recognised by the Delhi Commission for Women on 8 March, still carrying on her work as a saathin, still hoping for justice. I ask her and her husband if they ever feel afraid? "Not for a minute," she answers fiercely. "Didn't you just walk into my house when you came here today? Would I leave my doors unlocked if I was afraid?" she asks. Her husband Mohan Lal adds: "What is there to fear? They can kill us only once."

Ghana's 'women who code' network
16 December 2016
In Africa - just like other parts of the world - there is a wide digital gender divide. Women are 50% less likely to be working in the area of technology than men. Many organisations, including the United Nations, are trying to address this and initiatives spring up all the time. Focusing on Ghana, the BBC's Africa Business Report wanted to know more about the African women who are using technology to improve their incomes and working lives.

A Woman. The greatest music teacher who ever lived
19 April 2017
Nadia Boulanger taught many of the 20th Century’s greatest musicians. She may have been the greatest music teacher ever, writes Clemency Burton-Hill. “The most influential teacher since Socrates” is how one leading contemporary composer describes Nadia Boulanger. As unlikely as it seems, this unassuming-looking lady of Romanian, Russian and French heritage, who was born in 1887 and lived to the age of 92, did indeed end up shaping the sound of the modern world. Boulanger was the first woman to conduct many major US and European orchestras. Her roster of music students reads like the ultimate 20th Century Hall of Fame. Boulanger was the first woman to conduct the New York Philharmonic and Boston Symphony orchestras. It is no exaggeration, then, to consider Boulanger the most important musical pedagogue of the modern – or indeed any – era. Although her teaching base was in the family apartment at 36 Rue Ballu in the ninth arrondisement of Paris, she also taught in the US and UK, working with leading conservatoires including the Juilliard School, the Yehudi Menuhin School, the Royal College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music. With such a contribution, she might also arguably be described as the most important woman in the history of classical music. Not that she’d appreciate attention being drawn to her gender. Being female was, for Boulanger, no apparent barrier to achievement. In addition to her remarkable teaching career, she became the first woman to conduct many of the major US and European symphony orchestras, including the BBC Symphony, Boston Symphony, Hallé Orchestra and New York Philharmonic. Boulanger was also a mentor to Igor Stravinsky and an ardent champion of his music when much of the musical world remained unconvinced of its genius. She was responsible for bringing to life a number of ground-breaking world premieres. Hidden figure? But be honest: have you ever heard of her? Boulanger’s name remains largely unknown outside niche classical music circles, despite the astonishing impact she had on the soundtrack to all our lives, not just in the realm of classical but in jazz, tango, funk and hip-hop. It is frankly unimaginable that a man with a similar degree of influence over 20th Century music would have been so ignored. Musical polymath Quincy Jones, who produced Thriller and has won 27 Grammys and 79 nominations among many other achievements, studied under Boulanger in the 1950s. Yet Boulanger was no shrinking violet. By all accounts she was a fierce, uncompromising and forceful woman: charismatic, loyal and passionate but also complex and complicated. She was riven with envy for her younger sister Lili, a composer of genius who, at 19, had been the first woman ever to win the prestigious Prix de Rome competition but by 24 was dead of intestinal tuberculosis (now known as Crohn’s Disease). Nadia, like Lili, had also entered the Paris Conservatoire to study composition at the tender age of 10, but she never received much acclaim as a composer. After Lili’s death, rather than allowing her talented late sister’s name to fade, as many jealous siblings might have, she made it a mission of her life and career to ceaselessly promote and champion Lili’s musical genius, programming her works alongside more canonical repertoire right up until the end of her career. Boulanger attended the 1910 premiere of Diaghilev’s The Firebird, with music by Igor Stravinsky – she would advocate for his music the rest of her life. But at last year’s BBC Proms, Q, as he is known, told me in all earnestness that he owed everything he was as a musician to his early instruction, in 1950s Paris, under Nadia Boulanger. It tickles me to imagine what Boulanger – who died in 1979 – Boulanger had a singular way of encouraging and eliciting each student’s own voice – even if they were not yet aware of what that voice might be. Prince Rainier of Monaco and Grace Kelly asked Boulanger to arrange the music for their wedding in 1956. For a little old grey-haired French lady, she was also, he joked, terrifying. “She used to tell me all the time: Quincy, your music can never be more, or less, than you are as a human being. Unless you have the life experience and have something to say that you’ve lived, you have nothing to contribute at all… She was strong. Really strong.” We should raise a cheer to the woman who contributed so much, with so little fanfare, to the history of 20th and 21st Century music. Don’t take my word for it. “Nadia Boulanger,” says Quincy Jones, “was the most astounding woman I ever met in my life.” And he’s met a few.

What made these grannies go nude in public?
15 March 2017
The iconic image of mothers protesting in Manipur. This image of a nude protest by a group of Indian mothers and grandmothers stunned the world 13 years ago. Defying all stereotypes, the 12 women challenged the security forces and paved the way for real change on the ground in the north-eastern state of Manipur. Eleven of the mothers regrouped in the state capital, Imphal, recently to speak to the BBC about their unconventional protest. The 12th protester died five years ago. In a large bare hall, they sit on floor mats, many of them in their sunset years. Many are frail and have failing eye sight, one is accompanied by her daughter as she cannot walk unaided. As they start telling me about that day, it's hard to imagine these women carrying out that act of protest. Eleven of the mothers regrouped in the state capital, Imphal, recently to speak to the BBC. The mothers regrouped in Imphal to speak about their unconventional protest. Manorama was gang-raped and killed in July 2004. Manipur has struggled for decades with an insurgency involving several militant groups, and the Indian military has for more than half a century had sweeping shoot-to-kill powers under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (Afspa).
The security forces were often accused of rights abuses, but it was the gang-rape and murder of a 32-year-old woman in July 2004, allegedly by paramilitary soldiers, that set the state on the edge. Manorama was picked up from her home at midnight on 11 July by soldiers from the Assam Rifles, a paramilitary force deployed in Manipur to fight insurgents.
A few hours later, her mutilated, bullet-riddled body was found by the roadside. It bore tell-tale signs of torture and rape. The grannies in front of the Kangla Fort where they had staged their famous protest. The Assam Rifles denied any role in her death, but the state witnessed unprecedented anger and at the centre of that was the "mothers' protest".
The women were all housewives, mostly from poor families, and many did small jobs to supplement their family incomes. The oldest was 73, the youngest 45. Between them, they had 46 children and 74 grandchildren. They were also activists (called Meira Paibis, or torch-bearers). They knew each other, but belonged to different organisations. Some of them visited Manorama's family and the morgue where her body was kept. "It made me very angry. It was not just Manorama who was raped. We all felt raped," says Soibam Momon Leima.
Lourembam Nganbi (left) arrived in Imphal a day earlier from her home in Vishnupur, 30km away. The idea of a nude protest was first discussed on 12 July at a meeting of the All Manipur Women's Social Reformation and Development Samaj, but it was thought "too sensitive and radical", says Thokchom Ramani, who was 73 at the time. But at a meeting later in the day of different women's groups, Ms Thokchom mentioned it and believing that "desperate times call for desperate measures", it was agreed that a small group of women would attempt to strip in front of the iconic Kangla Fort, the Assam Rifles headquarters. On the morning of 15 July, the day of the protest, Laishram Gyaneshwari left her home at 5:30am. "I didn't tell my husband or children that I was going to take part in this protest. I had no idea how it would go, I knew I was putting my life in danger and I knew I could die that day. So I touched my husband's feet, sought his blessings and left," she told me. The oldest was 73-year-old Thokchom Ramani. What made these grannies go nude in public? The iconic image of mothers protesting in Manipur. This image of a nude protest by a group of Indian mothers and grandmothers stunned the world 13 years ago. Defying all stereotypes, the 12 women challenged the security forces and paved the way for real change on the ground in the north-eastern state of Manipur. Eleven of the mothers regrouped in the state capital, Imphal, recently to speak to the BBC about their unconventional protest. The 12th protester died five years ago. In a large bare hall, they sit on floor mats, many of them in their sunset years. Many are frail and have failing eye sight, one is accompanied by her daughter as she cannot walk unaided. As they start telling me about that day, it's hard to imagine these women carrying out that act of protest. Eleven of the mothers regrouped in the state capital, Imphal, recently to speak to the BBC. The mothers regrouped in Imphal to speak about their unconventional protest. Manorama was gang-raped and killed in July 2004. Manipur has struggled for decades with an insurgency involving several militant groups, and the Indian military has for more than half a century had sweeping shoot-to-kill powers under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (Afspa). The security forces were often accused of rights abuses, but it was the gang-rape and murder of a 32-year-old woman in July 2004, allegedly by paramilitary soldiers, that set the state on the edge. Manorama was picked up from her home at midnight on 11 July by soldiers from the Assam Rifles, a paramilitary force deployed in Manipur to fight insurgents. A few hours later, her mutilated, bullet-riddled body was found by the roadside. It bore tell-tale signs of torture and rape. The mothers revisit the Kangla Fort. The grannies in front of the Kangla Fort where they had staged their famous protest. The Assam Rifles denied any role in her death, but the state witnessed unprecedented anger and at the centre of that was the "mothers' protest". The women were all housewives, mostly from poor families, and many did small jobs to supplement their family incomes. The oldest was 73, the youngest 45. Between them, they had 46 children and 74 grandchildren. They were also activists (called Meira Paibis, or torch-bearers). They knew each other, but belonged to different organisations. Some of them visited Manorama's family and the morgue where her body was kept. "It made me very angry. It was not just Manorama who was raped. We all felt raped," says Soibam Momon Leima. Lourembam Nganbi (left) arrived in Imphal a day earlier from her home in Vishnupur, 30km away. The idea of a nude protest was first discussed on 12 July at a meeting of the All Manipur Women's Social Reformation and Development Samaj, but it was thought "too sensitive and radical", says Thokchom Ramani, who was 73 at the time. But at a meeting later in the day of different women's groups, Ms Thokchom mentioned it and believing that "desperate times call for desperate measures", it was agreed that a small group of women would attempt to strip in front of the iconic Kangla Fort, the Assam Rifles headquarters. On the morning of 15 July, the day of the protest, Laishram Gyaneshwari left her home. "I didn't tell my husband or children that I was going to take part in this protest. I had no idea how it would go, I knew I was putting my life in danger and I knew I could die that day. So I touched my husband's feet, sought his blessings and left," she told me. Haobam Tombi was the youngest protester at 45. Lourembam Nganbi arrived in the city a day earlier from her home in Vishnupur, 30km away. Because of a government-imposed curfew in many parts of the state, there were no buses so she hired a private taxi to reach Imphal and walked the last few miles to the home of Haobam Ibetombi, another of the protesters. "There, we removed our inner garments and just covered our bodies in the traditional Manipuri sarongs so that we could strip easily," she says. Just after 9am, a van began ferrying them to Kangla Fort - it made three trips, carrying the protesters and volunteers, depositing them not at the fort but near enough to get there quickly. Manipuris accuse the Indian army of misusing the sweeping powers given to them under the special law. The women were all housewives and mostly from poor families. "We were crying even before we left. We are women, all we have is our honour. And Manipur is a traditional society, we don't show our bodies. We are uncomfortable even showing our ankles," Mrs Laishram said. The authorities had somehow got wind of their protest and a large number of police, some of them women, were beginning to gather outside the fort. At 10am, the rag-tag bunch walked in twos and threes to the fort gate and before anyone could realise what was going on, the mothers stripped. They threw off all their clothes, beat their chests, rolled on the ground and wept. The women carried banners that read "Indian army, rape us" and "Indian army, kill us". Even though Manorama had been taken away by members of a paramilitary force, most Indians don't know the different branches of the security forces, and so army is used as a loose term to describe them all. Nine women were accused of arson and waging war against the country and were sent to jail. Although there were no leaders, Mrs Lourembam shouted the loudest, chanting slogans in English "because we wanted to shame them in a language they and the rest of the world understood", she said. "I was thinking their action must stop, they must be punished. Women should not be raped anywhere in the world. The women tried to storm the fort, but the soldiers locked the gates. "Two sentries pointed their guns at us. We dared them to shoot us and they lowered their weapons. I think they were ashamed," says Mrs Laishram. Soon, a large crowd gathered and Mrs Thockchom says most people, including many police personnel, were crying. The protest continued for just 45 minutes, but those 45 minutes have had a lasting impact on the lives on the 12 women and the story of Manipur. Laishram Gyaneshwari did not tell her family that she was going to take part in the nude protest. The mothers became celebrities who were feted at neighbourhood receptions. But they were also harassed by an embarrassed government which began a systematic destruction of their offices and organisations. Nine of the women were accused of arson and waging war against the country and were sent to jail for nearly three months. Their protest, however, did have the intended impact of putting the spotlight on the Manipur problem. "The mothers' protest came too late for Manorama, but it played a crucial role in forcing the Assam Rifles to vacate the fort four months later, for the first time since they occupied it in 1949," says Babloo Loitongbam of Human Rights Alert. Manipur is one of India's most restive states. India also promised to look at the demand to repeal Afspa and then prime minister Manmohan Singh promised a "healing touch" to the Manipuris. Thirteen years later, though, Afspa remains in large parts of the state and reports of rights abuses by security forces still come in, but campaigners feel the situation has improved. Along with the 16-year fast by the state's most celebrated activist Irom Sharmila, the mothers' protest has entered the history books. The mothers, however, remain angry. "We are still naked," Mrs Laishram tells me. "We will believe the government has clothed us only on the day Afspa is removed from the whole state."
Thokchom Ramani, at 73, was the oldest protester. Haobam Tombi was the youngest protester at 45. Lourembam Nganbi arrived in the city a day earlier from her home in Vishnupur, 30km away. Because of a government-imposed curfew in many parts of the state, there were no buses so she hired a private taxi to reach Imphal and walked the last few miles to the home of Haobam Ibetombi, another of the protesters.
"There, we removed our inner garments and just covered our bodies in the traditional Manipuri sarongs so that we could strip easily," she says. Just after 9am, a van began ferrying them to Kangla Fort - it made three trips, carrying the protesters and volunteers, depositing them not at the fort but near enough to get there quickly. Manipuris accuse the Indian army of misusing the sweeping powers given to them under the special law.
The women were all housewives and mostly from poor families "We were crying even before we left. We are women, all we have is our honour. And Manipur is a traditional society, we don't show our bodies. We are uncomfortable even showing our ankles," Mrs Laishram said. The authorities had somehow got wind of their protest and a large number of police, some of them women, were beginning to gather outside the fort. At 10am, the rag-tag bunch walked in twos and threes to the fort gate and before anyone could realise what was going on, the mothers stripped. They threw off all their clothes, beat their chests, rolled on the ground and wept.
The women carried banners that read "Indian army, rape us" and "Indian army, kill us". Even though Manorama had been taken away by members of a paramilitary force, most Indians don't know the different branches of the security forces, and so army is used as a loose term to describe them all. Nine women were accused of arson and waging war against the country and were sent to jail. Although there were no leaders, Mrs Lourembam shouted the loudest, chanting slogans in English "because we wanted to shame them in a language they and the rest of the world understood", she said. "I was thinking their action must stop, they must be punished. Women should not be raped anywhere in the world. The women tried to storm the fort, but the soldiers locked the gates. "Two sentries pointed their guns at us. We dared them to shoot us and they lowered their weapons. I think they were ashamed," says Mrs Laishram. Soon, a large crowd gathered and Mrs Thockchom says most people, including many police personnel, were crying. The protest continued for just 45 minutes, but those 45 minutes have had a lasting impact on the lives on the 12 women and the story of Manipur. Laishram Gyaneshwari did not tell her family that she was going to take part in the nude protest. The mothers became celebrities who were feted at neighbourhood receptions. But they were also harassed by an embarrassed government which began a systematic destruction of their offices and organisations. Nine of the women were accused of arson and waging war against the country and were sent to jail for nearly three months. Their protest, however, did have the intended impact of putting the spotlight on the Manipur problem. "The mothers' protest came too late for Manorama, but it played a crucial role in forcing the Assam Rifles to vacate the fort four months later, for the first time since they occupied it in 1949," says Babloo Loitongbam of Human Rights Alert. Manipur is one of India's most restive states. India also promised to look at the demand to repeal Afspa and then prime minister Manmohan Singh promised a "healing touch" to the Manipuris. Thirteen years later, though, Afspa remains in large parts of the state and reports of rights abuses by security forces still come in, but campaigners feel the situation has improved. Along with the 16-year fast by the state's most celebrated activist Irom Sharmila, the mothers' protest has entered the history books. The mothers, however, remain angry. "We are still naked," Mrs Laishram tells me. "We will believe the government has clothed us only on the day Afspa is removed from the whole state."

Женщины-воины: персидские амазонки
В древности власть Персидской империи охватывала почти всю Азию. Соседним государствам было просто нечего противопоставить агрессивной политике Ахменидов, каждое свое слово подкреплявших огромной армией под командованием сильнейших военачальников. К удивлению археологов, ДНК-тесты погребенных воителей двухтысячелетней давности обнаружили, что уже в ту пору женщины упорно боролись за свои права, смело отстаивая позиции на поле боя с мечом в руке. Несмотря на то, что мало кто слышал об этих амазонках, их храбрость, интеллект и героизм вполне достоин отдельной легенды. Томирис, королева-воительница
Томирис считается самой свирепой женщиной из всех когда-либо живших. Эта красотка обладала нулевой терпимостью к тем, кто рискнул посягать на ее территорию, или на ее трон. Мудрая, дикарски жестокая девушка прославилась военными победами. Кроме того, Томирис была известна изобретательными пытками — к примеру, королева заставляла неугодных совершать самокастрацию.
Бану, жена Бабака. В 816 году н.э., Бану и ее муж Бабак возглавляли сопротивление власти арабского халифата, захватившего их племенную территорию. Бану была очень опытным лучником и прекрасным, но жестоким командирам. 23 года продержались они в своей горной крепости, стены которой не мог сокрушить враг. Не проиграв ни одной битвы, Бану и Бабак были преданы доверенным человеком и отданы противнику.
Хавла бинт аль-Азвар - Хавла бинт аль-Азвар была целительницей при армии мусульман, стремившихся распространить слово Аллаха по всей Персии в 7 веке н.э. Во время бушующей битвы против Византийской империи пал брат Хавлы: вне себя от горя, девушка сбросила одежду целительницы, спрятала лицо под зеленым шарфом, схватила ятаган и бесстрашно бросилась в самую гущу схватки. Напор ее был столь страшен, что византийцы попятились, а воодушевленные соратники Хавлы повернули ход сражения в свою пользу.
Апраник, воин Сасанидов - Дочь персидского военачальника выросла в звуках битвы. Апраник пошла по стопам отца и стала профессиональным солдатом, безо всякой протекции поднявшись от простого бойца до командира. В сражениях против Праведного Халифата девушка приняла командование остатками военных сил Сасанидов и несколько лет выматывала врага внезапными молниеносными атаками.
Самси, аравийская королева - Королева Самси Аравийская вошла в историю как бесстрашная воительница, с которой считались даже великие цари соседней Ассирии. Самси наладила торговый путь в эту мощную державу и поклялась в верности ее правителям. Но и такого положения было для девушки недостаточно: Самси объединилась с Дамаском, чтобы вытеснить ассирийцев из региона. Кровопролитная война закончилась полным разгромом для Дамаска, а Самси попала в плен. Вместо того, чтобы казнить девушку, ассирийцы вернули ее на трон, показав свое уважение такой невероятной смелости.
Пантея, командир Бессмертных - Пантея считалась одной из самых успешных командиров в армии Кира Великого. После того, как Кир завоевал Вавилонскую империю, Пантея организовала элитный отряд Бессмертных, бойцы которого внушали трепет врагам одним своим видом. В отряде всегда было ровно 10 000 воинов: погибшие в бою сразу же заменялись новыми обученными солдатами.
Зенобия - Зенобия правила Пальмирой в 1 веке н.э. и была в ту пору одной из немногих людей, рискнувших бросить вызов авторитету Рима. Умными политическими уловками Зенобия смогла нанести болезненный удар великой империи, оставив без продовольственных поставок половину страны. Королева на равных поддерживала отношения с военными и политическими лидерами соседних стран, что в то время было беспрецедентным достижением для женщины.

The woman running 40 marathons in 40 days, BBC News, Sydney, Australia
27 April 2017
Mina Guli runs a marathon beside Australia's Murray River. Ultra-runner Mina Guli winced in pain in the middle of a cow paddock. Bandages wrapped around her beaten feet, she contemplated the "holes" where her toenails used to be. She was back in her native Australia, but emotionally Ms Guli felt a long way from home. Why am I doing this, she asked herself, of her attempt to complete 40 marathons in 40 days across six continents. But Ms Guli resolved to work through the pain. She laced up her running shoes, pulled on her shorts and shirt, and "got the miles done". "It wasn't a pretty day, there were lots of tears but I got through it," Ms Guli tells the BBC. "I don't run because I enjoy running, I run because I want to raise awareness about water issues." Ms Guli is running along six major rivers. Mina Guli treks up a muddy path near the Amazon River in Brazil.
The lawyer-turned-conservationist is nearing the end of a 1,687km (1,048 miles) journey designed to highlight the amount of water used in consumer goods. "Only 5% of our water that we use is in our household consumption - the rest is in our 'invisible water footprint'," says Ms Guli. She has run her marathons along the Colorado River in the US and Mexico, the Amazon River in Brazil, the Murray River in Australia, the Yangtze River in China and the Nile River in Egypt. She is due to finish the final leg on Monday along the River Thames in London. Last year, Ms Guli, 46, finished an even longer odyssey spanning seven continents. She says the extensive distances and limited recovery time take a toll on her body, no matter how meticulous her preparation. "I look a bit like an old granny after running the first couple of kilometres," she says. Mina Guli looks out at the Colorado River at the Arizona Hot Springs. Mina Guli crosses a bridge over a water canal in Nanxun, China. "When I get up in the morning there's a lot of grimacing, a lot of hobbling. I've taken to doing the first couple of kilometres by myself because I don't want my (support) team to see how badly I'm hurting." Rest is rare to keep the relentless pace, and when she is not running a lot of time is spent flying or driving to the next destination. Along the way she has met with a range of locals - including indigenous leaders, tourism operators and farmers - to talk about the water issues they face. Ms Guli says she is motivated by spreading a simple message: that many countries use water faster than nature can replenish it. In 2012, she founded Thirst, a global charity to educate young people on the topic...

Silicon Valley's women have spoken. Now what? 1 July 2017
Jessica Livingston, right, believes women are forcing change in Silicon Valley. "It's been going on for a while." It's a phrase I've heard a lot since Susan Fowler, an ex-Uber employee, published her explosive blog post that ultimately toppled one of the most powerful chief executives in San Francisco. "I'll tell you - Susan Fowler kicked off a big thing here," says Jessica Livingston, who co-created Y Combinator, the most highly-respected start-up investment programme in Silicon Valley. "That's what you have to understand. This stuff was happening all the time and people were complaining to their confidants and sharing it with their family. No-one was coming forward on the record with 'here's an account of these horrible things that happened to me'. It just felt too scary, a possible career breaker for people. That was the feeling." But that may be changing, if the mood at Y Combinator's Female Founders conference is anything to go by. The annual event is a gathering of would-be and successful female entrepreneurs. And this year it has been given added vigour. Call it, the "Uber in the room". "We couldn't have this conference without referencing it, I mean come on!" Ms Livingston continues. "It's such crazy stuff.
I do think there is an undercurrent in the conference today of 'this is awful stuff that's happening, but it's been going on for a while... and now things are going to change.'"
Dramatic change
Change won't come easy, but for the first time it may be in reach. Avni Patel Thompson says a support network for new entrepreneurs would help. While Uber's crisis has garnered the most headlines, perhaps the more significant fall-from-grace in Silicon Valley this year has been that of Justin Caldbeck, a venture capitalist who just a week ago was accused of several instances of sexual harassment. In the space of two days he denied the claims, then took a leave of absence, and then resigned. Now the investment firm he founded, Binary Capital, has capitulated - with backers removing their support and, crucially, their money. "If you look at the way things have played out over the past week at Binary, there's been a change every single day, and it's gotten more dramatic every single day," Ms Livingston tells me. "To the point where we are feeling like people are responding. People are being held accountable - they're not sweeping it under the carpet." Abuse pattern
Abuse often harbours in situations when one individual holds the key to another's dream: an actress desperate to land that first big role, or an athlete wanting to get closer to the big leagues. In Silicon Valley, it's often an inexperienced entrepreneur, panicking about rent money, and desperate for that first piece of funding that would set them on their way to creating their company. Those early investments, known as seed funding, are make or break. Laura Behrens-Wu says female entrepreneurs seeking their first funding round are most vulnerable
"Pre-seed, before you're part of the network, that's when women are most vulnerable," says Laura Behrens-Wu, co-founder of shipping start-up Shippo, which recently raised $7m.
"They don't know anyone here yet, they don't have anyone to turn to.
"If someone harassed me today I'd have people to turn to, people who can stand up for me and make sure that this never happens again."
Without that support network, Ms Behrens-Wu argues, the prospect of speaking out against abusers is terrifying and insurmountable.
"When [investors] Google your name, you don't want stories about sexual harassment to be the first thing that comes up.
"[Women are] worried they're being seen as the trouble makers by other people."
Strength in numbers
Filling this support and accountability vacuum could perhaps change things here - something that might give new arrivals in Silicon Valley a strong footing from which to protect themselves.
One suggestion, that I wrote about last week, is a "Decency Pledge" - a code of conduct shared across the technology industry. That has been met with a mixed response. Surely, many argue, people shouldn't have to sign a "pledge" to exercise what should be common decency?
Avni Patel Thompson, founder of on-demand childcare start-up Poppy, says the best solution may be to equip new entrepreneurs with the same kind support network that give more experienced women the strength to come forward and confront unacceptable behaviour.
"Everyone talks about backchannel references, right? I think there are those of us that are plugged into certain networks that have access to that.
"But how do we make that accessible to the people that need it the most, which are the folks that are just getting started and don't know up from down and all these type of things. They're just trying to fight the good fight.
"How can we make some of these things available? That's some of the conversations that we, as female founders, are having."
Added protection
Y Combinator is a tech incubator programme that twice a year takes on a bunch of promising start-ups, gives them about $100,000, and coaches them to potential success. It has spawned several successes, such as Dropbox, Reddit and payments firm Stripe.
And for those lucky enough to get on the programme, it also provides an added layer of protection against possible abuses.
"We will speak up on the founders' behalf, always," Jessica Livingston tells me.
"We've just launched internally an anonymous forum if anyone has faced racism or harassment they can let us know anonymously. We are trying to do things to help."
But looking long-term, a more gender-diverse technology industry is seen as the only genuine solution to this problem.
"I'm always hoping that more women get into the game," Ms Livingston continues.
"We do need to have more female venture capitalists (VCs), and managing director level VCs. Almost all of them are men.
"There are so many things that have to work together to really create change."

Wives wanted in the Faroe Islands
27 April 2017
There's a shortage of women in the Faroe Islands. So local men are increasingly seeking wives from further afield - Thailand and the Philippines in particular. But what's it like for the brides who swap the tropics for this windswept archipelago? When Athaya Slaetalid first moved from Thailand to the Faroe Islands, where winter lasts six months, she would sit next to the heater all day: "People told me to go outside because the sun was shining but I just said: 'No! Leave me alone, I'm very cold.'" Moving here six years ago was tough for Athaya at first, she admits. She'd met her husband Jan when he was working with a Faroese friend who had started a business in Thailand. Jan knew in advance that bringing his wife to this very different culture, weather and landscape would be challenging. "I had my concerns, because everything she was leaving and everything she was coming to were opposites," he admits. "But knowing Athaya, I knew she would cope." There are now more than 300 women from Thailand and Philippines living in the Faroes. It doesn't sound like a lot, but in a population of just 50,000 people they now make up the largest ethnic minority in these 18 islands, located between Norway and Iceland. In recent years the Faroes have experienced population decline, with young people leaving, often in search of education, and not returning. Women have proved more likely to settle abroad. As a result, according to Prime Minister Axel Johannesen, the Faroes have a "gender deficit" with approximately 2,000 fewer women than men. This, in turn, has lead Faroese men to look beyond the islands for romance. Many, though not all, of the Asian women met their husbands online, some through commercial dating websites. Others have made connections through social media networks or existing Asian-Faroese couples. For the new arrivals, the culture shock can be dramatic. Officially part of the Kingdom of Denmark, the Faroes have their own language (derived from Old Norse) and a very distinctive culture - especially when it comes to food. Fermented mutton, dried cod and occasional whale meat and blubber are typical of the strong flavours here, with none of the traditional herbs and spices of Asian cooking. And, although it never gets as cold as neighbouring Iceland, the wet, cool climate is a challenge for many people. A good summer's day would see the temperature reach 16°C. Athaya is a confident woman with a ready smile who now works in the restaurant business in Torshavn, the Faroese capital. She and Jan share a cosy cottage on the banks of a fjord surrounded by dramatic mountains. But she's honest about how difficult swapping countries was at first. "When our son Jacob was a baby, I was at home all day with no-one to talk to," she says. "The other villagers are older people and mostly don't speak English. People our age were out at work and there were no children for Jacob to play with. I was really alone. When you stay at home here, you really stay at home. I can say I was depressed. But I knew it would be like that for two or three years." Then, when Jacob started kindergarten, she began working in catering and met other Thai women.
"That was important because it gave me a network. And it gave me a taste of home again." Krongrak Jokladal felt isolated at first, too, when she arrived from Thailand. Her husband Trondur is a sailor and works away from home for several months at a time. She started her own Thai massage salon in the centre of Torshavn. "You can't work regular hours with a baby, and although my parents-in-law help out with childcare, running the business myself means I can choose my hours," she says. It's a far cry from Krongrak's previous job as head of an accountancy division in Thai local government. But she is unusual in that she runs her own business. Even for many highly educated Asian women in the Faroes, the language barrier means they have to take lower-level work. Axel Johannesen, the prime minister, says helping the newcomers overcome this is something the government takes seriously. "The Asian women who have come in are very active in the labour market, which is good," he says. "One of our priorities is to help them learn Faroese, and there are government programmes offering free language classes." Kristjan Arnason recalls the effort his Thai wife Bunlom, who arrived in the Faroes in 2002, put into learning the language. "After a long day at work she would sit reading the English-Faeroese dictionary," he says. "She was extraordinarily dedicated." "I was lucky," Bunlom adds. "I told Kristjan that if I was moving here he had to find me a job. And he did, and I was working with Faeroese people in a hotel so I had to learn how to talk to them." In an age when immigration has become such a sensitive topic in many parts of Europe, Faeroes society seems remarkably accepting of foreign incomers. Chuen and Karsten have been married for just over a year. They met on a dating website called Thai Cupid. "I think it helps that the immigrants we have seen so far are mostly women," says local politician Magni Arge, who also sits in the Danish parliament, "They come and they work and they don't cause any social problems. "But we've seen problems when you have people coming from other cultures into places like the UK, in Sweden and in other parts of Europe - even Denmark. That's why we need to work hard at government level to make sure we don't isolate people and have some kind of sub-culture developing." But Antonette Egholm, originally from the Philippines, hasn't encountered any anti-immigrant sentiment. I met her and her husband as they moved into a new flat in Torshavn. "People here are friendly, she explains, "and I've never experienced any negative reactions to my being a foreigner. I lived in metro Manila and there we worried about traffic and pollution and crime. Here we don't need to worry about locking the house, and things like healthcare and education are free. At home we have to pay. And here you can just call spontaneously at someone's house, it's not formal. For me, it feels like the Philippines in that way." Likewise, her husband Regin believes increasing diversity is something that should be welcomed not feared. "We actually need fresh blood here," he adds, "I like seeing so many children now who have mixed parentage. Our gene pool is very restricted, and it's got to be a good thing that we welcome outsiders who can have families." He acknowledges that he's had occasional ribbing from some male friends who jokingly ask if he pressed "enter" on his computer to order a wife. But he denies he and Antonette have encountered any serious prejudice as a result of their relationship. Athaya Slaetalid tells me that some of her Thai friends have asked why she doesn't leave her small hamlet, and move to the capital, where almost 40% of Faroe Islanders now live. They say Jacob would have more friends there. "No, I don't need to do that," she says. "I'm happy here now, not just surviving but making a life for our family. "Look," she says, as we step into the garden overlooking the fjord. "Jacob plays next to the beach. He is surrounded by hills covered in sheep and exposed to nature. And his grandparents live just up the road. There is no pollution and no crime. Not many kids have that these days. This could be the last paradise on earth."

Cambodia's female construction workers
13 March 2017
Cambodia's construction industry is booming, and high-rises are being built across the capital of Phnom Penh. With the city's population doubling over the past four years, it has begun its transformation into a sprawling metropolis. The industry employs a large number of migrant workers who flock to the capital in search of work. Around a third of these workers are women, and photographer Charles Fox's latest project documents them on the building sites. Some of the women are just starting out, others hone skills learnt in the provinces, while others are from the masses of workers who returned from Thailand in 2014 after a crackdown on illegal migrant workers. Many of these women have come to the capital with their family and friends, relocating to live and work on the building sites. The sites can often be dangerous and female workers can receive lower wages than their male counterparts. Despite this, the women of Cambodia's construction industry are hard-working and driven, remaining resilient to the risks they face.
Sok Korn - A female construction worker. Five years ago, I came to Phnom Penh with my husband and my son. There's no work for us at the countryside. The only thing we can do there is grow rice once a year. But if it were financially possible I would quit my job immediately and return to my village. Then I would take care of my mother and be able to see my other children more frequently.
Heang Sian - Three years ago a divorce and a hospitalisation put me in debt. I had to sell my house and my land, but it wasn't enough to pay all my debts. So I came to the city to work on a construction site. The great thing of working in construction is that here I get paid per week. You don't have that when you work in the factory or in a hotel.
Keng Ev - A female construction worker. I have five children and they and my husband all work in construction.
Nout Sreymom - A female construction worker. Together with my husband I build elevator shafts. Our manager consistently sends us from one location to the other. Sometimes we stay at a project for one month, sometimes for two or three.
Sok Sovanna - A female construction worker. Unlike my friends who work in factories, I prefer working in construction as my whole family is here with me. Yet despite being close to my loved ones I face verbal harassment from male co-workers when they are drunk at night.
Sok Aun - A female construction worker. Its been three years since I arrived in Phnom Penh and I have been working in construction the whole time. My daughter is living with my parents back home in Prey Veng Province. I try to save as much money as possible so my diet is limited. I also sleep at the construction site to save money so I can send it back to my family.
Sok Poeu. A female construction worker. I have worked in construction for almost four years now. I have worked all over Phnom Penh for different construction projects from hotels, apartments to condos. As a female worker here I am verbally harassed by male construction workers, but what to do? I have no other place to sleep. I can't afford any private accommodation.
Sam Nang - A female construction worker. I have worked in construction in Cambodia for about two months now - prior to that I worked in Thailand for several years. As a mother of two, I have to work from early morning to dusk so I can afford to support my family. I have no proper food or time to eat and I feel dizzy a lot of the time.

Валентина Терешкова. "Я всегда смотрю на звёзды".  Mar 5, 2017. Это фильм о женщине отважной и легендарной. Полет и возвращение на Землю. Это было начало ее славы и начало нашей к ней любви. Мы называли ее именем улицы и новорожденных девочек, сочиняли для нее стихи и пели песни. И не только потому, что она была первой. Потому что славу она использовала, чтобы всю свою послеполетную жизнь помогать людям. Валентина Владимировна Терешкова — кандидат технических наук, автор более полусотни научных работ на актуальные темы практической космонавтики. Депутат ГД Терешкова вернула в профессию слуги народа искренность. Мы увидим, как проблемы ярославских избирателей Терешковой становятся ее личными проблемами: Валентина Владимировна помогает с жильем, защищает архитектурные памятники, участвует в жизни детских домов. Мы побываем в самом первом русском театре, труппа которого считает Терешкову своей музой и защитницей. Наши герои — люди, в разные годы общавшиеся с Терешковой, — называют ее великой женщиной. Не только за ее космический подвиг. Но и за то, что у нее, как сказал один из героев нашего фильма, «не снесло крышу», за то, что у нее человеческое сердце и совесть. Дочь Елена во всем поддерживает маму и помогает ей. У Терешкой уже выросли внуки. За плечами старшего Алексея служба в ВДВ, в Псковской десантной дивизии. Сейчас Алексей — студент МГУ. Младший, школьник Андрей, репетирует на скрипке в оркестре у Дмитрия Когана. Мир легко забывает имена своих героев, но это не тот случай.

Nigeria Chibok girls: Eighty-two freed by Boko Haram - Africa2017Nigeria21ReleasedGirls.jpg  Africa2017Nigeria21ReleasedGirlsMap.jpg  Africa2017Nigeria350GirlsInCaptivity.jpg
7 May 2017
Nigeria schoolgirl kidnappings. This file photo taken on May 12, 2014 shows a screengrab taken from a video of Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram obtained by AFP showing girls, wearing the full-length hijab and praying in an undisclosed rural location.  Some of the girls pictured in May 2014, shortly after their kidnapping. Islamist militants of the Boko Haram group have released 82 schoolgirls from a group of 276 they abducted in north-eastern Nigeria three years ago, the president's office says. They were handed over in exchange for Boko Haram suspects after negotiations. The girls will be received by President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on Sunday, a statement said. The abduction of the so-called "Chibok girls" triggered a global outcry and sparked a huge social media campaign. Before the latest release, about 195 of the girls were still missing. The number of Boko Haram suspects released by authorities remains undisclosed. The 82 schoolgirls are now in the custody of the Nigerian army and were brought by road convoy from a remote area to a military base in Banki near the border with Cameroon, reports the BBC's Stephanie Hegarty from Lagos. Our reporter says that many families in Chibok will be rejoicing at this latest news, but more than 100 of the girls taken have yet to be returned. Christian pastor Enoch Mark, whose two daughters were among those kidnapped, told Agence France-Presse: "This is good news to us. We have been waiting for this day. We hope the remaining girls will soon be released." It was unclear whether his daughters had been freed. A statement from a spokesman for President Buhari said he was deeply grateful to "security agencies, the military, the Government of Switzerland, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and local and international NGOs" for playing a role in the operation. 'Two blindfolded men in convoy'- The BBC's Stephanie Hegarty reports from Lagos
Information about the release began trickling out on Saturday afternoon. A soldier contacted the BBC to say that more than 80 Chibok girls were being held in an army base near the Cameroon border. At the same time an official working for an international agency, who assisted with the release, said that several armoured vehicles left Maiduguri - the city at the centre of the Boko Haram insurgency - in a convoy to travel into the "forest" to meet the girls. He said there were two blindfolded men in the convoy. The president's office said that the girls were released in exchange for some Boko Haram suspects held by the authorities - but we haven't been told how many. After the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno state, was raided in April 2014, more than 50 girls quickly escaped and Boko Haram then freed another 21 last October, after negotiations with the Red Cross. The campaign for the return of the girls drew the support of then US First Lady Michelle Obama and many Hollywood stars. Last month, President Buhari said the government remained "in constant touch through negotiations, through local intelligence to secure the release of the remaining girls and other abducted persons unharmed".
Many of the Chibok girls were Christian, but were encouraged to convert to Islam and to marry their kidnappers during their time in captivity. Boko Haram has kidnapped thousands of other people during its eight-year insurgency aimed at creating an Islamic caliphate in north-eastern Nigeria. More than 30,000 others have been killed, the government says, and hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee from their homes. Boko Haram at a glance:
Founded in 2002, initially focused on opposing Western-style education - Boko Haram means "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language. Launched military operations in 2009. Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria, hundreds abducted, including hundreds of schoolgirls. Seized large area in north-east Nigeria, where it declared a caliphate. Joined so-called Islamic State, now calls itself IS's "West African province". Regional force has now retaken most of the captured territory. Group split in August after rival leaders emerged.

The former sex worker who set up a retirement home in Mexico City
31 January 2017
After years of working the streets of Mexico City, Carmen Munoz wondered what happened to sex workers like her when they got old - so she campaigned to set up a retirement home.
It was on the historic Plaza Loreto in Mexico City - surrounded by buildings that date back to the 16th Century - that Carmen Munoz set out on her path as a sex worker. She had come to the city looking for work and had been told that the priest at the Santa Teresa la Nueva Church sometimes found jobs for domestic workers. She was 22, illiterate, and had seven children to feed - including one whom she carried in her arms. For four days she anxiously waited to see the priest, but when she finally succeeded he gave her no help and sent her away. "He only told me that there was tons of work, and to look for it around the area," she recalls. "I left crying because it hurt me deeply to hear the priest talk that way." At that moment a woman approached Munoz to console her. "She said to me: 'That man over there says he'll give you 1,000 pesos if you go with him,'" Munoz remembers. At the time it seemed a fortune, although at today's exchange rate - taking into account a 1993 revaluation when one new peso was valued at 1,000 old pesos - it is barely five US cents. "I said: 'I've never seen 1,000 pesos all in one place - where am I going with him?' "She said: 'To a room.' And I said: 'A room? How will I know what work to do?'
"'No!' she said: 'You don't understand, to a hotel.' "I asked: 'What's a hotel?'"
The woman told her bluntly what she would have to do. When Munoz understood, she was shocked. "Oh senorita no, no, not that!" she said. But the woman replied: "You prefer to give it to your husband who doesn't even provide enough money for soap to wash, than to give it to others who will provide for your children?" Feeling desperate, she went with the man. He gave her the 1,000 pesos as promised but said he wanted nothing in return. He didn't want to exploit her desperation, he said, and as she cried he pressed the money into her hand. Perhaps he knew she would be back. The following day, Munoz's despair had turned into defiance. She returned to the same corner in Plaza Loreto thinking to herself: "From now on, my children won't go hungry any more." Casa Xochiquetzal, Shelter for Elderly Retired Sex Workers, Mexico City, Mexico - Aug 2013. Soledad, a resident of Casa Xochiquetzal, in her bedroom. For the next 40 years she made her living as a sex worker on the corners of the Plaza and surrounding streets. The area is known as the Merced - 106 bustling blocks that form part of a Unesco World Heritage Site, containing some of the city centre's oldest buildings, its main commercial hub, and the biggest of the city's seven red light districts. There is at least one seedy hotel on every block. I realised I had worth, that someone would pay to be with me. Carmen Munoz, Former sex worker.
"When I first entered sex work I was dazzled by the money," says Munoz. "I realised I had worth, that someone would pay to be with me, when the father of my children told me that I was worth nothing and that I was very ugly. But working on the streets took its toll. Both the authorities and pimps demanded money. Beatings and sexual harassment were common, and she became addicted to drugs and alcohol. Yet, despite all this, she is grateful. "Thanks to sex work I was able to take care of my kids and provide them with a roof over their heads - a dignified place to live," she says. And years later, she was able to provide a home for others too. Luchita, a resident of Casa Xochiquetzal, puts on make-up in her bedroom at the shelter. One night, she passed by a dirty, moving tarpaulin on the side of the street. "I went over to it and pulled it up, thinking there were going to be children underneath," she says. What she found instead were three elderly women huddled together for warmth. She recognised them as fellow sex workers. "It hurts you, it hurts you as a human being to see them like that," says Munoz. She helped the women up, bought them coffee, and got them a room in a cheap hotel. It made her realise how many elderly women were working in the Plaza. Once their looks had faded, because of their advancing years and the hard life on the streets, many ended up destitute. Their families didn't want them so they had nowhere to go. Munoz became determined to do something about it. Listen: Carmen tells Outlook why she wanted to help women such as Marbella Aguilar. For the next 13 years she lobbied the city authorities to provide a retirement home for elderly and homeless sex workers. With the support of several well-known artists, neighbours from the Merced and fellow sex workers, she finally persuaded them. The city gave them a large 18th Century building, just a few blocks from Plaza Loreto. The women's feeling of elation when they first walked through the doors was immeasurable. "It was an amazing experience," Munoz says. "We cried with joy, laughed and shouted: 'Wow, we now have a home!'". Norma, a resident of Casa Xochiquetzal, rests in her bedroom. It took a lot of work to clean up the building, a former boxing museum, but in 2006 the first women moved in. They named the shelter Casa Xochiquetzal, after the Aztec goddess of women's beauty and sexual power. When I leave the Merced's cacophonous streets and enter Casa Xochiquetzal, the women are listening to music. Jewellery and flower-making workshops are under way and the smell of baking fills the air - a dozen residents are busy baking cakes. While teaching the women new skills, Casa Xochiquetzal also aims to improve their health and well-being by providing self-esteem workshops, medical check-ups and counselling. Residents of the Casa Xochiquetzal celebrate Mexico's Bicentennial Celebration - Aug 2013. Marbella Aguilar's room off the central courtyard is filled with books - her favourite authors are Pablo Neruda, Leo Tolstoy and Franz Kafka. "Books have been my refuge since the age of nine," she says. As a child, nearly 60 years ago, her parents threw her out. Fortunately another woman took her in but when she died, Aguilar - now 16 - had to find the rent and pay for her studies by herself. When this proved impossible, she began to sell her body. "There was nothing else I could do," she says. Through a mixture of jobs and occasional sex work, Aguilar managed to support her own three children through school. But when a teenage daughter died of leukaemia, she fell into a deep depression, could not work and was thrown out of her home for failing to pay the rent. A woman can lose her honour, but never her dignity. At this point Casa Xochiquetzal rescued her and she now makes money selling jewellery in nearby markets. "This house taught me that my life is worth a lot, that I am as dignified as any other woman," she says. "Now I say that a woman can lose her honour, but never her dignity." Her only sadness is that her surviving children no longer speak to her. Canela and Norma, both residents of Casa Xochiquetzal, at the shelter. There are currently 25 other elderly or homeless women living in Casa Xochiquetzal - aged from 55 to their mid-80s. Though many have retired, some still work the streets. Over the past 11 years, more than 250 sex workers have been given shelter here. There have been big challenges though. Casa Xochiquetzal's finances are precarious - its grant from the city government has been cut back and it is reliant on charitable donations. María Isabel, a resident of Casa Xochiquetzal, in her bedroom. On top of that, not everyone gets along. Although the women are friends and roommates now, some were formerly competitors and enemies on the streets. "We have been so used, abused, so beaten, and so marginalised, that we are almost always on edge," explains Munoz. "We have our nails out, ready to attack if we are attacked." But disagreements happen in any family, Aguilar says. "Here we have been taught to have respect for each other, that there are things worth fighting for - and that brings harmony to the house. And if not harmony, at least a sense of peace, and the reassurance that they will not die uncared-for on the streets. We deserve a place where we spend the last days of our lives with dignity and tranquillity," says Munoz. One day she expects to move in herself.

Mexico town women vote locally for first time

Mexican Women Vote for the first time in 2016
22 September 2016
Women of Guevea de Humboldt, Mexico, queue up for first local election vote. The women have never been permitted to vote in mayoral elections before. Women in a community in southern Mexico have voted in local elections for the first time, after winning a three-year battle for the right to choose a mayor and councillors alongside their male relatives. Women have had the vote in Mexican presidential, general and regional elections since 1953, but the persistence of traditional law in parts of Oaxaca state means many towns have men-only voter lists for local polls, El Universal newspaper reports. But in 2013, a group of 11 women in the town of Guevea de Humboldt successfully challenged the law in a regional electoral court. Oaxaca's state assembly decided against re-running that year's election because of "local conflicts", Reforma newspaper says. Instead it appointed an interim administration, and fresh elections were finally announced for this week. About 500 women voted in the town of 5,000 people, and three women stood for a council seat. Catalina Martinez Jimenez is, at 75, one of the oldest women to vote, and made it to the polling station with the help of her son and a makeshift walking stick. "This is a miracle of God," she told reporters. Another newly-enfranchised pensioner called Gliseria said it was hard to believe that the women of Guevea could choose their own mayor at last. She said she would take a break from making tortillas to cast her vote later, adding: "This may be my only time, because who knows whether I'll be around for the next one." But not all the town's women turned out to vote. Reforma says some object to voting by ballot, insisting that only the traditional method of show of hands will do.

Why Star Wars's Daisy Ridley joined forces with a teenage Mongolian girl

16 December 2016
The film follows 13-year-old Aisholpan as she breaks centuries of tradition. After becoming a global star for playing Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, actress Daisy Ridley has, at the age of 24, produced her first film - after she was told its subject, a female eagle hunter in Mongolia, would "remind her of Rey". That film, The Eagle Huntress, directed by British journalist Otto Bell, has now made more than $1.5m (£1.2m) at the US box office in six weeks and is among the 15 documentaries in the running for this year's Oscars. The real-life story, narrated by Ridley, follows the then 13-year-old Aisholpan as she trains with her father to become the first female eagle hunter in 12 generations of her family, breaking the centuries-old tradition that says the skill is handed down from father to son. "When I was first sent the film, I ended up curled into a ball, crying and then calling my mum," Ridley recalls. " I was just completely blown away. And so I just had to call Otto and say, 'how can I help you?'"
Nurgaiv Rys, Aisholpan and Daisy Ridley attend a special screening of The Eagle Huntress. Daisy Ridley said that Aisholpan's relationship with her father reminded her of her own family. Bell remembers that both he and the film's other executive producer, Morgan Spurlock, called the resilient and independent Aisholpan "a real life Rey" - but Ridley says that was not why she got on board. "It just reminded me of me and my own relationship with my dad, and how unflinching he was in his support of me wanting to become an actress," she explains. "That to me is the real heart of the film. I think people will realise the hidden gem of the film is this family and their relationships with each other. However, this little girl, Aisholpan, is genuinely inspirational. People are very kind about me as a role model, but all I do is play characters. This little girl is breaking down hundreds of years of gender disparity and she doesn't think she is doing anything huge. I think this film is going to affect many girls."
Aisholpan and Otto Bell. Director Otto Bell tracked Aisholpan down after seeing photographs of her online. Otto Bell set off for Mongolia on a whim two years ago after photographs of Aisholpan and an eagle surfaced on the BBC website under the headline A 13-year-old Eagle Huntress in Mongolia. "I tracked down the family eventually - it's hard, because they are nomadic - and Aisholpan's father Nurgaiv said, 'Well, today we are going to capture an eagle for Aisholpan, are you interested in filming that?'
"So the first day's filming was watching Aisholpan climb down a rocky crevice on a single length of rope, down to an eagle's nest. It was a health and safety nightmare."
The film also documents Aisholpan becoming the first female to ever complete in the region's annual eagle hunting festival, before taking her eagle for its first kill onto the icy steppes in conditions of -25C. Bell says Aisholpan was "treated with some pretty ugly derision from the elders to start with". He adds: "Her father tried to insulate her from the worst of it. But now they can see she is actually the real deal, that she really is a huntress, there's a lot more acceptance." Aisholpan's story could also become a major animated movie. Daisy Ridley comments: "She takes it all in her stride. I just have huge respect for the way she goes about everything. She barely has a presence on social media, she does it because she wants to, not because she wants to be recognised for it. "In a world where so much is about what you look like, this film is about her dreams and her passion. It's about her soul, and that's wonderful in a world full of superficial images." The rights to The Eagle Huntress have been sold to Hollywood to make the story into an animated film, and as profit participants in the documentary, Aisholpan's family now has enough money for her to achieve her other ambition - to become a surgeon. Otto Bell says he would "like to see the film in schools 20 years from now, telling girls and boys of what they can achieve if they put their minds to it". The Eagle Huntress is in cinemas in the UK from Friday. Ridley agrees there is a valuable message there for female pupils. "When I was growing up, I didn't feel stereotyped, I went to a school heavily weighted towards girls and my parents were wonderful," she says. "Yet there is sometimes a hesitation with girls reaching out for what we want. But then you have Aisholpan, not even questioning whether she can do it or not. Could I have done all this at 13? Absolutely not."
"She really is dauntless," Bell confirms. "There's a real duality to her character, because in some ways she's a teenager who loves to giggle with her friends and paint her nails. But as soon, as she's with her eagle, she becomes this steely character determined to win. When you see her ploughing through the snow, with this heavy burden of a bird, she inspired us all, despite the horrendous conditions, to actually finish the film."

Queen of Katwe Premiers in Joburg

"The Queen of Katwe"

Video - Gillian Anderson: 'Slavery a $150bn business'
1 December 2016
Gillian Anderson has spoken at the Trust Women Conference anti-slavery event hosted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Video - British woman 'sex slave for 13 years'
29 December 2016
Victims of slavery can be British - the story of one such woman is told in the memoir Secret Slave. Under the pseudonym Anna Ruston, she writes about meeting a taxi driver she calls Malik when she was 15.

100 Women 2016: A year of street campaigns
21 November 2016
Millions have taken to the streets and to social media to campaign for women's issues this year.

2016's female fightback ... in hashtags - video
28 December 2016
Social media has given a voice to many women — all with the power of the hashtag. Here's a roundup of the most influential hashtags for women in 2016.

'Some demand free sex' - video
8 December 2016
More than 300 police officers have been accused of using their position to sexually exploit people, including victims of crime, a report has said.

Egypt girls launch cycling equality campaign

Egyptian Girls On Bikes
21 November 2016
The Port Said event was planned by five secondary school students. Girls in northern Egypt have launched a bike-riding campaign in protest against widespread intolerance towards female cyclists. It's unusual to see women cycling in Egypt, and some of those who do so face harassment from passers-by. But five teenagers in the city of Port Said are trying to change that. They created a group called "There is no difference" to promote cycling as an option for female travellers, prompted by steep rises in the cost of taxi and minibus rides since the government slashed fuel subsidies. Their first event was a mass bike ride in the coastal city that attracted both male and female cyclists. "We want to show that there is no difference between boys and girls," Israa Fayed, one of the organisers, tells government-sponsored Al-Qanal TV. "Girls can ride bikes, and our first aim is to get society accustomed to the sight of a girl on a bike." The initiative has attracted support from women's rights group Kahilah. Its founder, Enas al-Maasarawy, says hundreds of young people got on their bikes for the event. "There was a great turnout. We think it is the beginning of a change," she told the BBC. There was plenty of praise on the event's Facebook page, where one of the girls taking part said they were united around one goal: "To make the society believe that riding bikes is normal, and there is nothing shameful about it." There has been widespread concern over women's rights in Egypt in recent years after a spike in sexual harassment and violence against women following the country's 2011 revolution. New punishments were introduced for offenders in 2014, including jail terms of up to five years.

Yvonne Chaka Chaka: We need young leaders to change status quo
Renowned South African musician Yvonne Chaka Chaka has said younger leaders are needed in African countries to help shape the future of the continent. "Africa needs great leaders, and we do have great leaders by the way, we just need the political will and we need young leaders to change the status quo. We need young leaders to shape the Africa they want," she told BBC HARDtalk's Stephen Sackur. She questioned why the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank are being approached for aid money when the continent has mineral wealth and some of the countries' leaders are richer than the places they govern. Chaka Chaka has been recording and touring for 30 years and is known as the Princess of Africa.

The Malawi teen fighting sex initiation customs
12 October 2016
Nineteen-year-old Memory Banda is a gender rights activist who fights against the age-old custom in Malawi of sending girls to so-called "initiation camps" after they start their first period. The camps aim is to teach girls their "duties as wives" and how to please a man sexually.

The Malawian marriage terminator - video
2 November 2016
Theresa Kachindamoto, a senior chief of a district in Malawi, has terminated 840 marriages, sending the young couples back to school. In rural areas of Malawi, some parents are eager to marry off girls as young as 12.

Anomalous powers of a girl, China. Мистика. Все В Шоке Девчонка Не От мира Сего

Somalia's women in the driving seat - video
26 February 2013
Women in Somalia are enjoying the independence of driving, after nearly two years of living under the strict rule of al-Shabaab. Life for women in Mogadishu has changed beyond recognition, although full equality is still to be realised.

Could Fadumo Dayib be Somalia's first female president? - video
3 June 2015
Fadumo Dayib wants to be Somalia's first female president. The mother of four says she has already received death threats, but that nothing will stop her from running in the upcoming elections, which are due to be held in 2016. Fadumo was born in Kenya, the daughter of Somali parents. As a child, her family was deported back to Somalia, but when civil war broke out shortly thereafter they were forced to leave again, ending up in Finland. She didn't learn to read and write until the age of 14, but went on to earn masters degrees in health care and public health. It was through her work with the United Nations that she realized she wanted to do more to help the people of Somalia. The BBC met Fadumo in Boston, where she recently graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Somalia's 60-year-old graduate motivated by feminist issues - video
5 October 2016
Sixty-year-old Safiyo Jama Gayre has just graduated in Somalia. She chose to study Sharia and secular law at Puntland State University in order to help victims of oppression, especially women. As the university's oldest female graduate, she says age should not be a barrier for education. This is part a regular series on African Women You Need to Know.

How one Ghanaian woman leads with laughter - video
21 November 2016
Lucy Quist, managing director of Airtel Ghana Limited, on how she helps people see female leaders as less of a novelty. Women of Africa is a BBC season recognising inspiring women across the continent. The third series, Power Women, introduces six women, who are chief executive officers or company heads, who are finding success in their country - and beyond.

US election: Trump sex assault accuser speaks out - video
12 November 2016
The former reality-TV show contestant Summer Zervos, who had previously accused president-elect Donald Trump of sexual assault, has released another statement. Mr Trump denied Zervos' original claim, in which she said the businessman had kissed her and touched her without consent. After more women came forward with similar claims, Mr Trump said they were liars who would be sued after the election. In her most recent statement, Zervos said she was the target of abuse and harassment after Mr Trump called her a liar. She did not specify from whom she received abuse, or imply that Mr Trump or anyone from his team deliberately orchestrated it. She asked him to retract his statement. "Even though is hard and painful to go up against the most powerful man, I will continue to speak the truth and I refuse to be intimidated into silence."

Hillary didn't win but the 2016 US election was actually a milestone for women

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Tuesday 8 November 2016 was actually an historic night for women in US politics. The US now has its first Thai-American senator, its first LGBT governor and its first Somali-American Muslim legislator. They will help steer America when Donald Trump takes up the presidency in January. Here are the new female faces of US politics. Catherine Cortez Masto, senator of Nevada. Catherine Cortez Masto is the former attorney general of Nevada and she is now the first Latina to be voted into the US senate. Like Hillary Clinton she is a Democrat and she campaigned for an overhaul in immigration, as she is the granddaughter of a Mexican immigrant. She also spoke out against Donald Trump's plans to build a wall between the US and Mexico. Ilhan Omar, US legislator. Ilhan Omar has become the first Somalian-American Muslim woman legislator. A legislator works to write and pass laws in America. Ilhan fled the Somali civil war in 1990 and spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya before moving to America. She campaigned on a variety of social issues such as police reform, climate change, the cost of education and building a more inclusive economy. Kate Brown, governor of Oregon. Kate Brown has become the 38th governor of Oregon and the first openly bisexual person to be voted into such a role. In her victory speech she said that her political career was sparked by the discovery that, in the 1980s, she was earning less as an attorney than a male colleague on the same level. "I vow that I will do everything in my power to make sure that no one in this state has to face that level of fear, or face that level of discrimination," she said. Kamala Harris, senator of California. Kamala Harris is the first Indian-American and second African-American woman in history to become a US senator. She was endorsed by both Barack Obama and Joe Biden during her campaign. Kamala was previously the first female, the first African-American, the first Indian-American, and the first Asian-American attorney general in California. Tammy Duckworth, senator of Illinois. Tammy Duckworth has become the first Thai-American woman to become a senator, beating Republican Mark Kirk to secure a win. It was a personal victory for Tammy as well as political, with Kirk having previously mocked her heritage during their election race. Tammy served in the Iraq war as a helicopter pilot, where she lost both of her legs and damaged her right armStephanie Murphy, member-elect to the House of Representatives. Stephanie is the first Vietnamese-American woman ever to be voted into a role in congress. Her parents fled Vietnam by boat and were rescued the by the US navy from the sea. Previously a national security specialist, she beat rival John Mica - who had served as the Republican representative for 23 years - after only starting her campaign in June 2016. Pramila Jayapal, senator of Washington State. Pramila is the first Indian-American woman to be elected to the US House of Representatives. Before her political career, she worked as a civil rights activist and funded an advocacy group for Arab, Muslim and South Asian Americans after the 11 September attacks. She was endorsed by Bernie Sanders in April 2016.

 100 women: 'Why I fought being banished to a hut during my period'

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17 January 2017
Krishnamaya in her village, where she has challenged traditional attitudes to menstruating women. An ancient Hindu tradition in which menstruating women are banished to an outhouse is under the spotlight in Nepal after the death of a 15-year-old girl. The practice was banned in 2005 but still continues in western areas. BBC Nepali reporter Krishnamaya Upadhayaya, 24, describes how she has fought against the tradition, known as chhaupadi. I started menstruating when I was 12. My mother, sisters and sisters-in-law used to stay outdoors in a mud hut when they were menstruating so I started staying there too. I was always afraid of what would happen. I was scared of insects and wild animals. I was told it was a sin to touch books during menstruation so I did not go to school during the three days of my period. I used to wonder why I was not allowed to touch books. I missed school and I wasn't the only one. Many girls in my village faced the same problem. Even today, menstruating women are not allowed to enter their courtyard for seven days and are not allowed to consume dairy products like milk, butter, yoghurt etc. I was very hurt when I was not allowed to enter my own courtyard. During your period, people don't hand you food, they fling it at you. The belief that you must not touch your elders during menstruation still persists. A menstruating woman during chhaupadhi. A menstruating woman crouches outside a mud hut in Krishnamaya's home village. And I still had to deal with it when I moved from Kutari village to Khalanga, the capital of Jumla district, to go to college when I was 17. When I went looking for a room to rent, the landlord asked me if I had begun menstruating. When I truthfully replied that I had, I was turned away. I wanted to cry, I did not know what to do. If I went back home, I would miss my studies but it looked like I would not find a room to rent. Period taboos. In many world religions, women are seen as impure during their period. They are restricted from entering places of worship and following religious rites. The chhaupadi tradition followed by Hindus in western Nepal is the most extreme version where women are banished outside during their monthly cycle. In India, women are not allowed enter some Hindu temples and Muslim mosques while menstruating but there have been court cases to overturn this. In southern India, a girl reaching puberty is celebrated with a party and presents. In the Dogon tribe in Mali, women of the village also live in a hut during their period. Finally, I found a room where the landlord said he would allow me to live on the ground floor, but not on the first floor of the house. I agreed to live on the ground floor (as far away from the others and as close to the door as possible). But there were problems. I was not allowed to touch the water tap during my period so someone would have to give me water. I had read that you should maintain hygiene during your period so I used the inside toilet, even though the landlord asked me not to and wanted me to go outside. Krishnamaya at work in the radio studio. Krishnamaya has educated herself about chhaupadi through her work as a radio journalist. After spending a month in Khalanga, I started working in radio. I learned more and more about menstruation. When my landlord complained that my menstruation was creating problems for him, I moved. Usually women are not allowed to rent the upper floor in Jumla because they menstruate. This belief persists even among educated people. It has been six years since I started working in radio. I stay in my room during my period. But I do not tell anyone, including my landlord, that I am menstruating, because I am afraid that I will be sent to a shed. One person cannot end a social ill that has been passed down for generations. Change cannot happen unless society accepts it. When I go home to my village, I stay in the house during my period. I stay in my own room. I do not enter the kitchen and prayer room. After protesting many times to my family, I have been able to stay inside the house rather than outside in a mud hut. I hope that one day the chhaupadi tradition, like the Sati tradition (of a widow immolating herself on her husband's pyre), will end.  Krishnamaya in front of her rented room where she is not allowed live on the first floor. I am very sad to hear of women losing their lives due to the chhaupadi tradition in the mid and far western regions of Nepal. Even in my district, a lot of women live in sheds, so the same thing could happen here too. The government needs to do more to educate people. Chhaupadi is banned but mindsets have not changed.

Sasikala: The 'new mother' of Tamil Nadu politics, India

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29 December 2016
Analysts say Sasikala faces a big task coming out of Jayalalitha's shadow. Sasikala Natarajan has been appointed as the general secretary of India's regional AIADMK party, replacing J Jayalalitha, who died in December after a prolonged illness. BBC Tamil's Thirumalai Manivannan profiles Sasikala's political journey in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. From a homemaker to becoming a trusted friend of the most powerful woman in Tamil Nadu politics, it has been a long and dramatic journey for Sasikala. For close to three decades, Sasikala, known as "Chinnamma" (younger mother) to her supporters, has been an almost permanent fixture in Jayalalitha's life, often seen with the former chief minister on public platforms. Grief as India's 'Iron Lady' dies. Jayalalitha: The 'goddess' of Tamil Nadu politics. Never given any formal role by Jayalalitha in the party or the state government, Sasikala's identity remained as her aide and confidante. Indian supporters and ministers gather alongside the coffin of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram at Rajaji Hall in Chennai on December 6, 2016.  Sasikala managed Jayalalitha's funeral arrangements. But her proximity to power allowed her and her extended family to wield huge influence in the party and the government. Jayalalitha's death has now given Sasikala an opportunity she never had. She has now been tasked to lead the AIADMK, the party which has ruled the southern state for nearly 25 out of the last 40 years. Steady rise
Her transformation from an aide of Jayalalitha to her political successor is remarkable. Sasikala was born into a middle-class family and spent her early years in Thanjavur district. She married M Natarajan, who worked as a public relations officer in the state government. Jayalalithaa Jayaram, leader of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), visits a portrait of party founder M.G. Ramachandran in Chennai on May 20, 2016. The former movie star known as 'Amma' (Mother) has long enjoyed a huge following in prosperous Tamil Nadu where she has won three terms as chief minister since 1991. Actor and director MG Ramachandran was Jayalalitha's mentor, and inducted her into the movies.
Sasikala says she wants to take the party of MG Ramachandran and Jayalalitha to greater heights. When he lost his job during during the 1975 Emergency, Sasikala started a video rental business to support her family. She was reportedly introduced to Jayalalitha by a civil servant. Sasikala started visiting Poes Garden, Jayalalitha's residence, to provide video cassettes to her. This customer-consumer relationship soon blossomed into a strong friendship. 'Soul sister'
She moved into Jayalaltiha's home in the late 1980s, at a time when she was fighting a political battle to wrest full control of the AIADMK after the death of her mentor and the party's founder M G Ramachandran. Her influence over Jayalalitha increased during her first term as chief minister between 1991 and 1996, and she became a permanent resident in the leader's house. Sasikala's friendship with Jayalalitha gave her and her family members, including her husband, incredible access in the government. Sasikala and Jayalalitha.
Jayalalitha, right, always dismissed any criticism of Sasikala. They were often accused of misusing their proximity to the AIDMK leader, an allegation they always denied.
Jayalalitha also dismissed any criticism of her association with Sasikala, saying she was her "soul sister". Their friendship deepened when Jayalalitha adopted Sasikala's nephew VN Sudhakaran as her "foster son". Mr Sudhakaran's wedding to the grand-daughter of Tamil cinema legend Sivaji Ganesan in 1995 made national headlines. The event, billed as the "mother of all weddings", became a spectacular public relations disaster for Jayalaltiha. She was accused of using government resources for the grand wedding. Analysts say that Jayalalitha paid a heavy political price for this, and lost the 1996 assembly elections, including her own seat. Sasikala's influence over Jayalalitha also became the source of intense media speculation and tabloid gossip. They also faced corruption charges. A Karnataka high court order in 2015, which cleared them of involvement in a corruption scandal, paved the way for Jayalalitha's return to power after a setback in September 2014 when a trial court found them guilty of corruption. India's Supreme Court has heard an appeal in the same case, and has reserved its verdict. Amid her legal troubles, Jayalalitha increasingly distanced herself from Sasikala's family, and banished all of them from her house.Whatever the reasons behind their friendship, Sasikala's proximity to Jayalalitha also gained a political and social dimension in Tamil Nadu. Jayalalitha was one of India's most charismatic and enigmatic personalities. Sasikala belongs to the backward Mukkulathor community, which has a dominating presence in southern and some central districts of the state. With Sasikala apparently calling the shots behind the scenes in the AIADMK, the influence of the Mukkulathor community increased within the party structure. The Mukkulathor community, which has often had a hostile relationship with the Dalit (formerly Untouchable) community in southern districts, saw Sakikala as someone who could defend their interests. But caste calculations aside, Sasikala's political and administrative acumen is still largely unknown. While her supporters claim that having donned the role of Jayalalitha's "political adviser" for many years, Sasikala is experienced in handling sensitive party matters. But her critics say that she is yet to prove herself, and the corruption case she faces may become an obstacle in her path.

Australia. 'Ms Dhu' inquest: Aboriginal woman's treatment was 'inhumane'

16 December 2016
Relatives of Ms Dhu participate in a protest outside the coroner's court in Perth, Australia, 16 December 2016. Ms Dhu's family protested outside the courthouse in Perth
An Aboriginal woman who died in police custody after three visits to hospital was subjected to "unprofessional and inhumane" treatment by police, an Australian coroner has said.
Coroner Ros Fogliani said that the woman, known as Ms Dhu, had also received "deficient" health care. Ms Dhu, whose full name is not used for cultural reasons, was arrested in August 2014 for unpaid fines. Her family insists someone should be held accountable for her death. Ms Dhu's death and her family's fight for justice have become a symbol for Aboriginal rights in Australia. Delivering a series of recommendations at Perth Central Law Courts, Ms Fogliani said the law in Western Australia should be changed to end the imprisonment of people for non-payment of fines. She also said police officers should undergo cultural competency training to better understand Aboriginal people's health concerns. After being arrested on 2 August 2014, Ms Dhu, 22, was taken into custody at South Hedland Police Station, near the remote mining town of Port Hedland. She began to complain of rib pain from a previous injury and was taken to South Hedland Health Campus. A doctor found no signs of infection and had her returned to custody on the basis that her pain was due to "behavioural issues". The next day, Ms Dhu was still complaining of pain and was returned to hospital. But Ms Fogliani said her temperature was not taken, a chest X-ray was not performed and "errors were made and there was a missed opportunity to treat Ms Dhu for her infection". She added: "On this presentation, antibiotics would have been potentially life-saving for Ms Dhu." The following day Ms Dhu "continued to suffer a catastrophic decline in her health" but Ms Fogliani said: "The behaviour towards her by a number of police officers was unprofessional and inhumane. "Their behaviour was affected by preconceptions they had formed about her." CCTV footage played at the inquest showed officers dragging Ms Dhu, who appears to be unconscious, from her cell to a police vehicle. She was taken to hospital for a third time where she died from septicaemia and pneumonia resulting from a broken rib. In her conclusion, Ms Fogliani says: "It is profoundly disturbing to witness the appalling treatment of this young woman at the lock-up on 4 August 2014. "In her final hours she was unable to have the comfort of the presence of her loved ones, and was in the care of a number of police officers who disregarded her welfare and her right to humane and dignified treatment." Speaking outside the court, Ms Dhu's family said they were not satisfied with the coroner's recommendations because no-one had been held accountable for her death, broadcaster ABC reported.

Will Trump's election lead to more women in politics?

27 Dec 2016
Hillary Clinton after speaking at the Children's Defense Fund Beat the Odds Celebration at the Newseum in Washington, DC. Though she lost the election, Mrs Clinton won the popular vote by nearly three million votes. As Hillary Clinton exits the national stage, US women continue to pursue a political life. Will a Trump presidency motivate more women to run for office? The election of Donald Trump delivered a crushing blow to US women's rights activists hoping to elect the first female president. But Hillary Clinton's failure to shatter the metaphorical glass ceiling was not collective. In fact, Mr Trump's victory has appeared to energise a new group of women who have pledged to run for office.
Ladies first: How US politics got left behind? Did Clinton win more votes than any white man in history? Hillary Clinton: What went wrong for her?
She Should Run, a non-partisan non-profit that encourages more women to get into politics, has seen more than 5,100 women sign up for its incubator programme since the election, according to Erin Loos Cutraro, the group's chief executive and co-founder. The incubator, initially launched in March, helps prepare women who are interested in running for office and connects them with like-minded women. Chelsea Wilson, a 27-year-old member of the Cherokee Nation and Oklahoma native, is one of those women who felt empowered to step forward. The Washington, DC, resident went through the programme in the spring. She plans to return to her home state and run for office. "More women in government injects new perspectives and ideas," Ms Wilson says. "And I think the election shined a light on what's missing in politics." She Should Run is not the only group pushing for more female candidates to receive a post-election surge of support. Emily's List, an organisation dedicated to electing pro-choice, Democratic women for office, told the BBC it raised more than $500,000 (£406,867) since 8 November. A group of protesters rally against Donald Trump outside of Trump Tower in New York City. She Should Run has seen more than 5,100 women sign up for its incubator to prepare women for a run for office. The group said most of those donations were unsolicited and roughly a third came from new donors. Ready to Run, a non-partisan training programme for women considering elected office at Rutgers University's Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), has already registered nearly 100 women for its spring course. At this time last year, only two people were signed up. "They want to make sure that their voices are heard," says centre director Debbie Walsh. "It's this notion that if they don't speak up, who will?" "I've always had it in the back of my mind that I may want to run for office some day," says Courtney Peters-Manning, a 39-year-old finance director. But working full time and having two young children made it "easy for daily life to get in the way of grand ambition". The election was "the kick in the pants that I needed". Ms Peters-Manning is looking to run at the county government level. It's not Congress, but she says such local governments are important. Mercer County, New Jersey, where she lives, has a $300m dollar budget. When Ms Wilson thinks about a run in Oklahoma as a young, progressive woman of colour, she sees a difficult road ahead.
"It's likely that I'll lose." she said. "But if we don't make the decision to take these risks now, then how do we tell other women and girls that they should make the leap, too?Though Mrs Clinton's loss was a "tough moment", the number of women who have expressed interest in running changes the message, says Ms Loos Cutraro. "If we want to see women have an equal voice in the halls of power... it is up to each and every one of us to do something about it."
Lagging behind globally
With or without a woman in the White House, the US has a disproportionately low share of women in politics. About 19% of all members of Congress and less than 25% of all state legislators are women, according to CAWP. Just 12% of the nation's governors are female. The US currently ranks behind 98 other countries in the percentage of women in its main legislative body - putting it behind nations like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan - according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union. "The day after the election wasn't just for us an issue of rewriting all our post-election messages," says Ms Loos Cutraro. "It was also this realisation that we made little to no gains in the percentage of women serving in elected office from town halls to Congress." The last time anger appeared to galvanise women to run for office was 1992, according to Ms Walsh. That year, Anita Hill testified before an all-male Senate Judiciary committee, accusing Supreme Court Justice nominee Clarence Thomas of sexually harassing her while she served as his aide. She came away from the testimony with a tarnished reputation, while Mr Thomas was confirmed. But dozens of women successfully ran for office the same year. The number of women in the Senate doubled from two to four and the House of Representatives went from 28 to 47. Why are so few women running? For many women, the barriers - both structural and mental - are enough to sit out a political contest. Research has shown that though women are just as likely to be elected as men, they often think they are not qualified to run for office and are less likely to be encouraged to do so. Among college students in a 2013 study, men were twice as likely as women to say they would be qualified for office later on. And perhaps more visibility is needed to make a difference. Amelia Showalter, a political consultant and former director of digital analytics for President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign, found electing a woman to a high office such as a governor or US senator was linked to a 2-3% increase in female representation in their state legislature four years later. Still, this year's bitterly divisive election has some concerned whether more women will actually want to subject themselves to a political run where sexism is front and centre. US Senator-elect and California Attorney General Kamala Harris was one of three women of colour elected to the Senate this year. But Ms Walsh remains encouraged. "Women are actually defying the idea that women won't want to be engaged because it's so ugly," Ms Walsh pointed out. "That in fact what they want to do is step up even more." This year has seen one bright spot for political women's representation - 38 women of colour were elected to Congress, the largest number ever. As Ms Walsh points out, the number of minority female women serving in the Senate at the same time has never been more than one. In 2017, there will be four. California's Kamala Harris, Illinois' Tammy Duckworth, Nevada's Catherine Cortez Masto will join Hawaii's Mazie Hirono. "We have to find more of the women who are willing to step out because frankly, it is not until we see critical mass of women or equal representation that we will change that culture in a meaningful way." Ms Loos Cutraro said. "Our job now is to keep moving forward."

India. Bangalore New 2017 Year: 'People were grabbing, groping'

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4 Jan 2017
Police hold back crowds in Bangalore (31 Dec 2016). Some 60,000 people had gathered at the New Year celebrations. Police in India say they have credible evidence that widespread sexual assaults took place at New Year's Eve celebrations in Bangalore. Several woman have said they were molested by mobs of men, though police say they have had no official complaints from victims yet. One woman, a marketing professional who asked to be identified only as Pooja, was at the event and told the BBC what happened to her. Pooja's story
On 31 December, we decided to go to a bar on Mahatma Gandhi (MG) Road. At 11.30 I came out to make a call and found that everything was quiet and calm. At 12:30 my friend who was to pick me up called me to say that the police had put barricades and he had to park his motorbike at the Shankar Nag theatre. He told me to start walking towards that side and he would meet me halfway. I said goodbye to my friends and started walking towards the Brigade Road side. India anger as minister blames 'Western' behaviour. In between, I saw people rushing and walking but I did not expect them to do anything. Man helps a woman during unrest in Bangalore (31 Dec 2016). Some men helped women to get away from the mobs, as in this picture. I believed Bangalore was a safe city until then. What happened next shocked me a lot. People were pushing and shoving, touching, grabbing, groping and everything was happening on that street. It was not only to me. It was happening to other girls too. They were all scared. 'I felt so helpless'. Suddenly, someone pushed me and I fell down. There was no-one to pick me up. Then a group of girls helped me get up. Their friends had formed a circle around them so they could walk safely. I asked them if I could go with them. Even then when we were walking, there were guys who were trying to touch here and there. Police beat back crowds in Bangalore on New Year's eve. Police used batons to push back the crowds at points. There was not a single face you could make out or who was doing it. As soon as you turned you would be groped or grabbed. There were so many people there that you could not pinpoint who was doing it. There was a lathi [baton] charge on Brigade Road so people were running in all directions. I felt helpless. Although I have hands and legs and I could abuse and slap them, I could not do anything. I didn't know who was touching me and groping me. When I came and told my friends, they asked me who were the people? Were they from the slum? I had no answer. 'Everlasting impact'
In the pub too, groping was happening. When we pay 6,000-7,000 rupees ($88; £72) to go to a pub to get entry to celebrate, you expect people to be of a certain class. At least, that they wouldn't do such things. These people weren't illiterate or uneducated. They don't know what effect it has on a girl's life. It has an everlasting impact. Who would I file a complaint against? I don't know a face or name. Even if I go to the police, they will ask who the complaint is against. A weeping woman seeks help from a policewoman. Police have asked people to send in any evidence of assaults. There were so many people that the policemen were highly outnumbered. It was not possible for them to keep a watch on each and every person. This has become a big issue in the last three days. Why hasn't any action been taken? What are they waiting for? Yes, I have been through such situations earlier. But I have punched, slapped and complained to nearby authorities. I have been in Bangalore for three years. I thought it was a safe city. Seeing this mass molestation was really shocking. When I spoke to some people, I was told that this had happened last year as well. So why weren't arrangements made? Instead of pretending nothing will happen, authorities should make efforts to curb this.

100 Women: How South Korea stopped its parents aborting girls

13 Jan 2017
Daughters were traditionally valued less than sons in South Korea. People wearing traditional Korean 'hanbok' dresses take part in a parade in the central Gwanghwamun square in Seoul. For every 100 baby girls born in India, there are 111 baby boys. In China, the ratio is 115 to 100. One other country saw similar rates in 1990, but has since brought its population back into balance. How did South Korea do it? Yvette Tan reports. "One daughter is equal to 10 sons," was the message desperately being promoted by the South Korean government. It was some two decades ago and gender imbalance was at a high, reaching 116.5 boys for every 100 girls at its peak. The preference for sons goes back centuries in Korean tradition. They were seen to carry on the family line, provide financial support and take care of their parents in old age. "There was the idea that daughters were not regarded as part of their own family after marriage," says Ms Park-Cha Okkyung, the executive director of the Korean Women's Associations United. The government was looking for a solution - and fast. In an effort to reduce the incidence of selective abortions, South Korea enacted a law in 1988 making it illegal for a doctor to reveal the gender of a foetus to expectant parents. At the same time women were also becoming more educated, with many more starting to join the workforce, challenging the convention that it was the job of a man to provide for his family. It worked, but it was not for one reason alone. Rather, a combination of these factors led to the eventual gender rebalancing. South Korea was acknowledged as the "first Asian country to reverse the trend in rising sex ratios at birth", in a report by the World Bank. In 2013, the ratio was down to 105.3, a number comparable to major Western nations such as Canada. Rapid urbanisation
Monica Das Gupta, research professor in sociology at the University of Maryland who has studied gender disparity across Asia, says factors other than legislation are likely to be the most significant in accounting for this change. A legal ban can "dampen things a bit", but she points out that "seven years after the law [was instituted] sex-selective abortions continued". Rather she attributes the change to the "blistering pace" of urbanisation and industrialisation in South Korea. While the country was predominantly a rural society there was great emphasis on male lineage and boys staying at home to inherit their fathers' land. But in just a few decades a large part of the population has moved to living in apartment blocks with people they don't know and working in factories with people they don't know, and the system has become much more impersonal, Dr Das Gupta says.
China and India, though, still have a stark gender imbalance, despite India outlawing, and China regulating against, sex-selective testing and abortions. So why is that?
Chart shows the ratio of how girls are outnumbered at birth over three decades in South Korea, India, China and Canada. Dr Das Gupta believes that in China this may be because until last year, the rule that your household registration - known as the hukou system - remained in the village where you were from, regardless of the fact that you might work in the city, meant that there was still an emphasis on male lineage and land ownership, but that this should now start to shift. But she also stressed that the change is not always linear. As people gain economic advantage they have better access to sex-selective testing and have fewer children, which actually then puts greater emphasis on their gender. In India in 1961, there were 976 girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of seven. According to the latest census figures released in 2011, that figure had dropped to a dismal 914 and campaigners say the decline is largely due to the increased availability of antenatal sex screening, despite the fact that both the tests and sex-selective abortion have been outlawed since 1994. They say that in the past decade alone, 8 million female foetuses may have been aborted in the country. But she argues that several factors in India are slowly having a trickle-down effect on attitudes to women including media representation of women functioning in the outside world, and legislative changes enforcing equal inheritance rules and requiring one-third of elected positions be reserved for women. BBC 100 Women names 100 influential and inspirational women around the world every year. We create documentaries, features and interviews about their lives, giving more space for stories that put women at the centre. While South Korea may have rebalanced its population, this does not necessarily equate gender equality, Ms Okkyung argues. "Even though Korea has a normal gender ratio balance, discrimination against women still continues," the 47-year-old says. "We need to pay more attention to the real situations that women face rather than just looking at the numbers." Women in South Korea face one of the largest gender wage gaps amongst developed countries - at 36% in 2013. By comparison, New Zealand has a gap of some 5%. "Nowadays women go to university at a higher rate than men in South Korea. However, the problem starts when women enter into the labour market," Ms Okkyung explains. Businesswomen leave an office building in downtown Seoul.
"The glass ceiling is very solid and there is a low percentage of women at higher positions in offices." One of the reasons it is harder for women to compete in the workplace is because they are expected to devote their time to both work and family. "One example is that working mothers have a dilemma, as children in elementary schools come home early after lunch. Therefore, mothers who cannot see a sustainable future in the workplace tend to quit their jobs," says Ms Okkyung. Dr Hyekung Lee was one of the few Korean women in her generation that did find workplace success. "I have been very lucky that I was brought up in a very enlightened family. My family had three girls and two boys, and all were given the same support for education," says 68-year-old Dr Lee, who is the chairperson of the Korea Foundation for Women, the country's only non-profit organisation for women.
"But when I became a full-time faculty member in my university, I had to be the only woman professor in my department throughout my 30 years there." Moving ahead
Generally, attitudes towards women have improved as today's Korean men become more educated and exposed to global norms. They also inevitably mix with women across all spheres of life, in workplaces, schools or social circles, something that perhaps was not so common decades ago. Two mothers carry their babies at a Pregnancy and Maternity exhibition.
Having children makes it hard for women to compete in the workplace, partly because of school hours for younger children. It is amongst the older generation that many still cling on to the preference for sons. Emily [not her real name], 26, recalls that growing up as an only child, she was always treated equally by her grandparents - until her step-brothers were born. "I only noticed the difference when my brothers came," she said. "Then I realised that they would never do stuff like the housework. My birthday is also one day before my father's so my grandparents didn't allow me to celebrate it because as they said: 'How dare a girl celebrate a birthday before her father?'"
Lee Tae-rim, 10 (L), and her mother, Kim Min-jeong (R), smile as they walk back home from the dance school at night on August 10, 2016 in Seoul. How long will South Korea's women take to catch up?
"I think Korea is at that transitional phase that people are more aware now than previous generations, but it's still not quite equal compared to Western countries," she says.
"I've had friends tell me I can only keep my career if I stay single, and others tell me I've chased away men because I was too bossy on the dates and took the initiative."
She also notes that there is also a substantial difference in attitudes towards women in bigger cities and smaller towns. "Cities like Busan are more traditional. I've had friends from Busan get a culture shock when they come to Seoul," she says. "In the capital, things are more progressive." Yet she believes change will come. "Women in Korea need to be aware that there is gender discrimination," says Emily, who is now studying in the Netherlands. "I didn't know until I left - I thought the way things were was just how they were. It's not until you expose yourself to other cultures that you start to question your own. I think things will change, but it will take a lot of time."

'I killed my rapist when he came back for my sister' - video (highly recommended, LM)

26 October 2016
A young Tunisian woman was photographed naked by a friend of her father's, who then used the images to silence her - until one day she snapped and took a bloody revenge. This story is part of the BBC's Shame series, which examines a disturbing new phenomenon - the use of private or sexually explicit images to blackmail and shame young people, mainly girls and women, in some of the world's most conservatives societies.

Natasha Annie Tonthola: My fight against Malawi's 'hyenas'

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25 October 2016
Natasha spends time with girls in various public schools sharing her life experiences. In July the BBC wrote about a Malawian man paid to have sex with young girls from his village, as part of a sexual initiation ritual. Later a Malawian woman, Natasha Annie Tonthola, contacted the BBC to explain how her experience of the ritual helped inspire her to campaign for the protection of women and girls. This is her story. I'm the oldest of five children and I grew up in a village in the central district of Malawi, near the capital, Lilongwe, and I was 13 years old when the initiation ceremony happened. My father was from a village near Mulanje, in the south of the country, and I was sent there for the ceremony after my first period. You don't have a choice - it happens to every girl in the village. We were told that we were going to learn about womanhood, and to be honest I was excited. So was every other girl. On the last day one of the female elders told us that we had reached the final part of the process. She said a hyena was coming to visit us. "Don't worry, I'm not talking about an animal," she said. "I'm talking about a man." But we didn't actually know what a hyena is, or what he was going to do. They don't tell you he's going to have sex with you. The female elder came in and said, 'Congratulations, you have finished the initiation ceremony, and you are a woman now'. We each had a piece of cloth and we were told to put it on the floor. We were told that it was time to show that we knew how to treat a man, that we knew what to do for our future husbands. Then we were blindfolded. You're not supposed to show you're scared, you're not supposed to show you don't know what's happening to you. The man comes, and he tells you to lie down, you open your legs and he does what he does. We weren't allowed to know who the man was - only the elders know. We were young girls, so we were tense, and this man would push our legs open. I found it painful. When he finished, I was relieved. The female elder came in and said, "Congratulations, you have finished the initiation ceremony, and you are a woman now." Many girls think this is normal because we are in a way brainwashed, we think it is OK because it is tradition. But the hyena didn't use protection and some of the girls got pregnant. When we got back home, we weren't allowed to chat or play with girls who hadn't already been through the ceremony. I wasn't allowed to tell my younger sister anything about it. Girls are entering puberty earlier, and getting their periods at a younger age, so now the ceremony is happening to girls as young as 10 or 11 years old.
After the ceremony my life took a turn for the worse. My father, who was a policeman, died the following year. The tradition of "wife inheritance" says that the brother of a man who dies should marry the widow, to provide for the family, but my mother refused to follow this custom. Instead, we moved to South Africa, as my mother is half South African and my uncle invited us there to make a fresh start. We both took jobs to make ends meet - I lied about my age and got jobs in a salon and a kitchen. I also worked as a housekeeper. But despite working hard, we didn't have enough money to pay my school fees or to support our family. Then, through my relatives back in Malawi, I found out that there was a man who was willing to pay my school fees as long as I agreed to marry him. I was about to turn 16, and I didn't want to get married so young. My mother didn't want me to either. But I was desperate to finish my education, and worried about my siblings and my mother, who was working so hard it was affecting her health. So I said yes and we all moved back to Malawi. In some communities they told us: 'Just because you are educated, doesn't mean that you should tell us what to do'. We had a traditional marriage and he started paying for my secondary schooling and supporting my entire family. He was 15 years older than I was, he was educated, and was a successful businessman, but he was physically abusive. He beat me all the time. I still have scars on my body from my marriage. I got pregnant at age 17, but fortunately I was able to take my exams before I gave birth to my daughter. My husband was still abusive - I almost had a miscarriage - and he was having affairs the entire time we were together. I was broken. This was not how I wanted my life to be, and I knew my husband was doing this to me because I was young and vulnerable, and didn't have anywhere else to go. I was trapped. It was at this point that my uncle in South Africa came to the rescue again. He knew I was passionate about fashion, and arranged for me to enrol in a fashion design course. My husband always told me that if I left him, he'd hunt me down and kill me. So I had to lie, and tell him, "I'll be home in a week or two." But I did not go back. Instead I did the course, and supported myself by working in a restaurant. Eventually I went back to Malawi and started designing clothes for influential people. I also opened a restaurant - cooking is another big passion of mine, it's my version of therapy. And I started a community organisation working on a variety of issues, from keeping girls in school by fighting early marriage, educating people about rituals and traditions - including hyenas - which put girls at risk, and teaching about HIV/Aids, unwanted pregnancies and reproductive health. My troubles with my husband were not over, however. When he found out I was back in Malawi he started stalking me. He would say things like: "If I can't have you, nobody else can." One day he came to the house that I was living in. I don't know how he got my address, but he seemed calm, so I let him inside. He said he wanted to see me, and that he also wanted to see his daughter, who was at that time three years old. He told me he loved me, that he was sorry and that he was a changed man. "We're still married, and I've done so much for you," he said. "If it wasn't for me paying your fees and taking you and your miserable family in, you wouldn't have become what you are today. You owe me." I told him: "Once bitten, twice shy." I certainly didn't want to get back together with him. He shouted and threw things and then he started choking me - even though my daughter was sitting on my lap. He would have killed me if the neighbours hadn't heard my screams. They burst in and threw him out. I didn't press criminal charges, I didn't want to make my case more public than it already was. But I did get a restraining order to keep him away from me. Natasha talks to girl children at a public school in the capital Lilongwe.  All the while, something was bubbling up inside me, and I knew that what had happened to me in my life was happening to other girls and women. My community organisation continued to educate people but it was hard, particularly when we were challenging traditions such as the use of hyenas and wife inheritance. We have distributed so many sanitary towels that I have lost count. In some communities they told us: "Just because you are educated, doesn't mean that you should tell us what to do. These traditions and customs have existed for time immemorial, and we've practised them for ages without any harm." But some elders and religious leaders listened, and some have stopped the practice in their villages. In my community work I soon learned more about the barriers for girls in school. If families are going through a financial rough patch, they're more likely to pay fees for boys rather than for girls. If girls drop out of school, the family is eager to marry them off rather than have them sit around the house all day. And many girls miss class because they can't afford sanitary towels. To try to solve this problem, one of the main things my organisation is doing is distributing eco-friendly reusable washable sanitary pads and pants. They come as part of a kit including pants with clips so that they stay in place and a waterproof bag, in case girls need to change them in school. They are biodegradable, but cost effective and durable - they last for five years. I've also expanded into nappies. I hope these will encourage much less waste to go into landfill. In 2011 I realised I needed to establish a formal organisation, and that was the start of Mama Africa Foundation Trust. We have distributed so many sanitary towels that I have lost count. I call this initiative Project Dignity. Despite everything that's happened I'm optimistic about the future. I think there is so much we can do for the women and children who are victims of hyenas, of gender-based violence, and all the other social evils and challenges that are out there. It will be tough, but I have hope.

Australian students to be taught about 'male privilege'
14 October 2016
A state in Australia has launched an education programme designed to smash gender stereotypes and tackle the root causes of domestic violence. The "respectful relationship" curriculum will be mandatory in all schools in Victoria from next year. Students will explore issues around social inequality, gender-based violence and male privilege.
However, a report on a 2015 pilot trial accused it of presenting all men as "bad" and all women as "victims". Pay inequality, anger management, sexual orientation and the dangers of pornography will be among the topics explored by students in the programme, costing A$21.8m (£13.5m; $16.5m). Primary school students will be exposed to images of both boys and girls doing household chores, playing sport and working as firefighters and receptionists. The material includes statements including "girls can play football, can be doctors and can be strong" and "boys can cry when they are hurt, can be gentle, can be nurses and can mind babies". In high school, students will be taught the meaning of terms including pansexual, cisgender and transsexual and the concept of male privilege. A guide for the Year 7 and 8 curriculum states: "Being born a male, you have advantages - such as being overly represented in the public sphere - and this will be true whether you personally approve or think you are entitled to this privilege." It describes privilege as "automatic, unearned benefits bestowed upon dominant groups" based on "gender, sexuality, race or socio-economic class". Year 11 and 12 students are introduced to the concept of "hegemonic masculinity" which "requires boys and men to be heterosexual, tough, athletic and emotionless, and encourages the control and dominance of men over women". Breaking the cycle
Some critics have suggested that although more needs to be done to protect the female victims of domestic violence, the programme lacks objectivity and nuance. Jeremy Sammut, a senior research fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies, a libertarian think tank, told The Australian newspaper that it amounted to "taxpayer-funded indoctrination" of children. "The idea behind this programme - that all men are latent abusers by nature of the 'discourse' - is an idea that only cloistered feminist academics could love," Dr Sammut said. "A lot of evidence suggests that like child abuse, domestic violence is a by-product of social dysfunction: welfare, drugs, family breakdown."
The royal commission that recommended education as the key measure for preventing future family violence found that 25% of victims of family violence are men. Critics argue that point is often overlooked. Education Minister James Merlino has said education is the key to ending the "vicious cycle" of family violence. "This is about teaching our kids to treat everyone with respect and dignity so we can start the cultural change we need in our society to end the scourge of family violence," he said.
Other articles:
'Men to blame for family violence'
Australia's 'perfect storm' of domestic violence
Why do trolls go after feminists?
Violence amid a life of luxury


Китай изнутри: Женщины, Apr 29, 2013. На сегодня лишь одна древняя культура имеет настолько мощный потенциал, что может в скором будущем занять лидирующие позиции во всем мире. Это Китай. Страна с тысячелетней историей вновь превращается в державу номер один. Китай меняется прямо у нас на глазах, он становится богаче и сильнее. Здесь есть города, которые могут вместить в себя населения некоторых европейских стран. В новом веке коммунистический Китай может представляться как страна, имеющая единый разум и единый голос. Однако это иллюзия. Чтобы понять современный Китай документалисты отправляются в самые удаленные уголки Поднебесной. В храмы Тибета и женский трудовой лагерь под Пекином. На свадьбу в провинции и выборы в деревне. В залы, где заседает правительство, и в дома простых людей.

Китай изнутри: Менталитет китайцев

Nigeria's President Buhari: My wife belongs in kitchen - 2 videos

14 October 2016
Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari made his controversial comments standing alongside one of the most powerful women in the world, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has responded to criticism from his wife by saying she belongs in his kitchen. On a visit to Germany, he said: "I don't know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room." Mr Buhari was standing next to Chancellor Angela Merkel, who seemed to glare at him. Aisha Buhari had said she might not back her husband at the next election unless he got a grip on his government. Responding to questions by reporters, Mr Buhari said that having run for president three times and having succeeded at the fourth attempt, he could "claim superior knowledge over her". Reaction to Nigeria power couple spat. Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari's first year in quotes. In an interview with the BBC's Hausa language service, Mrs Buhari, a businesswoman and activist, suggested her husband's government had been hijacked by only a "few people", who were behind presidential appointments. "If it continues like this, I'm not going to be part of any [re-election] movement," says Aisha Buhari. "The president does not know 45 out of 50 of the people he appointed and I don't know them either, despite being his wife of 27 years," she said. Her decision to go public with her concerns will shock many people, but it shows the level of discontent with the president's leadership, says the BBC's Naziru Mikailu in the capital, Abuja. The president's remarks on the kitchen and "the other room" have been met with outrage on social media. There was immediate criticism for the president's thoughts on the role of women. Some are wondering what Mr Buhari meant by "the other room", others have been posting pictures of a variety of bedrooms, and the hashtag #TheOtherRoom is trending in Nigeria. The comments by the president sparked a flurry of explanatory tweets by his spokesperson, Mallam Garba Shehu, who said the president respected the place of women in society and believed in their ability. He dismissed the incident as a bit of "banter": A turning point for Nigeria? Analysis by Naziru Mikailu in Abuja . Aisha Buhari campaigned vigorously for her husband in last year's election in Nigeria, organising town hall meetings with women's groups and youth organisations. However, she kept a low profile at the start of the administration. She was restricted to her work on the empowerment of women and helping victims of the Boko Haram conflict in the north-east of the country where she is from. This is one reason why this damning interview has caught the attention of many Nigerians. It is a significant blow for Mr Buhari, who has a reputation for being a tough, no-nonsense president. Mrs Buhari's comments also bolster accusations that his government has been hijacked by a small group of individuals. The comments could also mark a turning point for a government that has clearly struggled to deal with economic recession and is facing growing disquiet within the ruling party. Aisha Buhari registers to vote as the president looks on.  President Buhari (L) may not be able to rely on Mrs Buhari's (C) support if he chooses to run again in 2019. Mr Buhari was elected last year with a promise to tackle corruption and nepotism in government. The Nigerian economy, battered by low global oil prices and a currency devaluation, officially entered recession in August for the first time in a decade. Oil sales account for 70% of government income. The president famously remarked at his inauguration that he "belongs to nobody and belongs to everybody". Mrs Buhari - Born in 1971 in north-eastern Nigeria's Adamawa state, she is the granddaughter of the nation's first Minister of Defence, Alhaji Muhammadu Ribadu. She married Muhammadu Buhari in 1989. They have five children together, a boy and four girls. In 1995 she opened the Hanzy Spa, northern Nigeria's first beauty parlour, in Kaduna State. She published the book The Essentials of Beauty Therapy: A Complete Guide for Beauty Specialists in 2014. She is an advocate of human rights and has donated money to help the families of victims of Boko Haram after more than 250 girls were kidnapped by the militant group in 2014. She caused upset in Nigeria last year after appearing in public wearing an expensive-looking watch, which led some to ask whether she was undermining Mr Buhari's "man of the people" image. Mrs Buhari was also criticised on social media for attempting to shake hands with the Alaafin of Oyo, a leading chief of the Yoruba people.

Перуанские индейцы заживо сожгли женщину по подозрению в колдовстве
В Перу жители индейского села сожгли заживо пожилую женщину, обвинив ее в колдовстве. Момент убийства записал на камеру мобильного телефона один из местных жителей. На видеозаписи видно, как женщину со связанными руками помещают на кучу хвороста, обливают бензином и кидают зажженную спичку. Страшное преступление было совершено в труднодоступном поселке, где нет телефонной связи, вследствие чего о совершенном еще 20 сентября преступлении стало известно только через неделю. Причиной зверского убийства стали подозрения жителей села в том, что 73-летняя женщина накликает на них болезни, сообщает РИА Новости. Перед казнью состоялся импровизированный суд, на котором 40 жителей поселка приговорили несчастную к смерти, сделав соответствующую запись об этом в местном журнале событий. В поселок был направлен отряд вооруженной полиции. Сотрудники правоохранительных органов обнаружили на месте совершения преступления останки сожженной женщины. Полиция считает, что тело жертвы продолжали жечь в течение трех дней. Журнал, в котором была сделана запись о вынесенном приговоре, изъят властями в качестве одного из доказательств совершения преступления.

The Kung Fu nuns of Nepal

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19 September 2016
Dressed in traditional maroon robes modified in the style of karate uniforms, the nuns’ smiling faces conceal an incredible energy and strength. It was barely 5am, but at Druk Gawa Khilwa nunnery in Kathmandu, Nepal, the nuns were already practicing Kung Fu. With one leg folded forward and the other one stretched out backward, they lunged in the air repeatedly, striving for perfection in a series of impeccable kicks. Cries of energy punctuated each movement, a shrill accompaniment to the booming drums. Dressed in traditional maroon robes modified in the style of karate uniforms, the women’s smiling faces concealed an incredible energy and strength. These are the Kung-Fu nuns: Nepal’s only female order to practice the deadly martial art made famous by Bruce Lee. In the inherently patriarchal Buddhist monastic system, women are considered inferior to men. Monks usually occupy all positions of leadership, leaving nuns to the household duties and other tedious chores. But in 2008, the leader of the 1,000-year-old Drukpa lineage, His Holiness The Gyalwang Drukpa, changed all that. In 2008, The Gyalwang Drukpa started encouraging his nuns to learn self-defence. After a visit to Vietnam where he saw nuns receiving combat training, he decided to bring the idea back to Nepal by encouraging his nuns to learn self-defence. His simple motive: to promote gender equality and empower the young women, who mostly come from poor backgrounds in India and Tibet. Every day, 350 nuns, aged between 10 and 25, take part in three intense training sessions where they practice the exercises taught to them by their teacher, who visits twice a year from Vietnam. As well as perfecting their postures, they handle traditional weapons, such as the ki am (sword), small dao (sabre), big dao (halberd), tong (lance) and nunchaku (chain attached to two metal bars). 350 young nuns practice Kung-Fu exercises every day. Those with exceptional physical and mental strength are taught the brick-breaking technique, made famous in countless martial arts movies, which is only performed on special occasions like His Holiness’ birthday.
The nuns, most of them with black belts, agree that Kung Fu helps them feel safe, develops self-confidence, gets them strong and keeps them fit. But an added bonus is the benefit of concentration, which allows them to sit and mediate for longer periods of time. Jigme Konchok, a nun in her early 20s who has been practicing Kung Fu for more than five years, explained the process: “I need to be constantly aware of my movement, know whether it is right or not, and correct it immediately if necessary. I must focus my attention on the sequence of movements that I have memorized and on each movement at once. If the mind wanders, then the movement is not right or the stick falls. It is the same in meditation.”
In the name of gender equality, The Gyalwang Drukpa also encourages his nuns to learn traditionally masculine skills, such as plumbing, electrical fitting, typing, cycling and English. Under his guidance, they’re taught to lead prayers and are given basic business skills – typically work done by monks – and they run the nunnery’s guesthouse and coffee shop. The progressive women even drive 4X4s down Druk Amitabha mountain to Kathmandu, about 30km away, to get supplies. Imbued with a new confidence, they are starting to use their skills and energy in community development. When Nepal was hit with a massive earthquake in April 2015, the nuns refused to move to a safer area and instead trekked to nearby villages to help remove rubble and clear pathways. They distributed food to the survivors and helped pitch tents for shelter. The nuns use their skills in community development. Early this year these nuns – led by His Holiness himself – cycled 2,200km from Kathmandu to Delhi to spread the message of environmental awareness and encourage people to use bicycles instead of cars. And when the nuns visit areas plagued by violence, like Kashmir, they deliver lectures on the importance of diversity and tolerance.
Foremost on the nuns’ agenda, however, is the promotion of female empowerment. “Kung Fu helps us to develop a certain kind of confidence to take care of ourselves and others in times of need.” Konchok explained. By practicing traditionally masculine skills, they promote female empowerment.

Women take it all - 22 Sep 2016

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In this unique and complex social structure, ancestral property, such as rice paddies and houses, is inherited by the daughters. Children take their mother’s name, and a man is considered a guest in his wife’s home. A religious mix. Minangs were traditionally animist, worshipping elements of nature, until Hinduism and later Buddhism arrived from India. Their culture is still based on adat (local customs, beliefs and laws, derived from the animist and Hindu belief systems), while pawang (spirit specialists) are consulted to cure illness, predict the future or communicate with the spirit world. Despite following a matricentred culture, however, the Minangs have also embraced patrilineal Islam. A peculiar affair. Unlike regular Islamic tradition where the bride moves into her husband’s house after marriage, the Minang groom moves into the bride’s ancestral home and lives with her family. The dowry is set by the bride’s family, based on the groom’s education and profession. A new lease of life. Marriages are an elaborate affair. On the wedding day, the groom is picked from his house and taken to the bride’s home for the ceremony, where the marriage rites, or nikah, are performed in accordance to the Islamic rites. The groom is grandly welcomed by dancing girls and men playing the gandang tambua (drum) and talempong (gong chimes). Pomp and show. The bride’s family members dress in their traditional best and carry money, gifts and food on their heads to give to the groom. An egalitarian treatmentMarriage brings about social and economic privileges for Minang women, with senior females controlling all those in the sublineage. As heads of the household and controllers of land and kin, they arbitrate and resolve disputes, reprimand and play a major role in marital talks and various rituals. Minang men are expected to have a regular source of income and take care of the expenses of raising the children. Many leave their villages in search of work, returning home only occasionally. When they do, they have no say in the domestic affairs of the house.

В будущем все люди будут женщинами?
Биологам известны случаи, когда та или иная особь вдруг меняет свой пол. Такой особенностью обладают, например, некоторые виды рыбок, червей и т.д. Не грозит ли будущее подобной трансформацией и людям? Задать этот, на первый взгляд абсурдный, вопрос заставляют следующие соображения. Канализационная система современного города перерабатывает миллионы литров жидких отходов, в которых присутствуют, кроме прочего, и выведенные из нашего организма гормоны. Те самые, которые определяют пол человека. В числе них — женский гормон, эстроген. Так вот, около 10 лет назад ученые обратили внимание на интересные изменения в рыбах, живущих в реках вблизи сточных труб. Доктор Джеф Брайти из Агентства по защите окружающей среды Великобритании поясняет:
«Существует связь между сточными водами и эстрогенным воздействием на рыб. Оно сказывается на них по-разному — от образования яйцеклеток в самцах до появления гермафродитов.
Еще недавно предполагали, что это, возможно, вызвано синтетическим эстрогеном, который, например, массово потребляют с противозачаточными пилюлями. Однако последние исследования показали, что подобные изменения рыб могут вызвать лишь естественные женские гормоны, попадающие в воду вместе с мочой...» Из подобных наблюдений некоторые исследователи делают весьма впечатляющие выводы. Подождите, говорят они, то ли еще будет. Скоро сильный пол станет слабым. И приводят удручающие факты. Судя по клиническим исследованиям, за последние полвека количество спермы у мужчин сократилось в 2 раза. Неуклонно растет количество заболеваний их половых органов. Как указывает доктор Пол Харисон, с 1970 года во многих странах поражение раком яичек участилось вдвое. А теперь к этому добавляется новая напасть. Ведь женские половые гормоны обладают способностью воздействовать не только на рыб, но и на людей, то есть, конечно, на мужчин — у дам и своего гормона в достатке. Не оттого ли джентльмены постепенно теряют унаследованное от Адама отличительное достоинство? «И это даже неплохо для человечества, — полагает нейрохимик Дороти Чайковская-Маевская, работающая в Национальном институте здоровья в Роксилле (штат Мэриленд). — По крайней мере, ничего трагического в том нет. Уже сегодня тестостерон — главный мужской половой гормон, от которого можно ожидать чего угодно, вплоть до кощунственного превращения развивающегося женского плода в мужской, — не очень-то нужен современному миру». Да, в первобытную эпоху, когда шла борьба за выживание, влияние тестостерона, усиливающего агрессивность, бывало спасительным. Ну а ныне, когда успехи человека в обществе да и самого общества больше определяются интеллектом, способностью к сотрудничеству, преимуществами умственного труда перед физическим, агрессивное поведение вредит как самому индивидууму, так и окружающим. Недаром молодые люди с высоким содержанием тестостерона составляют более 90 процентов тех, кто серьезно пострадал в результате мотоциклетных и автомобильных аварий; примерно столько же с избытком гормона и среди преступников, отбывающих наказание за драки, ограбления, изнасилования. Как после этого не оценить наблюдающийся в некоторых тканях у мужчин процесс — переработку тестостерона в эстроген? С одной стороны, последний играет важную роль в развитии и функционировании мозга. С другой — отмечена четкая зависимость между интеллектом и концентрацией в крови тестостерона: чем она ниже у мужчин, тем выше их лингвистические, математические, художественные и прочие творческие способности. Те самые, кстати, по которым, согласно статистике, прекрасный пол лидирует. Мужской интеллект, как показали тесты, проведенные в Канаде, подвержен сезонным колебаниям. Типично мужские дарования — пространственная ориентация, жесткая логика и т.д. — проявляют себя лучше всего весной, когда уровень тестостерона в крови, вопреки всеобщему мнению (вспомните хотя бы о мартовских котах), наиболее низкий. И, напротив, многие войны начинались осенью, когда уровень тестостерона достигает своего пика. И еще несколько фактов. Социологические обследования подтвердили то, что уже было зафиксировано среди животных: у кастратов смертность ниже, чем у нормальных мужчин в том же возрасте. Ну а то, что женщины живут в среднем на 8 лет дольше мужчин, давно известно. Когда постаревшим мужчинам, все еще с аппетитом посматривающим на представительниц прекрасного пола, начинали вводить тестостерон искусственно, с ними происходило чудо омоложения. Но, увы, оно было слишком кратковременное и, как правило, завершалось печально — инфарктом или инсультом, онкологическими заболеваниями простаты и т.д. Так что, как говорится, всему свое время. И вообще, не слишком ли мы преувеличиваем значение секса? Может быть, ради дальнейшего развития цивилизации, когда потребуется напряженная умственная отдача и мирное сосуществование всех членов общества, стоит смириться с мыслью о грядущем партеногенезе людей?
Профессор Дженни Грейвс из Австралийского национального университета в 2012 году на конференции заявила, что мужская Y-хромосома  очень хрупкая - ей не удается восстанавливать ущерб, нанесенный окружающей средой. За период эволюции человека в этой хромосоме разрушились 1393 из 1438 генов. Представляете, из первоначального набора осталось всего 45 генов! К слову, с женскими Х-хромосомами этого не происходит. В конечном счете, уверяет Грэйс, Y-хромосома потеряет все свои гены, которые обеспечивает выработку мужских гормонов (ген SRY),  мужчины как биологический подвид вполне могут оказаться на грани исчезновения. Мало того, исследовательница убеждена, что благодаря такой мутации возникнет две, а может быть, и больше систем, определяющих пол. То есть просто появится два различных вида человека в дополнение к ныне существующему - женщине. Мужчин такое выступление коллеги не испугало. Профессор Оксфордского университета Брайан Сайкис оптимистично заявил, что волноваться не стоит - на данном этапе развития науки исчезновение мужчин не отразится на вымирании людей на планете в целом. Дескать, существующие технологии позволяют поддерживать человечество за счет ресурсов только женского организма.

Aung San Suu Kyi's first visit to the US as leader - video
16 September 2016
In her home country they call her "mother". Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Myanmar and the world's most famous former political prisoner, has visited the US for the first time since becoming de facto head of her country. On Wednesday during her visit, President Obama lifted some of the economic sanctions against her country. So what makes her one of the world's most powerful women?

The widows who can’t return home
13 September 2016
Rejected by their communities and abandoned by their loved ones, thousands of Hindu women make their way to Vrindavan, a pilgrimage city that’s home to more than 20,000 widows. Nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. Most Hindu conservatives in India believe that a woman whose husband has died should no longer live because she failed to retain his soul. Rejected by their communities and abandoned by their loved ones, thousands of destitute women make their way to Vrindavan, a pilgrimage city about 100km south of Delhi that is home to more than 20,000 widows. These women have no choice but to live in a vidhwa ashram (ashrams for widows) run by the government, private enterprises and NGOs. Clad in white, they know they will never return home and that this is where they’ll end their days. United we stand. According to Hindu tradition, a widow cannot remarry. She has to hide in the house, remove her jewellery and wear the colour of mourning. She becomes a source of shame for her family, loses the right to participate in religious life and becomes socially isolated. Many widows are either thrown out by or escape from their in-laws – with whom they usually lived­ – and head for the big cities, where they often disappear. Some go to the holy Hindu city of Varanasi, while others make their way to Vrindavan, where Lord Krishna, the Hindu god worshipped by many widows, is supposed to have spent his childhood. A tradition of persecution. Widows in India have always been subjected to rejection and persecution, with the practice of sati probably the oldest and clearest example. Outlawed by British colonisers in 1829, sati is an obsolete Indian funeral custom where a widow was expected to immolate herself on her husband’s pyre, or commit suicide in another way, shortly after his death. With her husband gone, the widow was supposed to have no reason to live.
Rebuilding a life. Faith against all odds. Solidarity and mutual aid. The face of goodness. A merciless destiny. One soul, one life path. Raising awareness and tolerance.
Arriving in Vrindavan, many widows are completely lost. They have to face the world alone, with no one to help them. Marginalized by society after being rejected by their families, they wait to die in a deep loneliness and cruel distress. But, little by little, welcomed in their widow communities, most manage to rebuild their lives and get out of their isolation. Gayatri is performing puja (morning prayer) at the Meera Sahbagini ashram, which was established 60 years ago and is home to 220 widows. “Every morning, we wake up at 5am. Some of us go to the banks of the Yamuna for washing and do a first puja ritual. Then, we return to the ashram, singing religious songs to worship Sri Krishna and [his partner] Radha.” After singing bhajans (religious songs) and praying together, the women start their daily activities. They cook, either for themselves or in groups of two or three, and then eat together in their rooms or in the ashram’s corridors. Afterwards, they read religious books and pray. It is undeniable that their faith immensely helps them to face their difficulties each day. Lalita, 72, has lived at Meera Sahbhagni ashram for 12 years. “I would never have thought that one day I would have had to beg for food. But when my husband died, I was 54 and I was thrown out of the house by my relatives. I had to live in the streets and then found a kind man who helped me to get a train ticket to Vrindavan. I came here and I never left.” Tulsi, 68, is singing bhajans at the ashram. Originally from a village near Kolkata, her in-laws took her inheritance when her husband died. Tulsi was forced to move with her children to a very poor area, and soon one of her sons took her to Vrindavan on the pretext of worshiping Lord Krishna. After visiting the temples, he told her that it was better for her to stay in Vrindavan, even though she didn’t want to. He left and never came back. She’s now been at the ashram for 12 years.
Shanti Padho Dashi is 91 years old and lives at Meera Sahbhagni ashram. She is the oldest resident of the ashram and comes from West Bengal. She came to Vrindavan 25 years ago. 
As India becomes more progressive, the situation for widows is slowly becoming better. But the shame of widowhood is so strong and has existed for so long that it won’t disappear quickly, especially in traditional rural environments. Dressed in white, widows are buying vegetables in the streets of Vrindavan. They have always been rejected by society; since they’re reputed to bring misfortune, some people even hide when they see a widow walking down the streets. But in recent years, local NGOs, such as Sulabh International, have been working with the widows to not only provide financial support, but also lead numerous projects and media actions across the country to raise awareness and tolerance for these discriminated people. Breaking free. Changing mentalities. Hope for tomorrow.
Holi and its overall significance within Indian society is the perfect opportunity for widows to state loud and clear their claim to catharsis and respect. During Holi, social barriers get broken down and people feast together, regardless of differences in age, sex and status. It’s the time when the castes mingle, where the lower people have the right to insult those whom they’ve had to bow to throughout the year. Here, the widows at Meera Sahbhagni asham celebrate Holi, the festival of colour. Although orthodox traditions forbid widows from taking part in the celebrations, mentalities are changing and the widows have started to defy the bans. “Today I am happy to have all these women around me, I am not alone anymore”, said Prema, 60. “We have learnt to live together, to help each other. We became friends, true friends, as we all know what we’ve all been through. We look ahead, we try to never look back. We never talk about the past.”

Nigerian woman, 25, becomes Argungu city leader

23 September 2016
Hindatu Umar assumed the position after the tenure of the local chairman expired. A 25-year-old woman has taken over as the head of a local authority in the mainly Muslim north of Nigeria. Hindatu Umar is the first woman and the youngest person to hold the position in Argungu city, in the north-western state of Kebbi. She is also the city's first unmarried local leader. The BBC's Abdullahi Kaura in Nigeria says her appointment is unprecedented. Some residents have complained, telling the BBC that Ms Umar "lacks experience and boldness". She had been the deputy chairperson and was promoted when the tenure of the local chairman expired. Our correspondent says that women in northern Nigeria usually remain in the background and rarely hold political office. Argungu city is one of the biggest and oldest councils in northern Nigeria and is famous for its annual fishing festival.

video - The real cost of giving birth: '$40 to hold my newborn baby' (Apr. 2019 update- this link now fails to connect to its website! In Russian: Адрес видео или сайта не работает больше!)

Somalia Girls are playing football

Going the distance, from refugee to Olympic heroine
27 July 2016
In 1999, marathon runner Agueda Amaral was forced to flee from East Timor when she was caught up in the violence that followed her country's vote for independence from Indonesia. When the United Nations restored control, Agueda returned to find that her home had been burned to the ground and her sports gear, including her trainers, destroyed. But a few months later, she was tracked down by the International Olympic Committee, who wanted a small team from the world's youngest country to take part in the 2000 Sydney games. Agueda Amaral tells Witness about her journey to the Olympics and how the ending to her marathon captured attention the world over.

From teenage guerrilla to top athlete

6 November 2015
Ten years ago Mira Rai was a teenage guerrilla, wanted by Nepal's government. Now she's the country's most successful runner. Behind a steel gate on a dusty side street in Kathmandu, there's a rather good bar. It's run by the Belgian consulate and offers a superb selection of rare Trappist beers. It's an odd place to meet Nepal's next sporting superstar, a former child soldier who ran away from home to escape a life of repression and has since risen to the top of one of the most extreme sports on Earth. Two things strike you upon meeting this young athlete. First, there are those eyes - twinkling with self-amusement at an absurd life. Secondly, there's the fact that Mira Rai is a woman. Nepal has a shocking record on gender equality. The World Economic Forum puts the Himalayan republic 121st out of 136 countries in the Global Gender Gap Index, and women here are considered paraya dhan - someone else's property. Violence against women is rife, and Nepal's long-awaited new constitution denies unmarried females the right to pass on their citizenship to their children. It makes the fact that Nepal's new international sporting hero wears a skirt even more extraordinary. Mira Rai running up a mountain. In the village of Sanu Duma 9, high in Nepal's eastern region, opportunity never knocked for girls. While her brothers went to school, Rai was expected to stay at home and do the chores. Then she was supposed to get married and have children. Rai, however, had different ideas. "I would run to the market - three hours away - buy sacks of rice, then run back and sell them for profit," she says, flashing that wry smile. She forgets to mention that the bags weighed 28kg (60lbs), and she was just 11 years old. By her mid-teens, she had become what parents refer to as a handful, but while a rebellious streak in a Western 14-year-old might manifest itself as a matt-black bedroom or unsanctioned piercings, Rai expressed her defiance by joining Nepal's Maoist guerrillas. "I told my mum I was going camping," she shrugs. "I didn't contact her again for seven months." Photo - Mira as a soldier with a gun. It was then that she learned that her mother had attempted suicide in her absence. "She couldn't face doing the chores," jokes Rai, but that throwaway comment reveals the steeliness that has taken this waif-like 26-year-old to the top of her game. When Rai enlisted in 2003, the Maoists were on the run. The Nepalese army, backed by the US, India and UK, were hot on their heels. Summary executions, torture and disappearance were rife, and Rai describes a time of "constant uncertainty" that was "always dangerous". But what impressed this impossible child most were the insurgents' sports facilities. "They had football, volleyball and athletics," she says. "Amazing opportunities." When the war ended in 2006, she joined a government rehabilitation programme and continued running for fun. Her first race was a 21km event. With no money for food, she ran on an empty stomach and collapsed 400m from the finish line. When she moved to Kathmandu, charity from a kindly karate teacher allowed her to keep running. Coached by telephone, she would train on the capital's ring road - one of the most polluted stretches of tarmac in Asia. Mira running at the top of a mountain. Photo - Mira standing on a rock on a mountain. Then she discovered ultra-running - gruelling races of up to 80km or more in the extreme mountain terrain. Her first race - a 50km event in the Kathmandu Valley - was in March 2014. True to form, Rai turned up hungry, wearing trainers that cost $4 (£2.60). Japanese runner Miki Apreti recalls a "smiley, woefully under-equipped girl, like an elf running in the jungle". Halfway round, on the point of collapse, Rai borrowed 50 rupees (50 cents, 30p) to buy noodles and a carton of orange juice. And then won the race. Event organiser Richard Bull knew instantly he had found a prodigy. "I asked her what she needed to continue training," he says. "She just wanted money for food." Photo - Mira running in the mountains, drinking water. At Bull's instigation she then entered and won Nepal's 200km Mustang Mountain Trail Race. Then Bull hatched a plan to send her to compete in Europe. "It was a fraught time," he says. "Her visa arrived just six hours before she was due to fly. Then we realised she'd never been in an aeroplane before." But Rai took it in her stride, winning her two races. Victories in Hong Kong and seven other events followed. This year she entered the 82km Mont Blanc Skyrunner World Series. It's one of the toughest races in the world and she breezed it, coming home 21 minutes ahead of the runner up. Mira finishing the 57km Sellaronda Trail Running race in the Italian Dolomites in September 2014. Winning her first international race - 57km through the Italian Dolomites - in record time . With a sponsorship deal and the potential to become the most famous Nepali after Sherpa Tensing, Mira Rai's future looks increasingly dazzling. She giggles at that notion, but her smile is tinged with incredulity. "I began running to escape my future," she

A Society where Women Shine. World Assembly for Women - 2015

(Under this "Equality" label Women are persuaded to take the rule of this dying Planet into their hands and to continue to play the Planetary Game! A lot of words, but not much of a change for Women wordwide! It's an irony.
Why don't they do the changes in Japan now, but prepared to wait till April 2016 ? LM)

3 videos - Vol. 35 WAW!2015 -
Vol.1 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe -WAWTokyo2015  -

WAW! 2015: An innovative initiative for Women’s empowerment and gender equality

At the second annual World Assembly for Women 2015, held on 28 and 29th of August in Tokyo, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reaffirmed Japan’s leadership role in gender equality by enabling women to ‘shine,’ while influencers from all over the world hammered out practical action plans for the year. Also known as WAW! 2015, Day 1 included a public forum of speeches by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, esteemed world leaders at the forefront of gender equality, and panel discussions related to women, education and the economy. Day 2 featured high-level roundtable discussions and special sessions on women’s issues. Shinzo Abe: Now is the time for action. Women and Men Cooperating to Create a Better Society for All.
“World Assembly for Women in Tokyo: WAW! 2015” brought together 145 experts from Japan and 41 nations to discuss key issues related to gender equality and women’s issues. More than 2,000 people attended to observe the proceedings and participate in the discussions.
WAW! 2015, or the second annual gathering of the World Assembly for Women in Tokyo, kicked off August 28th with an opening speech from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who set the tone for the two-day meeting with an uncompromising stance. Starting with the symposium’s theme of ‘WAW! for All,’ he called it “a message of women and men alike cooperating to create a society in which it is easy for both women and men to live.”
The prime minister laid out the benefits to all of society in such a world. “When this happens,” he said, “both men and women will be able to make highly productive jobs compatible with their bountiful daily lives naturally while they are able to lead more fulfilled lives as individuals, as well as within their families and communities.” The prime minister’s remarks were designed to set at ease any men who may be skeptical of more women in the workplace. “The dynamic engagement of women will also enrich men’s lives,” he said. In a speech on the opening of the second day of WAW! 2015, Ms. Haruko Arimura, Japan’s Minister in charge of Women’s Empowerment, laid out her vision of success. “It is not just about making positive changes for women,” she explained, “but also making progress for men, the elderly, infants and children, people with disabilities and others.”

Shinzo Abe - Prime-Minister, Japan

Prime Minister Abe pointed out progress that has recently been made in the empowerment of women in the workplace in Japan. “Around one million women have newly entered the labor market, while the number of female corporate board members has also increased by roughly 30 per cent,” he said. The prime minister also expressed the need for legislation in order to hold the feet of business to the fire. “A new bill was enacted to promote the active engagement of women in society,” he said. “From April 2016, companies will be required to draw up and announce voluntary action plans incorporating numerical targets for promoting the hiring of women and the appointment of women to executive positions. True reform will not come about unless we have more women becoming leaders in their organizations, in addition to changes in men’s consciousness,” he insisted. Prime Minister Abe believes that the keys to success are through more diversity, which is already being recognized and demonstrating positive results. “Diversity in human resources gives rise to innovation,” he said. “In Japan too, a large number of companies have begun to notice this fact. Women and diverse human resources send out new goods and services to the market by making best use of their own particular strengths and knowledge.” In practice what this means is that Japan will no longer be able to accept business as usual, and Japanese organizations will be affected at the very core of their Beings.
“We will expand a corporate culture that values working efficiently within a limited number of hours,” Prime Minister Abe said. “Husbands will also actively take childcare leave and couples will share responsibility for household chores and child rearing. We will make this the ordinary practice in Japan.”
Global implications

Japan’s commitment to women extends to the world at large in a big way. Key to setting the nation on a sustainable path to gender equality as well as staking out a leadership role in the world is the nation’s alignment with the goals of UN Women, a United Nations entity working for the empowerment of Women. The prime minister was named as one of ten heads of state and government selected by UN Women to promote the dynamic engagement of Women through top-down means. He used the occasion of WAW! 2015 to reinforce Japan’s commitment the goals of UN Women, both within Japan through a national effort and on a global scale through increased ODA spending. Prime Minister Abe pledged more than 42 billion yen in assistance towards “high-quality education for women and girls so that they will be economically independent and able to determine the course of their own lives through their own volition.” The prime minister said, “Next year, Japan will assume the G7 presidency, and I intend to push the agenda on women forward vigorously at the Ise-Shima Summit” in Japan. This includes linking the outcome of WAW! 2015 to the summit. The outcome of WAW! 2015 is based on a ‘WAW! To Do’ list resulting from the exchange of ideas and common ground achieved by the many dignitaries, business leaders and gender equality experts who were the driving force of the symposium. Each session wrapped up with a ‘WAW! To Do’ list, which was verbalized by a designated official at the closing session of the symposium. Recommendations centered on action items at the government, business, societal and individual levels for changing minds and
overcoming challenges required for the empowerment of women to the good of society in Japan and indeed, worldwide.

Women have strength


video - WAW ! 2015 H.E. SIRLEAF interview  -
WAW! 2015 Keynote Speakers: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: President, Republic of Liberia, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and Africa’s first democratically elected female head of state. Pioneers in Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. Historical and inspirational figures alike kicked off the symposium with words of wisdom calling attention to women’s rightful role in society, the workplace and government. One of the most inspirational Women to participate in WAW! Tokyo 2015 was H. E. Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia and Nobel Peace Prize Winner. She was without doubt the most historical figure, as Africa’s first democratically elected female head of state. President Sirleaf is known for ascending to leadership roles in international politics as well as the Liberian government, and has overcome numerous setbacks and challenges along the way. Over the past eighteen months, she has faced an epic crisis with the Ebola virus outbreaks, and has led her nation to the eradication of the epidemic. The WAW! symposium provided the president with the opportunity to provide her own unique insight as a decisive and influential leader. “I’m excited,” she said. “I feel like it’s a great moment of exhilaration for women, it’s a strong commitment on the part of the prime minister. Something good is happening in Japan as a result of the prime minister’s policy and in his effort to promote women. President Sirleaf is a firm believer in the implementation of measures that can be tracked so that governments can be held accountable for their actions. “We need strong intervention like what’s happening in Japan by Prime Minister Abe,” she said. “One needs a strong political commitment and quotas to ensure the removal of the historical inequities against women that exist.” The president pointed out the need to consistently “impose confidence in our women and girls at the household level,” as the ultimately leads to increased autonomy and self-esteem. “A woman with self-confidence is capable of managing herself, her family and her nation,” she said. President Sirleaf also acknowledged that, although there are still  numerous challenges facing women, initiatives like WAW! and Womenomics in Japan set the stage for a sustainable path forward.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka; Executive Director, UN Women - video  Oct 25, 2015 - WAW! 2015 Ms. MLAMBO=NGCUKA interview  -

Appreciating women

UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka participated in WAW! 2015 as a keynote speaker as well as in a high-level roundtable discussion called Engaging Men in Reforms. An inspirational figure, she has devoted her career to human rights, equality and social justice, and demonstrated strength and leadership during the struggle to end apartheid in her home country of South Africa. Originally a teacher, she has been a longtime champion of gender equality, and has played constructive roles in government, government civil society, and the private sector. Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka rose to become Deputy President of South Africa, where she took charge of initiatives to combat poverty, especially among women, and bring the advantages of a growing economy to those in need. She expressed her appreciation for Japan’s support in this area, as well as the WAW! initiative and its alignment with the goals of UN Women. “It’s wonderful to be among the thought leaders here who are doing a lot of interesting things in the area of gender equality,” she said. “It affords us the opportunity as UN men and women to share the things that we are doing.” She continued, “I think one of the unique things about WAW! is also showing the importance of leaders leading  from the front on this issue, not to see it as an issue which belongs to a specific ministry.” Prime Minister Abe demonstrated his commitment by doing just that. “It is not very often that you have a prime minister staying in a woman’s conference and spending three days going from session to session making a contribution,” Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka said.

WAW! 2015 Featured Leading Lights in Business, and Organisational Behaviour. High-level roundtable discussions brought together a mix of influencers to address gender equality issues facing Japan as well as the world at large, acknowledge common ground, and identify action points for moving forward. Haruno Yoshida; President & Representative Director, BT Japan. One need look no further than Haruno Yoshida to see the future of Japan. Ms. Yoshida chose a career in information technology that led her overseas early on. Having taken leadership positions in sales in major North American multinational corporations in the field, as well as at the New York office of NTT, Japan’s telecommunications giant, she returned to her home country and became an inspirational figure in a middle management position at the company’s Tokyo headquarters. BT Japan came calling in early 2012, where she assumed the role of president, responsible for driving the strategy and execution of all of the company’s business operations in Japan.

Video - WAW!2015 Ms. YOSHIDA interview -

Haruno Yoshida -  Women for the future

Haruno Yoshida

President and Representative Director, BT Japan Corporation, Vice Chairman of the board of councilors of Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), and IT industry leader with experience in key managerial roles in Japan and abroad. For the first time everybody thinks that the female is a game changer, and probably our future. I feel the momentum. Ms. Yoshida chose a career in information technology that led her overseas early on. Having taken leadership positions in sales in major North American multinational corporations in the field, as well as at the New York office of NTT, Japan’s telecommunications giant, she returned to her home country and became an inspirational figure in a middle management position at the company’s Tokyo headquarters. BT Japan came calling in early 2012, where she assumed the role of president, responsible for driving the strategy and execution of all of the company’s business operations in Japan. This year Ms. Yoshida became a historical figure when Keidanren, the Japan Business Federation, which represents the interests of business, brought her on as its first female executive, as Vice Chairman of the federation’s board of councilors. Here she will take part in initiatives that aim to transform Japan’s business culture from the inside out. In his opening remarks at the WAW! 2015 symposium, Prime Minister Abe pointed out a key hurdle that must be overcome. He said, “Our greatest barrier is a working culture that endorses male-centered long working hours. If men themselves do not awaken to this fact and take action, we will not be able to eliminate this bad practice.” Ms. Yoshida, who participated in a high-level roundtable discussion at the symposium called Engaging Men in Reforms, agreed. “The way we work is not realistic,” she said. She expects Japan will change and quickly catch up with the West through smarter adoption of information technology to increase productivity, by applying the best practices built up over the last 40 years by countries overseas, and by taking advantage of the inherent diligence the Japanese demonstrate in carrying out goal-oriented initiatives.

Linda A. Hill - Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School, author and expert on organizational behavior, and business consultant on leadership and innovation

Linda A. Hill

Video - WAW!2015 Dr. HILL interview

Innovating with Women

The wealth of thinkers and opinion leaders at WAW! 2015 included more than men and women focusing solely on women’s issues and gender equality. Also part of the mix were leaders with insight on how to optimize the impact women do and can make in organizations at large. One of these was Professor Linda A. Hill, an organisational behavior specialist at Harvard Business School, whose groundbreaking work, Collective Genius, sheds light on the role that diversity plays in leading to innovation. Professor Hill, who participated in the special session on Implementing Diversity and Innovation at the symposium, shared her unique insight, which aligns with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s confidence in the ability of Japanese companies, as well as governmental bodies, to transform and prosper through a diverse workplace where women are bringing “their own particular strengths and knowledge” to the table. “Diversity in human resources gives rise to innovation,” the prime minister said in his opening remarks at WAW! 2015. That will require a fundamental shift in the mindsets of not just men but women too, in relation to traditional perceptions of what constitutes effective work styles, especially where women are concerned, and how those are likely to change as more female role models assume positions of leadership in the workplace and inspire other women to also express their full potential. Professor Hill believes that Japanese leaders will need to embrace different work styles that some women are likely to bring to the workplace. “It’s not about selection, it’s about developing,” she said. “If you’re a man bringing women in, it’s not about finding the right woman who has the qualifications that make it look like she can be a leader, it’s more making sure you provide that woman with experiences that will allow her to use her own passions and talents to innovate and solve problems at work.”

Ugandan chess queen unfazed by Hollywood film - audio (Apr. 2019 update- this link now fails to connect to its website! In Russian: Адрес видео или сайта не работает больше!)
2 Sept 2016
A Hollywood film about the young Ugandan chess champion Phiona Mutesi is due out this month with big name stars such as David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong'o. The Queen of Katwe is about how Phiona grew up in one of the Ugandan capital's poorest slums to become an international chess player. It is based on a book of the same name written by Tim Crothers, who told the BBC’s Newsday programme about Phiona and her ambitions to go to Harvard University. He said that in July he was surprised to hear that she hadn't seen any previews of the film and wasn't too bothered to do so, telling him: "Well, Tim, I know how the story goes." Listen to the whole interview: The inspirational story of Phiona Mutesi is being turned into a Hollywood film.

Video - "The Queen of Katwe"  Jul 21, 2014. A young girl from the slums of Uganda grows to become one of the unlikeliest chess champions in the world

Video - Queen of Katwe - Official Trailer.  May 10, 2016
Queen of Katwe is in theaters September 30! Queen of Katwe is the colorful true story of a young girl selling corn on the streets of rural Uganda whose world rapidly changes when she is introduced to the game of chess, and, as a result of the support she receives from her family and community, is instilled with the confidence and determination she needs to pursue her dream of becoming an international chess champion. Directed by Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding) from a screenplay by William Wheeler (The Hoax) based on the book by Tim Crothers, Queen of Katwe is produced by Lydia Dean Pilcher (The Darjeeling Limited) and John Carls (Where the Wild Things Are) with Will Weiske and Troy Buder serving as executive producers. The film stars Golden Globe® nominee David Oyelowo (Selma), Oscar® winner and Tony Award® nominee Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave) and newcomer Madina Nalwanga. For 10-year-old Phiona Mutesi (Nalwanga) and her family, life in the impoverished slum of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda, is a constant struggle. Her mother, Harriet (Nyong'o), is fiercely determined to take care of her family and works tirelessly selling vegetables in the market to make sure her children are fed and have a roof over their heads. When Phiona meets Robert Katende (Oyelowo), a soccer player turned missionary who teaches local children chess, she is captivated. Chess requires a good deal of concentration, strategic thinking and risk taking, all skills which are applicable in everyday life, and Katende hopes to empower youth with the game. Phiona is impressed by the intelligence and wit the game requires and immediately shows potential. Recognizing Phiona's natural aptitude for chess and the fighting spirit she's inherited from her mother, Katende begins to mentor her, but Harriet is reluctant to provide any encouragement, not wanting to see her daughter disappointed. As Phiona begins to succeed in local chess competitions, Katende teaches her to read and write in order to pursue schooling. She quickly advances through the ranks in tournaments, but breaks away from her family to focus on her own life. Her mother eventually realizes that Phiona has a chance to excel and teams up with Katende to help her fulfill her extraordinary potential, escape a life of poverty and save her family. Disney's Queen of Katwe will open in U.S. theaters on September 23, 2016.

Video - Life Stories: Queen of Katwe, Phiona Mutesi  Apr 22, 2015. Chess champion, Phiona Mutesi speaks of her love for the sport, how she started out, the places the sport has taken her, the success and the upcoming movie, Queen of Katwe in which Hollywood star, Lupita Ny'ongo will play the role of Phiona Mutesi's mother.

Defying tradition to become a pilot in Indonesia - 5 August 2016 - video
Indonesia is one of the most hazardous places in the world to fly. But Patricia Christabele, a 23-year-old pilot with the country's national carrier Garuda, flies small planes to remote and stunning islands, and loves it. She tells the BBC why she dreams of becoming Garuda's first female captain.

Video - All Women - «Kiss». Всем женщинам - «Поцелуй». Веселый мультик - Apr 25, 2016

Video - Fat ones (Жирные)

'I wanted to be first UAE female pilot' - 18 November 2013 - video
Hundreds of planes have been ordered at the Dubai Airshow with Gulf carriers easily the biggest customers. Boeing recently predicted that the expanding global aviation industry would need half a million new pilots over the next two decades - and 40,000 of them will be in the Middle east. Gulf airlines are addressing a potential pilot shortfall by recruiting and training their own nationals. One of the UAE's first female commercial pilots Shaima Rashed of Etihad Airways spoke to BBC Middle East Business Report.

These brave women have found a way to live alongside lions

Africa2016KeniaBraveWomen.jpg (4)  Africa2016KeniaBraveWomenSchool.jpg (2) Africa2016KeniaBraveSamburuWoman.jpg (2)  AfricaLions.jpg  AfricaLioness.jpg
3 August 2016
A male-dominated culture has meant that Samburu women rarely get a say in how their society handles big cats, but one project is trying to change that. Samburu women often encounter wildlife. Lionesses have a lot of power in lion society. The females typically work together to hunt down prey, and form crèches to look after their cubs. This cooperative behaviour brings in lots of food, and ensure that plenty of lion cubs survive to adulthood. The female lions' empowerment stands in stark contrast to the human societies that live alongside the lions in Kenya's Samburu National Reserve. There, as in many other cultures throughout history, women have been discouraged from taking control – in part due to a male-dominated culture. As it happens, lions – despite the lionesses' efforts – are vulnerable to extinction. So what might happen if we took a leaf out of the lions' book and began to allow women to make more decisions? One Kenyan lion conservation organisation, Ewaso Lions, decided to find out. Ewaso Lions helps local communities find ways to coexist with wildlife. This is crucial, because one of the greatest threats to lions is humans killing them. As some of Samburu's lions live outside formally protected areas, they often come into contact with the Samburu livestock. In retaliation for cattle killed by lions, the Samburu sometimes hunt the lions. The Mama Simba project began when local women went to Ewaso Lions asking to be educated. Mama Simba means "the Mother of Lions" in Maa, the local language. "The women had seen how warriors in their community were being engaged in conservation through another of Ewaso Lions's projects," says Heather Gurd, conservation manager at Ewaso Lions. "They were adamant that they could do just as good a job as the warriors if only they were given the chance." A group of Mama Simba participants, February 2016. Samburu women actually spend a great deal of time in wildlife areas whilst they collect firewood, fetch water and look after livestock. This means they often come into contact with animals like lions. Yet before this project, the women were rarely actively included in conservation activities. At the Mama Simba school. Ewaso Lions is educating the Samburu women in basic literacy, numeracy, and wildlife conservation. They also train them in beaded art craft, so that they can diversify their income and not depend solely on livestock. Since Mama Simba was launched in 2013, over 300 Samburu women have participated in the programme. There is a core group of 19 who spread the word. A Samburu woman making a beaded lion. "Empowerment means that women are given a chance to lead, like men do," says Ntomuson Lelengeju, a Mama Simba participant. "Women and men are now getting equal opportunities in terms of resource sharing," says Noldonyo Letabare, who also takes part. As well as benefiting the women, the project should also help the lions. To achieve this, the women are trained in how to better protect their livestock enclosures from predators. They also learn how to identify carnivore tracks, and tell Ewaso Lions about lion sightings and any conflicts that arise. A lion (Panthera leo) in Samburu National Reserve. It is too soon to tell whether this new project has benefited the lion population. But there is evidence that people's attitudes towards lions are becoming more positive. The Mama Simba uniform is bright red. "I have changed as a result of the Mama Simba programme," says Lelengeju. "I now cannot accept people to kill lions. Since joining the programme I have learned to love lions, unlike before," says Letabare. The Mama Simba project aims to empower women. "We have seen a real change in the confidence and enthusiasm that the ladies have," says Shivani Bhalla, executive director of Ewaso Lions. "They were once very quiet and shy, never speaking up at any community meetings or talking about wildlife. Now they are vocal about conservation."

Nigerian scientist turned opera star  - video
14 January 2016
The journey from scientist to one of the world's most sought-after sopranos is not a common one. Omo Bello was doing research into genetics in her native Nigeria when in 2006, she was awarded a scholarship to train as an opera singer in France. Five years later she graduated at the top of her class from the prestigious National Conservatory for Music and Dance. Since then, Ms Bello has carved out a striking reputation on the operatic stage all over the world. Here's her story.

The man who cycled from India to Europe for Love (astonishing story, LM)

16 Jan 2016
PK Mahanandia met Charlotte Von Schedvin in Delhi for the first time in 1975. Indian artist PK Mahanandia met Charlotte Von Schedvin on a winter evening in Delhi in 1975 when she asked him to draw her portrait. What eventually followed was an epic bicycle journey from India to Europe - all for love. Ms Von Schedvin was visiting India as a tourist when she spotted Mr Mahanandia in Delhi's Connaught Place district. He had made a name for himself as a sketch artist and enjoyed a good reputation in the local press. Intrigued by his claim of "making a portrait in 10 minutes", she decided to give it a try. But she wasn't impressed with the result and decided to come back the next day. PK Mahanandia in his makeshift studio. Mr Mahanandia had already made a name for himself through his sketches. The next day sadly, proved no better. In his defence, Mr Mahanandia says he had been preoccupied with a prediction his mother had made several years ago. As a schoolboy growing up in a village in the eastern Indian state of Orissa, he often faced discrimination from upper-caste students because he was a Dalit - considered to be at the bottom of India's caste hierarchy. Newspaper article about PK Mahanandia. Several newspapers wrote about his art in the 1970s. Whenever he felt sad, his mother would tell him that according to his horoscope, he would someday marry a woman "whose zodiac sign would be Taurus, she would come from a far away land, she would be musical and would own a jungle". So when he met Ms Von Schedvin, he immediately remembered his mother's predictions and asked her if she owned a jungle. Ms Von Schedvin, whose family comes from Swedish nobility, replied that she did own a forest and added that not only was she "musical" (she liked to play the piano) her zodiac sign was also Taurus. "It was an inner voice that said to me that she was the one. During our first meeting we were drawn to each other like magnets. It was love at first sight," Mr Mahanandia told the BBC. "I still don't know what made me ask her the questions and then invite her for tea. I thought she would complain to the police." But her reaction turned out to be quite the opposite. Charlotte Von Schedvin loved the Indian countryside . "I thought he was honest and wanted to know why he had asked me those questions," Ms Von Schedvin told the BBC. After several conversations, she agreed to visit Orissa with him. The first monument she saw there was the famous Konark temple.
"I became emotional when PK showed me the Konark. I had this image of the temple stone wheel framed in my student room back in London, but I had no idea where this place actually was. And here I was standing in front of it."
The two fell in love and returned to Delhi after spending a few days in his village. He also made portraits of politicians, including this one of acting Indian President BD Jatti.
"She wore a sari when she met my father for the first time. I still don't know how she managed. With blessings from my father and family, we got married according to tribal tradition," he said. Ms Von Schedvin had driven to Delhi with her friends from Sweden along the famous hippie trail - crossing Europe, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan - to reach India in 22 days. She said goodbye to him to start her return journey, but made him promise that he would follow her to her home in the Swedish textile town of Boras. More than a year passed and the two kept in touch through letters. Mr Mahanandia however, did not have enough money to buy a plane ticket. So, he sold everything he owned, bought a bicycle and followed her along the same hippie trail. PK Mahanandia says he faced no difficulties in Afghanistan during his journey, which started on 22 January 1977 and he would cycle for around 70km (44 miles) every day.
"Art came to my rescue. I made portraits of people and some gave me money, while others gave me food and shelter," he said. Mr Mahanandia remembers the world as being very different in the 1970s. For instance, he did not need a visa to enter most countries. He made portraits of fellow artists, students and common people during his journey in Afghanistan. "Afghanistan was such a different country. It was calm and beautiful. People loved arts. And vast parts of the country were not populated," he said, people understood Hindi in Afghanistan, but communication became a problem once he entered Iran. "Again art came to my rescue. I think love is the universal language and people understand that."
Several hotels provided facilities like washing rooms and bicycle repairing on the hippie trail in Afghanistan. Those were different days. I think people had more free time then to entertain a wanderer like me." But did he ever feel tired?
"Yes, very often. My legs would hurt. But the excitement of meeting Charlotte and seeing new places kept me going," he said. He finally reached Europe on 28 May - via Istanbul and Vienna, and then travelled to Gothenburg by train.
PK Mahanandia continues to work as an artist in Sweden. After several cultural shocks and difficulties in impressing Ms Von Schedvin's parents, the two finally got officially married in Sweden.
"I had no idea about European culture. It was all new to me, but she supported me in every step. She is just a special person. I am still in love just as I was in 1975," he says. The 64-year-old now lives with Charlotte and their two children in Sweden and continues to work as an artist. PK Mahanandia and Charlotte Von Schedvin in 2014. But he still doesn't understand "why people think it was a big deal to cycle to Europe. I did what I had to, I had no money, but I had to meet her.
I was cycling for Love, but never loved cycling. It's simple."

The day Iceland's Women went on strike

Women Prime-Ministers :Thatcher, UK & Vigdis, Iceland
23 Oct 2015
Forty years ago, the women of Iceland went on strike - they refused to work, cook and look after children for a day. It was a moment that changed the way women were seen in the country and helped put Iceland at the forefront of the fight for equality. When Ronald Reagan became the US President, one small boy in Iceland was outraged. "He can't be a president - he's a man!" he exclaimed to his mother when he saw the news on the television. It was November 1980, and Vigdis Finnbogadottir, a divorced single mother, had won Iceland's presidency that summer. The boy didn't know it, but Vigdis (all Icelanders go by their first name) was Europe's first female president, and the first woman in the world to be democratically elected as a head of state. Many more Icelandic children may well have grown up assuming that being president was a woman's job, as Vigdis went on to held the position for 16 years - years that set Iceland on course to become known as "the world's most feminist country". But Vigdis insists she would never have been president had it not been for the events of one sunny day - 24 October 1975 - when 90% of women in the country decided to demonstrate their importance by going on strike.  Instead of going to the office, doing housework or childcare they took to the streets in their thousands to rally for equal rights with men. It is known in Iceland as the Women's Day Off, and Vigdis sees it as a watershed moment.
"What happened that day was the first step for women's emancipation in Iceland," she says. "It completely paralysed the country and opened the eyes of many men."
Banks, factories and some shops had to close, as did schools and nurseries - leaving many fathers with no choice but to take their children to work. There were reports of men arming themselves with sweets and colouring pencils to entertain the crowds of overexcited children in their workplaces. Sausages - easy to cook and popular with children - were in such demand the shops sold out.It was a baptism of fire for some fathers, which may explain the other name the day has been given - the Long Friday.
"We heard children playing in the background while the newsreaders read the news on the radio, it was a great thing to listen to, knowing that the men had to take care of everything," says Vigdis.
Vigdis Finnbogadottir
As radio presenters called households in remote areas of the country to gauge how many rural women were taking the day off, the phone was often answered by husbands who had stayed at home to look after the children.
As I talk to Vigdis in her home in Reykjavik, she has on her lap a framed black-and-white photograph of the rally in Reykjavik's Downtown Square - the largest of more than 20 to take place throughout the country.
Vigdis, her mother and three-year-old daughter are somewhere in the sea of 25,000 women, who gathered to sing, listen to speeches and talk about what could be done. It was a huge turnout for an island of just 220,000 inhabitants.
At the time she was artistic director of the Reykjavik Theatre Company and abandoned dress rehearsals to join the demonstration, as did her female colleagues.
"There was a tremendous power in it all and a great feeling of solidarity and strength among all those women standing on the square in the sunshine," Vigdis says. A brass band played the theme tune of Shoulder to Shoulder, a BBC television series about the Suffragette movement which had aired in Iceland earlier that year.
The Women's Day Off  Sticker distributed to participants - reading "Women's Day Off" . Women in Iceland got the right to vote 100 years ago, in 1915 - behind only New Zealand and Finland. But over the next 60 years, only nine women took seats in parliament. In 1975 there were just three sitting female MPs, or just 5% of the parliament, compared with between 16% and 23% in the other Nordic countries, and this was a major source of frustration. The idea of a strike was first proposed by the Red Stockings, a radical women's movement founded in 1970, but to some Icelandic women it felt too confrontational. "The Red Stockings movement had caused quite a stir already for their attack against traditional views of women - especially among older generations of women whom had tried to master the art of being a perfect housewife and homemaker," says Ragnheidur Kristjansdottir, senior lecturer in History at the University of Iceland.
But when the strike was renamed "Women's Day Off" it secured near-universal support, including solid backing from the unions.
"The programme of the event itself reflected the emphasis that had been placed on uniting women from all social and political backgrounds," says Ragnheidur.
Women's suffrage (right to vote) around the world
Iceland was not the first country to give women the right to vote, but it was well ahead of the curve. Photo - A woman casts her vote behind a screen at the constitutional assembly, during the Russian Revolution. A woman votes in Russia, 1917. New Zealand 1893
Finland 1906
Iceland 1915
Soviet Russia 1917
United States 1920
United Kingdom 1928 (limited suffrage from 1918)
Switzerland 1971
Among the speakers at the Reykjavik rally were a housewife, two MPs, a representative of the women's movement and a woman worker.
The final speech was given by Adalheidur Bjarnfredsdottir, head of the union for women cleaning and working in the kitchens and laundries of hospitals and schools.
"She was not used to public speaking but made her name with this speech because it was so strong and inspiring," says Audur Styrkarsdottir, director of Iceland's Women's History Archives. "She later went on to become a member of parliament."
Aðalheiður Bjarnfreðsdottir (on photo - centre). Members of the committee that prepared the "Women's Day Off". In the run-up to the event the organisers succeeded in prompting radio, television and national newspapers to run stories on low pay for women and sex discrimination. The story attracted international attention too. But how did the men feel about it?
Vigdis Finnbogadottir (left), the President of Iceland, meets British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at Number 10 Downing Street in London, 17th February 1982.. Vigdis Finnbogadottir and Margaret Thatcher.
"I think at first they thought it was something funny, but I can't remember any of them being angry," says Vigdis. "Men realised if they became opponents to this or refused to grant women leave they would have lost their popularity."
There were one or two reports of men not behaving as Vigdis describes. The husband of one of the main speakers was reportedly asked by a co-worker, "Why do you let your woman howl like that in public places? I would never let my woman do such things." The husband shot back: "She is not the sort of woman who would ever marry a man like you."
Styrmir Gunnarsson was at the time the co-chief editor of a conservative newspaper, Morgunbladid, but he had no objection to the idea. "I do not think that I have ever supported a strike but I did not see this action as a strike," he says. "It was a demand for equal rights… it was a positive event."
No women worked at the paper that day. As he remembers it, none of them lost pay, or were obliged to take the day as annual leave, and they returned at midnight to help get the newspaper finished. It was shorter than usual, though - 16 pages instead of 24. "Probably most people underestimated this day's impact at that time - later both men and women began to realise that it was a watershed," he says. At the same time, he points out there have always been strong women in Iceland - something reflected in the (fictional) Icelandic Sagas.
"Our past is in our blood and through the centuries life was difficult in Iceland," Styrmir says. "Those who survived must have been strong."
The Women's Day Off is generally regarded in Iceland as a seminal moment, though at least one member of the Red Stockings regarded it as a missed opportunity - a nice party that did not really change anything. Vigdis disagrees.
 "Things went back to normal the next day, but with the knowledge that women are as well as men the pillars of society," she says. "So many companies and institutions came to a halt and it showed the force and necessity of women -
it completely changed the way of thinking."
Five years later, Vigdis beat three male candidates to the presidency. She became so popular that she was re-elected unopposed in two of the three next elections. Other landmarks followed. All-women shortlists made an appearance in the 1983 parliamentary election, and at the same time a new Party, the Women's Alliance, won its first seats. In 2000, paid paternity leave was introduced for men, and in 2010 the country got its first female prime minister, Johanna Sigurdardottir - the world's first openly gay head of government. Strip clubs were banned in the same year. Saadia Zahidi, head of Gender Initiatives at the World Economic Forum (WEF) says Iceland still has further to go.
"While more women than men are enrolled in university, the workplace gender gap persists," she says.
"Women and men are nearly equally present in the labour force - in fact women are the majority across all skilled roles - but they hold about 40% of the leadership roles and earn less than men for similar roles."
Nonetheless, Iceland has topped the WEF's Global Gender Gap Index since 2009. And if at the time of the Women's Day Off only three of the 63 members of parliament were women, the figure is now 28, or 44%.
"We say in Iceland, 'The steps so quickly fill up with snow,' meaning there is a tendency to consign things to history," says Vigdis. "But we still talk about that day - it was marvellous."
A century ago, Iceland banned all alcoholic drinks. Within a decade, red wine had been legalised, followed by spirits in the 1930s. But full-strength beer remained off-limits until 1 March 1

'This is what it's like to pee after female genital mutilation'
24 April 2016
Some 200 million women and girls across 30 countries have been affected by female genital mutilation (FGM). But how do survivors live with the pain of peeing, periods and childbirth?
"The first time you notice your physicality has changed is your pee," says Hibo Wardere. Hibo, now 46, was subjected to what is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as "type three" mutilation when she was six. This means all of her labia were cut off and she was then stitched together, leaving a tiny hole she compares to the size of a matchstick. Her clitoris was also removed. She grew up in Somalia, where 98% of women and girls between 15 and 49 have had their genitals forcibly mutilated. "An open wound rubbed with salt or hot chilli - it felt like that," she recalls. "And then you realise your wee isn't coming out the way it used to come. It's coming out as droplets, and every drop was worse than the one before. This takes four or five minutes - and in that four or five minutes you're experiencing horrific pain."
Hibo came to the UK when she was 18, and within months visited a doctor to see if they could relieve the pain she experienced when she passed urine and during her periods. Her translator didn't want to interpret her request, but the GP managed to understand. Eventually Hibo underwent a procedure called defibulation, when the labia is opened surgically. This widened the hole and exposed her urethra. It is by no means an outright fix, and can never restore sensitive tissue that was removed, but it did make it slightly easier to urinate. Sex, however, presented a new hurdle. "Even if the doctor has opened you up, what they've left you with is a very tiny space," says Hibo.
"Things that were supposed to be expanding have gone. So the hole that you have is very small and sex is very difficult. You do get pleasures - but it's once in a blue moon."
The trauma of the assault also had a bearing on intimate situations with her partner.  First you have a psychological block because the only thing you associate with that part of you is pain.
"First you have a psychological block because the only thing you associate with that part of you is pain," says Hibo.
"The other part is the trauma you experienced. So anything that's happening down there, you never see it as a good thing."
Figures released by Unicef in February raised the number of estimated FGM survivors by around 70 million to 200 million worldwide, with Indonesia, Egypt and Ethiopia accounting for half of all victims. In the UK, FGM has been banned since 2003. Last year the government introduced a new law requiring professionals to report known cases of FGM in under-18s to the police. Activists and the police have raised awareness about the risk of British school girls being flown out of the UK specifically to be stripped of their genitals during what is known as the "cutting season" over the summer. However, little is known about how the millions of survivors - including at least 137,000 in the UK - cope. The repercussions of a procedure that either involves removing the clitoris (type one), removing the clitoris and the inner smaller labia (type two), removing the labia and a forced narrowing of the vaginal opening - usually, as in Hibo's case, removing the clitoris too (type three), or any kind of harmful mutilation in the genitals (sometimes referred to as type four), are wide-ranging. The symptoms are not normally discussed in the open, partly because FGM is so normalised among some communities that women don't think of it as a problem, or even connect their myriad health problems with their experience of FGM as a child, says Janet Fyle, professional policy advisor at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM). Last year, Fyle was awarded an MBE for her work in tackling FGM. I remember taking the pillow and just putting it on my face because I didn't want the humiliation, the pain. The day-to-day reality for survivors can be bleak. The NHS lists urinary tract infections, uterine infections, kidney infections, cysts, reproductive issues and pain during sex as just some of the consequences. A "reversal" surgery, as defibulation is sometimes termed, can help to relieve some of the symptoms by opening up the lower vagina.
"But it's not as simple as carrying out the physical care, which we can carry out as clinicians," says Fyle, who comes from Sierra Leone, where FGM is widespread.
"It's about the long-term (psychological) consequences - some people describe it as worse than PTS (post-traumatic stress), which soldiers in the battlefield have."
Tools used for FGM procedures in Kenya
When Hibo became pregnant for the first time in 1991, aged 22, she says she was tortured by the idea of medical staff looking at her genitals, which had been physically altered.
"I remember taking the pillow and just putting it on my face because I didn't want the humiliation, the pain," she says. "Knowing all those eyes were going to look at me, was too much."
During the birth, she experienced flashbacks of being cut - which is a common experience of survivors. At the time, she was the first FGM survivor that staff at the hospital in Surrey had seen. Neither she, nor they, had any idea how to try to make the birth easier.
"Before they could even think of what was going to happen and how they're going to deliver this boy, my son came, They had to cut me. My son actually ripped parts of me as well because he was coming with such a force," Hibo recalls.
"They were still very shocked and didn't know what to do with me. It was horrific, and I ended up having a long time to recuperate."
An extract from Hibo Wardere's book, Cut: One Woman's Fight Against FGM in Britain Today:
"What I saw took the breath from my body. The woman was right. There was only one word for it - devastating. For the first time, I could see what I had been left with. It was just a hole. Everything else had been chopped off and sealed up. Despite the doctor opening my skin up to expose my urethra so I could wee, there were no fleshy labia like other women had. No protection, no beauty, the area between my legs looked like dark brown sand that someone had dragged a faint line through, then as if someone had poked a stick into the sand, there at the bottom of the line was a hole. My vagina. I could see it was a little bigger than it had originally been stitched thanks to the doctor who opened me slightly. But there it was. The only clue that I was a woman. The rest of my genitals had been sliced off and discarded."
Despite the experience, Hibo went on to have six more children, and the subsequent births were much less traumatic. Her second child was delivered via Caesarean section, and she praises the NHS for the increased awareness and support for FGM victims. In the UK, a defibulation procedure is now offered as a matter of course before birth, along with psychological support and contact with survivor groups. Midwives say this is vital to those women who may have suppressed memories of the attack and find it difficult to even recognise what was done to them. Hibo credits her husband Yusuf, who she met just a few months after having her medical procedure in the UK, for his unwavering support in her decision to have surgery and speak out about a practice that is so common in the community she is from. Somali woman protest against FGMImage copyright EPA Image caption A protest against FGM in Somalia. Despite her worst fears, she has found more happiness and intimacy than she ever thought possible. But the couple and their family have not managed to escape the expectations of the culture they are from. Hibo's decision to make a stand against FGM meant confronting her mother's beliefs and put a huge strain on their relationship. In her early years, they had "such a close bond". And yet it was her mother who took Hibo to have her genitals cut off and sewn up, reinforcing a widespread cultural belief that such a practice is essential for girls' reputations and future marriage prospects.
"My mum did love me, and she did this out of love," says Hibo now. "She thought this was protection for me. She thought she was protecting the family honour. She herself was a victim - [and] her mother, her grandmother. Generations have undergone FGM - they didn't see anything wrong with it. "They thought if you weren't cut, you're going to be talked about, you're going to be stigmatised, no-one is going to marry you. You're going to be seen as someone who sleeps around with other men. For them, it was protection for the family and protection for you." Hibo and her mother managed to resolve any tension before she passed away. But her in-laws have been "up in arms" about the couple's decision not to cut their three girls. "They believe that I have done something wrong for the kids, they believe that my girls - who's going to marry them?" says Hibo. "And here I was thinking; 'Do I care about the marriage part, or do I care about their health? Do I want them to suffer what I've suffered? Do I want them to go through what I go through?' No way." Girls in parts of Tanzania are often forced to undergo female genital mutilation, even though the practice is illegal. Faced with FGM, many had nowhere to turn - until now. A safe house has opened in the north of the country to offer protection when they need it most.

Joanna Giannouli, 27, has a condition which means she has no womb, cervix and upper vagina
18 Apr 2016
Here, she explains the challenges of a syndrome that affects around one in 5,000 women. When we first saw the doctor, my father put on a brave face. My mother, on the other hand, didn't take it so well. She blamed herself for the past 10 years. It was really heartbreaking to see her like that. We didn't talk about it much for the first five years. I wasn't able to talk about it. I felt destroyed and incredibly weak. My mother believes she may have done something wrong in her pregnancy. I've explained to her that she didn't do anything wrong, it was just genes. It's a condition that is stigmatised. The most hurtful thing was when I was abandoned after my former partner found out. I was engaged when I was 21, living in Athens. When I told my fiance about the condition, he broke off the engagement. That all belongs in the past and I am OK now. For the past five years, fortunately, I have had a stable and loving relationship. He knew from the beginning that I have this condition and he chose to stay with me. He knows that maybe the future will be without children. He's OK with it. I'm also OK with that. I am one of the luckiest. My mother took me to our family doctor when I was 14 because I still wasn't menstruating. He didn't examine me because he wouldn't touch my private parts and when I became 16 he sent me to a hospital to be checked out. They realised that I didn't have a vaginal tunnel and I had Rokitansky syndrome. Because I was born without a functional vagina, the doctors had to make one in order for me to have sex. Joanna was 17 when she was diagnosed with Rokitansky syndrome.
It went well, really well. I stayed in a hospital for about two weeks, in order to recover. Then I had to be about three months laying on a bed - I couldn't get up. I did vaginal exercises in order to expand my new vaginal tunnel. The first sign of it is you have primal amenorrhea - you don't have any menstruation at all. Apart from that, you cannot have sexual intercourse. That's why I had major surgery aged 17. The doctors made me a new one. It was a revolutionary procedure in Athens. The new vagina the doctors made was narrow and small, and it caused me a lot of pain while having sex, and I had to expand the perineum by doing vaginal exercises. It's a small area underneath the vagina. It's skin, it's tissue, and they had to cut it more in order to expand the entrance, as I call it. After that I was OK physically, but I was not OK emotionally. It's a burden, like something that you cannot get rid of it. I had partners who emotionally abused me about this condition. I couldn't have a stable relationship for many years because of that. It is a haunting and unbearable situation. It steals your happiness, your mentality, your chances of having a good and stable relationship. It leaves you with a huge void that cannot be filled, it fills you with anger, guilt, and shame. Apart from that, it was hard afterwards. It was just taking a toll on me emotionally, psychologically - it was really, really hard. Well, it's been almost 10 years. I'm still feeling bad about it but I'm not ashamed any more, it's been way too long. And I've realised that I cannot change it, it's just the way it is, I have to embrace it and live with it. For the first few years, and still sometimes, I thought I was worthless. I was a lost soul for many years. It can destroy your life. It puts you in a really hard position. I battled depression, anxiety, panic attacks, you name it. It taught me a lesson. Although I don't believe in God, I do believe that this was a huge wake-up call - never take anything for granted.
I was reborn. It gave me a new life, a new identity. It changed the course of my life. Before, I was a typical teenager with ups and downs. Afterwards, I became really, really mature. I grew up rapidly. I am thankful for that. This defined me as a person. I am living each day as it is. I am not making any future plans because I don't know if I'm going to be alive. Not many people know this about me. I wanted to keep it a secret and my mum told family members. It wasn't the best experience because people pity you. I don't want people to feel sorry for me. I'm not dying, I'm not in danger. People had this pitiful look. It made me feel sadder about myself. I couldn't talk about it because in Athens - in Greece generally - people are really close-minded. Sometimes it felt like I was living in the Middle Ages. I couldn't find a support group in Greece, I couldn't find anyone else to talk about it. And I needed someone to talk about it! It was huge, and most women with the condition are ashamed, really. I've found a couple of women that were willing to talk about it, and after a while they disappeared because they were ashamed of it. I would love to be a mother in some way, be it a biological, a surrogate mother or a foster mum. A mother is not the one who gives birth but is the woman who cares for a child. At this stage of my life, I'm not thinking about it but maybe in the future I will have children. I love kids, we will see. It is liberating to talk about it. I want to support every woman that has this condition because I have been through hell and I know what problems this can cause. Many women have committed suicide because of this. It can be really depressing. I found the strength and courage because I want to help other women in the same position because if we don't help each other then who will? It gives me strength when I talk about it.

Judit Polgar (a Woman) is the 'Queen of Chess' who defeated Kasparov (a man)
10 Feb 2016
Hungarian chess champion Judit Polgar started playing chess from a very young age and almost immediately it became clear she had a special talent for the sport. As a young girl, she soon swapped playing people of her own age to experienced adult professionals around the world. Initially, Polgar was dismissed by many in the sport as not up to the challenge of playing against men. Then world champion Garry Kasparov was the most renowned player to question whether a woman could beat a man. However, during the 2002 'Russia - versus the Rest of the World' tournament, Polgar got the ultimate revenge by beating Kasparov. She was the first woman to do so. Judit Polgar spoke to Witness about their rivalry and that historic moment in the sport of chess. Here are Casparov's words: "She (Judit Polgar) has fantastic chess talent, but she is, after all, a woman" and "No woman can sustain" a prolonged battle".

POLGAR - KARPOV Chess Match 1998, Budaspest.  Apr 17, 2012. At the age of 22 Judit Polgár played an eight game match of "action" chess, which is 30 minutes for the entire game, against Anatoly Karpov in June 1998 in Budapest. She won the match 5--3 by winning two games with the remaining ending in draws. At the time Karpov was the FIDE World Champion.

16 year old GM Judit Polgar plays GM Ron W. Henley on Live TV

Judit Polgar defeating Kasparov - Russia vs Rest of the World

17-year-old Judit Polgar defeating World Champ Boris Spassky. After the Fischer - Spassky rematch in 1992, Judit Polgár played an exhibition match in February against former World Champion, Boris Spassky in Budapest in 1993. She won the match 5½--4½.

Judit Polgar - Wijk aan Zee, 2003.   Oct 10, 2011.  Judit Polgar played chess in Netherland, Wijk an Zee in 2003. Her opponents were for expamle Karpov, Ponomariov, Anand, Kramnyik.

Polgár Chess Day 2011

Judit Polgar - Prima primissima (HUN)

Judit Polgar - Khanty-Mansiysk olimpia 2010

JUDIT POLGAR Olympic Champion - 1988, Thessaloniki. In 1988, Judit and her sisters along with Ildikó Mádl, represented Hungary in the Women's section of the 28th Chess Olympiad in Thessaloniki. The International Chess Federation would not permit the Polgárs to play against men in team competitions. Prior to the tournament, Eduard Gufeld, Soviet GM and team coach for the Soviet women's team, dismissed the Polgárs. "I believe that these girls are going to lose a good part of their quickly acquired image in the 28th Olympiad", he said. "Afterward we are going to know if the Hungarian sisters are geniuses or just women!" However, Hungary's women's team won the championship which was the first time it was not won by the Soviet Union. Judit played board 2 and finished the tournament with the highest score of 12½--½ to win the individual gold medal. She also won the brilliancy prize for her game against Pavlina Angelova.

Judit Polgar - l'Europe s'élargit 2004 (Fra)

Judit Polgar en San Isidro

Judit Polgar - Silver with Men team - Chess Olympiad - Bled, 2002. After gaining two gold medals with the women team, Judit Polgar went to win a silver medal in the men's team competition in the Olympiad, in 2002, in Bled. While the Hungarians had the best won--loss record of the tournament as a team and lost only a single game of the 56 they played, they had won most of their

Video - Magnus Carlsen vs Judit Polgar: World Blitz Championship!

 Jun 27, 2014 - A full video of the game between Magnus Carlsen and Judit Polgar played in the 14th round of the FIDE World Blitz Championship in Dubai, on June 20h, 2014.

14 Year Old Female Chess Prodigy - Irina Krush - Sicilian

Garry Kasparov

More info about 
Judit Polgar from wikipedia
Strongest female player ever

Judit Polgár (born 23 July 1976) is a Hungarian chess grandmaster. She is generally considered the strongest female chess player in history. In 1991, Polgár achieved the title of Grandmaster at the age of 15 years and 4 months, at the time the youngest to have done so, breaking the record previously held by former World Champion Bobby Fischer. She is the youngest ever player to break into the FIDE Top 100 players rating list, being ranked No. 55 in the January 1989 rating list, at the age of 12. She is the only woman to qualify for a World Championship tournament, having done so in 2005. She was the number 1 rated woman in the world from January 1989 up until the March 2015 rating list, when she was overtaken by Chinese player Hou Yifan; she was the No. 1 again in the August 2015 women's rating list, in her last appearance in the FIDE World Rankings. She has won or shared first in the chess tournaments of Hastings 1993, Madrid 1994, León 1996, U.S. Open 1998, Hoogeveen 1999, Sigeman & Co 2000, Japfa 2000, and the Najdorf Memorial 2000. Polgár is the only woman to have won a game against a reigning world number one player, and has defeated eleven current or former world champions in either rapid or classical chess: Magnus Carlsen, Anatoly Karpov, Garry Kasparov, Vladimir Kramnik, Boris Spassky, Vasily Smyslov, Veselin Topalov, Viswanathan Anand, Ruslan Ponomariov, Alexander Khalifman, and Rustam Kasimdzhanov. On 13 August 2014, she announced her retirement from competitive chess. In June 2015, Polgar was elected as the new captain and head coach of the Hungarian national men's team. On 20 August 2015, she received Hungary's highest decoration, the Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Stephen of Hungary.
Early life
Polgár was born on 23 July 1976 in Budapest, to a Hungarian Jewish family. Polgár and her two older sisters, Grandmaster Susan and International Master Sofia, were part of an educational experiment carried out by their father László Polgár, in an attempt to prove that children could make exceptional achievements if trained in a specialist subject from a very early age. "Geniuses are made, not born," was László's thesis. He and his wife Klára educated their three daughters at home, with chess as the specialist subject. László also taught his three daughters the international language Esperanto. They received resistance from Hungarian authorities as home-schooling was not a "socialist" approach. They also received criticism at the time from some western commentators for depriving the sisters of a normal childhood. Traditionally, chess had been a male-dominated activity, and women were often seen as weaker players, thus advancing the idea of a Women's World Champion. However, from the beginning, László was against the idea that his daughters had to participate in female-only events. "Women are able to achieve results similar, in fields of intellectual activities, to that of men," he wrote. "Chess is a form of intellectual activity, so this applies to chess. Accordingly, we reject any kind of discrimination in this respect." This put the Polgárs in conflict with the Hungarian Chess Federation of the day, whose policy was for women to play in women-only tournaments. Polgár's older sister, Susan, first fought the bureaucracy by playing in men's tournaments and refusing to play in women's tournaments. Susan Polgár, when she was a 15-year-old International Master, said in 1985 that it was due to this conflict that she had not been awarded the Grandmaster title despite having made the norm eleven times.
Polgár has rarely played in women's-specific tournaments or divisions and has never competed for the Women's World Championship: "I always say that women should have the self-confidence that they are as good as male players, but only if they are willing to work and take it seriously as much as male players." While László Polgár has been credited with being an excellent chess coach, the Polgárs had also employed professional chessplayers to train their daughters, including Hungarian champion IM Tibor Florian, GM Pal Benko, and Russian GM Alexander Chernin. Susan Polgár, the eldest of the sisters, 5½ years older than Sophia and 7 years older than Judit, was the first of the sisters to achieve prominence in chess by winning tournaments, and by 1986, she was the world's top-rated female chess player. Initially, being the youngest, Judit was separated from her sisters while they were in training. However, this only served to increase Judit's curiosity. After learning the rules, they discovered Judit was able to find solutions to the problems they were studying, and she began to be invited into the group. One evening Susan was studying an endgame with their trainer, a strong International Master. Unable to find the solution, they woke Judit, who was asleep in bed and carried her into the training room. Still half asleep, Judit showed them how to solve the problem, after which they put her back to bed. László Polgár's experiment would produce a family of one international master and two grandmasters and would strengthen the argument for nurture over nature, but also prove women could be grandmasters of chess.

Boris Spasski
Child prodigy
Trained in her early years by her sister Susan, who ultimately became Women's World Champion, Judit Polgár was a prodigy from an early age. At age 5, she defeated a family friend without looking at the board. After the game, the friend joked: "You are good at chess, but I'm a good cook." Judit replied: "Do you cook without looking at the stove?" However, according to Susan, Judit was not the sister with the most talent, explaining: "Judit was a slow starter, but very hard-working." Polgár described herself at that age as "obsessive" about chess. She first defeated an International Master, Dolfi Drimer, at age 10, and a grandmaster, Lev Gutman, at age 11. Judit started playing in tournaments at 6 years old, and by age 9, her rating with the Hungarian Chess Federation was 2080. She was a member of the chess club in Budapest where she would get experience from master level players. In 1984, in Budapest, Sophia and Judit, at the time 9 and 7 years of age, respectively, played two games of blindfold chess against two masters, which they won. At one point, the girls complained that one of their opponents was playing too slowly and suggested a clock should be used. In April 1986, 9-year-old Judit played in her first rated tournament in the U.S., finishing first in the unrated section of the New York Open, winning US$1,000. All three Polgár sisters competed. Susan, 16, competed in the grandmaster section and had a victory against GM Walter Browne and Sophia, 11, finished second in her section, but Judit gathered most of the attention in the tournament. Grandmasters would drop by to watch the serious, quiet child playing. She won her first seven games before drawing the final game. Although the unrated section had many of the weaker players in the Open, it also had players of expert strength, who were foreign to the United States and had not been rated yet. Milorad Boskovic related a conversation with Judit's sixth-round opponent, a Yugoslav player he knew to be a strong expert: "He told me he took some chances in the game because he couldn't believe she was going to attack so well." Not able to speak English, her mother interpreted as she told a reporter her goal was to be a chess professional. When the reporter asked her if she would be world champion one day, Judit answered: "I will try. In late 1986, 10-year-old Judit defeated 52-year-old Romanian IM Dolfi Drimer in the Adsteam Lidums International Tournament in Adelaide, Australia. Edmar Mednis said he played his best game of the tournament against Judit: "I was careful in that game...Grandmasters don't like to lose to 10-year-old girls, because then we make the front page of all the papers."
In April 1988, Polgár made her first International Master norm in the International B section of the New York Open. In August 1988, she won the under-12 "Boys" section of the World Youth Chess and Peace Festival in Timișoara, Romania. In October 1988, she finished first in a 10-player round-robin tournament in London, scoring 7–2, for a half point lead over Israeli GM Yair Kraidman. With these three results, she completed the requirements for the International Master title; at the time she had been the youngest player ever to have achieved this distinction. Both Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov were 14 when they were awarded the title; Polgár was 12. It was during this time that former World Champion Mikhail Tal said Polgár had the potential to win the men's World Championship. Judit was asked about playing against boys instead of the girls' section of tournaments: "These other girls are not serious about chess...I practice five or six hours a day, but they get distracted by cooking and work around the house."
In November 1988, Judit and her sisters, along with Ildikó Mádl, represented Hungary in the Women's section of the 28th Chess Olympiad in Thessaloniki. The International Chess Federation would not permit the Polgárs to play against men in team competitions. Prior to the tournament, Eduard Gufeld, Soviet GM and team coach for the Soviet women's team, dismissed the Polgárs: "I believe that these girls are going to lose a good part of their quickly acquired image in the 28th Olympiad...Afterward we are going to know if the Hungarian sisters are geniuses or just women!" However, Hungary's women's team won the championship, which marked the first time it was not won by the Soviet Union. Judit played board 2 and finished the tournament with the highest score to win the individual gold medal. She also won the brilliancy prize for her game against Pavlina Angelova... Judit's quiet and modest demeanour at the board contrasted with the intensity of her playing style. David Norwood, British GM, in recalling Judit beating him when he was an established player and she was just a child, described her as "this cute little auburn-haired monster, who crushed you". British journalist Dominic Lawson wrote about 12-year-old Judit's "killer" eyes and how she would stare at her opponent: "The irises are so grey, so dark, they are almost indistinguishable from the pupils. Set against her long red hair, the effect is striking."
Before age 13, she had broken into the top 100 players in the world and the British Chess Magazine declared: "Judit Polgár's recent results make the performances of Fischer and Kasparov at a similar age pale by comparison." British GM Nigel Short called Judit "one of the three or four greatest chess prodigies in history". The other great chess prodigies were Paul Morphy, José Capablanca, and Samuel Reshevsky. However, not everyone was as enthusiastic, and she also had to face prejudice because of her sex. For example, Kasparov expressed doubts at one point: "She has fantastic chess talent, but she is, after all, a woman. It all comes down to the imperfections of the feminine psyche. No woman can sustain a prolonged battle." Later in life, however, Kasparov revised his opinion: "The Polgars showed that there are no inherent limitations to their aptitude—an idea that many male players refused to accept until they had unceremoniously been crushed by a twelve-year-old with a ponytail."
In 1989, Polgár tied with Boris Gelfand for third in the OHRA Open in Amsterdam. By now, numerous books and articles had been written about the Polgár sisters, making them famous even outside of the world of chess. In 1989, American President George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara met with the Polgárs during their visit to Hungary. Although not released until 1996, in 1990 a documentary about children playing chess, Chess Kids, featuring Polgár, was filmed. In 1990, Judit won the Boys section of the under-14 in the World Youth Chess Festival in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Also in 1990, Judit and her sisters represented Hungary on the Olympic women's team winning the gold medal. As of 2013, it is the last women-only tournament in which Judit would ever participate.
In December 1991, Polgár achieved the grandmaster title by winning the Hungarian National Championship, at the time the youngest ever at 15 years, 5 months to have achieved the title. This beat Fischer's record by a month. Hungary, one of the strongest chess-playing countries, had all but one of their strongest players participate in that year's championship, as only Zoltán Ribli was missing. Going into the last round, Polgár needed only a draw to achieve the GM title, but she won her game against GM Tibor Tolnai to finish first, with six points in nine games. In January 1991, Judit's sister Susan had also earned the GM title. Susan had the distinction of being the first woman to earn the GM title by achieving three GM norms and achieving a rating over 2500 as previous female GMs, Nona Gaprindashvili and Maia Chiburdanidze, were awarded the title by winning the Women's World Championship. In 1993, Polgár became the first woman to ever qualify for a men's Interzonal tournament. In March, she finished in a four-way tie for second place in the Budapest Zonal and won the tiebreaking tournament. She then confirmed her status as one of the world's leading players, narrowly failing to qualify for the Candidates Tournaments at the rival FIDE and PCA Interzonal tournaments. In the summer of 1993, Bobby Fischer stayed for a time in the Polgár household. He had been living in seclusion in Yugoslavia due to an arrest warrant issued by the United States for violating the U.N. blockade of Yugoslavia with his 1992 match against Spassky, and for tax evasion. Susan Polgár met Bobby with her family and persuaded him to come out of hiding "in a cramped hotel room in a small Yugoslavian village". During his stay, he played many games of Fischer Random Chess and helped the sisters analyse their games. Susan said, while he was friendly on a personal level and recalled mostly pleasant moments as their guest, there were conflicts due to his political views. On the suggestion of a friend of Fischer, a match of blitz chess between Fischer and Polgár was arranged and announced to the press. However, problems ensued between Fischer and László Polgár and Fischer cancelled the match, saying to a friend on whether the match would take place, "No, they're Jewish."
In the summer of 1994, Polgár had the greatest success of her career to that point, when she won the Madrid International in Spain. In 1995, the Isle of Lewis chess club in Scotland attempted to arrange a game between Polgár and Nigel Short in which the famous Lewis chessmen would be used... Polgár won the double round-robin tournament of four GMs, scoring five points in the six games and winning both her games against Short.
Polgár is the strongest female chess player of all time. In August 1996, she participated in a very strong 10-player tournament in Vienna. There was a three-way tie for first between Karpov, Topalov and Boris Gelfand and a three-way tie for fourth between Kramnik, Polgár and Lékó. In December 1996, Polgár played a match in São Paulo against Brazil's champion Gilbert Milos. The four games were played at 30 moves an hour with 30 minutes for the remainder of the game. Polgár won two, drew one and lost one and won $12,000 in prize money. "There has long been a lively debate about who is the strongest player of all", wrote GM Robert Byrne in his New York Times column of Aug. 26, 1997.
"Prominent candidates are Bobby Fischer, Garry Kasparov, Jose Raul Capablanca, Alexander Alekhine or Emanuel Lasker. But there is no argument about the greatest female player: she is 21-year-old Judit Polgár."
In June 1998 in Budapest, Polgár played an eight game match of "action" chess, which is 30 minutes for the entire game, against Anatoly Karpov. She won the match 5–3 by winning two games with the remaining ending in draws. At the time Karpov was the FIDE World Champion. In August 1998, Polgár became the first woman to ever win the U.S. Open held at the Kona Surf Resort in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. She shared the tournament victory with GM Boris Gulko as each scored 8–1. Typical of her aggressive style was her victory against GM Georgi the European Teams Championship in Batumi, Georgia, also in January, she won the gold medal... In October 1998, Polgár won the VAM four-grandmaster tournament in Hoogeveen, Netherlands...
In April and May 2000, Polgár won one of the strongest tournaments ever held in Asia. The Japfa Classic in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, was an event of 10 players in which included Alexander Khalifman–at the time FIDE world champion– and Anatoly Karpov–his predecessor.  Going into the last round four players, Polgár, Khalifman, Karpov and Gilberto Milos were tied, but Polgár won her game over Braziliam GM Milos while Khalifman and Karpov played against each other in a draw. Polgár finished clear first, winning the $20,000 first place prize money. At the end of May, she won the Sigeman & Company International Tournament in Malmö, Sweden. In September 2000, she shared first place in the Najdorf Chess Festival with Viktor Bologan, ahead of Nigel Short and Anatoly Karpov. In September 2002, in the Russia versus the Rest of the World Match, Polgár finally defeated Garry Kasparov in a game. She won the game with exceptional positional play. Polgár proceeded with a line which Kasparov has used himself. The game helped the World team win the match 52–48. Upon resigning, Kasparov immediately left by a passageway barred to journalists and photographers. Kasparov had once described Polgár as a "circus puppet" and asserted that women chess players should stick to having children. Polgár called the game, "One of the most remarkable moments of my career." The game was historic as it was the first time in chess history that a female player beat the world's No. 1 player in competitive play.
In 2004, Polgár took some time off from chess to give birth to her son, Olivér. She was consequently considered inactive and not listed on the January 2005 FIDE rating list. Her sister Susan reactivated her playing status during this period, and temporarily became the world's No. 1 ranked women's player again. She did not play at the 2006 Linares tournament because she was pregnant again. On 6 July 2006, she gave birth to a girl, Hanna. Polgár participitated in the FIDE world blitz championship on 5–7 September 2006 in Rishon Le Zion, Israel. Blitz chess is played with each player having only 5 minutes for all moves. The round-robin tournament of 16 of some of the strongest players in the world, concluded with Alexander Grischuk finally edging out Peter Svidler in a tie-break to win the tournament. Polgár finished tied for fifth/sixth place, winning $5,625 for the three-day tournament. Polgár tied with Boris Gelfand with 9½ points and won her individual game against Viswanathan Anand, at the time the world's No. 2 player. In October 2006, Polgár scored another excellent result: tied for first place in the Essent Chess Tournament, Hoogeveen, the Netherlands.
In November 2010, Polgár won the four-player rapid tournament which was held to celebrate the National University of Mexico's 100th anniversary. Polgár won a close opening match against Vassily Ivanchuk. She then crushed Veselin Topalov, a former world champion and ranked No. 1 in the world in 2009, 3½–½ to win the tournament. On 2 April 2011, Polgár finished in a four-way tie for first in the European Individual Chess Championship in Aix-les-Bains, France.  Polgár became the first woman ever to finish in the top three of the male championship.  On 2 April 2011,  Polgár was praised for her creative attacks and endgame technique. Polgár became the first woman ever to finish in the top three of the male championship. On 5 October 2013, Polgár played Nigel Short in the eighteenth edition of's Death Match. The final score was 17½-10½ in Polgár's favor. They played 28 games in total, separated into three stages of increasingly faster time controls, the first being 5+1, the second 3+1 and finally 1+1. Polgár later remarked on her Facebook page that "it was great fun to play against Nigel..." Nigel in turn tweeted in jest, "Such bad chess. I should go and hang myself..."

Anatolii Karpov
Playing style
While having a solid understanding of positional play, Polgár excels in tactics and is known for an aggressive playing style, striving to maximize the initiative and actively pursuing complications. The former World Champion Garry Kasparov wrote that, based upon her games, "if to 'play like a girl' meant anything in chess, it would mean relentless aggression." In her youth, she was especially popular with the fans due to her willingness to employ wild gambits and attacks. As a teenager, Polgár has been credited with contributing to the popularity of the opening variation King's Bishop's Gambit. Polgár prefers aggressive openings... she has also said her opening choices will also depend upon her trainer. Jennifer Shahade, writer and two-time U.S. women's chess champion, suggested that the influence of Polgár as a role model may be one of the reasons women play more aggressive chess than men. Describing an individual encounter with Polgár, former U.S. Champion Joel Benjamin said, "It was all-out war for five hours. I was totally exhausted. She is a tiger at the chessboard. She absolutely has a killer instinct. You make one mistake and she goes right for the throat."
Polgár is especially adept at faster time controls. When she was still a youth, Der Spiegel wrote of her, "her tactical thunderstorms during blitz games have confounded many opponents, who are rated higher." Polgár has spoken of appreciating the psychological aspect of chess. She has stated preferring to learn an opponent's style so she can play intentionally against him or her rather than playing "objective" chess. In her 2002 victory over Kasparov, she deliberately chose a line Kasparov had used against Vladimir Kramnik, employing the strategy of forcing the opponent to "play against himself". Kasparov's response was inadequate and he soon found himself in an inferior position. In an interview regarding playing against computers she said, "Chess is 30 to 40% psychology. You don't have this when you play a computer. I can't confuse it.
Chess professional
"You have to be very selfish sometimes", said Polgár in speaking of the life of a professional chess player. "If you are in a tournament, you have to think of yourself—you can't think of your wife or children—only about yourself." When asked in 2002 if she still desired to win the world championship she said, "Chess is my profession and of course I hope to improve. But I'm not going to give up everything to become world champion; I have my life. Polgár has said she does not have a permanent coach although she does have help from GM Lev Psakhis or GM Mihail Marin. She said she rarely uses a second and when she travels to tournaments it is usually her husband who accompanies her. Polgár said she has changed how she prepares for tournaments.
"I make more use of my experience now and try to work more efficiently so that my efforts aren't wasted", she said in 2008.
Concentrating on her two children left Polgár with little time to train and play competitively and her ranking dropped from eighth in 2005 to the mid-50s in 2009. However, as of September 2010 Polgár remained the only woman in the top 100 and still the only woman to have ever made the top 10. Comparing motherhood to playing chess, Polgár has said that a chess tournament now "feels like a vacation." When asked why she came back to chess after taking time off to care for her children, she said, "I cannot live without chess! It is an integral part of my life. I enjoy the game!"
Despite being the highest-rated woman for twenty years, Polgár has never competed for the women's world championship and in a 2011 interview was asked about this possibility. Polgár said that in the past she has never been interested in competing for it, but in recent years "the mentality of a couple of the women players has changed". Polgár said that for her to consider competing it would have to be a challenge and "if I get an extremely nice offer just to play for the title."
Polgár authored a children's book on chess, Chess Playground. Her sister Sofia provided illustrations. In recent years, Polgár designed a chess programme for the older students of a kindergarten school in Budapest, Hungary. In March 2013 she was awarded the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary Commander's Cross with Star, one of Hungary's highest awards, "for her worldwide acknowledged life achievement as an athlete, for promoting the game of chess and for her efforts to promote the educational benefits of chess." In August 2015, she received the Order of Saint Stephen of Hungary, the highest State Order that can be made to a Hungarian civilian."

slim women's segregation in UK communities must end - Cameron (but their government doesn't pay for free english courses for migrants anymore! LM)
18 January 2016
...The government says 22% of Muslim women living in England speak little or no English - a factor it argues is contributing to their isolation. Segregation, the prime minister says, is allowing "appalling practices" such as female genital mutilation and forced marriage to exist, and increasing vulnerability to recruitment by so-called Islamic State - also known as Daesh. He is also announcing a review of the role of Britain's religious councils, including Sharia courts, in an effort to confront men who exert "damaging control over their wives, sisters and daughters"... Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Cameron said the push on language was "about building a more integrated, cohesive, one nation country where there's genuine opportunity for people". He said some "menfolk" in Muslim communities were fostering segregation by preventing women from learning English or leaving home alone, and that could not be allowed to continue. There is "a connection with combating extremism" too, he argued, and improving English was important "to help people become more resilient against the messages of Daesh". New rules will mean that from October, people coming to the UK on a five-year spousal visa will have to take a test after two and a half years to show they are making efforts to improve their English. Asked what would happen to those who failed, Mr Cameron told Today: "They can't guarantee that they'll be able to stay. "It is tough. But in the end it is not enough just to say the government is going to spend more money and it is our responsibility. People coming to our country, they have responsibilities too."
The BBC's political correspondent Alex Forsyth said the government was absolutely not suggesting people could be deported if they failed to reach the required level, but that language skills would be one factor taken into account when deciding whether to extend a person's right to remain. Dal Babu, a former chief superintendent with the Metropolitan Police who now works with families whose children have gone to fight with IS, told Today the investment in language lessons was welcome.
But he added: "My concern is how we have conflated the issue of learning English with stopping radicalism and extremism... to conflate the two is unhelpful." Mr Babu also said he did not recognise the figure of 22% as the proportion of Muslim women without good English - instead quoting a figure of 6%, cited by racial equality think tank the Runnymede Trust.

Maximum Mensa score for girl aged 11 from Isleworth -  video  (recommended article)
7 January 2016
Eleven-year-old Anushka Binoy has scored the maximum 162 to get into the high-IQ society Mensa. She told BBC Asian Network's Anisa Kadri she was "flabbergasted" when she walked into the exam hall as everyone was much older than her. Anushka, from Isleworth, west London, says she loves creative writing and wants to join the society's specialist group.

Terror in Europe: European cities review NYE celebrations - video
31 December 2015
Cities across Europe have been forced to review, cancel or scale-back New Year's Eve celebrations over terror attack fears. The mayor of Brussels cancelled all plans for events, and police arrested six people on Thursday in connection with an alleged plot to target the city on New Year's Eve.

Teaching migrants how to behave

Former Finland's Prime Minister - Tarja Halonen
22 Jan 2016
Migrants arriving in Finland are being offered classes on Finnish values and how to behave towards women. Concerned about a rise in the number of sexual assaults in the country, the government wants to make sure that people from very conservative cultures know what to expect in their new home. Johanna is one of those energetic, animated teachers whose cheerful energy lures even the most reluctant pupil into engaging with the lesson. She uses both her hands to stress her meaning and she always softens any difficult points with a smile. "So in Finland," she says softly, "you can't buy a wife. A woman will only be your wife if she wants to be - because here women are men's equals." Her pupils, all recently arrived asylum seekers at this reception centre hidden away in the snowy depths of the Finnish forest, watch her carefully - and I watch them. Some of the young Iraqi men, who already speak good English and passable Finnish, nod sagely. Others, particularly the older men, stare at one another with raised eyebrows as Johanna's words are translated into Arabic for them. One man, hunkered down inside his black ski jacket seems to be taking notes while there's a faint smile on the lips of the only head-scarfed young woman in the room. Raasepoori reception centre in the Finnish forest . "But you can go out to the disco with a woman here," adds Johanna brightly. "Although remember, even if she dances with you very closely and is wearing a short skirt, that doesn't mean she wants to have sex with you." A Somali teenager pulls his woolly hat over his ears and cradles his head in his hands as if his brain can't cope with all this new information. "This is a very liberal country," he says incredulously. "We have a lot to learn. In my country if you make sexy with a woman you are killed!" He turns to his neighbour, a Malian man of a similar age to gauge his reaction. "It's quite amazing," the Malian nods. "In my country a woman should not go out without her husband or brother." Woman at a disco in Finland . Johanna turns her attention to homosexuality and the Iraqi men on the back row - it's always the back row - begin to giggle and snigger. It might seem like a bit of a pantomime, but reception centres in Finland take these voluntary manners and culture classes extremely seriously. If men arriving from very different and conservative cultures are not immediately made aware that Finland has its own set of customs and rules which must be respected, then they will never integrate, warns Johanna.
The men may groan when she tells them that Finnish men share the housework, but they no longer baulk when they see their taxi driver is a woman. Since the autumn, when Johanna first started giving these classes, female asylum seekers frequently approach her to complain that their husbands are not treating them in the Finnish way. The men are also versed in Finnish criminal law so they know exactly what to expect if they touch a woman inappropriately. And that's why these classes are backed by the interior ministry and the police. Last autumn three asylum seekers were convicted of rape in Finland, and at the new year there was a series of sexual assaults and harassments similar to those in Cologne and Stockholm. Victims reported that the perpetrators were of Middle Eastern appearance - something Helsinki's deputy chief of police, Ilkka Koskimaki decided to go public with. "It's difficult to talk about," he admits as we drive in a patrol car through the icy streets of the city. "But we have to tell the truth. Usually we would not reveal the ethnic background of a suspect, but these incidents, where groups of young foreign men," as he puts it, "surround a girl in a public place and harass her have become a phenomenon."
Refugees walk from a public transport centre to a reception centre in Tornio, north-west Finland, September 2015. More than 32,000 migrants arrived in Finland in 2015. The police van pulls up at a downtown reception centre where Koskimaki's preventive policing team give similar classes to Johanna's. A jumble of migrant men smoking on the snowy steps in flip-flops, hastily scarper indoors, clearly alarmed by the police presence. A muscly Iraqi man in gym kit approaches me cautiously and asks me in a whisper why I feel the need to visit the centre with three police bodyguards. Please, he pleads, please don't think all asylum seekers are dangerous because of a few criminals. The lesson at Raasepoori reception centre is drawing to a close and the asylum seekers have been given optional homework to help them read up on Finland's sexual equality laws. As we leave the class, an Iraqi man in a colourful bomber jacket shakes my hand. "It's great in Finland," he says "But when I marry, my wife will be a housekeeper who will cook the food I like - and she certainly won't go to disc

Video - Неприязнь к беженцам дошла до Бaффало -  Jan 31, 2016. В американском городе Бaффало приезжие подвергаются нападениям, а местное население относится к ним с опаской. В 2016 году правительство США планирует впустить в страну до 85 тысяч беженцев, однако американцы этому не рады.

Video - Жительницы Германии берут уроки самообороны для защиты от беженцев  Jan 30, 2016. 8 февраля в Кёльне пройдет традиционное карнавальное шествие, к которому приковано особое внимание после новогодних нападений на жительниц города со стороны беженцев. По последним данным, в полицию уже поступило более 700 заявлений от женщин, пострадавших от сексуальных нападений.

Migrant crisis: More than 10,000 children 'missing'
31 January 2016
...Some migrant boys say they have no choice, but to sell sex in order to survive... Many Nigerian girls are told they must pay traffickers thousands of euros or their families will be harmed...

Australian MPs are allowed to breastfeed in Parliaments of Australia

MP - Carolina Bescansa Breastfeeding In Parliament, Spain, 2010; MP - Licia Ronzulli, Breastfeeding In Parliament, Italy, 2012
2 February 2016
Members of Parliament attend the first Parliamentary sitting of 2016 at Parliament House in Canberra. The changes were approved on the first day of the parliamentary year. The Australian House of Representatives has changed its rules to allow lawmakers to breastfeed and bottle-feed in the chamber. Under the old rules, MPs could only take babies into the public galleries or offices of the parliament building. The leader of the house welcomed the changes to "antiquated" practices. Breastfeeding in parliament is a controversial issue in many countries, and lawmakers have been criticised for taking their babies to sessions. The new regulations in Australia mean MPs' infants will no longer be considered as "visitors", banned from entering the chamber of the lower house. The changes were approved after a recommendation from a parliamentary committee. "No member male or female will ever be prevented from participating fully in the operation of the parliament by reason of having the care of a baby," House Leader Christopher Pyne said. "There is absolutely no reason that rules should remain in place which make life in politics and the parliament more difficult for women."
Forty of the 150 members of the House of Representatives are women, and three have had babies since March, the Associated Press news agency said. Four other MPs are reportedly due to become fathers. Last year, Assistant Treasurer Kelly O'Dwyer was reportedly advised to express more milk in order to not miss sessions in parliament.
'Risk ridicule'
The subject is a sensitive issue in many parliaments around the world. In January, Spanish MP Carolina Bescansa, from the Podemos (We Can) party, was both criticised and commended for by taking her baby into parliament and breastfeeding him. Iolanda Pineda, of the Socialists' Party of Catalonia (PSC), also took her baby into Spain's upper house of parliament in 2012. Spanish MP of the Podemos party Carolina Bescansa is seen with her baby at her seat at Parliament. Spanish MP Carolina Bescansa caused a stir by breastfeeding him in parliament Licia Ronzulli sits with her baby daughter as she votes in the European Parliament in 2010. Italian politician Licia Ronzulli was first pictured with her baby in the European parliament in September 2010 when the child was six weeks old. Last year a group of MPs in the UK called for a ban on new mothers breastfeeding their babies in the House of Commons chamber to be overturned. However others warned it would risk ridicule from the tabloid press.

Beata Szydlo: Polish miner's daughter set to be PM
26 October 2015
Beata Szydlo of PiS at party rally, 22 Oct 15. Beata Szydlo is seen as a skilful - if less than charismatic - campaigner . Conservative Beata Szydlo is no new rising star of Polish politics but she is poised to oust a woman rival - Ewa Kopacz - from the prime minister's office. The Law and Justice Party (PiS) - eurosceptic and strong on traditional values - made a dramatic comeback in Sunday's general election. Ms Szydlo, 52, has been a conservative MP for a decade. But she impressed many Poles and her party leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, earlier this year by running Andrzej Duda's successful presidential campaign. A relatively unknown MEP, Mr Duda surprised almost everyone by beating the popular incumbent, Bronislaw Komorowski, in May. During an energetic campaign, Mr Duda travelled the country, with Mrs Szydlo by his side, meeting and listening to as many Poles as he could. Ms Szydlo's role in his success was recognised when Mr Kaczynski appointed her the party's candidate for prime minister. "The fresh, moderate face of the Polish right. She is the hard-working, skilful and intelligent woman behind Andrzej Duda's spectacular victory in the presidential race," said Marek Magierowski, President Duda's public diplomacy adviser. That "fresh" face is important here - it sets her apart from the governing centre-right Civic Platform which, after eight years in office, lost much support. But she also contrasts with her boss, Mr Kaczynski.
'Daddy was a miner' Mr Kaczynski, a 66-year-old bachelor, is a divisive figure. He is not afraid to accuse his political opponents of being on the side of the former communist police and, more recently, he warned that immigrants were bringing diseases with them from the Middle East. Civic Platform election poster in Warsaw. Staunchly pro-EU Civic Platform, led by Ewa Kopacz, has been in power for eight years. Led by Mr Kaczynski, Law and Justice had lost every major national election since 2007 until he stepped aside to allow Andrzej Duda to run for president this year. Like Mr Kaczynski, Ms Szydlo stresses the importance of traditional Roman Catholic family values and the need to help the many who feel they have not benefited from Poland's impressive economic growth during the past two decades. But her tone is more measured. She was born and raised near the southern Polish coal-mining town of Brzeszcze. "I remember my warm family home with affection," she writes on her webpage. "There was no lack of support, nor discipline. My parents worked hard. Daddy was a miner," she said. She says she enjoyed reading and played handball during her student days in Krakow's Jagiellonian University, where she met her husband, Edward. They have two sons. She became the youngest mayor in Malopolska province at the age of 35, and later joined Law and Justice, where she rose to become a deputy leader. "Never a cabinet member, she'll face a steep learning curve as prime minister. Nevertheless, her views on the economy, a mixture of welfare and laissez-faire, have been her best asset during the campaign - at least in the eyes of the conservative electorate, appalled by the scale of corruption and indolence of the outgoing government," Mr Magierowski said.
Back-seat driver?
Some critics, however, question her independence with Mr Kaczynski in the back seat. Jaroslaw Kaczynski has been undiplomatic on Germany, migrants and some other topics. A recent Civic Platform TV campaign spot shows Mr Kaczynski making several gaffes, followed by Ms Szydlo repeating "the chairman is always right". In 2005, concerned that Poles would not accept both himself and his identical twin, Lech, in the country's top two jobs, Jaroslaw stood aside to help Lech win election as president. Jaroslaw Kaczynski selected the relatively unknown Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz for prime minister, who lasted just eight months before he made way for his boss. One of those critics is columnist Konstanty Gebert. "She won't last long. She is a creation of chairman Kaczynski and she serves at his pleasure," he told the BBC. "She has proven to be as uncharismatic as Prime Minister Kopacz, which is no mean feat. She will be replaced as soon as Kaczynski decides to reshape the cabinet."

Washington Major is a black Female

В Сальвадоре женщинам запрещают беременеть из-за лихорадки зика
В Сальвадоре женщин призвали воздержаться от беременности в 2016 и 2017 годах из-за эпидемии лихорадки зика. Заражение этим вирусом в период беременности может привести к тяжелым врожденным порокам развития и даже гибели младенца. "Хотели бы предложить всем женщинам детородного возраста с осторожностью подходить к планированию семьи и избегать беременностей в этом и будущем году", — цитирует ТАСС заявление заместителя министра здравоохранения Сальвадора Эдуардо Эспиноса. Лихорадку зика переносят комары Aedes Aegypti, и, как правило, она не представляет опасности. Симптомы — умеренное повышение температуры, головные боли и боли в мышцах и суставах — проходят за несколько дней. Однако в период беременности вирус является крайне опасным для ребенка. Первые случаи инфекции зика отмечены в Бразилии в мае 2015 года, теперь же вирус обнаружен в Панаме, Парагвае, Мексике, Венесуэле, Гватемале, Сальвадоре, Суринаме и Колумбии.

Arrested after falling for another woman
28 January 2016
When Sanjida left home to study, she met the person she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. The only problem - her partner was another woman, and same-sex marriage is not accepted in Bangladesh. Now, instead of finding happiness, she's facing criminal charges, accused of abduction. In January 2013, Sanjida, a 20-year-old Bengali Muslim woman travelled from her village in south-western Bangladesh to a small town, to continue her studies. Her father, a schoolteacher, had chosen to send his cleverest child to college so she could help lift the family out of hardship. The town of Pirojpur, where Sanjida moved to study Bengali literature, resounds with rickshaw bells, the Muslim call to prayer and Hindu temple hymns.
Sanjida heard of a room for rent in the family home of a Hindu potato seller, Krishnokanto. Impressed by Sanjida's studiousness and "good character", he asked her to help his youngest daughter, Puja, with her studies. Sanjida at the temple complex, where she went with Puja. Though Krishnokanto's family liked her, they found her openness and the way she dressed in jeans and T-shirts a little odd for a young woman from such a traditional village. In April 2013, during the Bengali New Year festival, Sanjida was in charge of taking a group of girls to the fair. When it was time to leave, she went into 16-year-old Puja's room.
"She was brushing her hair in front of a fan. She asked me to sit on the bed. Her back was turned toward me," Sanjida remembers."She was wearing an olive green blouse and petticoat. The back of the blouse had two strings that were hanging loose. At that instant, I fell in love with her." To start with, Sanjida kept her feelings to herself. But later on that day something happened that convinced her Puja had similar feelings for her.

Serbian hermit Marija Zlatic gives away inheritance fortune

Serbia - Marija Zlatic
22 January 2016
Marija Zlatic, 86, is seen in her house in the remote mountainous area of the eastern Serbian town of Boljevac on January 21, 2016. Marija Zlatic told Serbian media that she needed only bread, water and wood. A Serbian woman living as a hermit inherited almost a million Australian dollars ($703,000, £490,000) from her husband - only to give it all away. Marija Zlatic, 86, lives in a mud hut in mountainous eastern Serbia and heard five years ago that her estranged husband, living in Australia, had died. She tasked a neighbour with finding out more information in 2011, and learned of her fortune late last year. Marija has since donated all the money to the community that looks after her.
"I don't need my money," she told the B92 website (in Serbian). "It's enough for me to have bread, water and wood so I can keep warm in winter. "Where I am going soon I do not need money, so I gave it away. They need it more."
Marija told the website she and her husband, Momcilo, moved to Guildford in Western Australia in 1956. He worked as a carpenter in a factory, and she as a housewife, but Marija returned to Serbia after 18 months to care for her ailing mother.
Marija never returned to Australia after her mother's death, but kept in contact by letter with Momcilo, who she said was keen to return to Serbia once he retired. Marija Zlatic, 86, peeks out of her house in the remote mountainous area of the eastern Serbian town of Boljevac on January 21, 2016. Marija (in doorway) said her dogs remained her best friends . Word reached Serbia that Momcilo went on to own cattle ranches - something Marija did not believe. In 2011, Marija heard rumours he had died. She asked her neighbour, named only as M, to search for more information. M told the Vecernje Novosti newspaper (in Serbian) that she hit dead-ends with the Australian embassy in Belgrade and the Serbian embassy in Australia. But she was able to confirm Momcilo's death through lawyers in Australia, and, after a four-year search, received confirmation of his wealth last year. Marija said his ranches were worth close to A$3m ($2.1m, £1.5m) but the inheritance was reduced to A$940,000 once taxes were deducted. M said that Marija promised her 30% of the inheritance for her work. But M told Serbian media other members of the community had not given her what she had been promised. Marija's neighbours continue to visit her home and chop wood for her to burn, she said.

Why South African mayor offers virgin scholarships - video
10Feb 2016
South African mayor (Woman) awards virgin scholarships in bid to curb HIV. A scheme which offers female students scholarships to girls in rural South Africa if they can prove they are virgins has been condemned by human rights groups. The BBC's Nomsa Maseko visited the school to find out more. Thubelihle Dlodlo is nervous about leaving home in Emcitsheni village in rural KwaZulu-Natal. The 18-year-old has won a prized scholarship, but there is a catch: she only qualifies for the funding if she keeps her virginity.
"Remaining a virgin is my only chance to get an education, because my parents can't afford to take me to school," she says. To continue receiving her funding, Ms Dlodlo has to undergo regular virginity tests but she says she does not mind.
"Virginity testing is part of my culture, it is not an invasion of my privacy and I feel proud after I'm confirmed to be pure."
Thubelihle Dlodlo says she wants to be a role model. The age of consent in South Africa is 16 years, though there is an exception which makes it legal for those older than 12 and younger than 16 to have sex with each other. Even with a strict interpretation of the law, Ms Dlodlo is already more than two years over the age of consent, but is only just starting her university career. But activists argue these tests are intrusive and that it is not fair to link opportunity to education and sex in this way:
"What is really worrying is that they are only focusing on the girl child and this is discriminatory and will not address problems with teenage pregnancy and HIV infection rates," says Palesa Mpapa from campaign group People Opposing Women Abuse.
"It's not only the girl that is to blame," she says. Thukela municipality mayor Dudu Mazibuko, who introduced this special category dedicated to virgin girls, disagrees.
"The scholarship is not a reward, but a lifelong investment in the life of a girl, we are also not condemning those, who've made different choices, because we accommodate them in other scholarships," she said. The council offers more, than 100 scholarships, 16 of which have been given to virgin female students.
Culture and tradition - Photo - maidens at the reed dance for Zulu King, Goodwill Zwelithin.
In this part of the country, virginity testing is common practice. In Zulu culture, virginity testing is done by elderly women. It qualifies Zulu maidens to participate in the annual Reed Dance, which takes place every September at Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini's royal palace. Students selected for the scheme have already received virginity tests so they can take part in the annual reed dance. This practice is not against the law in South Africa, but it has to be done with consent. Community leader Dudu Zwane has made it her mission to encourage young girls to abstain from sex. Affectionately known as "Mum Dudu", the 58-year-old gives talks at schools.
"It's very important for these girls to focus on their studies and stay away from boys," she says. Virginity testing in not illegal in South Africa, where Dudu Zwane is a respected virginity tester in the small town of Ladysmith. The retired nurse also conducts virginity tests on young women. She agrees that her methods are not scientific, but says she looks out for certain signs to prove that the girl has not had sex.
"The social standing of young women, who remain virgins, increases and many girls take pride in their results after being tested," she said. Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini recently questioned the merits of virginity testing.
The practice "compliments other harmful practices such as female genital mutilation", she said in a statement which upset traditionalists. In rural parts of KwaZula-Natal, virginity is celebrated and remaining "pure" is a source of pride for families.
Ms Dlodlo says her friends are also virgins and envy her for being awarded the scholarship. She says she does not have a boyfriend, as she doesn't want to find herself in a position, where she is pressured to have sex. "I want to be a role model", she says.
Teenage pregnancy in South Africa

Phumla Tshabala with her newborn baby, 2013: 100,000 South African teenagers became pregnant
2012: 81,000 teenage pregnancies
2011: 68,000 teenage pregnancies
180 out of 1,000 pupils become pregnant or make someone pregnant. Teenage mothers account for 36% of maternal deaths every year. Source: Human Sciences Research Council, World Bank; Stats SA (South Africa), 2013.
Virginity testing is seen by some as the answer to stop the increasing numbers of teenage pregnancy and HIV and Aids. Teenage pregnancy is on the rise in South Africa. In 2013, a survey released by Stats SA as part of its General Household found, that teen pregnancies had risen to nearly 100,000, up from 68,000 just two years earlier. The South African Council for Educators and the education department labelled the figures an unprecedented crisis. This is despite the fact that the country's schools offer sex education and that free maternal care is also available nationwide. South Africa already has the highest number of people living with HIV in the world, but what is even more alarming is that the highest new HIV infections are amongst young women aged 15-24.

Women of Africa: Kenyan gives up pay to teach in schools
25 November 2015
Jacqueline Jumbe-Kahura helps Kenyan teachers overcome the challenges that many face by providing vital training, resources and access to support networks. An experienced teacher and social worker of 20 years, Mrs Jumbe-Kahura left her well-paid job at a child rights organisation to return to her first love: Teaching. Named as one of the top 10 finalists of the Global Teacher Prize this year, she is a volunteer at two schools in Kilifi County, where she encourages smaller groups and more interactive learning, such as field trips, to inspire pupils' creativity. She also sits on Kilifi County Education Board, which manages teaching in more than 400 schools and also runs her organisation Lifting the Barriers, which supports hundreds of pupils with everything from uniforms and sanitary facilities to sexual health education and careers coaching. Women of Africa is a BBC season recognising inspiring women across the African continent. The first series, Africa's Unsung Heroes, introduces eight women who are making a difference in their country - and beyond.

Women of Africa: Inspiring SA women to become engineers  - video
2 December 2015
South African civil engineer Naadiya Moosajee co-founded non-profit organisation WomEng to help develop the next generation of female engineers in Africa. One in 10 engineers in South Africa are women - but Ms Moosajee wants that proportion to be much higher. Thousands of girls are going through the organisation's fellowship programme, which includes practical workshops in skills development, training and networking. She says: "It's such a proud moment for me to have these girls come up to me and say: "Naadiya, you have changed my life. I'm an engineer because of you." WomEng is currently working across South Africa and Kenya, with the aim of replicating its programmes across Africa and the globe. Women of Africa is a BBC season recognising inspiring women across the African continent. The first series, Africa's Unsung Heroes, introduces eight women who are making a difference in their country - and beyond.

Australian of the Year is equality activist Gen David Morrison
25 January 2016
Gen Morrison said he was "almost at a loss for words" after receiving the award ю Former army chief and equality advocate David Morrison has been chosen as 2016's Australian of the Year. Lieutenant General Morrison famously told troops in 2013 they could "get out" if they couldn't treat women as equals after a scandal over sexually explicit emails sent by members of the military.
The comments were made in a video that has been viewed 1.6 million times.

Pacific Ocean rowers: Coxless Crew reach Australia
25 Jan 2016
The Coxless Crew spent Christmas Day on the Pacific Ocean. A team of female rowers have arrived in Australia nine months after setting off from San Francisco to cross the Pacific Ocean. The Coxless Crew rowed out under the Golden Gate Bridge in April last year. After 257 days at sea, with supply stops in Hawaii and Samoa, their 29ft boat, Doris, crossed the finish line at Cairns just before 01:00 GMT. The crew - made up of three permanent members and three others each rowing a leg - have claimed two records. Laura Penhaul, Natalia Cohen and Emma Mitchell, along with final leg rower Meg Dyos, hugged each other as they entered the Marlin Marina in the Queensland city. Sharing beers with family and friends who had gathered to welcome them, the adventurers described their achievement as "an overwhelming experience".
The Coxless Crew
Laura Penhaul, Natalia Cohen, Emma Mitchell and Lizanne van VuurenImage copyright PA Image caption The three permanent crew members last saw dry land in Samoa Laura Penhaul, 32, originally from Cornwall but now living and working in London, is the founder and leader of the Coxless Crew. The lead physiotherapist for British Paralympics Athletics, she is a keen marathon runner, cyclist and triathlete
Natalia Cohen, 40, is based in London. An adventure tour leader and manager, she has lived and worked in more than 50 countries in the last 15 years and has completed the Inca Trail in Peru 10 times
Emma Mitchell, 30, is from Marlow in Buckinghamshire. An expedition manager, she has rowed for England and is an ex-Cambridge Blue who competed in the Boat Race
Isabel Burnham, 31, is a solicitor from Saffron Walden near Cambridge who joined the Coxless Crew for the first leg, from San Francisco to Hawaii. She also rowed for Cambridge University
Lizanne van Vuuren, 27, a South African osteopath who grew up in Newbury, was part of the crew for the second leg, from Hawaii to Samoa.
Meg Dyos, 25, an English graduate who works as an estate agent in London, joined the Coxless Crew for the third leg, from Samoa to Cairns. Despite taking three months longer than originally planned, the 9,200-mile (14,800km) expedition has set two world records; the women becoming the first all-female team and the first team of four to row the Pacific. They rowed continuously as pairs in two-hour shifts, sleeping 90 minutes at a time. Each consumed 5,000 calories a day, devouring freeze-dried meals with a side of protein bars, chocolate, fruit or nuts, washed down with desalinated sea water. But they took a Christmas cake on board as a treat on 25 December, a day which they unsurprisingly spent at sea. Along their epic journey they had to contend with a battering from a tropical storm, waves the height of houses and the approach of a humpback whale that surfaced just yards away from their boat. Drenched by rain and seawater they endured painful sores, but also faced temperatures so hot they cooked a pancake on the deck just from the sun's rays. The expedition, which is raising money for the charities Walking With The Wounded and Breast Cancer Care, has been filmed for a documentary called Losing Sight Of Shore.

'Neo-masculinist' Roosh V has not applied for visa, Australia says
2 February 2016
...The Return of Kings group pushes an anti-women agenda - it believes men are innately superior to Women and oppressed by Feminism. Mr Valizadeh wrote a widely criticised article last year calling for the legalisation of rape on public property as a way to "defeat rape culture". He has since said the post was satirical. His group is planning to hold meetings in 43 countries, but generated a particularly strong reaction in Australia after a university student started an online petition denouncing the group. Mr Valizadeh's proposed trip to Australia sparked widespread outrage, including demands that he be prevented from entering the country. But Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said in a statement that no-one with his name had applied for a visa.
"People who advocate violence against women are not welcome in Australia," Mr Dutton said. Australia has previously refused to issue a visa to pick-up artist Julien Blanc and rapper Tyler the Creator because of views they have expressed about women.

Анна Нетребко в мини: хоть сейчас на подиум!  26.07.2016

Anna Netrebko - Opera Singer
44-летняя звезда всегда отличалась крепким телосложением, что и не удивительно — оперные примы редко бывают худощавыми. Но известно, что правильно подобранная одежда может творить чудеса, что и доказала на своем примере Анна Нетребко. Певица, которая обычно предпочитает просторные брючные костюмы, сменила образ и появилась в мини, показав идеальные ноги. Перемены разительны: такое впечатление, что Анна похудела сразу на несколько размеров. Впрочем, еще совсем недавно Анна говорила, что вполне довольна своей фигурой и не намерена садиться на какие-то специальные диеты. Более того, она, как истинная казачка отменно готовит и балует домашних — мужа Юсифа Эйвазова и сына Тьяго — вкусной едой. Изменения в фигуре оперной певицы, возможно, связаны с напряженным гастрольным графиком. Только за этот год Нетребко побывала почти на всех континентах, при этом совмещая выступления на лучших сценах мира с экскурсиями в самые экзотические места на нашей планете. В любом случае, какой бы ни была причина перемен, происходящих с Анной, выглядит она по-настоящему сногсшибательно.

Reza Gul: The Afghan Woman whose husband cut off her nose and ears

28 Jan 2016
Reza Gul is waiting to be transferred for further treatment in Turkey. Reza Gul is waiting to be transferred for further treatment in Turkey. A young Afghan woman whose husband is being sought by police for cutting her nose off has told the BBC of the years of abuse she suffered. Hussamuddin Toyghon of the BBC Uzbek-Afghan service reports from Maimana. The story caused an outcry after pictures of Reza Gul's face were shared on social media, with many deploring Afghanistan's shocking record of domestic violence. Reza Gul was attacked in the remote Ghormach district of north-western Faryab province last week. Cradling her baby daughter, Reza Gul spoke to the BBC from her hospital bed in Maimana, the provincial capital. She is 20 now, and during nearly six years of marriage she says she suffered continuous cruelty and abuse. "They would beat me. They wouldn't feed me or give me flour to bake bread," she recalls. "They would beat me on the head, shackle my feet and lock me up in the stable with a donkey." Reza Gul was just 15 when she married Mohammad Khan, a man she had never met and who had been in Iran prior to the wedding. Reza Gul fled the abuse, but returned after assurances she would be treated well. Reza Gul says she has been mistreated throughout her marriage. Reza Gul says she has been mistreated throughout her marriage. It was an arranged marriage like most in Afghanistan, agreed by the girl's father with Mohammad Khan's family. She says she did not want to marry him, "but I had no choice. He destroyed my youth, I want help," she told the BBC. From her account, she had little help during the six years that followed. "I was married but he would go to Iran," she says. "On every visit he would spend 20 days at home before going back."
During those visits she was often beaten and locked up. She says she doesn't understand why. "I did nothing wrong, I've never stolen anything. I have never committed adultery. They were just punishing me without a reason. He was a pig."
She says she never dared to argue and she had no help from anyone in her husband's family. Reza Gul says that local elders and even the Taliban intervened on several occasions, extracting promises from her husband that the abuse would end. Instead, the violence became worse. Reza Gul with her baby, mother and father in Maimana hospital. Anti-Taliban Afghan fighters on patrol in Faryab, one of the least secure Afghan provinces rife with crime and insurgent activity. With her father and mother at her bedside, she recounted what happened on the day she was finally brought to the relative safety of the hospital.
"There were eight people. They took me by car to the well. Two men were following us and six others were ahead," she recalls. She said her husband "took a gun and a knife out of his pocket and fired four times in the air". "He also had tablets and other medicine in his pocket. I said, 'What are you doing with the knife?'. He said, 'Should I kill you or cut off your nose?' I said, 'Kill me but please don't cut off my nose.' But he cut off my nose and threw it in the ditch."
Reza Gul recounts how her face started bleeding heavily as she was pushed back into the car. She says her brother-in-law took her to a doctor; her husband disappeared. The local authorities say they are looking for Mohammad Khan, with unconfirmed reports suggesting he has fled to a Taliban-controlled area. The BBC and other media have been unable to contact Mohammad Khan, whose whereabouts remain unclear. Neither he nor his relatives have made any public statements or spoken to reporters. His family live in a highly insecure part of Ghormach district where phones do not work and it's not safe to send journalists. Shocking
Doctors hope to be able to send Reza Gul to Turkey for reconstructive surgery. The facilities to carry out such an operation do not exist in Afghanistan, where convictions for domestic abuse are rare. As elsewhere in the region, the country has a reputation for violence against women and acid attacks and sexual assaults are widespread. In November a young woman was stoned to death in Ghor province after she was accused of adultery. And last March a young Kabul woman, Farkhunda, was beaten and burnt to death by a mob over false allegations she had burnt a Koran. The cutting off of a woman's nose is shocking even by Afghan standards, although there have been previous examples. In September 2014 a man cut off part of his wife's nose with a kitchen knife in central Daykundi Province, according to police. It's not clear whether he was ever caught. And in 2010 the case of Aisha featured on the front cover of Time magazine, after the 18-year-old was mutilated by her husband who cut off her nose and ears as punishment for running away.

Arab social media fury at Cologne sex attacks
7 January 2016
A man hold a placard reading "Sorry for what happened with the woman in Cologne in New Year"s Eve, 90 women" outside the main station in Cologne, Germany, 06 January 2016. Protesters have condemned the attacks. People on Arabic-language social media have voiced dismay and anger at the sexual violence against women in Cologne and other German cities on New Year's Eve. Indications that many of the attackers were North African or Arab in appearance prompt soul-searching, with some alluding to the perception that sexual violence against women is widespread in North Africa and the Middle East. Many express concern about the possible impact the incidents could have on Germany's perception of migrants and refugees from the regions. Twitter user @Osama_Saber voices the fear that the incidents will bring "shame of historic proportions" on all Arabs living in Germany. I have never felt more respected than I feel here," Facebook user Israa Ragab - an Egyptian living in Germany - writes.
"Every time I watch the TV and hear them saying the suspects could be from North Africa or Arabs I feel so ashamed and disgusted."
Twitter user @LLLLoL00 is blunter: "Every time we try to improve the image of Arabs, a bunch of scumbags just destroys everything!"
Commenting on the arrest of an Iraqi and a Palestinian in relation to sexual harassment allegations on New Year's Even in Berlin, Deutsche Welle Arabic journalist Nahla Elhenawy voices the opinion that such incidents are symptomatic of wider problems relating the treatment of women in the Middle East and some Muslim-majority countries. "The ugliness of our regions is reaching Germany," she tweets.
copyright AP Image caption The attacks have caused uproar in Cologne itself
Many social media users fret that the sexual harassment incidents could lead to a backlash in Germany and elsewhere against liberal policies towards refugees from Syria, such as those espoused by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
"Will Europe regret receiving people who suffer from religious and political repression?" ‏@Farcry99 tweets. Another user suggests this could be the beginning of Germany "closing its doors for refugees".

Spared by the hitmen with principles
5 Feb 2016
One year ago a group of gunmen in Burundi was hired to kill a woman visiting from Australia. But the hit did not go as planned, leaving her with a chance to turn the tables on the man who wanted her dead.
"I felt like somebody who had risen again," says Noela Rukundo. She was supposed to be dead. The hired killers had been paid. They had even explained how they would dispose of the body. But now, waiting outside her house for the last of the mourners to leave, she was ready to face down the man who had put out a contract for her murder.
"When I get out of the car (in Melbourne), he (her husband) saw me straight away. He put his hands on his head and said, 'Is it my eyes? Is it a ghost?'"
"Surprise! I'm still alive!" she replied.
Noela's ordeal began five days earlier, and 7,500 miles away in her native Burundi. She had returned to Africa from her home in Melbourne, Australia, to attend her stepmother's funeral.
"I had lost the last person who I call 'mother'," she says. "It was very painful. I was so stressed."
By early evening Noela had retreated to her hotel room. As she lay dozing in the stifling city heat of Bujumbura, her phone rang. It was a call from Australia - from Balenga Kalala, her husband and father to her three youngest children.
"He says he'd been trying to get me for the whole day," Noela says. "I said I was going to bed. He told me, 'To bed? Why are you sleeping so early?'
"I say, 'I'm not feeling happy'. And he asks me, 'How's the weather? Is it very, very hot?' He told me to go outside for fresh air."
Noela took his advice. "I didn't think anything. I just thought that he cared about me, that he was worried about me." But moments after stepping outside the hotel compound, Noela found herself in danger. "I opened the gate and I saw a man coming towards me. Then he pointed the gun on me. He just told me, 'Don't scream. If you start screaming, I will shoot you. They're going to catch me, but you? You will already be dead. So, I did exactly what he told me."
The gunman motioned Noela towards a waiting car.
I was sitting between two men. One had a small gun, one had a long gun. And the men say to the driver, 'Pass us a scarf.' Then they cover my face. "After that, I didn't say anything. They just said to the driver, 'Let's go.'
"I was taken somewhere, 30 to 40 minutes, then I hear the car stop. Noela was pushed inside a building and tied to a chair. One of the kidnappers told his friend, 'Go call the boss.' I can hear doors open but I didn't know if their boss was in a room or if he came from outside. They ask me, 'What did you do to this man? Why has this man asked us to kill you?' And then I tell them, 'Which man? Because I don't have any problem with anybody.' They say, 'Your husband!' I say, 'My husband can't kill me, you are lying!' And then they slap me. After that the boss says, 'You are very stupid, you are fool. Let me call who has paid us to kill you.'The gang's leader made the call. We already have her," he triumphantly told his paymaster. The phone was put on loudspeaker for Noela to hear the reply. Her husband's voice said: "Kill her." Just hours earlier, the same voice had consoled her over the death of her stepmother and urged her to take fresh air outside the hotel. Now her husband Balenga Kalala had condemned her to death. "I heard his voice. I heard him. I felt like my head was going to blow up. Then they described for him where they were going to chuck the body." At that, Noela says she passed out.
Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Balenga Kalala had arrived in Australia in 2004 as a refugee, after fleeing a rebel army that had rampaged through his village, killing his wife and young son. Settling in Melbourne, he soon found steady employment, first in a seafood processing factory and then in a warehouse as a forklift operator.
"He could already speak English," recalls Noela, who also arrived in Australia in 2004. "My social worker was his social worker, and they used him to translate Swahili."
The two fell in love. They set up home in the Kings Park suburb of the city. Noela had five children from a previous relationship and went on to have three more with Kalala.
"I knew he was a violent man," admits Noela. "But I didn't believe he can kill me. I loved this man with all my heart! I give him, beautiful and handsome, two boys and one girl. So I don't know why he choose to kill me."
Noela Rukundo spoke to Outlook on the BBC World Service. As the gang's leader ended the call to Kalala, Noela was coming round.
"I said to myself, I was already dead. Nothing I can do can save me. But he looks at me and then he says, 'We're not going to kill you. We don't kill women and children.' He told me I'd been stupid because my husband paid them the deposit in November.
And when I went to Africa it was January. He asked me, 'How stupid can you be, from November, you can't see that something is wrong?'"
He might have been a hit-man with principles, but the gang's leader still took the opportunity to extort more money from Kalala. He called him back and informed him that the fee for the murder had increased. He wanted a further 3,400 Australian dollars (£1,700) to finish the job. Back at the hotel, Noela's brother was getting worried about her disappearance. He called Kalala in Australia to ask for $545 to pay the police to open an investigation - Kalala feigned concern and duly wired the money. After two days in captivity, Noela was freed.
"'We give you 80 hours to leave this country,'" Noela says the gang told her. "'Your husband is serious. Maybe we can spare your life, but other people, they're not going to do the same thing. If God helps you, you'll get to Australia.'"
Before leaving Noela by the side of a road, the gang handed her the evidence they hoped would incriminate Kalala - a memory card containing recorded phone conversations of him discussing the murder and receipts for the Western Union money transfers.
"We just want you to go back, to tell other stupid women like you what happened," the gang told Noela as they parted. "You must learn something: you people get a chance to go overseas for a better life. But the money you are earning, the money the government gives to you, you use it for killing each other!"
Noela immediately began planning her return to Australia. She called the pastor of her church in Melbourne, Dassano Harruno Nantogmah, and requested his help. "'It was in the middle of the night. I said, 'It's me, I'm still alive, don't tell anybody.'
He says, 'Noela, I don't believe it. Balenga can't kill someone!' And I said, 'Pastor, believe me!'"
Three days later, on the evening of 22 February 2015, Noela was back in Melbourne. By now, Kalala had informed the community, that his wife had died in a tragic accident. He had spent the day hosting a steady stream of well-wishers, many of whom donated money.
"It was around 7.30pm," Noela says. "He was in front of the house. People had been inside mourning with him and he was escorting a group of them into a car." It was as they drove away that Noela sprang her surprise. "I was stood just looking at him. He was scared, he didn't believe it. Then he starts walking towards me, slowly, like he was walking on broken glass. He kept talking to himself and when he reached me, he touched me on the shoulder. He jumped. He did it again. He jumped. Then he said, 'Noela, is it you?'… Then he starts screaming, 'I'm sorry for everything.'"
Noela called the police, who ordered Kalala off the premises and later obtained a court order against him. Days later, the police instructed Noela to call Kalala. Kalala made a full confession to his wife, captured on tape, begging for her forgiveness and revealing why he had ordered the murder. He say he wanted to kill me because he was jealous," says Noela. "He think that I wanted to leave him for another man." She rejects the accusation.
In a police interview, Kalala denied any involvement in the plot. "The pretence," wrote the judge at his trial in December, "lasted for hours." But when confronted with the recording of his telephone conversation with Noela and the evidence she brought back from Burundi he started to cry. Kalala was still unable to offer any explanation for his actions, suggesting only that "sometimes [the] devil can come into someone to do something but after they do it, they start thinking, 'Why I did that thing?'"
On 11 December last year, in court in Melbourne, after pleading guilty to incitement to murder, Kalala was sentenced to nine years in prison.
"His voice always comes in the night - 'Kill her, kill her,'" says Noela of the nightmares that now plague her. "Every night, I see what was happening in those two days with the kidnappers."
Ostracised by many in Melbourne's African community, some of whom blame her for Kalala's conviction, Noela sees a difficult future for her and her eight children.
"But I will stand up like a strong woman," she says. "My situation, my past life? That is gone. I'm starting a new life now."

B Мосуле террористы ИГ казнили 837 женщин, Iraq

Killing Of 837 Women, Iraq, 2014
26 декабря 2015
Боевики террористической организации «Исламское государство» с момента захвата в июне 2014 года иракского города Мосул казнили 837 женщин. Об этом сообщает информационное агентство DPA. Зануна аль-Сабави, генерал полиции иракской провинции Найнава, рассказал, что большинство женщин были расстреляны после вынесения приговоров шариатским судом, учрежденным ИГ. Кроме того, по его данным, террористы под разными предлогами приговаривали к казни женщин-кандидатов в советы депутатов провинции, госслужащих, а также тех, кто работал адвокатами, нотариусами и парикмахерами. По информации ряда СМИ, эти данные были предоставлены центром шариатской судебной медицины в Мосуле, куда поступают тела убитых. 25 декабря премьер-министр Ирака Хайдер аль-Абади пообещал освободить Мосул от боевиков после того, как будет завершена операция в городе Эр-Рамади. Боевики ИГ заняли второй по величине город Ирака 10 июня 2014 года. Однако Мосул далеко не единственное место, где террористы массово расправлялись с женщинами. Ранее EADaily сообщало о том, что на севере Ирака в окрестностях города Синджар были обнаружены массовые захоронения женщин, которых убили боевики ИГ. «Исламское государство» — запрещенная в России террористическая организация, захватившая в 2014 году часть территории Сирии и Ирака и провозгласившая там халифат.

Killing Of Women, India

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Soon Qingling: ‘The mother of modern China’
23 December 2015
She married Sun Yatsen, became a Communist and died as China’s honorary chairperson. Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore takes a look at the life of Soon Qingling. “Once upon a time in distant China, there were three sisters,” opens the 1997 historical drama The Soong Sisters. “One loved money, one loved power and one loved her country.” Directed by Hong Kong film-maker Mabel Cheung, The Soong Sisters tracks the lives of three real-life siblings, powerful women who lived through – and largely influenced – major upheavals in China in the last century. Soong Ailing – the lover of money – married Kung Hsiang-hsi, a director of the Bank of China. Soong Meiling – the lover of power – married Chiang Kai-shek, leader of the Kuomintang or Nationalist Party. And Soong Qingling – the lover of the Chinese nation – married the revolutionary Sun Yat-sen, founding father of the Republic of China. To some Soong was China’s “conscience”… To others, she was a politically naive traitor. Together Ailing, Meiling, and Qingling represent China’s major ideological forces: capitalism, nationalism and communism, respectively. But of the three sisters, it is Soong Qingling (depicted in the movie by the iconic actress Maggie Cheung) who captured the public’s imagination, becoming in the process a political It Girl, national treasure and historical heroine. Soong Qingling married Sun Yatsen in 1915, four years after he’d led the Chinese Revolution that ended the Manchu dynasty. The “mother of modern China”, as she is known, wed Sun Yat-sen in 1915, the man heralded with overthrowing the feudalistic, old-fashioned and elitist Manchu dynasty just four years earlier. As a widow, following her husband’s death from liver disease a decade later in 1925, Madame Sun Yat-sen became an important champion for Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communist Party. To some Soong was China’s ‘conscience’, having broken ties with the Nationalist Party that her husband had founded, proclaiming it had strayed from his original ideals and intentions. To others, she was a politically naive traitor and ‘bird in a lacquered cage’, who was used and exploited by the Communists as a crucial link to the past and a route to legitimacy. One thing is certain. As the Communist Party apologist Israel Epstein – a great friend of Soong’s – once stated: “Soong Qingling personifies modern China… [She] personally participated in all stages of the Chinese revolution.” In his 1993 biography Woman in World History: Soong Qingling, Epstein describes her as possessing a rare “internationalist and bicultural thinking” combined with patriotism. The latter was her “strong and eternal root… not only reflected in her political stance and actions but also suffused her entire mind and body.”
Chinese dream
The daughter of a Bible salesman and missionary, Soong was born in 1893 in Shanghai. Charlie Soong, her father, had spent years in the United States being trained as a missionary before returning to spread Christianity. In 1890 he started a Shanghai publishing house, printing cheap bibles in colloquial Chinese – and became rich. His business empire soon expanded to include food and textiles. Above all, Soong was a champion of women. As the second eldest of six children, Soong was educated, like her siblings, in both China and the US. Fluent in English, she attended Wesleyan College in Georgia and took up the Christian name Rosamond. When the Republic of China was proclaimed, ending more than 2,000 years of imperial rule, Soong was still at school in the States. As her friends watched, she took down the emperor’s banner from the walls of her room; in its place went Sun Yatsen’s flag of the Republic. Soong Qingling’s Christian family initially disapproved of her marriage to Sun Yatsen, since he already had a wife. Education abroad had its impact: above all, Soong was a champion of women. Finding arranged marriages abhorrent (they would later be banned by Mao in the 1950s) she was adamant that she must marry a man of her own choice. Moving back to Asia, she became Sun Yatsen’s secretary. When she announced she would also become his wife her parents were appalled. Not only was Sun nearly three decades her senior, he already had a wife and three children. By taking up the mantle of “second wife” Soong's match would be at odds with the family’s Christian values. Showing the determination, stubbornness and will that would define her long life, Soong ignored their concerns and married Sun in 1915. Although younger, richer, and at times offended by his lack of cleanliness, Soong became a much-loved companion and confidant to Sun, a revolutionary born into a peasant family. In an era when many respectable Chinese women were still kept behind shuttered doors, she also became a highly visible political figure. In her biography Madame Sun Yatsen, Jung Chang and Jon Halliday state that Soong became the earliest example in the world of a woman behaving like a “First Lady”. In the early 1920, Soong’s initiatives included conducting studies of the squalid conditions of female factory workers, the founding of women’s clubs and heading up the Women’s Institute of Political Training. As well as providing a refuge for women fleeing arranged marriages, the Institute promoted the idea that women, like men, were equal benefactors of China’s political future and must be educated as such. Chinese women, she wrote in later life, must be unshackled from the three traditional obediences: to their fathers, their husbands, and their sons. Soong, likewise, shifted between European and Chinese styles, showcasing a new, forward-thinking China . But while Soong campaigned strongly in women’s rights, she also believed that they must come under a transformation of society as a whole, stating in 1942: “From the very start, our women fought not under the banner of a Western feminism but as part and parcel of the democratic whole.” One reflection of social reform was dress. In feudal China men wore their heads shaved, with a long plait, or queue, draped down their backs, as a physical incarnation of their humility. Sun Yatsen, however, popularised a modern new suit, a mixture of traditional Chinese and Western dress, known as the Sun-Yatsen – and later the Mao -– suit. Soong, likewise, shifted between European and Chinese styles, showcasing a new, forward-thinking China, one that could hold its head up high to the West.
A strange sisterhood
With power, however, came costs. Forced to flee a military coup in 1922, Soong miscarried her baby with Sun (later in life she adopted two daughters). The Soong family also suffered a vast split: during the Chinese Civil War, the Communist-sympathising Qingling became estranged from her sister Meiling, wife of the enemy Chiang Kai-Shek. In 1927 – the same year of Meiling’s wedding – Chiang Kai-Shek led a brutal massacre of Communists across the country. Although Chiang had once been a close ally to Sun Yatsen, and had taken over as the leader of the Republic after his passing, Soong was horrified. She condemned the attacks, turned her back on the Nationalists, and led an incessant political campaign against her brother-in-law. Soong’s sister Meiling – known for her beauty and sex appeal – had different ideas about how China should be shaped. Meiling, however, successfully won over the American public, becoming only the second woman to address a joint session of Congress. In 1934 Meiling, alongside her husband, launched the New Life Movement, which sought to stop the spread of communism by harking back to traditional Chinese values. According to the Encyclopedia of Women Social Reformers, Meiling adopted “a conventional attitude toward women’s emancipation as a moral crusade confined to emphasising traditional virtues of modesty, chastity, and domesticity”. Qingling, by contrast, saw “precisely these traditional patriarchal attitudes as being at the root of the continuing subjection of Chinese women, even into the communist era.”  She involved herself in the Chinese war effort against the Japanese and hosted a radio show called The Voice of China. Meiling, however, successfully won over the American public, becoming only the second woman to address a joint session of Congress. There she asked for support in the Sino-Japanese war, leading to her inclusion in a list of the 10 most admired women in the US. It was during World War Two that the sisters were briefly reunited – running field hospitals and literary campaigns together – as the Nationalists and Communists dropped their differences to fight against a common enemy, the Japanese. Following Mao Zedong’s victory in 1949, however, Meiling fled with her husband to Taiwan where he set up a new government. The sisters were estranged for good. The three Soong sisters, though divided by politics, were united during World War Two. In 1938, following the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War, Soong founded the China Defense League, later renamed the Chinese Welfare Institute, with the aim of funding children’s well-being and health, particularly in Communist controlled areas. When the Communists emerged triumphant in 1949, establishing the People’s Republic of China, Soong was rewarded for her loyalty with the role of vice chair in the newly formed nation. Just weeks before she died Qingling was granted the title of Honorary Chairman of the People’s Republic of China. Other accolades followed. In 1951 Soong was awarded the Stalin Peace Prize. And in 1959, in a largely symbolic role, she became one of just two deputy chairmen of the Chinese Communist Party, under Mao Zedong. Just as Meiling courted the States from Taiwan, Soong Qingling also sought to shape the West’s perception of China. In 1952 she founded the magazine China Reconstructions (now China Today), broadcasting news of her homeland in English, as well as other languages. A collection of her writings was published in the 1950s under the apt title, Struggle for New China.
When Soong died in 1981 aged 90, the Chinese government lauded her as “a great patriotic, democratic, internationalist and Communist fighter and outstanding state leader of China.” Just weeks before she was granted the title of Honorary Chairman of the PRC and, for the first time, became a member of the Communist Party. In death, as in life, Meiling took a different path. While Qingling had suffered and been publicly criticised during the brutal 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, Madame Chiang Kai-shek was widowed in 1975. She moved to New York where she lived in relative seclusion in a plush Manhattan apartment, before passing away aged 105 in 2003. At news of her death George W Bush commended her “intelligence” and “strength of character”, calling her a close friend of the US. For Qingling, it was China, not the States, who sung praises. After her death three days of national mourning were announced in China, a state funeral was staged and flags were lowered at Chinese embassies across the world. As Frommers aptly writes in a guide to one of Soong’s former residences in Beijing, this is a woman who “is as close as you'll get to a modern Chinese Communist saint.”

100 Women: China's feminists undeterred by detentions

2 December 2015
Women activist Li Tingting, 25, poses with letters and a paper which read "Construction regulations should be reasonable, bathroom proportion 2:1 (women/men)" in this undated file handout picture taken in an unknown location in China, provided by a women"s rights group on 8 April 2015Image copyright Reuters Image caption Li Tingting in an undated photo, where she is seen holding a sign calling for more women's bathrooms in buildings. The detentions came right before International Women's Day. Five women who all worked as activists for various feminist causes and had organised public events to raise awareness of a host of issues, from eradicating domestic violence to the need for more women's toilets in China. Few predicted the women would ever become targets of the authorities, since their causes seemed relatively unobjectionable. That is, until last March, when the women were planning a multi-city protest to call for an end to sexual harassment on public transport. The size of their networks and their determination to speak out in public appeared to unnerve the authorities. One by one, they were detained by police. The protests the women had planned were supposed to be peaceful; the treatment they endured in Chinese detention centres was not.
The detained activists Zheng Churan, Li Tingting, Wang Man, Wu Rongrong, and Wei Tingting
For more than a month, the women were subject to continual interrogations by police. All were forced to sleep on floors, and some were denied vital medication. One woman, Wu Rongrong, was repeatedly told by police that "we'll tie you up, throw you in a cell with men, and let them gang rape you". They also threatened the future of Wu's four-year-old son. Women activist Wu Rongrong, 30, poses with a trophy in this undated handout picture taken in an unknown location in China, provided by a women's rights group on 8 April 2015. Another woman, Li Tingting, was interrogated 49 times in 27 days. A global campaign to push for their release ensued, and there was an outpouring of relief on Twitter when the #FreetheFive group were released. Months later, the women remain under police surveillance. The group are pushing for their case to be withdrawn. Li Tingting told the BBC she believes the police want a swift conclusion too. "They probably want to retract the case now, because there's nothing to investigate," she explains. "They are also afraid of us demanding compensation. They need to close this case and return my passport to me." Where does the wider women's movement stand after the Feminist Five detentions?
In some ways, this is a very dark time for anyone who wants to shape Chinese government policy, to change the way things work from outside of the Communist Party's machinations. "In the next few years, I don't think it's looking good," Li Tingting says. "The space for us to do things has narrowed greatly in the past few years." Li Tingting in the middle and two others wear paint-spattered wedding dressesImage copyright CFP Image caption Li Tingting, pictured in the middle, had previously protested against domestic violence . 'Women's clubs'
Chinese civil society has suffered under the rule of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Thousands of activists, dissidents and defence lawyers have been targeted by the authorities. Many non-governmental organisations have been forced to shut their doors, or dramatically scale back their activities. But some groups appear unscathed. Yolanda Wang operates a women's circle that helps more than 50,000 women share professional contacts and experiences online. "My male friends, they have 'man clubs' where they share their connections, work opportunities and experiences, and support each other," she reasons. "Why not have a professional women's circle for corporate women to share their experiences?" Yolanda appears to feel little connection with the Feminist Five, or the issues they raise. "Personally, I think I have the right to do whatever I want," she says. "I feel like for me and the women around me, the professional women and women in the corporate world, I never feel like I have difficulties or there are things I cannot do, or that I am limited. I have a lot of hope and confidence that women can stand up for themselves in China." Still, Yolanda has felt the need to make a stand on some matters. In 2014, she participated in the "Leftover Monologues", a stage play examining the pressures felt by unmarried women in their late 20s.  "If you're single, you shouldn't be ashamed," she explains. Women activist Zheng Churan, 25, poses for a photograph with papers which read Image copyright Reuters Image caption Zheng Churan, seen in this undated photo with a sign protesting the availability of jobs for female graduates. The detentions and subsequent release of the Feminist Five have also resulted in positive changes for the women's movement in China.
According to Beijing based writer and commentator Zhang Lijia, the movement has become more cohesive since the Spring. "Before there were different pockets of women activists. For example, those working on LGBT issues, or promoting gender equality.
There were some connections among the associations, of course, but that hadn't worked together. Now they have a common enemy in some sense," she explains. "One thing I know for certain is that those detentions may have deterred some people, but more likely that most people just become more careful and more aware of the dangers they are facing," Ms Zhang continues. Wang Man had previously protested in front of a court trying a domestic violence case. The sign reads: "Zero tolerance for domestic violence".  Some women participated in small scale protests during the Feminist Five's detentions, but they took precautions. They wore masks resembling the detained women's faces to hide their own identities. The Feminist Five have received a major boost in their profiles. Many follow the women's online blogs. Some of the women continue various campaigns to influence government policy. On 19 November, for example, Li Tingting joined activists from ten other cities to demand more women's toilets in China.
Ms Li appears to be cautiously optimistic for the future. "Before [the detentions], many outside China didn't know we had women's rights activists in China. It's a good thing in some ways," she says. "But we need spontaneous participation from women and a push for more women to wake up," she says. "Only when calls for change come from women can they be heard in our society."

Where women are killed by their own families - video
5 Dec 2015
By Candace Piette BBC News, Guatemala City
Rebecca Lane on her fight against machismo. Every year an estimated 66,000 women are murdered worldwide. One of the countries with the highest rate of violence against women is Guatemala - so why is it such a dangerous place to be female?
"We are being killed by our fathers, brothers, stepfathers… the very people who are supposed to care for us," says Rebecca Lane, a feminist rapper in Guatemala City. "Most of us have to live violence in silence so when someone hits us or screams at us we just close our eyes and let go. We have to join other women and talk about it so we know this is not OK, this is not normal." When Lane was 15, she got involved with an older man who was not only controlling, but also physically and sexually abusive. "He knew what he was doing. He isolated me from my family and friends. I know what it is to live with violence from an early age," she says. The relationship lasted for three years. Now she uses her music to campaign for women's rights. "Poetry saved my life. When I started to write it was vital to my recovery," she says. Her best-known song, Mujer Lunar - Lunar Woman - is a lyrical call for respect for women's bodies, lives and independence. She also runs hip-hop workshops for young mothers in Guatemala City to teach them their rights and how to deal with the kind of abuse she endured. Guatemalan indigenous women take part in a demonstration during commemorations of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, in Guatemala City on November 25, 2015. Guatemala has the third highest femicide rate in the world (after El Salvador and Jamaica) - between 2007 and 2012 there were 9.1 murders for every 100,000 women according to the National Guatemalan Police. And last year 846 women were killed in a population of little more than 15 million, says the State Prosecutors Office. It seems the reason for this lies in the country's brutal past. Lane's main inspiration as a feminist activist is the aunt after whom she is named. She never met her father's sister, but her story helps draw a direct line between the social instability of today and Guatemala's 36-year civil war. Lane's aunt disappeared in 1981 after she joined left-wing guerrillas fighting the military government. Around the time Lane's aunt died, news began to filter out of the rape, torture and murder of tens of thousands of women and girls - mostly from indigenous Mayan communities accused of supporting the insurgents. More than a decade later, a UN-sponsored report said this abuse had been generalised and systematic - it estimated that 25% or 50,000 of the victims of Guatemala's war were women.
A sign reading
Sexual violence was "at very high levels and used as a tool of war", says Helen Mack, of the Myrna Mack Foundation. "The stereotype was that women were used for sex and seen as an object, to serve families, and this continues today."
Mack's sister, Myrna - after whom the human rights organisation is named - died after she was stabbed in the street by a military death squad in 1990. Myrna had uncovered the extent of the physical and sexual violence the army had used against Mayan communities. During the conflict, an army of around 40,000 men and a civilian defence force of approximately one million were trained to commit acts of violence against women. When the war ended and these men returned home, they got no help in readjusting. Mack believes they redirected their aggression towards their wives, mothers and girlfriends - a culture of violence towards women and an expectation of impunity, which still persists today, developed.
"This week we received a phone call from a woman. Her husband had driven his car over her several times to make sure she was dead," says Mack.
"She survived and was brought to Guatemala City where she is being treated for her injuries. But her husband would not let go - he sent his father to her bedside to threaten her so that she didn't report the attack to the courts."
In Mack's experience, it is common for women to be threatened in this way or even killed by their attackers. Violence against women is still considered a domestic matter, she says, despite new laws against femicide and other forms of violence against women. In 2008 Guatemala became the first country to officially recognise femicide - the murder of a woman because of her gender - as a crime. Helen Mack's sister was stabbed in the street in 1990.
"The difference in Guatemala between the murder of a woman and of a man is that the woman is made to suffer before death, she is raped, mutilated and beaten," says the country's Attorney General Thelma Aldana.
Aldana is trying to change attitudes towards victims who are often blamed for the abuse they receive. "A few years ago the police and forensic investigators would arrive on a crime scene and say, "Look how she is dressed - that is why they killed her [or] she was coming out of a disco at 1am - she was asking for it."
In 2011, when she was president of the Supreme Court, Aldana helped establish a network of special tribunals and courts across Guatemala to deal with femicide cases.
"The justice system can do a lot to change culture," she says.
"We asked women to come forward and break the silence. Femicide and other forms of violence against women are now the crimes that are most reported in the country, with an average of 56,000 reports a year - this includes rape, sexual violence, physical and economic violence and murder." There are now femicide tribunals in 11 of the country's 22 departments or provinces where the judges and police officers receive gender crime training. Guatemalan women sitting on a wall. 
The State Prosecutor's office doesn't have the capacity to take on every case it receives, so has to choose the ones with the strongest evidence. This year only 3,366 were successfully heard in the femicide courts. In 2013, in the 3,560 cases that went to trial, only 1,460 sentences were handed out. Although the bodies of five murdered women were found in the area around Guatemala City in just one week in November, Helen Mack thinks there is progress.
"In the last 10 years we have been moving forward, at least women are now talking," she says, pointing to a generation of women judges and activists who have been pushing change. "In my sister's case, it only moved forward because the judges, who had the courage to deal with it were Women. Guatemala has shown that in different areas of the political spectrum, Women have had more courage and commitment, than the men to deal with the country's problems."

Tracey Curtis-Taylor finishes UK to Australia biplane flight  - video
9 January 2016
Tracey Curtis-Taylor wanted to retrace the journey made by Amy Johnson in 1930. A British adventurer has completed an epic 14,600-nautical mile flight from the UK to Australia in a vintage open cockpit bi-plane. Tracey Curtis-Taylor, 53, set off in her 1942 Boeing Stearman Spirit of Artemis aircraft from Farnborough, Hampshire, in October. She retraced pioneer Amy Johnson's 1930 flight, flying over 23 countries and making some 50 refuelling stops. After landing in Sydney she tweeted it was the end of a "huge adventure". Ms Curtis-Taylor - the self-styled "Bird in a Biplane" - also thanked "everyone who supported me". Some early reports suggested it was a solo flight - Ms Curtis-Taylor was the only pilot to fly the vintage bi-plane, but she had a support team of engineers travelling with her in a separate aircraft, as well as a camera crew, who would sometimes sit in with her.
'Greatest adventure'
She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that completing the challenge was a "huge relief" and she described her "euphoria to finally get to Sydney". "This is the greatest adventure in the world - this is flying through some of the great iconic sites: the Dead Sea, the Arabian desert," she said. "This is old fashioned stick and rudder flying, open cockpit, you get buffeted around - I've come through monsoons, thunder storms, turbulence, flying through the Australian outback in 45 degrees of heat.
"We fly seven or eight hours a day because we lost a bit of time in Indonesia trying to get through to Darwin - there were tropical cyclones… you are absolutely up against the elements." Speaking to the AFP news agency after her three-month journey, Ms Curtis-Taylor joked that she needed "a drink". Tracey Curtis-TaylorImage copyright Reuters Image caption Tracey Curtis-Taylor arrived in Sydney, completing her 14,600-nautical mile trip. She admitted she had "lost my rag several times dealing with people on the ground" during frequent refuelling stops, but added: "The flying has been sensational and that's why you do it. "To fly something like this, low level, halfway around the world seeing all the most iconic landscapes, geology, vegetation - it's just the best view in the world." Flying the open cockpit biplane had given her an "insight" into what Ms Johnson went through getting to Australia, she added. Her route had taken her across Europe and the Mediterranean to Jordan, over the Arabian desert, across the Gulf of Oman to Pakistan, India and across Asia. Map of the flight path. She flew over 23 countries and made some 50 refuelling stops . Ms Curtis-Taylor attempted to recreate the essence of Ms Johnson's era by flying with an open cockpit, with basic period instruments and a short range between landing points. On flying, Ms Curtis-Taylor said: "You never want to stop, it is absolutely addictive, it is so thrilling and exciting." She celebrated her arrival at Sydney's International Airport with a glass of Champagne Tracey Curtis-Taylor's biplane over Bagan, in Myanmar. She has flown across 23 countries, including Myanmar - formerly known as Burma Bi-plane flying past Uluru. Ms Curtis-Taylor piloted her bi-plane past Uluru, in central Australia.  Amy Johnson was the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia in 1

Plus-size model attacks Asian community for 'body shaming' - video

Russian Model, Lavrova, 90kg
10 December 2015
Award-winning plus-size model Bishamber Das has attacked the culture of body shaming within the Asian community. Ms Das says criticising women and girls for their body shape can have a devastating impact on their lives. She hopes to use her success to encourage larger girls to have a healthier body image.

Israel minister Silvan Shalom resigns over harassment allegations

Silvan Shalom, Israel, 2015
20 December 2015
Mr Shalom has been a veteran figure in the right-wing Likud partyIsrael's Interior Minister Silvan Shalom has resigned after a series of sexual harassment allegations. Mr Shalom, who is also stepping down from his position as deputy prime minister, said he was doing so to spare his family any more suffering. The attorney-general has ordered a probe into claims made against Mr Shalom by several women. Mr Shalom has denied any wrongdoing. Israel has seen several similar high-profile cases in recent years. The police anti-fraud chief is under investigation for sexual misconduct and last month another MP in the governing coalition, Yinon Magal, resigned amid sexual harassment allegations. In 2011 the former President Moshe Katsav began a seven-year jail sentence for rape. Some media reports suggest that Mr Shalom's replacement in the Israeli parliament could be Amir Ohana, who would become the first openly gay MP from the right-wing Likud party.

Schoolgirls for Sale in Japan

Drawing the horror of a Syrian detention centre - video
(This article is not just about the tortures of human males, but also about Women, who are not afraid of death of their bodies, who can help, who can sacrify themselves for thier beloved men! LM)
21 Dec 2015
A Syrian artist who was accused of being an opposition activist and tortured in a detention centre has drawn pictures of his experiences - and described how he became numb to death, as dead bodies were piled up in the cell he shared with dozens of other naked prisoners. Some readers will find his account disturbing.
It is dark, cold and there is an overpowering smell of death and disease. Nearly 70 men are cramped in a room measuring 3m by 4m - one of hundreds of cells inside Syria's notorious detention centres. The men are skinny, naked and shivering with fear. They have no dignity. Day in day out, death and fear surrounds them till they accept it as normal.
"They used to bring the bodies from the basement and pile them in front of us," says the artist, whom I will call Sami.
"Every day there would be about eight new bodies. After a week I managed to get closer and count the number written on a body's forehead. It was 5,530 - and after a month and a half, the number on another body was 5,870.
"I got used to it. The first night I saw a dead body and smelled it, I felt so sick and sad I couldn't sleep. But later on we were eating while a dead body was next to us. I remember leaning on a dead body and thinking, 'When are they going to remove it so I can have more space?'
Sami was arrested twice in the years after the Syrian uprising in 2011. His crime was coming from a town, a religious group and a family that had revolted against President Bashar al-Assad.
"I had long curly hair when I was detained for first time. This modern look was a sign for the government that I belong to the co-ordination committees that organised protests. The security officer dragged me by my hair and told his boss, 'We've got one of the co-ordinators sir,'" Sami told me.
"I was picked up on my way to work, my head was covered and I was put in a car. I don't know where they took me but they put me in a hall while my hands were tied with wires. They started beating me up madly. Then I reached the detention centre. I was bleeding, bones broken, ears damaged so that I couldn't hear properly. The place was like Dante's inferno. You are constantly tortured and you hear the cries of people being tortured. I was kept in the basement maybe seven storeys down."
Illustration - three men standing and two more tied on the floor
Sami's second period of detention was even worse. He spent three months in a detention cell before being referred to terrorism court, set up under an anti-terrorism law issued in 2012. He was accused of inciting terrorism and threatening state security. He was imprisoned awaiting trial for nine months. Eventually, Sami was able to bribe his way out. He paid nearly $15,000 to get out of prison and later out of the country.
"Your family pays money to find a key person inside the detention cells who can help keep you alive," he says. "Money is paid so that prisoners are transferred from a detention cell to prison, where they are referred to the terrorism court."
His wife, Fidaa (not her real name) had the difficult job of finding the right person to bribe. It took $3,000 simply to find out where Sami was being held. Then she had to pay money to ensure that Sami would not continue to be tortured. One of the people who promised to help ensure Sami's release disappeared after a week, forcing her to look for another contact who might help. Sami recounts the horror of prison in Syria to Lina Sinjab. Then one day she got a call from a relative saying that Sami was in fact being held somewhere else.
"That moment I was terrified," she says. "I felt I had lost track of him and lost him forever. I spent the next 18 days in a terrified state until I managed to locate him."
Then more payments were required to get him transferred to a terrorism court. At that point she was taken to see him by her contacts.
"They called his name," she says. "Someone appeared in the room. I couldn't believe my eyes. It was a different person - almost a third of his size. When he ran towards me I realised it was him.
"He came to see me through the viewing barrier, he wanted to kiss me and touch my hands. I didn't know what to do, cry or laugh (with joy)."
But it took nine months. During that time Fidaa made 38 dangerous journeys to Adra prison to see him.
"The road to the prison was horrifying," she says. "The whole area was brutally destroyed. You want to cry and you can't - it was dead body of a city. The car was driving so fast. We were told there were snipers. So you go to visit a prisoner, and you might end being killed."
Illustration - men kneeling and standing with another man, clothed, shouting at them.
Sami has lost 40 members of his family, all killed by the regime. He moved home twice inside Syria looking for a safe place to live with his wife and daughter. His own house and another belonging to his family were burned down by government forces in the Damascus suburb he comes from. For nearly two years before his second period in detention he went everywhere he needed to go in Damascus on foot, rather than using a car, to avoid being picked up at checkpoints.
The Syrian government says it is fighting terrorism, but Sami says none of the people he met in detention were terrorists.
"I didn't see any Islamists or jihadists or radicals in prison. I just saw ordinary Syrians," he says. "Needless to say, almost everyone in prison is Sunni."
Some prisoners were treated worse than others, he says.
"They look at you and decide what treatment you get. Men from the city with money are treated differently than those coming from poor and rural areas. The more money and connections you have, the less tortured you are."
Illustration - three figures one with head bowed, one screaming, and one chained and hung by the hands. Many have argued that this sort of treatment drives poor young Sunnis into the arms of Islamist radicals - though Sami says he personally never encountered any Islamists in Syria. The threat to him, he says, came exclusively from the Assad government, and it was the government that drove him eventually to leave the country. He and his wife and daughter are now in Europe, where Sami is recovering from his ordeal.
"I try to get over my fears by drawing or playing music," he says. "This is the only way I can survive."

Afghanistan's propaganda war takes a new twist
 4 June 2014
Critics say that pictures of an Afghan girl disfigured by the Taliban are being used to justify the occupation. But can we just abandon women like Bibi Aisha to their fate? Bibi Aisha, whose nose and ears were cut off by her Taliban-sympathising husband, pictured on the cover of Time magazine, 9 August 2010; and in California in October, with a prosthetic nose made by the Grossman Burn Centre. In 1985, at the height of the Soviet suppression of Afghanistan, National Geographic ran a cover photograph of a stunning Afghan girl. She had no name, but her haunted, mesmerising green eyes and her dramatic features framed by a crimson head shawl, seemed to capture a story of suffering, lost innocence and unrealised potential that went far deeper than the experience of just one girl. Twenty five years later, Time magazine ran a cover of another beautiful Afghan girl. She too had captivating eyes – brown, not green – lustrous black hair and a striking expression. However, what gave the photograph its narrative and political power was something that was missing from her attractive physiognomy: her nose. In its place was a yawning hole, a hideous second mouth in the very centre of her face. If those eyes in that now famous National Geographic cover spoke so eloquently of a forsaken nation's plight, then what did this grotesque wound say about the state of the country in 2010? For Time the answer appeared to be in the cover line, which referred to the debate about the continued presence of Nato troops: "What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan". There was no question mark. The girl without the nose was Bibi Aisha, an 18-year-old from the southern Afghan province of Oruzgan. In 2009 she had fled her husband's house, complaining of beatings, maltreatment and a life, not uncommon among women in Afghanistan, that amounted to abject slavery. She had been given to her husband when she was 12, as payment to settle a dispute – a practice in Afghanistan that goes by the fitting name of "baad".
Having endured six years of torment and abuse, she escaped to the only place she could go, back to her family home. It was here that the Taliban arrived one night and demanded that the girl be handed over to face justice. She was taken away to a mountain clearing, where the local Taliban commander issued his verdict. She was then held down by her brother-in-law, while her husband first sliced off her ears and then cut off her nose. Aisha passed out from the pain but soon awoke choking on her blood, abandoned by her torturers and the ad-hoc judiciary of the Taliban. According to Time, the Taliban commander who awarded the punishment, later said that Aisha had to be made an example "lest other girls in the village try to do the same thing".
With the help of the American military, aid workers took her to a women's refuge in Kabul run by an Afghan-American organisation, Women for Afghan Women (WAW). There she remained, under the care of trained social workers, until August of this year, at around the time the Time cover appeared. She was then flown to California to undergo reconstructive surgery at the Grossman Burn Centre in California. However, following psychological assessment, the medical staff at the foundation decided that Aisha required more counselling and therapy before she could give her informed consent to the gruelling series of operations, that surgery would entail. So last month she was moved to New York, where she remains under the care and supervision of WAW.
"In Kabul she had been doing very well with us," says Esther Hyneman of WAW. "She had been with us for nine months. When she got to California, she regressed somewhat. We think it was because she really missed the friends she had made in the women's shelter in Kabul. It was also a big culture shock, and there was some problem getting her situated." WAW has indefinitely postponed the surgery. "She is now comfortable with her appearance," says Hyneman. "She doesn't hide herself any longer. And she has a prosthesis that they made at Grossman Burn. It's really a work of art. We encourage her to wear it, but she doesn't always put it on." WAW now thinks that her best chance of adapting to her current life in America is through education. "She has never been to school," says Hyneman, "and lacks basic common knowledge. For example, I bought her a map of the world and she had no idea where she was. She couldn't find Afghanistan or Pakistan either.
But the point I want to stress is that she's an amazingly intelligent person." She's being taught English and maths, and some other basics, but Hyneman says that she already displays a kind of instinctive gift for using a computer.
The one problem this presents is that she's inclined to search for sites with photographs of the Taliban, says Hyneman. "And when she sees them, she goes crazy, screaming and crying about what the Taliban did to her and what they do to women. So we try to discourage her from doing this."
In an obvious sense Aisha's story conforms to a traditional feminist reading of the struggle of women against patriarchal society. Consigned to the status of a domestic slave, she rebelled and felt the brutal force of male-dominated tribal society.
And there is no doubt that this is the context in which this vicious crime against a teenage girl took place. However, it's not the only context, and for many critics of the Time cover, it's not the most significant context. Because, of course,
Afghanistan plays host to tens of thousands of foreign troops, most of them American, and as such any efforts to remove the troops are seen by critics of the occupation as all part of a legitimate anti-imperialist cause. From this perspective, to put it crudely, national liberation always trumps female emancipation. Thus, for those who wished the Nato troops to remain, the photo of Aisha acted as a symbol of what they were fighting against, and for those who wanted to see them withdrawn, it was a piece of emotional propaganda or "war porn". Writing on the Guardian's website Priyamvada Gopal, who teaches English at Cambridge University, viewed the Time cover in terms of a "cynical ploy" to justify the occupation. "Misogynist violence is unacceptable," argued Gopal, "but we must also be concerned by the continued insistence that the complexities of war, occupation and reality itself can be reduced to bedtime stories."
Hyneman certainly agrees that it's wrong to focus on Aisha's case, "as if she's the only woman who's suffered this treatment. People need to realise that she represents those women who are already dead, or under threat of attack or face being stoned to death." For Gopal, though, these issues are simply handy levers for empty western moralising. She concluded that America has nothing to offer Afghanistan except more war and "bikini waxes". The notion, fashionable in radical circles, that Afghan women are better off without American protection or influence is one that Hyneman is particularly keen to contest. "Contrary to what most people in the developed world seem to believe, progress for women has occurred in Afghanistan, and against overwhelming odds."
There are indeed several achievements that cannot be easily disregarded. Under the Taliban girls were not allowed to go to school after the age of eight. Now there are more girls attending school in Afghanistan than at any time in its history.
Under the Taliban, women's voices were banned from radio (TV was completely forbidden) and now they take up a leading role in the broadcast media. Before, sports were off-limits to women, now there are female athletes competing in international events. Adultery was punishable by being stoned to death, and women were beaten on the street for anything short of total enshrouding. Now, while the informal dress code remains restrictive, 25% of parliamentary seats are allocated to women. The picture is far from perfect, and there are powerful forces within a weak and corrupt government that still wish to turn back the clock. There is currently an attempt under way to close down women's refuges because religious conservatives, without any evidence, have accused them of operating as brothels. WAW has five women's refuges throughout the country – and plans to open three more – as well as five family centres where men, who may be a threat to their wives, can receive counselling. And it is also active in seeking protection and compensation through the courts. Hyneman believes that if the Taliban regains control not only will all these benefits be lost, but there will also be a bloodbath against women.
"The fundamental problem," she says, "is that the Taliban's subjugation of women is a political strategy. Get 50% of the population on its knees and you can control the country. It's also their military strategy. They're the ones who are using women for military and political gain."
What, though, of Aisha? Where does she go now? Her mother died when she was very young, and according to Hyneman, she "does not have loving thoughts" about her father, who gave her up in the first place. She also has a younger sister, says Hyneman, who WAW believe may soon be turned over to the same family that mutilated Aisha as part of the outstanding blood-money debt. No amount of foreign troops can change the status of Afghan women. An enormous amount of work must be done to shift culturally and religiously sanctioned codes of behaviour, and then to raise life expectations. But it's hard to imagine that such efforts could be waged without the protection of the Nato troops. Even then, many Afghan women may still see security in tradition, no matter how unkind it has been to them. In 2002 National Geographic tracked down the girl with the green eyes. They found her living near the mountains of Tora Bora, which had been targeted by American bombing to flush out al-Qaida and Taliban fighters. Her name was Sharbat Gula. She had lived a life almost permanently disrupted by war and dreamed of her daughters one day attending school. But Gula also said that "life under the Taliban was better. At least there was peace and order".
The Taliban, who have minimal support in Afghanistan, understand the deep yearning for peace in the country after decades of fighting. That's why they are prepared to commit the most monstrous violence, particularly against women, to force the Afghans to submit to their order. Human Rights Watch has collected letters sent by the Taliban to intimidate and terrorise women. One reads: "We warn you to leave your job as a teacher as soon as possible otherwise we will cut the heads off your children and we shall set fire to your daughter." Another threatens such a harsh form of death "that no woman has so far been killed in that manner".
Anyone who is serious about challenging misogyny in Afghanistan is required, at the very minimum, to acknowledge this depressing reality. Equally, regardless of whether the troops stay or are withdrawn, it's important, if only for the sake of honest debate, to state clearly what's at stake. Aisha's experience is not the whole story, but it does symbolise a critical subplot that ought not be neglected. That much, at least, is as plain as the nose that is missing from her face.

Nelson Mandela's step-daughter: 'I was blinded by my abuser' - video
1 December 2015
The daughter of Nelson Mandela's widow Graca Machel has been speaking for the first time on television about her experience of being physically abused by her partner and how it left her blinded in one eye. Josina Machel was beaten in October in Mozambique's capital, Maputo, on her mother's 70th birthday. She has been telling her story to the BBC's Milton Nkosi in Johannesburg, as part of the BBC's 100 Women season.

Inside Islamic State: 'Underage girls are in demand by IS fighters'  - video
2 December 2015
Human rights groups have repeatedly warned that many women are facing unspeakable abuse inside Syria, in areas controlled by the so-called Islamic State. Foreign intervention in Syria has been increasingly on the agenda of many Western countries, to stop recurrent abuses and to avoid further attacks like the ones seen in Paris last month. On Wednesday the UK Parliament is set to hold a vote to decide on whether it approves a military intervention in Syria against IS. In a rare interview with the BBC Arabic's Najlaa Aboumerhi, a woman inside the city of Deir al-Zour - almost totally held by the extremist group - gives a glimpse of everyday life for women. She asked to be known as "Daughter of Eastern Syria", and her voice has been disguised to protect her security. Her story is part of the BBC's 100 Women season which finishes on December 2.

100 Women 2015: Life for women in Islamic State's Raqqa - video
25 November 2015
Nour is a woman from Raqqa, the so-called Islamic State's (IS) capital inside Syria. She managed to escape the city and is now a refugee in Europe, where she met up with the BBC. This story is based on her experiences and those of her two sisters, who are still inside the IS-held city.  Names and the timings of some events have been changed to avoid compromising the safety of Nour or her family.

100 Women 2015: The small band of pioneering women farmers in India - video
26 November 2015
Eighty percent of all economically active women in India work in agriculture but few own the land. Farms are traditionally passed down through the male line even though women can inherit equally by law. For the BBC's 100 women season, Rupa Jha and Neha Sharma travel across India to meet a pioneering community of women landowners. In Maharashtra, they meet a farm widow who had to run the household after her husband killed himself. Meanwhile in Rajasthan, they spend time with two sisters who enjoy riding a tractor and flouting local convention by remaining unmarried.

100 Women 2015: Desperate not to have children

Holly Brockwell with niece

Holly with mum
22 November 2015
Some women are desperate to have children - but some are desperate not to. Here two who want to stay child-free explain why. Holly Brockwell, 29, from London, has been trying to get sterilised, while in Tehran thirty-something Nina Nikoo (not her real name) faces family pressure to get pregnant. As a woman, there are four little words I can say that invite more condescension than almost any others: "I don't want children." "But why?" people ask, as if there's a simple answer to why you viscerally, instinctively reject something that's considered a fundamental part of humanhood. The fact is, there's nothing about creating another human that appeals to me. That's an emotional thing, and translating it into rational reasons takes something away from its strength. If I say I don't think I'd be a good parent, for instance, people respond, "Everyone feels that way at first." If I say I can't imagine ever having the time, energy or money, I'm told I'll "find a way to manage".
If I say I want to devote my life to my career, they say I'm "selfish". This year's season features two weeks of inspirational stories about the BBC's 100 Women and others who are defying stereotypes around the world. There's no acceptable reason to not want a baby, it seems. You'd think, from the responses people give, that everyone who procreates is ecstatically happy with their choice. I know categorically that this isn't true, because it happened to my mum. She's never hidden the fact that she didn't want kids in the first place, and only agreed to have them because my dad was desperate for a family. It's partly my own fear of capitulating that's driven me to try getting my tubes tied - to take the choice away in case I'm ever tempted to betray my beliefs for love. After being told four separate times that I was "too young to even consider it", despite the fact that there's no minimum age for sterilisation in the UK, I finally got referred this year. I was ecstatic - until
I tried to arrange the operation. Marie Stopes, who do the procedure for the National Health Service, told me matter-of-factly that there were no surgeons available, and I'd have to go back to my GP. In the meantime, I'd moved into the area of a different NHS Trust - which has meant starting the whole process again. Holly Brockwell with her niece. Holly with her niece. Holly skydiving. Holly wants to enjoy her life without the worry of getting pregnant. You may wonder why I don't choose another, less drastic, form of contraception but the pill has been making me sick for years and the only other option is the coil, which I'm not willing to have because I know two people who've experienced horrendous side-effects. I don't need reversible contraception. There's a 10-minute keyhole operation that can solve this problem for good, and I can't believe that at the age of almost 30 in 2015, I'm still having to fight to get it. We can choose to get pregnant at 16 but not to decline motherhood at 29. It seems our decisions are only taken seriously when they align with tradition. Well, I've never been one for tradition. I recently started a tech website written by women - I'm proud to say it's the only baby I'll ever have.
I think I'm very lucky to be a woman, but unlike many, I have never felt maternal. I have always thought it is a crime to bring a child you don't want into this world. I've worked very hard to set up my own business. I now employ six people and find nothing more satisfying than my job. Some people think I'm selfish, I don't know, perhaps I am. But regardless of what people think, I can't give up on a dream that after so many years has recently come true. My parents were shocked when they heard that I don't want to have a child. They still bring it up at every chance they find. And it's not just them. Other family members try to convince me that I'm making a mistake. I remember in the first years after my wedding, which was about 10 years ago, people were very judgmental. They even suggested that I or my husband were infertile and that we were hiding it. Cartoon showing childfree woman. Nina is fed up of people reminding her about her ticking biological clock.
They have now more or less given up but my parents are very persistent. My father says one day my biology will make me want to have a child. The other day, my mum was combing my hair and said it made her very sad that I will never get to experience what she has experienced. Like my dad, she thinks I will change my mind. Levels of childlessness tend to be highest in parts of Northern/Southern Europe and East Asia, and lowest in Eastern Europe and parts of Southern Europe and Central and Western Asia (UN). Childlessness appears to be related to educational attainment - in Switzerland about 21% of all women age 40 are childless, but this rises to about 40% for women who have completed tertiary education. I think the fact that many of my friends are childless, even though they have been married for many years, helps a lot. Having a child is a burden for educated women in Iran. It means you can't concentrate on your job, your freedom is limited and if your marriage doesn't work out, your chance of finding another husband is low. Don't get me wrong, I love children. I am patient and can easily get down to their level and spend hours playing with them - just as long as they aren't mine. When I see a child hanging off her mum's neck, I feel suffocated. I'm so happy that she's not mine. From day one, I told my husband that I didn't want a child, and he seems OK with it. I can sometimes see in the way he looks at children that he wouldn't mind being a father but he respects my decision. Convincing his parents was difficult too. I do think about it every day, though. In fact, I wish I could find motherly feelings in myself. I do wait for the day that I might change, however unlikely that seems.

Kenyan domestic workers 'abused in Saudi Arabia' - video
1 September 2015
The BBC has been speaking to a group of Kenyan domestic workers who say they have faced abuse - including physical assaults and rape - at the hands of their employers in Saudi Arabia. Activists posted a video of women begging for help on social media, which cannot be independently verified. It sparked an online campaign and the intervention of the government in Nairobi.

The Indian maid who had her arm chopped off in Saudi Arabia  - video
12 November 2015
The Indian maid who alleges she had her arm chopped off by her employer in Saudi Arabia has spoken to BBC Newsnight in an exclusive TV interview. Kasturi Munirathinam describes the moment of the attack - and calls for India to ban migration for work to Saudi Arabia. "No-one should go to that place. They are torturing us," she said. The case has raised wider concerns about the treatment of domestic workers in Saudi Arabia.

Brazilian women react after sexual comments are directed at a 12-year-old girl
9 November 2015
Juliana de Faria started the hashtag "primeiroassedio" after a 12-year-old girl on Masterchef became the object of crude sexual comments online. How old are young girls when they are "first harassed" by men? Women in Brazil are reflecting on their own childhood experiences - and sharing these stories on the internet in big numbers. It began with a sordid episode on Twitter as the nation watched the junior version of Masterchef, the globally popular TV cooking competition. One of the contestants on the programme was 12-year-old Valentina Shulz and during one episode, several men started tweeting suggestive messages about her online using the show's hashtag. "Does anyone know the Twitter of Valentina? She will date me if she wants it or not," wrote one user. "If she wants it, it's not paedophilia, IT'S LOVE," said another. These disturbing messages were noticed by Juliana de Faria, a journalist and part of the feminist group Think Olga. She started tweeting about the times she was harassed as a minor. Soon, others shared their stories too and Faria started a hashtag - "primeiroassedio" - which translates as "first harassment".
"Suddenly some readers and followers of Think Olga were writing me back with the first time they were harassed and they were very, very young, as young as five years old. So I started retweeting that," Faria told BBC Trending radio. The tag has been used more than 90,000 times, with women and girls sharing the stories of their first encounter with public sexual harassment. "At 11, I was heading to my dance class and a man touched my bottom," tweeted one. "13 years old. I was going to the supermarket. Heard from a gentleman that I already had 'beautiful boobs.' #firstharassment," said another. BBC Trending radio spoke to one woman who shared a longer account of an even more harrowing ordeal. Luisa Guimaraes wrote a Facebook post recounting how she was raped by a taxi driver in Rio de Janeiro, when she was 21 years old. She wrote about how she began to experience harassment by men from a very young age. "Like all women I have - hair pulled back, body straightened - walked with extreme fear when by myself. I have suffered verbal harassment," she wrote. "I've been chased down the street... for answering a workman who wanted to - in his words - 'eat all of you.' On the street, on the bus, partying, in college, day and night, aged 12 and 22."
She remembers first being harassed when she was nine or 10 and said that after that it happened nearly every day on the street. "It can happen when you're walking down the street and someone is catcalling all the time, or you're going to a party and some guy wants to talk to you or kiss you and you don't want him to... and he gets aggressive and starts calling you names," she told Trending. "That has happened a lot to me and to a lot of my friends. We live this every day."

'I was wolf-whistled at every day... from the age of 10 through to 16'
9 November 2015
Women around the world have been sharing their stories of "first harassment" - after BBC Trending reported on a conversation started by women in Brazil. On Monday, BBC Trending posted about how a series of suggestive messages were written on Twitter about a 12-year-old Masterchef contestant in Brazil. As we reported, the "primeiroassedio" hashtag - which translates as "first harassment" - was used over 90,000 times following the programme, as women and girls shared the stories of their first encounter with public sexual harassment. When we posted this story on the BBC News Facebook page, it got a strong reaction - with over 1,000 "likes" and many women from around the world chosing to share their own experiences. One woman from Britain told her own story. "We lived opposite and to the side of two steel fabrication companies," she wrote, "and I was wolf-whistled at every day when I came home for lunch from the age of 10 through to 16. I was desperately shy and mortified". That sentiment was echoed by a Facebook user who grew up in Portugal. She recalled: "by my 12th birthday I avoided passing in front of construction sites or places that I knew lots of men would be because of the sexual and degrading things they would shout. It got so bad that one day one touched me and I had to change my route to go to school. There was this 40-ish guy when I was 12 insisting on taking me for coffee and pizza right that very moment while I was waiting on a bus on my way home," said another woman from Holland. "He grabbed me, but the bus arrived and I managed to get in. This happened on a busy shopping street at 8pm." Other women added that this behaviour has continued to follow them around in later life. "I'm so glad I'm out of Chile. The constant sexual harassment every time I simply walked down the street on my way to work. Boring middle aged teacher in conservative clothes, being hissed and whistled at and other more creepy things. Another added: "it has been nonstop since I was 10, it's exhausting. I wish men would behave."

Australia convicts two over female genital mutilation
12 November 2015
The girls' clitorises were mutilated in a ceremony known as "khatna". An Australian court has found two women guilty of carrying out female genital mutilation (FGM) on two young girls, in the country's first such conviction. The incidents took place in separate incidents in 2009 and 2012 in Wollongong, New South Wales when the girls were each about seven years old. A man, Shabbir Mohammedbhai Vaziri, was found guilty of covering up the acts. FGM is when a girl's genitals are partly or wholly removed for non-medical reasons. It usually carried out for a number of cultural, religious and social reasons, and is associated with ideals of femininity and modesty in some societies. The women, who cannot been named, belong to a Muslim sect. One is the girls' mother, the other a 72-year-old former nurse. The court heard they had cut the genitals of the two young girls in ceremonies known as "khatna". Vaziri, a leader of the sect, was accused of ordering members to tell police they did not practice FGM. The three were released ahead of sentencing in February. They could face up to seven years in jail. FGM has been illegal in Australia for 20 years, but the case marked the first time such offences had come to trial, according to the Australian Associated Press.

Malala Yousafzai: Her father's daughter
(What about Mother's Daughter? Why vital role of the mother is ignored? LM)

6 Nov 2015
Malala Yousafzai and Davis GuggenheimImage copyright Twentieth Century Fox Image caption Davis Guggenheim wanted to make his documentary to understand where Malala found her courage and drive. It's been three years since the name Malala Yousafzai entered the collective consciousness, when the then unknown 15-year-old Pakistani girl was shot by the Taliban for defying their ban on female education in the country's Swat Valley. Her subsequent fight for survival and renewed vigour on recovery have proved an inspiration to millions around the world. Her courage has won her the Nobel Peace Prize and led to her becoming one of those rare individuals who can go by their first name alone. But behind her international profile is one of a normal teenager - and a daughter of a loving, united and inspirational family. It's this story, seemingly mundane yet so fundamental to who Malala is, that fascinated director Davis Guggenheim - maker of the Oscar-winning portrayal of US Democratic politician Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth - and led to his latest documentary He Named Me Malala. Guggenheim uses one-to-one interviews, news footage and animation to paint an intimate portrait of the Yousafzais's past and present - and in particular the influence of Malala's father Ziauddin on her life. The Yousafzai family. The Yousafzai family worked with Davis Guggenheim over a period of 18 months. The director explains: "People in the Swat Valley were being killed for standing up to the Taliban but there was this young girl who decided she was going to stand up to them.
"People don't fully understand this vital element of her story or where that determination comes from. "My first instinct in making this movie was that it is very much about a family, about a father's love and about a girl who feels empowered to do
amazing things. "If you cover that story, it speaks to girls all over the world."
Guggenheim filmed the Yousafzai family - Malala, her parents and two younger brothers - over 18 months. Much of the film takes place at the family's home in Birmingham, where they stayed following Malala's treatment at the city's hospital.
But Guggenheim also shows Malala on trips to the Middle East and Africa as part of her work for the Malala Fund - an education charity she established with her father - visiting schools, refugee camps and addressing world leaders. Guggenheim is himself passionate about the importance of education and has made documentaries on the US school system. And as a father to two girls, he seems the perfect candidate to enter Malala's world - but it didn't prevent the nerves that preceded their first encounter.
"I was walking on eggshells," he says. Ziauddin Yousafzai. In Pakistan, Ziauddin Yousafzai was a passionate social activist and a teacher, even establishing his own school, and was threatened by the Taliban. "But they were just hilarious and joyful. They tease each other and I found them remarkably enlightened and infinitely curious. I would leave their house invigorated. "They have a certain freedom from having risked their lives and Malala lives her life even more fearlessly - the little things in life just disappear." Malala's brothers Khushal, 15, and Atal, 11, are lively boys, dreaming of glorious futures and tirelessly jibing and arguing with their sister. "Look Malala, one day I will be an astronaut and a great sportsman and you will be known as my sister," says Atal. Her mother Toor Pekai is barely visible on camera due to her Pashtun sense of modesty but, says Guggenheim, she is "100% in control. When a big decision is being made all eyes turn to her". And Malala emerges as a just a normal teenager, struggling to get the best grades at school and bashfully doe-eyed over Roger Federer. It's an endearing picture but what truly stands out in this family story is Malala's bond with her father, who very visibly supports her in everything she wants to do. It's an attachment that began even before Malala was born. Malala Yousafzai. Malala's father says he knew she would be special from the moment he first saw her. In Pakistan, Ziauddin belied his slight physique and the difficulties of a stammer to become a passionate social activist and a teacher, even establishing his own school. In a patriarchal society in which "women are not known in public and their names are only known to family members", he was adamant his daughter would be different and named her after a legendary 19th Century Pashtun warrior heroine, Malalai of Maiwund. "Malalai had had a voice and I wanted my Malala to have the same - that she would have freedom and be brave and be known by her name," says Ziauddin. And it was immediately apparent she was special, he says. "I hesitate to romanticise or make it something superstitious by saying she was born a saint or prophet but I felt an immediate attachment to her. I saw a light in her eyes. She was very mature and sensible and mindful of others and was loved by the whole community."
Ziauddin put himself at considerable risk through his activism and received threats from the Taliban as a result. It caused Malala extreme anxiety yet she continued with her own activism and famously wrote a blog for the BBC under a pseudonym, about life in the Swat Valley. Though acknowledging he was a role model for his daughter, Ziauddin says he feels no guilt for what ultimately happened to her. "Guilt comes from when you do something sinful. When your basic human rights are violated and you don't stand up, that's a sin," he says. Malala Yousafzai meets Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin. Malala - here meeting Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin - will be a leader and voice for young women for a long time to come, says Davis Guggenheim.
"I didn't push my daughter; if I had she would have stopped. She would have said: 'Father you put me in a very bad situation, I got hit by a bullet, I am not going to do it anymore for you'. But she became more resilient, more committed and I've never heard her utter a single sigh or a single word which implies complaint or regret." And Malala - who has been left with some paralysis in her face and impaired hearing - vehemently backs her father. "My father only gave me the name Malalai. He didn't make me Malalai. I chose this life," she says. As for the future, Ziauddin shows characteristic defiance. He is sure the family will go back to Pakistan for good, he says, despite the welcome and freedom they are all grateful to have received in the UK. And he has faith that his daughter will know the right path for herself to tread. Guggenheim fully agrees. "When you do the DNA of Malala, she is a potent mix of both her parents. She gets her sense of mission from her father but her moral fibre, her religious clarity and forgiveness from her mother. Anything is possible for Malala. She is wholly equipped to be a leader and she is completely unique in that, when the big decisions are being made about girls education, she is the only young person at the table. She's a voice for all those girls who don't have a voice. She'll be that for a very long time." Movie "He Named Me Malala" opens in the UK on 6 November 2015.

Afghanistan's first female conductor

10 November 2015
I can see she's still learning it but what she lacks in experience, she makes up for with her spirit and passion. "Khosh Amadeed - welcome," says Negin with a shy smile. "Today my hands are aching a bit so I am not in a top form. But I love practising the piano. All I want is to become a very good concert pianist and conductor, not only in Afghanistan, but in the world," she says.
"So did you grow up around music?" I ask. "No," she says looking startled. She comes from a poor family in Kunar province, a conservative area - one of the strongholds of the Taliban insurgency in the north-east of Afghanistan.
"Girls in Kunar don't go to school and many are not allowed to study music by their families," she says. "So I had to go to Kabul to fulfil my dream. My father helped me."
For many years, the Taliban banned music and the education of girls in Afghanistan - and although many women still find themselves restricted, one 17-year-old has become the country's first female conductor. Kabul is a noisy place with helicopters, sirens, and heavy traffic. But walking into a building in one of the city's quieter neighbourhoods, I'm welcomed by quite a different sound. Boys and girls are playing the piano, cello and flute as well as traditional Afghan stringed instruments such as the rubab and sarod. This is the Afghanistan National Institute of Music - the only school of its kind in the country. The female students have just finished their first concert. Their male colleagues were watching and are now milling around, playing and chatting before heading home at the end of a big day. What was so special about this concert - apart from the fact that it was an all-female ensemble playing music to a big audience in the middle of violence-ridden Kabul - was that it was led by the country's very first female conductor, 17-year-old Negin Khpolwak who is also a student here. Photo - Negin playing the piano. Now, she has retreated along a concrete corridor to one of the rehearsal rooms where she's sitting at the piano playing one of her favourite pieces - a piano sonatina in C major by the Italian composer Muzio Clementi. The Afghanistan National Institute of Music. Afghan youths playing the violin at Afghanistan's National Institute for Music in Kabul, 2012. Set up in 2010 with help from the World Bank. Its teachers come from many countries including Afghanistan, the US, Australia, Russia, Colombia and India. It has a special focus on supporting the most disadvantaged members of Afghan society, particularly orphans and street vendors. When Negin was nine, he sent her to live in a children's home in Kabul so that she could get an education. That's where she first started listening to music and watching performances on television. She auditioned to join the institute and has been studying here for four years - of more than 200 students, about a quarter are girls. It wasn't all plain sailing though. Negin's mother was happy for her to go to school, but didn't like the idea of her studying music. She wasn't the only one who felt this way. "My uncle told us, 'No girls in our family should learn music. It's against tradition.'" Under pressure from her relatives, Negin had to leave the institute for six months. Eventually her father intervened, telling her uncle, "It's Negin's life. She should study music if she wants to. So I came back," she says. Negin, pictured in 2007 as a young child after she moved to Kabul. This is a common problem, according to Ahmad Sarmast, the founder and director of the institute.
"A child is enrolled with the full blessing of their parents but then an uncle or aunt or grandfather or village elder starts putting pressure on the parents to pull the child out of the music programme or from education in general."
It's not just tradition and conservatism that the institute has to contend with - there's also violence. There are many here who believe most music is sinful. Last year, one of the student concerts organised outside the campus was targeted by a
young suicide bomber - one person in the audience was killed while Sarmast's hearing was damaged and eleven pieces of shrapnel lodged in his head. "Does that not scare you, the prospect of further bombings?" I ask him. "No," he says.
"We are part of this struggle. We are standing against violence and terror with our arts and culture, particularly with music. That's one of the ways we can educate our people about the importance of living in peace and harmony, rather than killing each other." He looks at Negin. "Part of my inspiration is her and students like her, who keep coming here despite the difficulties."
In February 2013, Negin was chosen to represent the institute on a trip to the US where she performed at the Carnegie Hall in New York and the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, playing the sarod. "It was so amazing. I felt so good but I had always wanted to become a pianist," she says. So after she returned to Kabul, she started learning the piano and took up conducting as well. "It was my first time [conducting a performance] today. I was so happy. I cried when I got on the stage and saw all the people in the audience. I want Afghanistan to be like other countries in the world, where girls can become pianists and conductors." With that in mind, she's also been practising conducting male and female students together in the mixed orchestra.
"So, when you become a famous pianist and play abroad, can I come along for free? Or will I have to pay for an expensive ticket?" I ask. "Hmmm, no, sorry you have to pay," she jokes. I say goodbye promising, one day, to come to one of her concerts. And as we drive through checkpoints amid the noisy traffic, I can still hear Negin's beautiful music along with the faint but still persistent promise of hope in Afghanistan.

Raped, pregnant and afraid of being jailed  (in Dubai) - 2 videos
25 October 2015
In the United Arab Emirates, migrant women are routinely jailed for having sex outside marriage. Desperate to leave the country, one Filipina maid who was raped found a dramatic way to escape. There wasn't much in the village Monica left behind. No clinic, no school, no street lights - just a crossing of dirt roads and a few concrete houses roofed with tin. What really troubled her, though, was the lack of prospects. She had three young children and a husband who barely made enough to feed them. If she could work in the Gulf for even a few years, she thought, perhaps she'd be able to give those kids a different kind of life. It took 10 hours for the bus to reach the capital of the Philippines, Manila. There, Monica signed up to an employment agency and flew to the United Arab Emirates, where she began work as a maid for an Emirati family. The malls and skyscrapers of Dubai and Abu Dhabi were a world away from the rural poverty of her village, and at first Monica was excited to have a job. Gradually, though, she began to miss her children, and to feel ground down by the drudgery of the work and the meanness of her employers. People walk across a main road in 2015 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. There was another servant in the house, a driver from Pakistan. A few months after Monica arrived, the family went out for the day, leaving her alone with the driver.
"I was in the kitchen, cleaning. Then he came in… He was holding a knife while he forced himself on me… there was nothing I could do. I was alone. Even if I screamed, I was alone."
Three months later, having told no one about the rape, Monica realised she was pregnant. Under the laws of the UAE, sex outside marriage is a criminal offence. Since Monica had no way to prove she had been raped, the pregnancy stood as evidence of her guilt. Fearing imprisonment, Monica hid the pregnancy as long as she was able. "I knew that they might send me to jail and I was really scared," she says. Maids photographed in Abu Dhabi. Human rights groups have voiced concern on the treatment of domestic servants in Gulf States. Under Islamic Sharia, which forms the basis of the UAE's Penal Code, extramarital sex is classified as Zina - a category that also includes adultery, fornication and homosexuality.
There are no official figures on the number of people prosecuted under the Zina laws. What is clear, though, is that the weight of these laws falls overwhelmingly on the thousands of Asian and African women who have been brought to the Emirates to cook and clean in the homes of the rich. An investigation by BBC Arabic suggests that hundreds of migrant women are imprisoned in the UAE every year for Zina crimes, including consensual sex. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), the UAE's Zina codes violate international human rights law. Rights groups also point out that the Zina laws are applied disproportionately to women. Although domestic workers have been sentenced to flogging - and, in extreme cases, stoning - for Zina crimes, there is no evidence that these punishments are actually carried out in the UAE. The BBC's investigation does confirm, however, that women accused of sex outside marriage are routinely shackled and chained. Footage, filmed secretly in a UAE courtroom, shows a young Filipina woman shuffling along a corridor with her feet chained together.
Video - Secret filming in the UAE shows a Filipina woman in chains !
Sharla Musabih, an American activist who spent more than 20 years in the UAE running a shelter for vulnerable and abused women, says that in Abu Dhabi she saw an Ethiopian domestic worker chained to a hospital bed by her ankles just hours after giving birth. Like Monica, the Ethiopian woman had been raped. Rothna Begum, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, reported the case of an Indonesian woman who, having jumped from a balcony in an attempt to escape an abusive employer, was cuffed to a hospital bed by her hands and feet. The shackling and chaining of women accused of running away or of breaking the Zina laws is, Begum says, "standard practice in the UAE". The UAE government has not responded to requests from the BBC to discuss the Zina laws and the treatment of migrant domestic workers. For Monica, as for other pregnant women facing jail for unlawful sex, the obvious way out is to leave the country. But here again, Monica found herself trapped by the laws of the UAE. Domestic workers are brought to the Emirates under something called the Kafala system - an arrangement in which a migrant's right to work, to change jobs, and to go home is entirely dependent upon the employer who sponsors their entry into the country. The dependency created by the Kafala system, as well as the lack of adequate legal protections, leaves domestic servants vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. The scale of that abuse may never be fully known. In 2014, Human Rights Watch interviewed 99 of an estimated 146,000 female domestic workers now employed in the UAE. Most reported working long hours of unpaid overtime - in extreme cases, 21 hours per day - and many said that their wages had been withheld. Others had been confined to their employers' houses, or deprived of food or rest. Twenty-four reported physical or sexual abuse. Almost all had had their passports confiscated, despite this being unlawful in the UAE. Some of the women, HRW concluded, "described situations that may amount to slavery under international law. Several workers said their employers seemed to think they had purchased them."
In the summer of 2014, no longer able to hide her pregnancy, Monica begged her Emirati "madam" to let her return to the Philippines. Her employer, invoking her rights under the Kafala system, said, "Why should I send you home? You haven't finished your contract."
If she had given birth in the UAE it is likely that Monica, too, would have been taken to court in chains. But almost seven months into her pregnancy, she found a dramatic way to escape. Using Facebook, Monica contacted the host of a popular radio talk show in the Philippines. She gave him the number of a mobile phone that she kept hidden in the kitchen. The talk show host called Monica a short while later. The radio show that helped a trapped Filipina maid escape the UAE. Live on air, locked in the bathroom of her employer's house, Monica told thousands of listeners that she had been raped, that she was pregnant, and that she was desperate to get back home. "I want to leave but they won't let me," she said.
"Monica, does you family know about this here in the Philippines?" the radio host asked, "No, they don't know," she replied. "That's the most painful part of this story," the host told listeners. "She has a husband in the Philippines and he doesn't know."
Photo - Monica's hands.

Monica's gamble paid off. The blaze of publicity generated by her call forced the government in Manila to lean on the authorities in the UAE. Within weeks - just long enough to train a replacement house maid from Indonesia - Monica's employers returned her passport, bought her a ticket, and sent her back to the Philippines. From the employment agency in Manila, Monica called her family. "At first my husband could not accept it. He was very angry. He blamed me, and said, 'That's what you get for wanting to work abroad.' But then he thought about it, and he said, 'Come home.'"Accompanied by her father, Monica made the long drive back to the village. It was not the homecoming she had dreamed of. "If [your husband] can't accept the child," her mother suggested, "give the child to me. We will raise him."
After a while, though, Monica's husband calmed down. "Why give the child to your mother?" he told her. "Let him be ours." Monica is now back in the Philippines with her husband. Monica is one of five women featured in a BBC Arabic documentary "Pregnant and in Chains", which investigates what happens to unmarried women, who fall pregnant in the UAE. Pregnant and in Chains will open the BBC Arabic Film Festival at Broadcasting House in London on Friday 30 October. It will be available to view on the BBC Arabic website in November. Monica was eight months pregnant when she spoke with the BBC at her home in the Philippines. A medical examination had confirmed that she was carrying a baby boy. We have been unable to contact her si
Almaz's story
The abuse of maids in the Middle East is a familiar tale. Benjamin Dix and Lindsay Pollock tell the disturbing story of a young Ethiopian woman who took a job as a domestic help in Saudi Arabia but was treated like a slave.

Migrant crisis: Dutch alarm over child brides from Syria

20 October 2015
Child marriage is outlawed by several international agreements. A 14-year-old girl has gone missing from a Dutch asylum centre. Police say Fatema Alkasem was nine months pregnant and may be in need of medical care. She is also thought to be a "child bride", and her case has highlighted the problem that the Netherlands faces in providing asylum for girls who married in Syria but are below the Dutch age of consent. The government in The Hague is rushing to close a loophole in the asylum law which has so far allowed child brides to be reunited with their husbands in the Netherlands. The practice has inflamed debate about how the Netherlands is responding to the refugee crisis, with some arguing it is condoning paedophilia.
'Foster care'
As many as 20 girls between the ages of 13 and 15 have been given legal permission to join their older partners at Dutch asylum centres, according to regional news channel RTV-Noord. The figures were reportedly obtained from a leaked immigration service document.
"A 12-year-old girl with a 40-year-old-man - that is not a marriage, that is abuse", says opposition Labour politician Attje Kuiken. "We're talking about really young children, girls 12, 13 years old. I want to protect these children. The government should take them into foster care and protect them, because before the new law comes into force, they can still be subject to abuse."
Fatema Alkasem who has disappeared (police photo from 31 Aug). Police have issued an appeal for the whereabouts of Fatema Alkasem. The age of sexual consent in the Netherlands is 16 but migration minister Klaas Dijkhoff has told the BBC that the country currently recognises marriages involving young teenagers, as long as they are officially registered in their country of origin.
"At the moment we do have a problem with the bracket between 15 and 18. We want to be more strict, (and in future we will) not recognise the relationship. The amendment means that family reunification applications will only recognise marriages if both partners are over the age of 18. So if you're a man with an underage wife," Mr Dijkhoff warns, "you won't make it in time to bring over your underage wife."
Political repercussions
The new rules are due to come into force in December. In the meantime, there are concerns for the welfare of married Syrian teenagers who are already living the Netherlands, like 14-year-old Fatema. She disappeared from the country's main asylum centre in Ter Apel two months ago. A police spokeswoman told the BBC they feared she had been taken overseas. She has been placed on their list of missing children. Refugees register in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, 30 September 2015. The Dutch government says it has vastly under-estimated the cost of looking after new arrivals. The failure to pre-empt the rising tide of refugees is having political repercussions. More than 36,000 people entered the Netherlands this year. Former prisons, empty government offices and sports halls are being hastily modified to accommodate the surge in numbers. Earlier this month, Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem announced that the treasury's original predictions of €300m (£220m) to cover the cost of the new arrivals in 2015 was a vast underestimate. They are now looking at a bill of approximately €1bn. The anti-immigration Freedom Party (PVV) is enjoying its highest ever poll rating. The Freedom Party's popularity is being partly attributed to Dutch concern about the continent's inability to manage the flow of new arrivals.
Syrian "child brides" and International Law
"Alarming increase" in number of child marriages within Syrian refugee communities in Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon, says 'Save the Children'. One key reason is to protect the girls from sexual assault and other hardship. It is also seen as safeguarding family honour. It reduces economic burden on refugee families. But child marriage threatens a girl's physical and mental health. It is outlawed by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
The right to free and full consent from both parties is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (article 16). I met two Syrian friends from Aleppo, Majd and Samo. They are worried that the child brides issue may be further tainting the Dutch view of Syrian people and their culture.
"The refugees here have a culture shock right now. We bring with us our beliefs, our traditions and they're not easy to break," says Majd. Majd from Aleppo believes Syrians arriving in the Netherlands have to take account of Dutch laws
"Our problem is that Dutch people can't see the difference between Syrians but it's our responsibility to deal with these new laws." Samo remembers meeting a young girl who was married at a refugee camp in Den Helder.
"I'm a refugee but I was working there in food distribution. I was very moved. I thought the guy was her little brother. When she said, 'this is my son', I was shocked. She was 14 years old. She accepted her fate, but it's wrong."
Majd has been informally adopted by a Dutch family who invite him round for home-cooked meals and help with his language skills. Many Dutch people do support those who have fled the conflict zones. But there are complex challenges in accommodating them. And as the reaction to the reports on child brides shows, cultural integration can be complicated.

In the lion's den: The Indian women who answer cat calls

23 Oct 2015
Rasila Vadher (left) and Darshana Kagada (right). For a group of women forest guards working in India's Gir sanctuary, the only home to Asiatic lions, protecting and rescuing big cats is all in a day's work. The BBC's Geeta Pandey travels to Gir forest to meet some of them. Rasila Vadher treating a lion. Rasila Vadher was among the first batch of women guards recruited by the forest department in the western state of Gujarat in 2007. The women's unit was set up that year, when then Gujarat chief  minister Narendra Modi - now India's prime minister - ordered a 33% quota for women in Gir. At the time, "I knew nothing about the forest department, animals or Gir", she tells me as we sit chatting in her office in the rescue centre, interrupted at regular intervals by growling leopards and roaring lions.
"My father had died early and my mother worked on other people's farms to send me and my younger brother to school. People in my community are very conservative so they told my mother, 'why educate the girl, she will get married and cook for her husband's family'. But my mother agreed to educate me because I wanted to study," she said. In 2007, Vadher heard that the forest department was hiring guards, so she took her brother to the recruitment centre. "I wanted him to get a job in the forest department.  He was asked to take a physical fitness test, where he had to run and participate in a high-jump and long-jump competition. But he chickened out, so I decided to try my luck. And I made it through," she says. Rasila Vadher feeding a lion cub.  Initially she was assigned office work, "but that was boring, so I thought let's try something new". When Vadher began working as a guard in the field, protecting and rescuing wild animals, her male colleagues weren't too enthused about having a woman in their midst. "Will we have to take care of the animals, or this woman?" they asked. "I said let me try and we'll see how it goes," she says, adding that she "loves a good challenge". Rasila treating an injured leopard. Today, Vadher has come a long way from those days - she's a highly respected member of the rescue team and has been involved in nearly 900 rescues - 200 of them involving lions and 425 involving leopards. Recently, along with some of the other women guards, Vadher has played a starring role in a four-part Discovery Channel series called The Lion Queens of India. "My most memorable rescue was on 18 March 2012," she tells me. Rasila Vadher rescues a leopard from a well. 
"A leopard had fallen into a well, chasing a civet cat. The well had been newly-dug, it was dry and about 60-foot deep. We tried to tranquilise it, but we kept missing it because it was too far away. So I said I would go down in a cage and once the
leopard is in range I would shoot the dart. "I was lowered into the well in a small metal cage with a dart gun. The leopard was angry and growling. I had no experience and I was really afraid. But I fired the dart and hit the target. Once the animal was tranquilised, I captured it in a rope cage and it was hauled up," she says. Vadher, who married last year, says she had warned her husband before they married. "I told him this is my work. And it's 24x7. I may be called in even at 3am. And I'll be working with men. He agreed. He understands and has no problems."
Darshana Kagada. Kagada comes from a family of eight sisters, and has no brothers.
"I belong to the Rajput caste which is very conservative. Girls and women in our families are treated as inferior beings. We are meant to get married, look after our families, cook and clean, and not have a career," she says. Her father, she says, was no different in his beliefs. "I had just finished senior school in 2011 when I heard that the forest department was recruiting. I went to my sister's house and persuaded her husband to take me for the exam. For 600 posts, there were 600,000 applicants," she says, adding that the competition was "very tough. First I had to clear the physical fitness test. Then I was taken on a 10km walk through the forest where I had to identify flora and fauna. That was followed by a written test and then an oral examination." She told her father only after she got the job. "Today, he's very proud of me," she says. Photograph of three lion cubs taken by Sandeep Kumar, Deputy Conservator of Forests in Gir.
On a cool October morning, 24-year-old Kagada escorts me into the lush green Gir forest. We are in an open jeep and just a few minutes into our journey, we stop as we come across three guards patrolling the forest on foot.
Darshana Kagada with a group of lionesses and cubs in the backgroundA lioness with her cub photographed by Sandeep Kumar, Deputy Conservator of Forests in GirImage copyright Sandeep Kumar, Gir forest official
As Kagada chats with them, I turn to my left, and there, less than three metres from us are three lionesses lounging around with five cubs. The guards only have wooden sticks, but they seem unconcerned.
"Lions are royal animals. They don't care about you and me," explains Kagada. "They will attack humans only if we intrude into their space, or if they feel you are threatening their cubs or you get too close to them when they are mating."
As the lionesses settle down to take a nap, we continue to hang around, chatting and looking at them. The only time one of the lionesses turns her head to look in our direction is when one of the guards starts talking a bit loudly on his walkie-talkie. Kagada is among 48 women guards who are involved in the protection and rescue of lions and leopards in Gir. She also trains forest guards and officials and teaches nature education courses to school children.
"I love my job, lots of children, especially girls, tell me they want to be like me," Kagada says. "These women guards are an inspiration to women all over the country," says Sandeep Kumar, Deputy Conservator of Forests in Gir. "Even Prime Minister Modi has said that people don't come to Gir to see lions, they come to see these women guards," he adds.
Geeta Ratadiya
For as long as she can remember, Ratadiya always wanted to be a forest guard. "I was born in Gir, my grandfather and my father both worked as forest guards," she says. Unlike Vadher and Kagada who had never seen a lion until they became forest guards, Ratadiya had her first encounter with the big cats when she was just four years old. "My father used to take me to the forest with him all the time. One day I saw him standing close to a lion and a lioness. I was very afraid, I thought they would attack him, I started to cry," she says with a laugh. She continued to accompany her father into the jungle and, she says, gradually the fear faded. "when I told my parents that I wanted to work in the forest, my mother thought I was too frail and would not qualify. She was thrilled when I was selected. But I always wanted to wear the khaki uniform and carry a walkie-talkie like my dad." In the six years that she has worked as a forest guard, Ratadiya has been involved in many rescue operations and also takes care of the animals at the rescue centre. On the days there is no rescue, there is plenty for her to do, taking care of injured, sick and abandoned animals. Ratadiya had been married for just a couple of months when she got the forest department job. Today, she often takes her two-year-old daughter to work. "She pesters me to bring her here every day. She loves looking at lions and other animals."
I ask her if her daughter will also grow up to be a forest guard. "No," she says, adding, "I don't mind if she joins the department, but I want her to study and be a senior official."

Violinist highlights a decade of online abuse - video
22 October 2015
Mia Matsumiya, a violinist based in Los Angeles, has taken a stand against sexual harassment and abuse online by posting screenshots of offensive messages she's received over the past decade. She is using Instagram to highlight the violence, aggression and volume of inappropriate messages she has received, and hopes it will shine a light on online abuse of women.

Michelle Obama Works Out. May 20, 2015. First lady Michelle Obama demonstrates her workout routine, ranging from plyometrics, to weights, to kickboxing, as part of the White House’s “Let’s Move” campaign to combat childhood obesity.

Michelle Obama was born a man.  Oct 31, 2014. Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States, was born Michael LaVaughn Robinson in Chicago, Illinois on January 17th, 1964. He was the second son born to Fraser Robinson III, a well known cocaine dealer and union thug for Crime Lord/Mayor Richard J. Daley, and Marian Shields Robinson, a transient street prostitute who was diagnosed with the HIV virus in 1998. He was a popular high school athlete...

Met Police officer charged with seven counts of rape - England
19 October 2015
Policeman Michael Graham has been suspended from his job while the case remains active. A Met Police officer has been charged with seven counts of rape. PC Michael Graham, 47, an officer in Hounslow, has also been charged with assault. The offences are alleged to have taken place between 24 December 2013 and 2 September 2014 while the officer was off duty. He was arrested on 6 October and is due to appear at Uxbridge Magistrates' Court on 21 October. The Directorate of Professional Standards has been informed, Scotland Yard said.

Bernie Sanders booed for praising Clinton
25 July 2016
Supporters of Bernie Sanders booed after the senator urged them to support Hillary Clinton on day one of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Michelle Obama hits out at Donald Trump
26 July 2016
Michelle Obama opened this year's Democratic convention with a rallying cry for Hillary Clinton and a warning for Republican Donald Trump. The First Lady focused on the responsibility for the next president, the legacy they will leave, and the historical significance of the first female party nomination. She reinforced her support for Hillary Clinton, while making several pointed references about Mr Trump.

Феномен "Электрических женщин"
Знаменитый американский фантаст Стивен Кинг одну из своих книг посвятил девочке, которая могла вызвать огонь, посмотрев на какой-либо предмет. При этом, отмечает писатель, ее нужно было довести до состояния крайнего стресса — как следует разозлить или испугать. Фантаст, наверное, не думал и не гадал, что подобный феномен существует на самом деле. Правда, в несколько ином виде...Говорят, этот случай произошел в 2001 году в цехе одного петербургского оборонного предприятия. Женщины из утренней смены, привычно оставив всю свою одежду в шкафчиках, приняли душ и переоделись в хлопчатобумажную заводскую форму. Пройдя герметичный тамбур, они сели на стулья с заземленными сиденьями и включили освещение рабочих столов. И вдруг раздался тревожный сигнал обычно молчавшего индикатора электростатического поля. Невольно взгляды всех обратились на новенькую в смене. К ней подошел мастер цеха, попросил встать и прикоснуться к контакту контрольного прибора. Так и есть, на теле новенькой был потенциал в несколько тысяч вольт. Одно ее прикосновение к плате, и дорогой прибор был бы загублен. Позже, в беседе с заводским психологом, женщина рассказала следующую историю. Оказалось, что она уже работала в этом цехе несколько лет назад. Потом вышла замуж за офицера, родила дочку и ушла с хорошо оплачиваемой работы воспитательницей в детский садик, чтобы быть поближе к своему ребенку. Но потом случилась трагедия — муж погиб в Чечне, зарплаты воспитательницы на жизнь не хватало, и она решила вернуться на прежнее место. О своей необычной способности наводить электростатическое поле, появившейся как одно из последствий шока по случаю утраты мужа, женщина узнала лишь в цехе. До этого ничего подобного за собой не замечала. Поначалу заводские специалисты решили, что, может быть, разряд наведенный, то есть образовавшийся, скажем, при расчесывании волос или при трении во время ходьбы тапочек о линолеум пола. Однако последующие проверки показали, что поле довольно устойчиво и резко повышает свой потенциал, стоит женщине разволноваться. Пришлось ей подыскивать другую работу. Этот случай довольно редкий, но не единственный, отмечает расследовавший его кандидат физико-математических наук Валентин Псаломщиков. Нечто подобное, оказывается, уже не раз описывалось как в специальной медицинской, так и популярной литературе. Одно из первых достоверно зафиксированных сообщений подобного рода относится к 1895 году. Речь тогда шла о о американке Денни Моран из штата Миссури. С детства она отличалась нервозностью. Данный феномен начал проявляться у девочки с 14 лет. Из ее пальцев вылетали длинные искры, когда она касалась металлических предметов. А ее любимая кошка при этом в ужасе пряталась. В 1895 году доктор Эршкрафт пожелал лично проверить слухи о девочке — «лейденской банке». Не вняв предупреждению родителей, недоверчивый доктор попытался взять Денни за руки, получив сильный удар током, потерял сознание. Очнувшись, эскулап не пожелал продолжить опасные эксперименты, но описал удивительный случай в медицинском вестнике. До этого в научной литературе США был отмечен лишь один аналогичный случай с жительницей штата Онтарио, восемнадцатилетней Каролиной Клер. После тяжелой болезни она вдруг приобрела способность генерировать мощные электрические заряды, сбивая с ноги любого, кто к ней прикасался, в том числе и потенциального жениха. Но, к счастью, это неприятное явление вскоре исчезло. В начале XX века доктор Робин Битч был приглашен для расследований странных поджогов на одной из фабрик в штате Огайо. Однажды было зафиксировано восемь возгораний в течение только одного дня. Виновницей их оказалась женщина, недавно поступившая на работу. Причем она вовсе не была злостной поджигательницей. На ее теле, словно у электрического угря, периодически возникал потенциал свыше 30 тысяч вольт при сопротивлении кожи около 5 тысяч Ом/м. При этом в руках женщины начинали тлеть и загораться сухие стружки и бумага. Аналогичный случай произошел в 80-х годах в малярном цехе одного из ленинградских заводов. Пожары начались, когда цех перешел на новый, более летучий импортный растворитель. Конкретной же виновницей возгораний стала одна из женщин-маляров. Стоило ей взять в руки незаземленный краскораспылитель, как из него, словно из огнемета, начинало струей бить пламя. Причем электропотенциал тела работницы резко возрастал после того, как женщина ссорилась с кем-либо из коллег по работе, мастером или домочадцами. Своеобразный же рекорд поставила примерно в те же годы домохозяйка из Голландии Полин Шоу. Одним своим прикосновением Полин пережигала телевизоры, холодильники и даже утюги. Причем телевизоры она ухитрялась выводить из строя даже на расстоянии — не только у себя дома, но и в магазине. Однажды ее даже арестовали, поскольку она вывела из строя в супермаркете новейшую электронную кассу. Феноменом заинтересовались ученые и выявили, что потенциал ее тела достигал 200 тысяч вольт. Он лишь незначительно и кратковременно снижался после приема душа. Женщине тут же запретили водить машину и близко подходить к бензозаправке. Иначе, взяв в руки заправочный пистолет, она могла запросто взорвать бензоколонку. Уже упомянутый Робин Битч в ходе исследования аналогичных случаев установил, что способствовать возникновению феномена, кроме стресса, может особый тип сухой кожи. И таких «счастливчиков» приходится один-два на сто тысяч нормальных людей. Подавляющая часть среди них — женщины. Окончательное исследование феномена далеко не закончено. Но то, что уже известно, позволяет предположить следующее. Скорее всего, данное явление имеет ту же природу, что и накапливание электростатических полей скатами, угрями и другими «электрическими» существами. Однако если у тех же скатов природа создала для накопления электричества специальные органы, то организмы «электрических людей» сами по себе представляют конденсаторы. Имея личные неприятности, такие люди представляют громадную опасность для окружающих, например, в шахтах, нефтеперегонных заводах и на транспорте, не говоря уже об убытках, которые они приносят, выводя из строя дорогостоящую электронную технику. Снизить риск поражения окружающих людей и предметов можно, надев перед походом, скажем, в супермаркет, резиновые хозяйственные перчатки. Тогда, по крайней мере, есть надежда удержать на какое-то время заряд в себе. А потом уж специально разрядить его дома, прикоснувшись, например, к громоотводу. Известный конструктор авиационных моторов академик А.А. Микулин так и вообще работал, заземлившись специальной проводкой. Таким образом, объяснял конструктор, он поддерживал в своем теле минимальный электрический потенциал, что благотворно сказывалось на его мышлении и здоровье. По этой ли причине или по какой иной, но прожил академик 90 лет, до глубокой старости сохранив высокую работоспособность.

Бразилия в шоке от видео группового изнасилования 16-летней девочки
27/05 - 2016
Бразилия шокирована групповым изнасилованием 16-летней девочки, о котором стало известно после того, как насильники выложили в “Твиттере“видеозапись своего преступления. Сейчас полиция разыскивает более 30 жителей Рио-де-Жанейро, подозреваемых в этом изнасиловании. В социальных сетях развернулась кампания с требованием положить конец “культуре изнасилований” в бразильском обществе. К ней присоединились исполняющий обязанности президента страны Мишел Темер, Дилма Русеф. В ответ на женоненавистнические комментарии, которые сопровождали видеозапись изнасилования. “Мы заявляем, что это варварское преступление, и все общество поднялось в связи с серьезностью ситуации, поскольку это зеркало, это отражение того консерватизма, который еще существует в нашем обществе, патриархальном обществе”, – говорит бразильская правозащитница Арланза Ребело. По данным Бразильского форума общественной безопасности в 2014 году в полицию было подано почти 48 тысяч заявлений об изнасилованиях. При этом, по оценкам экспертов, в полицию обращаются лишь 35% жертв сексуального насилия.

Sweden's Migrant Rape Epidemic.
30 May 2016. Where did peaceful, low-crime Sweden go? Why does Sweden now have the second-highest number of rapes in the world, after only Lesotho? Here is Ingrid Carlqvist of is Gatestone Institute..

A Mob Of 'Foreign Youths' Assault 35 Females At Swedish Music Festival

Jul 5, 2016
The number of sexual assaults in Europe as a result of the refugee crisis has been something that we have covered extensively, most notably the "monstrous" attacks by men "of Arab or North African origin" that occurred on German women in Cologne during a New Year celebration (that led to the ministry actually trying to scrub the word "rape" from internal reports). However, there have been other instances, such as an assault by a "dark skinned" man on a 13 year old girl at a pool in the town of Mistelbach, Austria. Now we learn that a mob of "foreign youths" sexually assaulted 35 females as young as 12 years old at a Swedish music festival. At least 35 females aged between 12 and 17 reported being attacked during the Party in the Park festival in Karlstad on Friday and Saturday night, and some of the alleged victims reported being 'kissed and groped' in a situation reminiscent of the Cologne New Year attacks the Daily Mail reports. 17 year old victim Alexandra Larsson waived her right to anonymity to describe in detail how an attacker targeted her while Larsson was watching the event. Larsson tells how boys that "were not from a Swedish background" started groping her, and threatening her by saying "you will die, b***h.
'Everything was okay at the beginning of the evening. But things got out of hand during the last concert with John de Sohn that started at midnight. At first we were pushed right up against the stage by the massive crowd. Everyone around us behaved really badly and my friends told a couple of boys to quieten down. They were then threatened by the boys who said “you will die, b***h”. But the verbal abuse was just beginning. It would become much worse. We managed to walk away from those boys after a while and started watching the concert. That was when I felt the first touch against my bottom. Then someone took the liberty of grabbing my butt really hard. I turned away and said to the group of boys behind us that this was not okay, but I did not know who had done it. After a while, I felt someone running his fingers between my legs touching my genitals. Luckily, I had jeans on me.' After the harassment, she turned around and said to the group of young men standing next to her that they should stop what they were doing. But everyone around her claimed to be innocent. It then happened again, she said. 'I turned around and screamed right out that "whoever it was - you're a pig!" I told my friends what had just happened and they were all shocked. Me and my girlfriends decided to leave the concert, because we could not see who it was. It was just a sea of ??people.' Ms Larsson described a feeling of powerlessness as the festival she and her friends had been looking forward to was completely destroyed. 'It was creepy. Someone stood around me and groped me and I had no idea who it was. It was sick. We had come there to have fun, but the festival only lasted 20 minutes for us because it was so uncomfortable. 'The groping was at first a bit innocent. Just a touch on the bottom. Something that you can do by mistake in a big crowd of people. But it became worse and worse after that. The one touching me was becoming more and more rough every time. She said that the boys around them were about 17 or 18-years-old but 'those standing behind me were not from a Swedish background.' 'They were probably immigrants. I hate to say it. But it is the truth,' she said. Larsson recalled seeing another friend crying from the audience, and by the time they left the concert she could see crying girls everywhere. Larsson believes that the attackers behave this way because they don't believe they'll get caught. 'I have reported this to the police, but it feels like a drop in the ocean. I saw girls that came crying from the audience, including an old childhood friend who is two years younger. She cried so much that it broke my heart. 'The same thing had happened to her in front of the stage. A bunch of teenagers hidden in the crowd had grabbed her bottom, breast and genitals.

'I think that at least hundreds were molested at the festival. There are probably loads of unrecorded incidents. Girls who have a low self esteem might think that it is their fault - that perhaps they did something wrong to provoke it.
But they are wrong. Nobody gets to touch a woman without her own permission.'I could see crying girls everywhere around me when I left the festival. I don't know if they all had been groped, but most of them probably had been violated in front of the stage. Ms Larsson said that she was 'strong and could cope with it' but added: 'When a 14-year-old girl who is not as strong becomes a victim, she can be completely destroyed. That is what is so sick. It happens all the time but we can not do anything about it. 'I do not know what to think, it is so wrong. Everyone thinks it's wrong but nothing happens. There are large festivals with several thousand people and these mass incidents create a powerlessness for both the police, security guards and especially for visitors who become victims. 'The perpetrators will be so anonymous in the audience that they will get away with sex crimes. That is the main problem, that the perpetrators get away with it.'It's not okay. I should be able to go to festivals and have fun like everyone else without being afraid. It is wrong, really wrong, but that's the feeling I have after yesterday. It's damn hard that ordinary people who just want to have fun should have to suffer just because someone thinks it's fun to violate. She said that she believed the problem was spreading 'because attackers know they will not get caught'. But she added that police took it 'really seriously' when she reported the incident and is hoping that this will lead to something. 'I will not visit the festival again. It was so uncomfortable, I do not want to risk that happening to me one more evening.

Chinese women use social media to challenge sexual assault taboo

WomenRightsActivists2016China.jpg  FirstLadyPeng2016China.jpg
30 June 2016
Li Tingting in the middle and two others wear paint-spattered wedding dressesImage copyright CFP Image caption Activists including Li Tingting (pictured in the middle) have previously protested against domestic violence. Chinese women are increasingly taking to social media to speak out against sexual harassment. In recent weeks, there has been an upsurge in campaigning comments on popular microblog Sina Weibo, where users are encouraging victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and rape to make their voices heard. Rape can be taboo in China and victims are often afraid to come forward. Domestic violence can also be stigmatised, and China only passed its first domestic violence law in December 2015. Moreover, women's rights activists in China have sometimes struggled to speak out. In 2015, five prominent activists were arrested, prompting international online campaigns. 'Didn't realise it was rape'. One of the biggest stories dominating social media in recent days has been the alleged rape of a female intern at a Chinese media company. Police in southern Guangzhou say they have arrested a reporter working for the Southern Daily newspaper. Two other interns have said they were sexually harassed by the individual. The Intern hashtag has been trending for the past two days and social media users have been particularly interested in an exclusive interview conducted with the alleged victim by the Women Awakening rights group. Using the pseudonym Little Flower, she said she initially "didn't realise it was rape" and had thought of rape as "a stranger in the street... using violence, a knife to force you". She added that she didn't think much would come of the case, as she described her alleged attacker as "well-known". Domestic abuse. Weibo users have also been following an incident of alleged domestic violence in northern China.
The hashtag - #BeatenBecauseBoyfriendSuspectedCheating has been trending after images circulated of Beijing-based user "YuzuSama" with black eyes and bruises. After the images gained traction online, YuzuSama said she had been encouraged to go to hospital and to contact the police, an alleged domestic violence incident. Weibo users told her "not to be afraid" after she posted from the police station that her boyfriend had been arrested. She told users on 30 June: "When I saw him, I was still terribly scared." Thousands of female users have also been making their voices heard against other, more routine, offences. In the past month, Weibo campaigns including #ShanghaiMetroWolf, #NowAWretchedManOnChengduMetro and #TwoWomenMolestedonMetroLine13 have been trending, after a number of women decided to "out" men who had touched them inappropriately on crowded subways. In April, Zhengzhou in eastern China introduced its first women-only bus in an attempt to reduce the number of sexual assaults. The concept of single-sex transport is relatively new to China and sparked debate on social media, with some welcoming the idea, and others asking whether such measures are divisive. "Not all men are bad, but aren't all men being discriminated against here?" one asked at the time. Social media users have been "outing" men who commit offences on crowded subways. Sex education. First Lady Peng Liyuan is a special envoy for the Advancement of Girls' and Women's Education at Unesco, and has spoken at the United Nations about women finding empowerment through education. Yet there are still challenges within the education system about how sex education should be taught, with social media users saying that attitudes towards sex are outdated. Weibo users reacted angrily in late June to a sex education textbook which described girls who have premarital sex as "cheap". The High School Sex Education book said that premarital sex has a "tremendous negative psychological and physical impact on girls". Women in China have not met with much success in the past on encouraging an open, collective discussion about women's rights, which is why they have been increasingly going online. In March 2015, ahead of International Women's Day, five prominent women's rights activists were detained after planning events calling for an end to sexual harassment. Rights groups including Amnesty International launched an international social media campaign, urging users on platforms including Twitter to use the hashtag #FreeTheFive. The women were released a month later but protests in China in favour of women's rights are still discouraged. They are seen as acts of dissent, punishable by criminal law.

Brian Blessed: Women are my religion - video
29 June 2016
Brian Blessed is keeping it in the family as he directs his first play. The actor's wife Hildegard Neil and daughter Rosalind Blessed, both star in The Hollow, which has its first night at The Mill at Sonning on 7 July.

'No-one would marry me unless I had female genital mutilation (FGM)'
23 June 2016
"Zara" is the first person in the UK to be given a joint court order to protect her from both forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM). Her father tried to arrange a forced marriage for her on several occasions, but was told by prospective partners -and their families - that they would not marry her unless she underwent FGM, also known as female circumcision.

The house where the Philippines' forgotten 'comfort women' were held - 2 videos

ComfortWomenPhilippines.jpg   ComfortWomenProtest.jpg
17 June 2016
Sisters Lita and Mileng return to the Red House in Mapanique, Philippines. Hundreds of thousands of women and girls across Asia were raped and forced into sexual slavery by Japanese soldiers during World War Two. Some have been offered a direct apology and compensation from the Japanese government - but not in the Philippines. The last survivors there want their suffering to finally be acknowledged. "At night there are evil spirits - my mother and brother used to see the ghost of an old woman." With this warning the caretaker unlocks the gates to the Red House. "After the war, no one wanted to live here," he says. "They were too scared." Today the majestic blood-red villa is crumbling, but memories of the atrocities committed inside it haven't faded.The Red House, Mapanique. Many women and girls were assaulted by Japanese soldiers in the Red House. Lita and her sister Mileng live in the nearby village of Mapanique, about 50 miles north of the capital Manila. Now in their mid-80s, they recall a simple but happy childhood. "We used to play hopscotch and tag. We'd climb trees and pick fruit," says Lita. They were 13 and 15 years old when Japanese soldiers attacked their village in 1944. Everyone was forced to watch as the men were executed, suspected of being resistance fighters, the sisters recall. One old man was castrated and forced to eat his own penis. Mapanique was looted and razed. Then the girls and women, more than 100 in all, were forced to carry the looted goods to the Red House, which Japanese troops were using as a garrison.
"We thought it was the end of our world," says Mileng. "We thought they were going to kill us," adds Lita. But the soldiers were in high spirits. They took off their uniforms, ate and had a smoke. Then, as the light faded, they began to rape the women and girls. "It was so painful," says Mileng. Inside the skeleton of the house, Lita points out where the stairway used to be. That's where they raped her. "I was really struggling because I didn't want my clothes to be stripped off. I kept my legs together, tightly crossed. After I did that, they punched my thighs so that they could do what they wanted." The following morning they were allowed to leave. Their village - including Lita and Mileng's home - had been burned down and survivors were taken along the river to a nearby town. In the chaos and confusion, it took the sisters nearly three days to find each other. They had become part of one of the largest operations of sexual violence in modern history. It's widely thought that about 200,000 women were held in captivity and many thousands more were raped. Most were in Korea and China, but what's less well known is that the operation extended across the Japanese empire, as far afield as Burma, New Guinea, and the Philippines. "This was not something done on the spur of the moment - this was planned," says historian Ricardo Jose of the University of the Philippines. In the 1930s, it was discovered that Japanese troops in China would go on "raping sprees". Recognising the threat of the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, the Japanese Imperial Army devised a system to regulate sexual activity through the use of full-time slaves, who they called "comfort women". Estellita - a frail and softly spoken 86-year-old great-grandmother - grew up on a prosperous sugar plantation in the central Philippines. She wanted to be a teacher. One day, while selling food in the market, she was captured by a Japanese soldier and bundled into a truck. She was taken to a garrison where she was repeatedly raped. Estellita kept silent about what she endured for more than 50 years. "I don't remember how many men came in. At one point I felt a sudden pain so I fought back. The soldier got angry. He held my head and banged it really hard into the table and I lost consciousness." Estellita was only 14. She spent almost three weeks in Japanese captivity. Her account is factual rather than expressive. Seven decades on, she still doesn't want to show her pain. She has tried to forget the screams, the crying, the face of the armed guard who stood outside her door. "It was living hell for the 'comfort women'," says Jose. "They simply had to stay in bed. They had to wait for the next customer, they had to submit. And this went on for hours, this went on for days, this went on for months. And they could not do anything." The fragments of historical records that survived the war offer a chilling glimpse of the women's lives. On fortnightly visits to one garrison in the city of Iloilo, Imperial Army doctors meticulously recorded the names, ages and sexual health of their captives: "21…16… 17… vaginal inflammation… vaginal erosion."
"At their most extreme, the acts of violence would involve not just rape, but using almost anything to penetrate the woman - bottles, sticks, blunt objects," says Jose. "And of course it created scars for life. Sometimes the women were left for dead." Estellita's captivity ended as suddenly as it began. She was awoken one morning by American soldiers. The Japanese had fled. She walked out of the garrison and home to her parents. She briefly went back to school, trying to keep busy. But ultimately the burden of shame and the fear of friends and neighbours discovering what she had been through became too much. She left school, giving up her ambitions of becoming a teacher, for a new life in poverty and anonymity in Manila. Estellita began a half a century of silence - she didn't even share her story with her husband or children. Lisa remembers the moment her mother broke her silence and revealed she had been a 'comfort woman'. But when she started meeting up with other survivors and campaigning on behalf of the "comfort women", her daughter Lisa began to ask questions. "I kept wondering why she wasn't around," says Lisa. "So I asked her." Estellita was terrified of how her daughter would react. "I had to explain that I didn't want it to happen to me," she says, conscious that other women in her position had been abandoned by their families when they found out. Lisa was deeply moved by her mother's story. Now, she's joined her in the campaign for justice. In 1993, after women in South Korea, the Philippines and other places started speaking out, the Japanese government offered "sincere apologies and remorse to all those, irrespective of place of origin, who suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women". At the time, it helped set up a fund to provide aid and support to victims but didn't offer full state-funded compensation. Japan has subsequently reiterated its sincere remorse and apologies towards the women. But for many of the women these apologies were too vague and the financial offer inadequate.

The pirate queen of County Mayo
20 June 2016
The amazing tale of Grace O'Malley, sailor, captain, plunderer, mercenary, rebel, pirate – as well as wife and mother.. Sitting in a Dublin pub nursing a pint of Guinness, I got talking to a fella, who told me what seemed to be an amazing and improbable story. It was about a woman from County Mayo, who was a pirate and a scourge of Ireland's west coast, in the way, that Black Beard had been the scourge of the Spanish Main. The time was 16th-century Ireland, when education was rare and women spent most of their life rearing children and looking after household affairs. But that was not the life of Grace O'Malley, sailor, captain, plunderer, mercenary, rebel, pirate – as well as wife and mother.
A picture gradually emerged of her charismatic personality, her wild life and disregard for social mores. A little research quickly showed, that this was not just Guinness-fuelled pub ramblings, but a fascinating story, that belies everything we generally take for granted about the Elizabethan era, when women rarely had a life beyond their home. I wanted to see where O'Malley lived, and hear more stories about her exploits. I was soon trundling west from Dublin on a slow train across lush and rich pasture. Ninety minutes into the journey we rattled across the river Shannon at the town of Athlone, Ireland’s geographical heart, into the province of Connaught. The landscape changed from fertile fields to wild and bleak – yet beautiful – peat bogs. Clew Bay is scattered with hundreds of drowned drumlins. Another 90 minutes later, I arrived in the County Mayo town of Westport, staring down at the stunningly beautiful Clew Bay and the Atlantic beyond. The bay is scattered with hundreds of drowned drumlins (small low lying islands that are made of glacial debris left from the last Ice Age). The most famous of the mostly uninhabited islands is Dorninish, bought by John Lennon as a hideaway at the height of Beatlemania. My B&B was a few steps from Matt Molloy’s, the famous pub owned by the world-renowned musician with the Chieftains. In here, all the locals knew stories about Grace O'Malley, or Granuaile (pronounced Gran ya Wale) in Gaelic. The land around Clew Bay was once controlled by the powerful O'Malley family; and although Westport did not exist back then, she was born on Clare Island, a few miles west at the mouth of the bay, and her legend lives on in the area. Grace O'Malley was born in this tower house on Clare Island. The tales came thick and fast. I was told that she was the leader of 200 fighting men on a small fleet of ships and would fight alongside them. Others said she would waylay passing merchant ships and demand a tax for safe passage – if they did not pay she plundered them. I was eager to know more, and someone gave me the number of a sailor named Aaron O'Grady, who was also born on Clare Island and is something of a local expert on O’Malley. “He's your man,” was the general consensus. O'Grady runs fishing and diving charters in Ireland's western waters and was setting off down the coast to Kerry the next morning, calling in at his home on Clare Island on the way. I arranged to meet him at the quay at dawn. It was a blustery, wet morning, but as we set sail, the wind dropped, the rain eased and the sun eventually appeared as we cautiously manoeuvred around the multitude of small islands and sand bars. Aaron O'Grady's 54ft yacht, The Explorer. "It's dangerous sailing for the unwary", O'Grady said, as the 54ft yacht The Explorer yawed 40 degrees. "That's why the bay was a safe haven for Grace; she was born in that tower house we're approaching and grew up on these waters." Pointing north across the bay, he added, "If you weave your way between a dozen drumlins and avoid the sandbars and rip tides, you'll come to Carrickahowley Castle, a grand hideaway, that her enemies found hard to reach. She was an elusive character and had other castle hideaways on Achill Island and Lake Corrib near Galway. The O’Malley family were hereditary lords of the Mayo coast, and more than 500 years on, the tower house where she was born is still the tallest building on Clare Island. The gate to the historic monument was swinging wide open when I arrived, so I strolled in to what seemed a bleak home – but was probably considered luxurious when O'Malley was born in 1530. The upper floors have collapsed, leaving the house a hollow shell. There was a haunting presence in its ancient fabric. A currach in Clew Bay. As a child, O'Malley probably learned to handle a currach (a slim hide-covered rowing boat), which children were still learning to row in Clew Bay. I’d been told, that she was always wayward: as a young girl, having been refused permission to join her father on a sailing expedition, she cut off her hair, dressed as a boy and snuck on board his ship.  O'Malley married local chieftain Donal O'Flaherty at 15 and bore three children. After her husband’s early death, she took many of his followers (he had ships and sailors for trading up and down the west coast) and returned to her ancestral home on Clare Island. Here she began sailing the seas, trading fish, fur and hides, and robbing the English when trade was slow. Nearby Galway was a major trading city and ships from England and Scotland had to pass Clew Bay en route. It was from this that the legend of Granuaile: Pirate Queen of Connacht began. The 12th-century Cistercian Abbey where O’Malley was buried in 1603. I strolled west across the modest 15-sq-mile island made of hills, bogs and patches of woodland, heading for the 12th-century Cistercian Abbey where O’Malley was buried in 1603. The Abbey was much larger in its heyday, but the single remaining building is the size of an ordinary village church. Inside was an elaborate O’Malley crest depicting the family’s hunting, sailing and fighting prowess, but O'Malley’s burial chamber was nowhere to be seen. Legend has it, that she may be buried in a vault behind the large family crest, but no one knows for sure. The building had the ambience of a medieval barn – rough stone, huge beams and gravel floor – but contained some remarkable, although badly damaged, wall and ceiling frescos. The frescos would once have covered the entire ceiling in a kaleidoscope of colourful human and animal figures, including dragons, cockerels, stags, a harper, birds and trees. The faded images seemed distant, like peering through a veil into the past. Back on the mainland, I made my way to Carrickahowley Castle at Rockfleet, an inlet on the north side of Clew Bay, which O’Grady had pointed out to me. After marrying, her second husband, Richard Bourke in 1566, this became O'Malley’s main home, and its big attraction was its inaccessibility and stout defences. Stories say, that after just one year of marriage she evoked an ancient Celtic law by putting her husband’s property outside and greeting him on his return home by shouting from the ramparts, "Richard Bourke I dismiss you!" They later reconciled and remained together until his death 17 years later. A view of Carrickahowley Castle. When Bourke died in 1583, O'Malley’s clashes with the English intensified, and her son Tibbot was captured. That September, she sailed to England, up the River Thames to Greenwich Palace, and met Queen Elizabeth I, where she negotiated Tibbot's release and her own pardon by agreeing to fight the Queen's enemies. In the 1603 battle of Kinsale, Tibbot and other Mayo chiefs fought with the Queen of England's forces, helping to defeat the Spanish and their Irish rebel allies. This was probably one of the reasons O'Malley was disowned by Irish historians; the other was her unladylike behaviour of flouting every conceivable law, tradition and social custom of the times. Since O'Malley was written out of official Irish history, very little written information exists. Irish historians were usually religious monks, and being a woman, she was ignored. But there’s always an alternative history to accepted traditional texts, and stories and legends about her exploits are widespread in Mayo.

Nadia Hussain: Pakistan's first supermodel - video
14 June 2016
Nadia Hussain is one of Pakistan's first supermodels. She is also an actress, a successful businesswoman, a mother to four children and a practising dentist. She says the fashion industry is thriving in the traditionally conservative country as more young women enter the industry every year.

Why one woman carried out her own abortion
12 June 2016
More than 100,000 women in Texas, US, have induced their own abortions, according to a recent study. The US Supreme Court is to hear a case regarding abortion law in Texas. It is to decide on whether a 2013 ruling stating that abortion clinics meet certain requirements is constitutional. Dozens of clinics have closed as a result of the ruling, and researchers say self-induced abortions may increase if clinics continue to close. Women typically use a pill called misoprostol to induce their own abortions. Here, one young woman explains why she crossed the border into Mexico, where the drug is cheaper and easier to obtain without a prescription.

A modern-day slave in Australia's suburbs

9 June 2016
Screen grab shows woman who was held as a slave in Australia. "Susan" says her employers came to control every aspect of her life. The Global Slavery Index says there could be thousands of people in Australia living in conditions amounting to slavery, but that despite a tightening of laws, prosecutions are rare. The BBC's Phil Mercer spoke to one woman about her experiences. Susan's (not her real name) story began when the family who employed her as a housekeeper moved back to Sydney from east Africa. She knew the family well and trusted them. They had always been kind and generous, so it was with great anticipation that the mother-of-three travelled with them. Crucially, there was the promise of wages that would help support her children back home. It was hot and humid when she arrived, and at the end of an exhausting day there was an ominous sign of what lay ahead when she says she was forced to sleep under a dining room table with the family's dogs."For me that was inhuman, because for them to have put me under the table that was the most disrespectful thing they ever done to my life," she says. But in those early days she wasn't fully aware of the grip the family was gradually exerting on all parts of her life.
'Suburban prison'
"At first I didn't realise that I had been trafficked," she told the BBC at the headquarters of the Salvation Army, the charity that has helped her to slowly repair the damage. Susan said she was held captive in an ordinary-looking home. It was her suburban prison. "I wanted to go out and water the plants outside and they were out that day and I tried to open the door. It is locked. The next day the same thing happened," she explained. There was further indignity to come when she pressed her employer for the money she was owed for many long hours of labour. "She starts telling me, 'You are living in our house, you are having shower in our house, you are eating our food, so there is no pay'," Susan said. Her two-month ordeal finally came to an end with a late-night dash to freedom after a confrontation with the family who had allegedly confiscated her passport. Escaping through an unlocked gate, Susan says she ran to a nearby house and pleaded for help.
"Immediately I press the bell for the neighbour. It was midnight. So I pressed the bell quick, quick, because I knew somebody has seen me through the window. Then the neighbour came out and she said, 'What is it? Can I help?' I told her to call the police." When officers arrived, it was the start of another uncertain chapter in a remarkable story. 'Too scared'. She was eventually taken to Australia's first safe house for trafficking victims run by the Salvation Army, which says there are many more people like Susan. "The Global Slavery Index estimates about 3,000 people could be experiencing slavery in Australia," said Laura Vidal, a project manager at the Freedom Partnership To End Modern Slavery run by the Salvation Army. "It degrades every element of being a human being. People are reduced to property. It really is people having their vulnerability exploited." Proving allegations of slavery is hard and many victims are too scared to speak out. There have been only 17 successful prosecutions for slavery and related offences in Australia since 2004, and most involved women exploited in the sex industry. New laws covering forced labour and forced marriage were brought in three years ago to help victims in various sectors, including hospitality, agriculture, construction and domestic work. Jennifer Burn, the director of Anti-Slavery Australia, says slavery occurs in other industries besides the sex trade. "The longer that I have worked in the area, the more I appreciate that the effects of these kinds of human rights abuses are long-term and devastating," said Jennifer Burn, the director of Anti-Slavery Australia and professor of law at the University of Technology Sydney.
"The pattern of slavery and forced labour is clearly changing, and if we look at the statistics provided by the federal police we'll see that there is a shift over the last couple of years and now there are more cases of forced labour outside the sex industry that are being investigated." Australia set up an anti-human-trafficking strategy in 2003. Specialist federal police teams investigate slavery-related cases and there are support programmes and resettlement visas for victims. Officials say Australia has been a destination for people trafficked from Asia, most notably from South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia. Following her ordeal, Susan was granted refugee status and now lives in Sydney, although it took several years to be reunited with her children. "It was like a resurrected kind of life to have…my kids back again," she said. "I remember my son shed tears in the airport and that one broke my heart because I left him when he was little and now he's grown. And my daughter, I left her when she was young and now she's (a) teenager." Her alleged abusers were never charged. Very few are. Australian authorities say slavery is a complex crime and a major violation of human rights. Campaigners believe that forced labour legislation introduced in 2013, which broadened the scope for investigations into slavery-type offences, should result in more criminal convictions.

Domestic abuse: Violence amid a life of luxury

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9 June 2016
Domestic violence survivor and corporate consultant is a survivor of domestic violence. A new shelter aims to provide a safe haven for women who are targets of domestic abuse in some of Sydney's most affluent areas, writes Ashley Donnelly. When Lisa McAdams began her decade-long relationship with the man who abused her, she had a successful career and enough savings for a home deposit. She walked away a single parent, carrying debts that took a decade to reconcile.
"I was lucky he hit me", Ms McAdams confesses bluntly. There's a bitter irony behind this statement. The physical assaults provided clear evidence of the abuse she was suffering. The mental and economic attacks were savage, but covert and subtle. "The poverty pushes you into leaving, and then it is singularly the hardest bit to climb out of," she says. Surviving on welfare was a far cry from the seemingly charmed life she had led, waving to celebrity neighbours as she spun the wheel of a luxury car through the gates of a lavish compound. But amid the trappings of security, she was anything but safe. It was not until a close friend, who also suffered spousal abuse, died of cancer that she knew life was too short to stay ensnared by violence. Property on Sydney Harbour. Some women in Sydney's exclusive waterfront suburbs find they are unable to escape their violent partners. With two small children in tow and less than A$40 (£21; $30) in her bank account, Ms McAdams wound up at the Delvena shelter in Lane Cove, which currently services the North Sydney area. With a lock on the door, it was the safest she had felt in years. In February, a contact connected Ms McAdams to Mary's House in North Sydney and she soon became their spokesperson. Now she is speaking about her painful past to raise awareness of the refuge, which will open in September. The property was being used as a storage space by the Jesuits before it was donated to the Catholic Church and converted into the 19-bed non-denominational shelter. It's being praised as a lifesaving local solution to a national problem. Experts say abuse in prosperous communities is underreported due to the potent mix of money, power, and social stigma. Photograph of the Sydney Opera House taken under the Harbour Bridge. Under the bridge: Views from North Sydney take in the world famous Opera House and Harbour Bridge. It's this secret side of abuse, referred to as "golden handcuffs", that Lisa McAdams knows too well. When her partner surprised her with an extravagant holiday to Paris she was the envy of friends. Omitted from the pair's splendid postcards was the beating he gave her with a heavy object, first extended as a gift. When Lisa was asked about her trip to "the city of love" she responded begrudgingly. Her partner's overt largesse masked the menace he showed behind closed doors. It contradicted possible whispers among their social circle that he could ever be unkind.
"This evidence [perpetrators] are giving everyone you know is that you are ungrateful," she says. "Who could complain about an all-expenses-paid trip to Paris?"
Despite her prowess in the corporate finance world - where she earned a similar income to her ex-partner before giving birth - Lisa was powerless over the family budget.
At the office she would sign off on million-dollar accounts but at home she'd tremble at the sight of a standard electricity bill. "I would make suggestions like 'maybe we should pay off our debts' instead of making a big purchase," adding that he would hit her if she got too "gobby. There was also this perception that I was so lucky because he did the food shopping, but in actual fact it was another way in which he could control the money," she says. Deputy CEO of support service Wire, Julie Kun, says financial abuse is always about power and control. Australian businesses are beginning to count the cost of domestic violence. A common story she hears is of partners who cannot drive carrying car loans when their abuser is the sole user of the vehicle. "[It's] using money to control the behaviour of a person and making them do something that they don't want to do," Ms Kun said.
"They leave with less money than they started with, and often nothing at all." Australia's Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, tells the BBC that workplaces have been unaware of the pervasiveness of family violence until just recently. But with more women filling senior positions, businesses are beginning to count the cost of violence at home.
When their team leaders are forced to take time off to rearrange their lives and productivity slips, it impacts the bottom line. Lisa McAdams's latest company gives advice to large corporations - including one of the world's biggest audit firms, Ernst & Young (EY) - on how to best manage staff who are dealing with the debilitating side-effects of domestic violence. "Women are no longer just the typing pool, they are becoming more valuable in the workplace and harder to replace," she says.

Burned to death 'for refusing marriage' - video
1 June 2016
Police in Pakistan are investigating the death of a young woman whose family say she was murdered after rejecting a marriage proposal.

'Mass rape' video on social media shocks Brazil

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27 May 2016
One of Rio's favelas. The attack happened in a poor community in Rio de Janeiro. Brazilian police are hunting more than 30 men suspected of raping a teenage girl in Rio de Janeiro, and of putting video of the attack on social media. The girl, 16, believes she was doped after going to her boyfriend's house on Saturday and says she woke up in a different house, surrounded by the men. Arrest warrants have been issued, including one for the boyfriend. The assault has provoked an online campaign against what campaigners call a culture of rape in Brazil. Conflicting versions of the story are still coming in, but the rape is said to have taken place in a poor community in western Rio over the weekend. According to a statement she is reported to have given to police, she woke up on Sunday, naked and wounded, and made her way home. Only days later did she find out that some of the alleged rapists had put images of the attack on Twitter.  A 40-second-video was widely shared and followed by a wave of misogynistic comments, before the users' accounts were suspended. In a message posted on Facebook, the victim said she was thankful for the support and added: "I really thought I was going to be badly judged." She later said: "All of us can go through this one day. It does not hurt the uterus but the soul because there are cruel people not being punished!! Thanks for the support."
'We all cried'
The girl's grandmother told Brazilian media the family watched the video and cried. "I regretted watching it. When we heard the story we didn't believe what was happening. It's a great affliction. It's a depressing situation," she told Folha de S.Paulo newspaper. Activists and supporters chant during a march for women's rights on International Women's Day on 8 March 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, BrazilImage copyright Getty Images Image caption Protesters in Rio, demanding reforms including better protection from male violence on International Women's Day in March. "She is not well. She is very confused. This was very serious." The attack has shocked Brazil, says the BBC's Julia Carneiro, and campaign groups have been already been calling for protests over the coming days. There has also been an outpouring of anger on social media, under the hashtag #EstuproNuncaMais (Rape never again). This tweet reads: "I don't want to live scared of being the next victim anymore, I don't want it" A collective of journalists posted a satirical image of citizens donning devil's horns, condemning a rape victim for having provoked the attack. The inscription reads "No to sexism", and the images, clockwise from top right: "But look at her clothes…", "She deserved it!", "16 years old and already has a son…", "Apparently she was on drugs". Tweet saying “No to sexism” – clockwise: “But look at her clothes…”, “She deserved it!”, “16 y/o and already has a son…”, “Apparently she was on drugs”. The United Nations group UN Women issued a statement calling for authorities to investigate the case, but to respect the victim and not victimise her once more by invading her privacy. Experts say many cases of rape in Brazil go unreported as victims fear retaliation, shame, and blame for the violence they have suffered.
Rape in Brazil
47,636 rapes were reported to the police in 2014
It is estimated only 35% of rape cases are reported
Rape of an adult is punishable by a prison sentence of between 6-10 years
Sentence for rape of a minor is 8-12 years in prison
Source: Brazilian Forum for Public Security
Brazilian media has come under sharp criticism for their slow reaction to the incident, which was picked up only after news of the video had circulated on social networks.
Beyond that, the shocking incident has sparked an online debate on the "normalisation" of rape in Brazil, and a tendency to blame victims for their suffering, with the hashtag #EstuproNaoECulpaDaVitima (Rape is Not the Victim's Fault) trending prominently. The debate largely stems from initial comments on the video, which included "she was drunk" and "she was wearing a short skirt". The media have also been accused of victim-blaming. One of the first articles on the story by media giant O Globo gave prominence to the girl's background and the fact that she was known to be a drug-user. Brazilian-Mexican actress Giselle Itie was one of thousands to speak out about victim-blaming: "The blame is on the media, who sexualize women in all their products," she said. "The blame is on the newspaper that makes light of the many rapes that happen…Drunk, drugged, wearing a short skirt, naked, it doesn't matter. It is never the victim's fault."

Taiwan, the place to be a woman in politics

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19 May 2016
Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party chair Tsai Ing-wen will become the island's first female leader. Tsai Ing-wen will on Friday become Taiwan's first female president. It has never been a burning ambition of the cat-loving former law professor to be president, and she is virtually unique among East Asia's female leaders. Unlike South Korea's President Park Geun-hye and the Philippines' former President Corazon Aquino, Thailand's former PM Yingluck Shinawatra, she does not follow a father, brother or husband who was in a position of power. That is not unusual in Taiwan. DPP chair Tsai-Ing wen says in a post that she is "happiest" when she has time to play with her cats, Cookie and A-Tsai. Many of Taiwan's female politicians, including former Vice President Annette Lu, Kaohsiung City Mayor Chen Chu, and chair of the Kuomintang party Hung Hsiu-chu, rose to powerful positions without having come from a political family. They have largely made it on their own. Women also shine in Taiwan's parliament. The island's women legislators are even seen leading the charge in Taiwan's infamous parliament scuffles. Following January elections, it now has a record percentage of women legislators at 38%, putting Taiwan far ahead of Asian countries, the international average of 22%, and most nations, including the UK, Germany, and the US. So why are only four of Ms Tsai's 40 Cabinet members women?
The Cabinet spokesman blamed it on a dearth of experienced women in her party because it has been out of power for so many years and on the fact that women were elected to other posts. But he did admit that some women had turned down the offer of a job at the top table. Chair of the Kuomintang party Hung Hsiu-chu.Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Former presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu rose to the position of Kuomintang party chairman without having come from a political family. One of them, 65-year-old Ho Mei-yueh, a former economics minister, told me she had devoted 33 years of her life to government, putting her own needs second while also raising a family. She just wants some time to herself now. It's the perennial question of a work-life balance for many women. "I had to work and look after the kids. The only person I could neglect was myself," said Ms. Ho. "Would a man my age turn down the offer? Men, when they are young, they don't have to give so much of themselves, because the burden of taking care of the children does not fall on them. To many men, their job is their life." Still, it is so natural in Taiwan to see women in politics that little fuss has been made about Ms Tsai's gender. A scuffle breaks out between legislators in Taiwan's parliament in 2013.Image copyright Getty Images Image caption A scuffle breaks out between legislators in Taiwan's parliament in 2013. But take a closer look and it's clear that quotas are behind the relatively high percentages of Taiwanese women in politics. They stipulate that women must get half the "at-large" seats in the legislature and one out of every four seats in electoral districts in local council elections. "It's in the Constitution that there should be special positions for women. Only Scandinavian countries have adopted similar policies. It's certainly unique in Asia and other parts of the world," said Joyce Gelb, a New York-based professor, who has studied Taiwanese women's participation in politics. Cabinet members at a press conference in Taipei in 2013.  Cabinet members attend a press conference in Taipei in 2013.What has also helped was a commitment to women's representation even in the early decades of the Republic of China's existence, a history of women's activism, as well as a society with many highly educated and professional women able to take up positions of leadership, scholars say. Over the years, the number of women legislators has far exceeded the quota, leading some to argue it's no longer needed. Chen Ting-fei is a lawmaker from the Democratic Progressive Party. But Ms Tsai's inability to put more women in her cabinet shows quotas are still useful to balance the scale. In elections without quotas such as for city mayors or county magistrates the percentage of women elected is only around 15%. Far fewer women run in elections compared to men. "When it's a one-to-one race, men still tend to fare better because of their prior experience and personal connections..We still do not sufficiently nurture women to go into politics and government," said Chen Man-li, the director of an alliance of women's groups and newly-elected lawmaker. Tsai Ing-wen with party members during a press conference in Taipei.Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Only four of Tsai Ing-wen's 40 Cabinet members are women. Photo of former Taiwanese Economy Minister Ho Mei-yuehImage copyright Getty Images Image caption Former Economy Minister Ho Mei-yueh says she had put aside her own needs while raising her family in her 33 years working in government. Women's groups say there is no doubt having women politicians makes a difference; it's easier to pass laws favourable to women, including on maternity leave and childcare. Nathan Batto, a Taipei-based Academia Sinica scholar who has studied women's participation in politics, says that with quotas political parties pay more attention to grooming female politicians. But still the greater challenge is changing society's views to make it easier for women to enter and crucially to stay in politics and that goes back to work-life balance. A boy and his mother read a book in the Taipei public library in Taipei on November 18, 2012. Women have to have the support of their spouse and family before entering a career in politics, according to a Taipei scholar.
"Women have a lot of obstacles in their way that men don't in developing their political careers," said Mr. Batto. "They have to have their family and spouse's support. The approval of your spouse is usually more automatic for men than women." Taiwan is leagues ahead of other places, but it's worth noting that none of the top four female political figures in Taiwan are married or have children.

Searching for the next ballet star in Soweto , South Africa

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25 May 2016
The BBC's Nomsa Maseko has been filming a report on ballet classes being given to young children in the Soweto suburb of South Africa's main city, Johannesburg. It's part of a wider attempt to boost the number of black dancers on the global ballet scene by training teachers. The children are being taught in the Cuban style of ballet.

Video - South African ballerina Kitty Phetla describes how her mum reacts when she watches her perform with the Joburg Ballet. This is classical ballet you can't just ululate!
11 June 2015

South Africa: government 11 luxury cars purchased 'to protect president Zuma's wives'

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25 May 2016
South Africa's government has spent more than $500,000 over the last three years on supplying vehicles to protect the four wives of President Jacob Zuma, it says. In a written response to a parliamentary question from an opposition MP,  Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko listed the 11 cars that were bought since 2013. They include four Range Rovers and two Land Rovers. Party leader Julius Malema and members of his Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) clashed with parliamentary security as they were evicted from the chamber in Cape Town, South Africa, after they had refused to let President Zuma speak and shouted down the Speaker, Baleka Mbete. 

African tribes cultures, rituals and ceremonies -  May 11, 2016

В Индии женщина-депутат провалилась под землю во время интервью

video - BJP MP Poonam Madam Falls Into Open Drain, Now In Hospital -

May 16, 2016. Jamnagar's BJP MP Poonam Madam fell into a 10 feet deep drain today as she went to listen to the grievances of the people and to supervise a demolition drive.
В индийском городе Джамнагар депутат регионального парламента провалилась в канализацию прямо во время уличного интервью. Под ногами у народной избранницы обрушились бетонные плиты. Депутат Пунамбен Маадам (Poonamben Maadam) провалилась в яму глубиной около трех метров, а сверху на нее приземлились куски бетона. Женщине потребовалась госпитализация: ее отвезли в ближайшую больницу, а затем переправили в Мумбаи. К счастью, жизнь парламентария уже вне опасности. По данным местных СМИ, Пунамбен Маадам повредила ногу. Сообщается также, что в результате провала грунта пострадали еще две женщины. Они также находятся в больнице.

The Irish women who fought to legalise contraception.
11 May 2016
In May 1971, a group of Irish women challenged the ban on contraception in Ireland.

Gogi, the heroine created by Pakistan's first female cartoonist - fpNazarCaricaturePakistan.jpg
26 April 2016
 Comic strip showing Gogi speaking with an immigration officer. He asks her: "Where are you from?" She replies "Pakistan". He asks: "Which part?" and she replies: "All of me". Gogi, with her signature polka dot outfits, is beloved by many in Pakistan. Pakistan's first female professional cartoonist, Nigar Nazar, nearly ended up becoming a doctor. "In college I was studying to become a doctor, but I was constantly doodling in the margins of my medical books," she says. "Shortly afterwards I decided to take a U-turn and managed to persuade my parents to let me take fine arts." The decision paid off. The star of Nazar's comics, Gogi, is a progressive, educated Pakistani woman who wears polka-dotted dresses - and is loved by thousands around the world. One of her favourite cartoons explores how many in Pakistan prefer having sons to daughters. Comic showing Gogi chatting with a Pakistani woman, Nadia, in the street. Nadia says:
"In our country a girl's birth isn't celebrated very much and I really hate that," Nazar says. She focuses on social issues and contradictions in society, saying: "I get inspiration from things that happen around me." Comic showing Gogi on a motorcycle, speaking to a woman driving a van beside her which is emitting lots of fumes. The Gogi comics have messages about women's education and the environment - but also depict the humorous side of everyday life in Pakistan.

Самые знаменитые пьесы Шекспира написала женщина?
Уильям Шекспир умер 400 лет назад, но слухи о его жизни и творчестве не утихают до сих пор. Так, один из ведущих специалистов по творчеству английского драматурга Джон Хадсон заявил, что самые знаменитые пьесы Шекспира написала женщина. Более того, в новой книге Хадсона "Темная леди Шекспира" (Shakespeare's Dark Lady) говорится, что за именем Уильяма Шекспира скрывалась "черноволосая иудейка Амелия Бассано". По информации исследователя, Бассано родилась в 1569 году в семье венецианских евреев, которые перебрались в Лондон и стали музыкантами при дворе королевы Елизаветы I, пишет Daily Mail. В юности Амелия была любовницей лорда Генри Кэри, первого барона Хансдона, который занимался театром. Также, по данным Хадсона, у Амелии был роман с поэтом и драматургом Кристофером Марло, от которого она забеременела. Впрочем, как выяснил эксперт, отношения с известными людьми пользы "темной леди" не принесли: она умерла в бедности в 1645 году. Почему же Хадсон полагает, что именно эта женщина написала пьесы, автором которых признан Шекспир? Об известном английском драматурге известно, что он родился и всю жизнь жил в Лондоне, тогда как многие сюжеты его произведений разворачиваются за границей, в частности, в Италии. И автор, кем бы он ни был, демонстрирует хорошие знания о тогдашней жизни в этой стране. Также ученый считает неслучайным тот факт, что в пьесе "Отелло" появляется героиня по имени Эмилия (Амелия?), а в "Венецианском купце" главный герой носит фамилию Бассанио (Бассано). Впрочем, в научных кругах к теории Хадсона относятся скептически.

Амазонки Севера
Предания об амазонках распространены по всему миру. Естественно, в разных странах они именуются по-разному. Но дошедшие до нас и, к счастью, записанные сказания - несомненный отголосок древнейшей эпохи, когда миром правили женщины.
В 1741 году аббат Гюйон выпустил в свет в Брюсселе "Историю древних и современных амазонок", полную весьма любопытных сведений. Но тем, кто интересуется вопросом об амазонках, следует прежде всего обратиться к легендам об амазонках, представленных в греческой мифологии.
Многие из нас, даже из курса истории средней школы, знают, что убеждение в существовании амазонок было распространено в Греции в самой отдаленной древности. Непобедимый Одиссей "встречался" с ними в одноименном произведении Гомера; отзвуки его можно найти в "Иллиаде" - в эпизоде, рассказывающем о любви между Ахиллом и царицей амазонок.
Собственно, для многих из нас знакомство с амазонками на этом и заканчивается. Однак, все оказывается гораздо более интересным. Все древнегреческие легенды упоминают о воинственном народе женщин - "мужененавистниц" (другое толкование слова амазонки - "равные мужчинам").
Древнейший в греческой литературе рассказ об амазонках принадлежит историку Геродоту (5 век до н.э.). Он упоминает, в частности, что "относительно браков соблюдается у амазонок следующее правило: ни одна девушка не выходит замуж прежде чем не убьет хотя бы одного врага; некоторые доживают до старости девушками, потому что не могли выполнить это требование".
В свою очередь, знаменитый древнегреческий медик Гиппократ (V век до н.э.) рассказывает об амазонках еще более удивительные истории: "Правой груди они не имеют, так как еще в младенчестве матери накладывают на эту грудь специально для этого сделанный медный инструмент в накаленном состоянии и прижигают, чтобы прекратить рост груди и чтобы вся сила перешла к правому плечу и правой руке".
Можно не доверять тому, что сообщают древний историки. Но современные археологи во время раскопок в местах, где, по данным Геродота, обитали савроматы, находят женские погребения, в которых, как и в мужских, находится оружие.
В главе 53-й своей "Исторической библиотеки" великий историк античности Диодор Сицилийский (I век до н.э.) рассказывает нам даже о том, как царица амазонок Мирина, собрав из женщин-воительниц сильную армию, смогла с ее помощью завоевать легендарную Атлантиду!
Как это ни парадоксально, стойкое убеждение в существовании народа женщин постоянно имело место в стародавние времена, охватывая все древние культуры. Чем глубже проникаем мы в события той отдаленной эпохи, тем к более удивительным выводам мы приходим: амазонки существовали не только в Греции, но и в Европе и даже на Русском Севере! Более того, во множестве европейских стран не найти фольклора, в котором не упоминалось бы о далеких временах, когда женщины играли доминирующую роль в магии и в религии.
Считалось, что они владели искусством иллюзии, умели вызывать бури, покрывать землю туманом, чтобы внести замешательство в ряды войск противника или укрыть себя от глаз неприятеля.
Они владели искусством преобразования тела. Они умели видеть на большом расстоянии. Они умели пророчествовать. Нет ничего необычного в том, что эту роль могла исполнять женщина. Ведь женщина превосходит мужчину во многих областях: она дольше сопротивляется усталости, физическим страданиям, болезням, старению, не говоря уже о том, что благодаря своей психической конституции она более искушена в вопросах магии.
Первое в европейской литературе упоминание об амазонках Европы принадлежит историку короля Карла Великого Павлу Диякону (ок. 720 - ок. 799). Рассказывая о Германии, он сообщает, что "и по сегодняшний день в глубинах Германии еще существует народ этих женщин". Если учесть, что эти строки были написаны в конце VIII века н.э., то приходится признать, что эти удивительные создания жили и в христианскую эпоху.
Другой областью местопребывания амазонок в Европе оказывается древняя Чехия, о чем повествует в начале ХII столетия старейший чешский историк Козьма Пражский: "В ту пору, - рассказывает Козьма, - чешские девушки росли на свободе, владели оружием и выбирали своих предводительниц. Не их мужчины, а сами они когда и кого хотели брали себе в мужья.
Смелость женщин дошла до того, что они соорудили недалеко от города Праги на скале неприступную крепость, которую назвали Девин". Другой историк добавляет даже, что "амазонки древней Чехии, чтобы обезопасить себя от захвата власти со стороны мужчин, выжигали мальчикам правый глаз и отрезали им большой палец на правой руке".
Дальше еще интереснее. По широко распространенному представлению, местопребывание европейских амазонок обозначается на севере Европы, в частности, в районе Балтийского моря. Первым автором, сообщившим об этих северных, или балтийских, амазонках был арабский путешественник и автор путевых заметок еврейского происхождения Ибрахим ибн Якуб.
Его путевые заметки о славянских странах, датируемые 965 годом, указывает, что "в соседстве с руссами находится город женщин. Они владеют землями и рабами. Они беременеют от своих рабов и когда кто-либо из них родит сына, то убивает его. Они ездят верхом и сами ходят на войну, отличаясь смелостью и храбростью".
Знаменитый арабский географ и путешественник первой половины ХII столетия Аль- Идриси рассказывает, что в Северном океане существуют два острова, называемых "островами амазонок", а северогерманский хронист, историк и географ Адам Бременский ( после 1081), описывая европейский север, указывает: "Около восточного берега Балтийского моря обитают амазонки, почему и земли эти называют "землей женщин". Они избегают общения с мужчинами; если те являются, то они храбро их прогоняют".
Старинная хроника Норвегии также повествует о диких, туманных берегах Белого моря, где находилась "земля девушек". Ей вторит и одна из старинных русских книг, так называемый Азбуквин. В частности, так можно прочитать следующее: "Амазонки есть в Мурских странах". Исследователи данного текста предполагают, что "мурские страны" здесь означает "мурманские страны", то есть земли, и речь идет о Кольском полуострове.
Приведенные выше сообщения о северных амазонках не остались незамеченными историками и неоднократно комментировались в исторической литературе. При этом часто повторялась высказанная догадка, что все эти известия имеют своим источником старинные представления народов страны квенов - древнейшего населения нынешней Финляндии и сопредельных районов, в том числе и части территории современной Карелии.
Также историки ссылаются на "Историю Норвегии" - латиноязычную хронику, охватывающую историю норвежских конунгов (правителей) с древнейших времен до 1115 года. Автор хроники, к сожалению, неизвестен. Хроника сохранилась в единственной рукописи середины ХV столетия и стала доступна современному читателю, в том числе, благодаря изданной в Петрозаводске в 1990 году книге "Письменные известия о карелах", авторским коллективом которой являлись С. Кочкуркина, А. Спиридонов и Т. Джаксон.
Кроме "Истории Норвегии", в данном издании впервые приводится свод древнескандинавских письменных источников по истории Карелии. Особая ценность этих источников определяется тем, что в них имеется информация по истории карельского края до ХII столетия - времени, практически совершенно не освещенному в русских письменных памятниках.
"На северо-восток, - указывается в "Истории Норвегии", - простираются за Норвегию многочисленные племена, преданные язычеству, кирьялы (древние карелы) и квены, рогатые финны (в данном случае автор "Истории" подразумевал саамов) и те и другие бьярмоны (жители легендарной Бьармии). Но мы не знаем точно, какие племена обитают за этими.
Однако когда некие моряки стремились проплыть от Ледяного острова (современная Исландия) к Норвегии и встречными бурями были отброшены в зимнюю область, где приблизились между вириденами (гренландцами) и бьярмонами, где, как свидетельствуют, обретались люди удивительной величины и была "страна дев", поскольку Квенланд (племя квенов) переводится как "Страна дев".
Данные сведения перекликаются с рассказами норвежца Оттара, изложенными в "Орозии короля Альфреда" конца IХ столетия, - этот на триста лет более ранний источник также упоминает квенов, финнов (терфиннов) и бьярмов. Однако присутствие древних карелов в этом регионе впервые фиксируется именно "Историей Норвегией". Согласно контексту, кирьялов уже до 1170 года встречали где-то вблизи областей расселения квенов и финнов.
У соседствующих с карелами славян тоже есть свои народные сказания и былины об "амазонках", женщинах-воинах - поляницах. В былинах поляницы по своей удали и умению владеть оружием мало в чем уступают богатырям-мужчинам. А порой и превосходят их.
С такой воинственной дамой остерегались связываться и Алеша Попович, и Добрыня Никитич. Последний, правда, сумел жениться на одной из поляниц. Это была Настасья Микулишна - дочь богатыря-пахаря Микулы Селяниновича.
Русские летописи также сообщают о женщинах-воительницах, которые принимали участие в обороне осажденных татаро-монголами, крестоносцами, литовцами и поляками городов.
Причем участие их заключалось не только в том, что они лишь подносили стрелы или поливали врагов со стен кипятком и смолой, но и в конкретных сражениях - с оружием в руках.
Известно, что в 1641 году, во время известного "Азовского сидения", в сражениях с турками помимо воинов-мужчин участвовали и казачки-наездницы. Они прекрасно стреляли из лука и наносили туркам значительный урон. Впрочем, казачкам всерьез воевать было не привыкать...
Казалось бы, что удивительного в легендах об амазонках? А удивительно здесь то, что мужские поступки совершает женщина. Но, что еще более удивительно, - ее современникам эти поступки не казались чем-то из ряда вон выходящими. Дело в том, что мужественность была чертой, общей для людей того времени - и мужчин, и женщин. Это были века силы, отваги и славных дел.
Между прочим, о мужестве славянских женщин в языческую эпоху можно прочесть еще в византийских рукописях. Летописцы рассказывают, что во времена войны Святослава с греками, после одной жестокой битвы, когда греки стали раздевать убитых "скифов", то нашли немало женских трупов. Оказывается, эти женщины на равных сражались среди мужчин.
"Мужество и мудрость в том далеком от нас времени являлись не только положительными свойствами характера и ума, но и вещею силою, приближавшею человека к богам, - читаем в книге русского историка Ивана Забелина "Домашний быт русских цариц". - Вообще, языческий идеал присваивает женской личности существо мифическое. Она обладает даром гаданий, чарований, пророчества; она знает тайны естества и потому в ее руках хранится врачевание, колдовство, заговоры, заклинания. Она в близких связях с мифическими силами, в ее руках и добро, и зло этих сил".
С течением времени, исторические заметки о загадочных амазонках все более привлекают внимание специалистов. Возможно, изучение данного направления еще более обогатит наши представления о предыстории народов, населявших северные территории Европы, в том числе и народов, проживавших на территории современной Карелии.

Amazon of Dahomey - Амазонки из Дагомея

African Amazones of Ancient Dahomey
Из дочерей – в солдаты, от домашних хлопот – к оружию. Единственное задокументированное женское воинское подразделение в современной военной истории. Обитали эти женщины к югу от Сахары. Они сумели заставить своих колонизаторов дрожать от страха. Люди окрестили их дагомейскими амазонками, сами же они называли себя «N’Nonmiton», что буквально означает «наши матери». Они защищали своего короля в самых кровавых сражениях и считались элитным подразделением Королевства Дагомея, сегодня эти территории принадлежат Республике Бенин. Амазонки принимали присягу девственницами и считались неприкасаемыми. Их визитной карточкой было обезглавливание с быстротою молнии.
Эти воины отнюдь не мифические персонажи. Последняя дагомейская амазонка ушла из жизни в возрасте ста лет в 1979 году, эта женщина по имени Нави коротала свой век в далёкой деревушке. В лучшие времена амазонки составляли почти треть дагомейской армии, по европейским меркам в храбрости и эффективности в бою они превосходили мужчин.

История амазонок уходит своими корнями в XVII столетие. Есть предположения, что изначально амазонки были охотницами на слонов и очень впечатлили короля своей ловкостью в этом деле, пока их мужья сражались с вражескими племенами. Другая теория гласит, что женщины были единственными, кто допускался в королевский дворец после наступления темноты. Таким образом, совершенно естественно, что именно они стали телохранителями короля. Как бы то ни было, только самые сильные, здоровые и смелые женщины избирались для тщательной подготовки, которая превращала их в машины для убийства, наводящие ужас на всю Африку на протяжении более двух столетий. Их вооружали голландскими мушкетами и мачете и к началу XIX   века амазонки становятся всё более воинствующими и яростно преданными королю. Девочек, начиная с 8 лет, набирали в группы и выдавали им оружие. Некоторые женщины приходили в подразделение добровольно, других же отправляли туда мужья, жалуясь на их неуправляемость. Прежде всего их учили быть сильными, быстрыми, безжалостными и способными выдерживать нестерпимую боль. Упражнения, чем-то напоминавшие гимнастику, включали в себя прыжки через стены, увитые колючими побегами акации. Также женщин отправляли на так называемые «Голодные игры», они проводили по 10 дней в джунглях, имея при себе только мачете. После таких тренировок они становились фанатичными бойцами. Чтобы доказать, чего стоят, они должны были стать в два раза выносливее мужчин. Дагомейские амазонки стояли в бою до последнего, если от короля не поступал приказ отступать, и дрались не на жизнь, а на смерть, они никогда не сдавались. Этим женщинам было запрещено выходить замуж или иметь детей, пока они служили. Считалось, что они замужем за королём. Но при этом все они хранили обет целомудрия, приобретая практически полу  священный статус, как элитные воины. Даже король не решался нарушить их обет целомудрия, а если ты не король, то прикосновение к амазонке каралось смертью. Весной 1863 года в Дагомею прибыл британский исследователь Ричард Бартон с миссией Британского Правительства установить мир с народом Дагомеи. Дагомейцы были воинствующей нацией и принимали активное участие в работорговле, это играло им на руку, позволяя захватывать и продавать своих врагов. Дагомейские амазонки просто поразили Бартона. По его словам, их мускулатура  была так разработана, что узнать в них женщин можно было только по груди. Женщины-солдаты состояли в элитном крыле армии, как телохранители короля. Некоторые даже считают, что каждый мужчина в дагомейской армии имел своего женского «двойника». Бартон прозвал эту армию «Чёрная Спарта». Женщин учили навыкам выживания, дисциплины и беспощадности. Тренировки жестокости были ключевыми для попадания в солдаты короля. Церемония набора солдат включала в себя проверку, достаточно ли безжалостны потенциальные воины, чтобы сбросить пленного со смертельной высоты. Французская делегация, посещавшая Дагомею в 1880 году, наблюдала амазонку шестнадцати лет во время тренировки. В их записях говорится, что она трижды выбрасывала мачете, прежде, чем голова пленника была отрублена. Она отёрла кровь со своего оружия и проглотила её под одобрительные возгласы наблюдавших за ней амазонок. Для них было традицией приносить домой голову и гениталии врага. Несмотря на жестокие тренировки, женщины терпели. Для многих это было шансом избежать тяжёлого домашнего труда. Служение амазонками позволяло женщинам подниматься до уровня командиров, иметь власть и играть не последние роли в Большом Собрании, обсуждавшем политику королевства. Они даже могли разбогатеть и оставаться одинокими и независимыми. Жили они, конечно, при короле, но имели всё, что ни пожелают, даже табак и алкоголь. У них были слуги. Стэнли Альперн, автор единственного полного исследования жизни амазонок на английском языке, писал:
«Когда амазонки выходили из дворца, об этом оповещала рабыня с колокольчиком. Звон колокольчика давал понять мужчинам, что нужно уйти с дороги, отойти на некоторое расстояние и смотреть в другую сторону».
Даже после усиления колониальной экспансии Франции в Африке в 1890-ых,  дагомейские амазонки продолжали внушать страх. Солдат французской армии, затащивших кого-нибудь из амазонок в постель, часто находили по утрам с перерезанными глотками. Во времена франко-дагомейских войн многие французские солдаты колебались прежде, чем убить женщину. Такая недооценка врага приводила к множественным потерям во французской армии, подразделения амазонок целенаправленно атаковали французских офицеров. К концу второй франко-дагомейской войны французы всё-таки взяли верх, но только после прихода Иностранного Легиона, вооружённого автоматами. Последние силы короля были вынуждены капитулировать, почти все амазонки погибли в жестоких битвах этой войны.  Позже легионеры писали о невероятной храбрости и дерзости амазонок.
Поскольку амазонки считались самыми грозными женщинами на земле, они оказали огромное влияние на отношение к женщине в Африканских странах и за их пределами."

Огненный полтергейст (a woman, LM)
Серия загадочных пожаров в Англии с 1971 по 1975 годы связана с именем некой Барбары Були. Каждый из них вспыхивал каждый раз, когда женщину, известную тяжелым характером, увольняли с работы. В британской прессе пожары получили название «мстительный огонь». В августе 1971 года Барбару рассчитали в отеле «Беркли Вейл» в Стоуне (графство Глостершир). Миссис Були лишилась места поварихи, а гостиница... части имущества, сгоревшего в огне. Осенью того же года конфликтная Барбара повздорила с администрацией школы-интерната в Бриджуотере (графство Сомерсет). Вскоре в интернате вспыхнула спальня. Еще через два года полиция проявила интерес к миссис Були уже по поводу пожара в женской школе города Бата. Прошло четыре месяца, и три пожара, один за другим, «наведались» в гостиницу «Лебедь» в Тыосбери. Естественно, по времени они совпали с очередным конфликтом, разгоревшимся между Були и администрацией отеля. Причем в третий раз пожарные спасали «Лебедя» уже после отъезда Були. В начале 1975 года последнее ЧП, связанное со скандальной женщиной, произошло в гостинице «Тюрбей» графства Девоншир. Миссис Були известили об увольнении, а на следующий день загорелись постельные принадлежности в комнате обслуживающего персонала.
В полиции Барбара, признавая, что пожары всякий раз следовали за очередным скандалом, категорически отрицала поджог. Дело о «мстительном огне» так и не дошло до суда — за недостаточностью улик. С этого же времени прекратились всякие упоминания и о Барбаре Були. По мнению специалистов, регистрирующих случаи с подобными людьми, чаще всего ими становятся подростки.
В 1982 году необычная история приключилась с девятилетним Бенедетто Зупино (Benedetto Supino). Сын плотника из итальянского города Фарма, дожидаясь очереди к стоматологу, внезапно загорелся. Ребенку повезло: он не получил серьезных ожогов. Но через несколько дней необычное явление повторилось. Утром мальчик проснулся от жуткой боли: белье на нем тлело. Затем странные способности Бенедетто стали распространяться на окружающие предметы. От взгляда Зупини вспыхивали пластмасса, мебель, осветительные приборы. Феноменом заинтересовались ученые-медики. Однако разгадать явление они так и не смогли. Через четыре года «задачку» с похожими условиями, но уже специалистам Украины задал некий Саша К., 13-летний подросток из Енакиева. Осенью 1986 года в квартире его родителей оказалось пробитым оконное стекло. Входное отверстие первого стекла походило на обычную пробоину камня из рогатки; выходное было ровным, без трещин, с оплавленными краями. Затем странности начали демонстрировать электроприборы: то включались, то выключались лампы, телевизор, холодильник. Сами по себе воспламенилось ковровое покрытие в прихожей и обивка входной двери. Пожар жильцы потушили, не догадываясь, что это всего лишь начало. За короткое время квартира вспыхивала девять раз: загорались газеты, мебель, розетки, клеенка на балконе. Наконец, измотавшись на войне с пожарами, семья переехала на новое место. Но и здесь неведомая сила вскоре проявила свой норов. Буквально через несколько дней на глазах у бабушки стала дымиться тряпка у двери. А после того как мальчик попал на квартиру к своей двоюродной сестре и на глазах последней вспыхнула шубка, шарфик и шапка девочки, всякие сомнения в том, что во всем виноват Саша, рассеялись окончательно.Наконец, мальчика решили обследовать врачи. Однако хоть как-то объяснить таинственные способности не смогли и они. Причины «огненного феномена» так и остались не выясненными до сих пор.

Women of Africa: Solar backpack entrepreneur brightens pupils' lives - video
6 January 2016
Eco-friendly entrepreneur Thato Kgatlhanye is the founder of Rethaka Repurpose Schoolbags, which designs and manufactures school bags from recycled plastic bags in South Africa. The bags also have a built-in solar light that charges during the day and can be used by school children living in homes without electricity to study after dark. Ms Kgatlhanye won $50,000 (£34,000) in prize money to start off her business. This initial investment went into machinery and staff salaries.
The company now employs 20 people and there are plans to expand production to include new lines.

Africa. Burundi security troops gang-raped women, UN says - video
15 January 2016
The BBC's Maud Jullien is shown 'mass grave' after the attacks. The United Nations says it has evidence that Burundi's security forces gang-raped women while searching the homes of suspected opposition leaders. Security forces separated the women and raped them, the UN said, adding that it had documented 13 cases. Forces also kidnapped, tortured and killed dozens of young men, it said. Meanwhile, a court has sentenced four generals to life in jail for their part in trying to overthrow President Pierre Nkurunziza in May last year. Nine other officers were jailed for 30 years and eight soldiers, including drivers and body guards, to five years for their role in the unrest sparked by Mr Nkurunziza's announcement that he would run for a third term.
He secured a third term in disputed elections in July. The abuses documented by the UN took place immediately after rebel attacks in December against three military camps in the country's capital, Bujumbura, the UN's human rights chief, Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein, said in a statement.

Australia migrants flow into New Zealand
2 Feb 2016
New Zealanders have traditionally gone to Australia in search of work, but for the first time in almost a quarter of a century, more people are heading east from Australia to New Zealand. More people are moving from Australia to New Zealand than vice versa for the first time in 24 years, officials say. Statistics NZ said 25,273 people migrated to New Zealand from Australia in 2015. This included both emigrating Australians and New Zealanders who were returning home. A total of 24,504 people moved from New Zealand to Australia, with a net flow of 769 people to New Zealand. This was the highest net flow to New Zealand since 1991. New Zealand's economic and political stability, along with the end of Australia's mining boom, have been credited for the shift. The small Pacific nation's Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler said last week that tourism, construction activity and a lift in business and consumer confidence would power growth in 2016. In 2012 a record 53,000 New Zealand residents departed for Australia, while just 13,900 people moved from Australia to New Zealand.

Cologne Carnival: Police record 22 sexual assaults  - video

5 February 2016
Policemen arrest a man during Weiberfastnacht celebrations as part of the carnival season on February 4, 2016 in Cologne, Germany. Officials are refusing to discuss the ethnicity of those arrested at the street festival. Police in Cologne have said that 22 incidents of sexual assault occurred in the city on the first night of the traditional Carnival street party. They have 190 people in custody and officials have described them as "a cross section of the general public". Security has been beefed up in the city, after many women suffered sexual assaults and robberies there on New Year's Eve. Germany was shocked by the New Year assaults, largely blamed on migrants. Cologne sex attacks: Women describe 'terrible' assaults. Cologne migrant 'embarrassed' at carnival. More than 100 women were victims, but the full scale of events on that night only emerged later. Anna Holligan reports from CologneTwo young women taking part in carnival celebrations. Many women are taking part in celebrations, but there has been a lower turnout than in previous years . Police said the number of sex attacks on the first night of Carnival was higher than at last year's event. A suspect was in custody after a woman was attacked and raped while on her way home, they added. The city in western Germany has deployed 2,500 police officers for the week-long event, which usually draws 1.5 million visitors. Turnout is said to be lower than usual despite the extra security, which some officials have attributed to rainy weather. Enhanced security measures include the use of "body cams" which can film suspects during incidents and are being trialled by German police. Police officers in front of train stationImage copyright AP Image caption Some police officers have been trialling "body cams" which can film suspects during incidents Female revellers party during carnival celebrations in Cologne. Cologne's Carnival is a traditional week-long celebration . The New Year unrest in the city fuelled German unease about a huge influx of asylum seekers. Authorities spoke of a new type of crime, in which gangs of drunken men - described as North African - targeted women. Migration to Germany from outside the EU soared to a record 1.1 million last year, with Chancellor Angela Merkel criticised for having welcomed so many asylum seekers. Cologne resident Miriam was attacked as she and a friend made their way home on New Year's Eve. She said she was going to the Carnival celebrations "but with really mixed feelings". "I'm wondering if something like that could happen again." Carnival enthusiasts walk past members of the German police in Cologne. This year's event takes place amid the shock caused by the New Year assaults A female reveller takes part in Cologne's carnival. About 2,500 police officers have been deployed and safe areas created as part of the security measures.

On this Invasion Day, I am angry. Australia has a long way to go
26 January 2016
26 January is alternately known as Australia Day, Invasion Day and the Day of Mourning. @IndigenousX host Pekeri Ruska reflects on what this date means to her and her people. I am an Aboriginal women, born in 1987 into a staunch family who were ready to teach me and my siblings the truth from birth. They had walked the walk and had earned their right to talk the talk, to educate. But before I had even left my mother’s womb, I was a statistic, another Aboriginal person to be counted on the census to add to the 3% or so of other Aboriginal people that made up our population in 1987 on a continent where only 199 years prior to my birth, we made up 100% of it. By 1900, it was estimated that the Aboriginal population had decreased by 87%. I’ve never known 26 January as Australia Day, I was fortunate to be educated outside of the official curriculum and was taught what really occurred on this date 228 years ago. It is because of that education I know 26 January as Invasion Day and the Day of Mourning. On this date began a war, an unsolicited occupation and the mass murder of our people. The acts of aggression committed against Aboriginal people constitute nothing short of genocide, yet many Australians chooses to remain wilfully ignorant. The true nature of the Frontier Wars is rarely taught in schools and most our massacre sites go unrecognised by the mainstream. Yet Anzac Day is made a public holiday so the country can commemorate the sacrifices of those who fought a foreign war on foreign shores. This is a prime example of white Australia’s denial and guilt. Maybe it’s just too close to home, too unsettling for them to acknowledge that the land they stand on was stolen, drenched in the blood and suffering of our Aboriginal ancestors. The longer they exclude or sugarcoat the whole truth from the curriculum, the longer non-Indigenous Australians will remain ignorant. It was on 26 January, 1938 when the Aborigines Progressive Association declared this date the “Day of Mourning”. A conference and protest was held “against the callous treatment of our people by the white man during the past 150 years”. Seventy-seven years on, this is still a day of mourning. We choose this day to commemorate our fallen warriors. We take to the streets to pay homage, to continue their legacy of fight and resistance. They did not die for us to celebrate the beginning of invasion and genocide. It is only because of all our ancestors have done that we can call ourselves Aboriginal, that we still have an identity. Every time we take to the streets we continue to stand for our Aboriginal identity in an attempt to be free, for our people now and those of the future. If you ask most Aboriginal people what it means to be Aboriginal, they’ll proudly tell you the name of their tribe and where they belong. To varying degrees, we still have our stories, songs, dances, languages and ceremonies. Our identity is an ancient one, rooted in ancient customs, traditions and culture, all connected to people, place and creation. But if we ask what it means to be Australian? Ask any Australian about their national dance, culture and language. They can only give you an example of something adopted from elsewhere, more often than not the United Kingdom. They do not have anything of their own to connect to but a recently-formed national identity, connected to a country many thousands of miles away, privileged to be living on stolen land and the proceeds of genocide. Australians can take responsibility for what their ancestors did and maybe find a true meaning to their identity by firstly encouraging the teaching of real history pre- and post-1788. They could go further to understand that not all Aboriginal people want to be recognised in the Australian constitution, and that voting in any election on this issue is an assertion of their privilege. Instead, they could listen to the alternatives that we discuss among ourselves, such as a treaty, a seventh state, even our own tribal council to make our own laws that would allow for land to be handed back on our terms, not the terms of the coloniser. And on days like today, the rest of Australia could commemorate the invasion and death of our lands and people, not celebrate it. But for now, I am angry. I see red. My blood boils. And as I head to my favourite beach, on my beautiful island home to write this article, a convoy of patriotic tourists flying Australian flags bigger then their windscreens, are bogged in the soft sand of Stradbroke Island. The family members stand on the sand dunes, drinking beer, cheering the drivers on as they rip up the dunes as a form of entertainment. Australia still has a long way to go. Many Australians today will tell you that what happened was not their fault, that they can’t change what their ancestors and other “colonisers” did. In order to truly understand, this country needs to accept a lot of truths that are otherwise conveniently ignored.

Australian leaders ignite push for republic
25 Jan 2016
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who previously led Australia's republican movement, meets Queen Elizabeth II for the first time in November 2015. Almost all of Australia's state and territory leaders have signed a document in support of the country becoming a republic. The only leader who declined to sign, Western Australia's Colin Barnett, said he was supportive of a republic but believed now was not the right time. Australians voted against becoming a republic in a 1999 referendum. Current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was leader of the republican movement at that time. But since coming to power, Mr Turnbull has said no change should occur until the reign of Queen Elizabeth II ends. The state premiers of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, and the chief ministers of the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, signed the document in favour of replacing the Queen as head of state. Australian Republican Movement chairman Peter FitzSimons said all Australian leaders, including Mr Turnbull and opposition leader Bill Shorten, supported severing ties with the monarchy.
"Never before have the stars of the Southern Cross been so aligned in pointing to the dawn of a new republican age for Australia," Mr FitzSimons said in a statement. South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said it was "well past time for Australia to become a sovereign nation. Any self-respecting independent country would aspire to select one of its own citizens as head of state," Mr Weatherill said. But the national convener of Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy, Professor David Flint, told the Herald Sun that republicans had not yet settled on a model to replace the current system. "They can get all the support they want from celebrities and politicians, but they still haven't put forward what model they want, and told us how it will improve the governance of Australia," Prof Flint said. Australia currently operates as a constitutional monarchy, with the Queen officially listed as head of state and represented by a governor general.

Grace Mugabe profile: The rise of Zimbabwe's first lady

AfricaZimbabweGraceMugabeWifeOfMP1.jpg (4)  AfricaZimbabweGraceMugabeWifeOfMPBusinesses.jpg   AfricaZimbabweVicePresidentJoiceMujuru.jpg
4 December 2014
Zimbabwe's first lady Grace Mugabe has taken centre stage as the ruling Zanu-PF party holds an important meeting on the future leadership of the country. BBC Africa's Zimbabwe correspondent Brian Hungwe charts her rise. President Robert Mugabe began wooing Grace Marufu over tea and scones while the young typist was working in state house. A divorcee with a son, she says she was initially hesitant about such a relationship. Mr Mugabe is more than 40 years her senior and his first wife Sally, a Ghanaian who was much loved in Zimbabwe, was terminally ill at the time. But insiders say that during office tea breaks Mr Mugabe continued to work his charm. Mr Mugabe has said Sally did give her consent to the union before she died in 1992 - though they did not marry until four years later. Together the first couple have three children, the last born in 1997. 
"He came to me and started asking about my family," she said in a rare interview about their first encounter in the late 1980s. I looked at him as a father figure. I did not think he would at all look at me and say: 'I like that girl.' I least expected that." Grace Mugabe has since grown into a powerful businesswoman and sees herself as a philanthropist, founding an orphanage on a farm just outside the capital, Harare, with the help of Chinese funding. But a new road sign reading "Dr Grace Mugabe Way" - put up near the dusty piece of land near the Zanu-PF headquarters as delegates gathered for the party congress - shows how her ambitions have broadened in the last year. The 49-year-old is believed to have earned her sociology PhD in two months from the University of Zimbabwe. Her thesis is reportedly about orphanages but has not been filed in the university library. However, the doctorate gives the first lady gravitas - and within weeks of being capped, campaign material with her new title appeared at rallies around the country as she prepared to take over the leadership of the Zanu-PF women's wing after being nominated for the role in August. Sharp tongue
It is fair to say Mrs Mugabe evokes strong emotions - her fans applaud her style and forthright nature, her detractors have nicknamed her "Gucci Grace" and "DisGrace" because of her alleged appetite for extravagant shopping. Her entry into the president's life did seem to change his ideological outlook - he had always been a Marxist with a Pan-Africanist inclination. Fay Chung, Mr Mugabe's former education minister, says he was not materialistic and lacked a proper understanding of budgeting.
Grace Mugabe:
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace greet delegates at a Zanu-PF meeting in 2008 Began affair with Robert Mugabe, 41 years her senior, whilst working as a typist in state house. Married Mr Mugabe, her second husband, in 1996 in an extravagant ceremony. They have three children. Nicknamed "Gucci Grace" by her critics who accuse her of lavish spending. Along with her husband, is subject to EU and US sanctions, including travel bans. Praised by supporters for her charitable work and founding of an orphanage. Received a PhD in September 2014, a month after being nominated to takeover the leadership of the Zanu-PF women's league. In the mid-1980s, Zanu-PF gave Mr Mugabe a big piece of land in the upmarket Harare suburb of Borrowdale to build a home on. But it lay undeveloped for a decade-and-a-half until Grace Mugabe became involved. Now the first family have vast properties, businesses and farms dotted around the country, mainly in the rich western and northern Mashonaland provinces.
She is known to be tough - at one time kicking some farm workers and their families off land - but she is usually modest and reserved in interviews. Her political rallies during her "meet the nation" tour have shown a new surprising side to the first lady - her sharp tongue. Grace Mugabe was vocal about those she regarded as opponents at her rallies A supporter of Zimbabwe's First Lady Grace Mugabe holds a poster of her as she addresses her maiden political rally in Chinhoyi - 2 October 2014. She toured all of Zimbabwe's 10 provinces holding rallies. As she took to the podium in each of the country's 10 provinces, she was unrelenting, using chilling words, in Shona and English, to pick on her opponents.
"'Stop it. Ndakakumaka rough (I don't like you and I'm watching you)," she warned. She also lashed out at the late Heidi Holland, the Zimbabwean-born author of Dinner with Mugabe, saying she had died because she had been cursed for writing lies about her husband. For Zimbabweans, it was like a soap opera - she washed the ruling party's dirty linen in public, calling on those she picked on to resign or apologise. She is feared and has been known always to get what she wantsMarcellina Chikasha,, ADP leader
Her main target was Vice-President Joice Mujuru, and politicians linked to the independence fighter suddenly woke up to allegations of assassination plots. She said some of them had spent time plotting to oust her husband.
A week later, state-owned media made sensational claims of senior government officials going abroad scouting for a hit man to finish off Mr Mugabe.
When Mrs Mugabe returned home from a trip to the Vatican in October, walking behind her husband, she openly refused to shake Mrs Mujuru's hand.
At rallies she explained her behaviour, saying the vice-president should be sacked from government because she was "corrupt, an extortionist, incompetent, a gossiper, a liar and ungrateful".
Joice Mujuru pictured in 2012Image caption Vice-President Joice Mujuru - part of the political elite - was the target of some of Mrs Mugabe's attacks
Her tirade continued. Mrs Mujuru was "power-hungry, daft, foolish, divisive and a disgrace", she said, accusing her of collaborating with opposition forces and white people to undermine the country's post-independence gains.
Party youths have warned that they do not want to see Mrs Mujuru at the Zanu-PF congress - she has already been barred from serving on its powerful central committee because of the allegations, which she denies.
Charity Manyeruke, a pro-Zanu PF political analyst, says Mrs Mugabe's approach is a "refreshing departure from the culture of not being very open about issues of serious concern".
Kudzanai Chipanga, Zanu-PF youth chairperson, agrees: "She hates corruption - she will be a good leader."
But for senior party leaders, like veteran Cephas Msipa, the attacks on Mrs Mujuru and others are "unAfrican" and they fear they could "split the party".
The first lady has had praise for some, saying Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, who like Mrs Mujuru has been seen as a successor to Mr Mugabe, is "loyal and disciplined".
A young boy looks at a milk packaging from Alpha Omega Dairy, a brand launched by Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe, in a supermarket in Harare, on 11 July 2012. Mrs Mugabe runs a dairy and markets the products under the Alpha Omega Dairy label
And she has not denied the speculation that she may one day wish to replace her 90-year-old husband herself.
"They say I want to be president. Why not? Am I not a Zimbabwean?" she remarked at one rally. Marcellina Chikasha, leader of the small new African Democratic Party (ADP), says Mrs Mugabe's "phenomenal rise to power" has astounded many who consider themselves her "intellectual and political superior". "Call her shrewd, power hungry or plain old 'being in the right place at the right time' - this typist has become a kingmaker in Zimbabwe's succession politics," she says. "She is tenacious and determined; she is naive and unpolished; she is feared and has been known always to get what she wants."

Qasem Gardi found guilty of trying to kill former girlfriend by strangling her with hijab
NOVEMBER 26, 2015
A SPURNED boyfriend has been convicted of trying to kill his former partner by strangling her with a hijab. Supreme Court Justice David Lovell on Monday found Qasem Gardi, 25, guilty of the attempted murder of his then-girlfriend at Para Vista in October last year. In his written verdict, Justice Lovell said he had found, beyond reasonable doubt, that Gardi had intended to kill her when he first pulled her scarf or hijab. Prosecutors had alleged Gardi lured his then-girlfriend, who was 18 at the time, into his car before using her hijab to strangle her in and out of consciousness. “He tricked her into meeting with him and when she did he threatened her with a box cutter and drove her away to another location, where he strangled her with a scarf or hijab she was wearing over her head,” prosecutor Lucy Boord said. An emergency call to paramedics made by Gardi after he tried to kill her was played to the court. Gardi can be heard telling the operator “I tried to kill my girlfriend,” and “I did something bad to her.” When the operator asks what happened, he says “we had an argument, I have no idea, hurry up.” During the 12-minute call, the teenage victim can be heard moaning and at times screaming. The Advertiser has chosen not to publish the full recording because the distress of the victim can be clearly heard. The court heard the girlfriend had met Gardi, originally from Iran, at the Adelaide Secondary School of English after arriving as a refugee from Afghanistan seven years ago. Ms Boord said Gardi became “controlling” of her and would tell her what to wear and not to talk to other men. She said when the girlfriend decided to end the relationship, Gardi had stalked her at her workplace and constantly harassed her to take him back. “The accused did not want (the victim) working there. He had said to her something like ‘there are too many Muslim guys that come in there’ and he also called her a sl*t for wanting to work there,” she said. In his verdict, Justice Lovell said prosecutors had established that Gardi intended to kill her.
“I find beyond reasonable doubt that the intent continued, at least when he manually strangled her as well, although I am unable to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the intent to kill her continued for the entire trip in the car,” he said.
‘That of course does not matter, having found that he formed the intent to kill at the time he tightened the scarf, this is sufficient in this case for the prosecution to have established the mental element beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Gardi, who waved to the public gallery as he escorted from the dock, will face sentencing submissions when he appears in court again next month.

Ethel Smith: Weird Organ Lady or Mondo Organista?

The organist whose recording of "Tico-Tico" sold over one million records was born in Pittsburgh in 1910. Ethel Goldsmith (her real name) was graduated from Carnegie Tech, where she majored in music and language. (She spoke French, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, and German.) Her instrument was the piano; her first job, the pit of the local legitimate theatre.
Then a Shubert show that was playing Pittsburgh took Ethel with it on a twenty-eight-week tour of the United States. While in California, she was offered a job playing the organ, accompanying a singer at a movie studio, and to gain practice went to a local music store and offered to demonstrate theirs. Within a few days customers were gathering around her to listen, so proficient had she become. From then on she was booked as an organist.
Ethel's star rose in 1940. She had been working a four-week booking in Rio de Janeiro, paying one hundred clollars weekly, then her top salary. She had gone over well, and the management kept extending her engagement. But one night, while roaming around a tough section of Rio, she heard an interesting beat. It came from a combo that was playing in the back room of a "cheap dance hall." She entered and mixed with the musicians during their break and asked what they were playing. No one knew the name or the composer but they explained that the song had been played for many years in Argentina. From then on Ethel began playing it in her act in the arrangement she had made of it for the organ. Her audiences, mostly wealthy Argentinians and tourists, had never heard the tune and acclaimed it. If it hadn't been for Pearl Harbor, says Ethel, she might still be there. But when the war broke out everyone advised her to return. In no time after coming to New York "Tico-Tico" was a smash hit and Ethel was besieged with offers to play her hit recording. Ethel, a strong personality on and off stage, and with a flair for showmanship, remained a name in show business even after "Tico-Tico" was no longer hot. She commanded large sums to appear at presentation houses and in such films as Bathing Beauty (1944) with Esther- Williams, George White's Scandals (1945), and Cuban Pete (1946) with Desi Arnaz.
In 1945 Ethel married Ralph Bellamy, who at the time was appearing on Broadway in State of the Union, and the couple lived in Ethel's Park Vendome apartment. In 1947 Bellamy walked out, stating that he had no intention of paying his wife alimony. Ethel charged abandonment and claimed that he drank heavily, that he was moody, and would lock himself in his room. The organist said her husband became jealous when at their parties she received most of the attention. Bellamy contended that she had advised him to be home fifteen minutes after his final curtain or he would find the door locked.
Ethel never remarried and had no children. She lived alone amidst neighbors columnist Louis Sobol and singer Arthur Tracy. She still practicesd her organ and a piano a good deal and became quite proficient on the guitar. She hated interviews and people who would bring up "Tico-Tico" whenever her name was mentioned, but often lamented that had she copyrighted the song, how very rich she would have become. However, Ethel made enough to live very well and concentrate on acting she seemed to prefer. In the late 1960's she accepted several small parts in plays that would showcase her talent for character acting. Her work in a Franchot Tone-Theatre Four production received some favorable attention, and in about 1969 she had a brief run in an off-Broadway musical version of Tom Jones.
(This article originally appeared in Cool and Strange Music! Magazine, issue 18, pp. 16-19- Photos added by
Organist, pianist, guitarist, percussionist, singer, composer, movie/stage actress, radio/nightclub personality, ethnomusicologist, linguist, publisher, pedagogue - it's hard to find a single word to describe Ethel Smith. Unlike today's one-trick ponies and one-hit wonders, she could simply do it all. Given such extraordinary talents, it is hardly surprising that she rubbed shoulders with superstars such as Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Esther Williams, Xavier Cugat, and Desi Arnaz, as well as statesmen and writers, such as Cordell Hull and Fanny Hurst. She was a genuine polymath; they just don't make 'em like her anymore.
We don't know much about Ethel Smith's formative years. She was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to parents Max Goldsmith and Elizabeth ("Betty") Bober. Although she publicly gave her birthdate as November 22, 1910, she was actually born in 1902 - exactly 40 years before another aficionado of the Leslie - Jimi Hendrix. Growing up in Pittsburgh, Miss Smith became adept at three of her lifelong passions - music, languages, and golf. Golf was learned on Pittsburgh's municipal links at the age of sixteen. Organ studies began with Dr. Caspar Koch, Organist to the City of Pittsburgh, Professor at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University), and author of many pedagogical works. Miss Smith also studied German, French, and Spanish at Carnegie Tech, although records show that she never formally enrolled or obtained a degree. After college, she became the first woman to ever play in the pit orchestra for a Shubert show - the touring production of Romberg's "The Student Prince," which took her on a 28-week tour of the United States.
Two events dramatically changed the subsequent course of Ethel Smith's career. In 1935 the Hammond Corporation produced its first electric organ. The instrument revolutionized the keyboard genre by combining the fast action of the piano with the timbral resources of the organ. Miss Smith spotted her first Hammond while accompanying a singer in a Hollywood studio. According to her, "I just ran my fingers over [the organ] and said 'That's for me!'" (New York Times, May 16, 1943). Soon she was so proficient that she was able to pick up gigs in and around Hollywood, and even played on local radio broadcasts. An astute Hammond dealer discovered her and, seeing obvious marketing potential, allowed her to take an instrument to Florida, where she had landed an engagement accompanying a trio at a small Bavarian restaurant. She was paid $15 dollars a week and all the Sauerbraten she could eat (Motion Picture Magazine, August 1945).
The second event also occurred around 1935. On a pleasure trip to Cuba, Miss Smith encountered Latin music on location; she immediately caught the bug and started to make regular trips to the Caribbean and South/Central America. She toured the region as head of the entertainment group on the ship carrying the American delegates to the 8th Pan-American Conference led by Cordell Hull, Secretary of State under Franklin D. Roosevelt and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. But it wasn't all work and no play for Miss Smith. As she later recalled:
For a while I became a regular tropical hep chick. I stuck my nose into every smoky cabaret that boasted a native orchestra. Whenever they let me I'd sit in with the boys for a little Latin jam session. That way it didn't take long to collect a trunk load of authentic and out of the way rhythms and melodies - including such lush and sultry-sounding ones as charareras, milongas, bambucos, pasillos, guarachas, habaneras, and, of course, the traditional sambas, rhumbas and congas. (Souvenir Album, Decca A-565, 1947.) Audiences clearly resonated with Miss Smith and dubbed her "Empress of the Hammond."
By 1941, Miss Smith's stock was on the rise as she took over from Eddie Duchin at the infamous Copacabana Casino in Rio de Janeiro. We don't know whether she knew Lola and her trademark yellow feathers or whether she witnessed the fatal shooting, but Miss Smith could certainly merengue and cha-cha-cha with the best of them. In March 1942, towards the end of her seven-month stint at the Copa, Miss Smith was noticed by an American Tobacco Company executive. ATC, with its Lucky Strike cigarettes, was the sponsor of the popular weekly radio show "Your Hit Parade," broadcast from New York City. When the executive's entertainment-purchasing boss looked for an exponent of Latin American rhythms, he remembered her. He called the Copa, but Miss Smith had already returned to the States. Someone else mentioned seeing just such an organist at the Iridium Room of New York's lavish St. Regis Hotel. The executive rushed round, only to discover that she was indeed the same organist he had seen in Rio. In fact, Miss Smith's trio had been playing there since April 1942 (switching to the Viennese Roof during the summer), delighting fans like Andre Kostelanetz, who dropped in one evening to see what all the fuss was about. He left with a copy of "Tico-Tico" so that he could make his own arrangement (Motion Picture Magazine, August 1945). According to Abel Green's review, the trio earned high marks for "dancapation" and was "plenty O.K. with the Brazilian sambas, maxixes, and the usual - Viennese waltz and kindred sets" (Variety, April 22, 1942).
Miss Smith finished her engagement at the St. Regis and began playing for "Your Hit Parade" on February 12, 1943. There, she arranged popular songs and performed with such luminaries as Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. But she lasted only one year before Hollywood beckoned. Little wonder - on the heels of FDR's "Good Neighbor Policy," film studios were eager to showcase the most recent Latin music craze. In 1944, Ethel Smith appeared with Xavier Cugat and Harry James in the musical numbers for Bathing Beauty, her first feature for MGM. In the film, Esther Williams starred as the swimming instructor at the all-girl "Victoria College." Red Skelton played her fiancé, a tunesmith ready to give up Hollywood for his amphibious sweetheart. Ethel Smith played a comic cameo as an "Assistant Music Professor." In her big scene, some of the girls burst into her office. She is seated at the organ. They beg her to play. With dainty grace, wearing an impeccable peacock-blue cocktail dress and adorned with jewels, Miss Smith removes her wire-rimmed spectacles and lets rip with "By the Waters of Minnetonka" and "Tico-Tico." (An orchestra is cleverly concealed somewhere in the office.) Her perfectly coifed hair never musses, her beatific smile never wavers, and her spike-heeled feet never get sore as her whole body dances over the instrument. In "Tico-Tico," she even plays the organ with one hand and a large tambourine with the other. The girls get into the mood as they beat on bongos and tom-toms that just happen to be lying around. Miss Smith reappears at the end of Bathing Beauty, playing alongside Harry James at a benefit show. During the performance of "Loch Lomond/I'll Take the High Note," Miss Smith is wheeled onstage while playing the Hammond. She eventually gets caught up in the revelry and does a high line kick as well as any Rockette!
Like many Hollywood stars, Miss Smith did her part to entertain the boys during WWII. She performed "Moonlight Bay" with Bing Crosby on the "Kraft Music Hall" (November 9, 1944), a show distributed to the soldiers through the War Department. Her collaborations with Bing didn't end there: they also recorded four numbers for Decca - "Just a Prayer Away" and "My Mother's Waltz" in 1944 (along with the Ken Darby Singers and Victor Young Orchestra); "Sweetest Story Ever Told" and "Mighty Lak' a Rose" in 1945 (along with the Song Spinners and Lehman Engel Orchestra).
Other films followed Bathing Beauty as audiences clamored for more of Miss Smith, who by then had her hands insured by Lloyd's for $500,000 (Motion Picture Magazine, August 1945). 1945 saw George White's Scandals (which paired Miss Smith with Gene Krupa for her musical numbers) and Twice Blessed. 1946 brought Easy to Wed, again with Esther Williams, and Cuban Pete, which its star, Desi Arnaz, deemed a "B minus" movie (D. Arnaz, A Book, NY: Warner, 1976). In 1948, Miss Smith made an appearance in the Disney feature Melody Time, where she starred with Donald Duck, José (Joe) Carioca, and the Aracuan Bird. Dressed like Carmen Miranda - minus the fruit plate - Miss Smith appears in person at the Hammond swirling inside a brandy snifter. She breaks into "Blame it on the Samba," with her pretty pumps prancing on the pedals. We also get to watch her dance and play the bongos in this number! Towards the end of the sequence, the Hammond is blown up by her feathered friends, but magically reassembles itself without Miss Smith missing a beat. Unfortunately, her face was not to be seen again on screen for another twenty years.
At the height of her film career, Miss Smith's personal life took a turn for the worse. Claiming abandonment in 1947, Ethel Smith filed papers to divorce Ralph Bellamy, her husband of merely two years. Drinking heavily, often locking himself in his room, and eventually walking out of their Parc Vendôme apartment (at 350 W. 57th St.), the star of such classics as His Girl Friday (1941) and Rosemary's Baby (1968) apparently couldn't cope with the attention heaped upon his vivacious and virtuosic wife. He claimed she was possessive, demanding that he be home fifteen minutes after the curtain fell on the Broadway play in which he was appearing. Bellamy was Miss Smith's second failed marriage; an early marriage to a Mr. Spiro had ended in divorce before 1940.
In later years, Miss Smith continued to perform and play golf. Her company, Ethel Smith Music Corp., which she founded in the mid 1940s, continued to publish highly successful arrangements of popular tunes and instructional books for the Hammond, not to mention the occasional oddity such as "Ethel Smith's Latin American Rhythms for Percussion Instruments" (1951) and her Hammond arrangements of Fritz Kreisler's virtuosic violin pieces (1953). Her company also ran a "Hits of the Month" plan, in which subscribers were treated to a glamour shot of Miss Smith and 4 or 5 tunes arranged for the Hammond. The Hansen Music Corp. in Miami now holds the rights for this material. Miss Smith's records were also extremely successful: she produced over 20 albums in all, mostly with Decca. In addition, she developed a topnotch nightclub act in which she played the organ, sang, played percussion and guitar, told jokes, and even demonstrated the mechanics of the Hammond. She played "Pops" concerts with orchestras in Paris, London, Milan, Boston, Cleveland, and Indianapolis. In the 1960s, Miss Smith took a renewed interest in acting. Specializing in small character roles, she capitalized on her keen ear for dialects. She performed in off-Broadway productions, such as a musical version of Tom Jones in 1969. Miss Smith eventually returned to the big screen to play a small role in C'mon, Let's Live a Little, starring Bobby Vee and Jackie DeShannon. As Bobby Vee's Aunt Ethel, she wore Mondrian-patterned go-go boots while singing with a hillbilly twang and playing guitar in the country (!) song "Way Back Home."
Although she never remarried and never had children, Miss Smith lived a full life in Manhattan. She entertained her friends, who included the novelist Fanny Hurst, the New York Journal-American "Voice of Broadway" columnist Louis Sobol, and the singer Arthur Tracy (whose 1937 recording of "Pennies from Heaven" was featured in Steve Martin's 1981 movie of the same name). In the mid 1970s she moved south to Palm Beach, Florida. With her apartment at Worth Avenue and Ocean Boulevard mere blocks from the Everglades Golf Course, Miss Smith continued to golf and even played the occasional concert for friends and visiting celebrities. She hated interviews and people who brought up her "Tico-Tico" days. Ethel Smith died of a progressive illness at 4:55 a.m. on May 10, 1996. At her request, no memorial service was held.
Looking back at Ethel Smith's musical legacy, two things stand out: her remarkable technique and her vivid imagination. As a player, she insisted that technical prowess was just as important for playing popular music as it was for classical, though she admitted that high heels would not be appropriate for playing Bach. In an interview with Etude magazine (May 1947), Miss Smith stressed the need for clarity in articulation and accuracy in rhythm: "The lightest touch suffices, and the rhythmic effects resulting from even this lightest touch, are so sharp that they reflect in the entire body." She added, "It's hard to sit still as you guide a developing phrase or a rising crescendo and you feel that you are experiencing complete physical expression." To see what she meant, just catch her performances of "Tico-Tico" in Bathing Beauty or "Blame it on the Samba" in Melody Time!
+Ethel Smith was also concerned with sound quality. As she explained in another interview for Etude (May 1944), "The Hammond organist mixes tone color on a musical palette much in the manner of a painter in oils. He is not limited to ready-mixed colors." In fact, no one has ever made the Hammond sound quite like her. To some extent, this is due to her careful choice of organ stops and draw bars. Compare, for example, the shimmering pentatonic washes in "By the Waters of Minnetonka" (Bathing Beauty/Galloping Fingers) with the stark, other-worldly sound of "Firebird Blues" (Bouquet of the Blues) or the gnarly distortion of "Ethel Meets the Count" (Many Moods of Ethel Smith). She was particularly imaginative in recreating orchestral sounds and claimed that when arranging an instrumental piece for the organ she would "phrase as a flutist or clarinetist would" (Etude, May 1947). But Miss Smith's unique sound also depended upon her exceptional skills at transcription. In particular, she avoided clunky block chords preferring instead parallel thirds or other polyphonic devices. Take a listen to the ingenious countermelodies in "Brazil" (Many Moods of Ethel Smith/Latin from Manhattan). Using classical techniques, she even layered the same tune on top of itself to create her own "Fugue in Blue" (Bouquet of the Blues). The results were stunning; she was able to create full and fluid sounds without sacrificing her wonderful sense of color and rhythmic vitality. And that's why she was heralded by the Latin American press as "La Organista Mas Famoso del Mundo!"

Феномен неожиданного омоложения организма
Для того чтобы обнаружить что-то выходящее за рамки нашего понимания, необязательно отправляться на плато Наска, бегать за зелеными человечками или караулить неопознанные летающие объекты. Достаточно просто обратиться к самому человеку - наше тело преподносит иной раз такие сюрпризы, объяснить которые современная наука просто не в силах. Причем речь не идет о ясновидении, левитации или способности ходить по огню без какого бы то ни было ущерба. Речь идет о странных возрастных аномалиях, "шутках природы", когда к человеку внезапно начинает словно возвращаться утраченная молодость. Таких случаев не сказать чтобы очень много, но они известны в медицинской практике: в конце жизненного пути человека течение биологического времени вдруг изменяется на противоположное. С подобным феноменом чаще многих сталкиваются стоматологи: они с удивлением обнаруживают, что у некоторых из их пациентов, глубоких стариков и старушек, вдруг начинают, как у младенцев... резаться зубы! Но и на этом омоложение не заканчивается: темнеют седые волосы, разглаживается сморщенная кожа, восстанавливается здоровье. Вот лишь несколько примеров.
Житель Пекина 91-летний Лань Шижэнь однажды сильно заболел: не мог даже смотреть на еду и слабел прямо на глазах. Врачи лишь разводили руками и ничем помочь не могли, т.к. не сумели выяснить, чем же был болен старый Лань. Три недели пролежал старик в постели, так и не притронувшись к еде, а затем у него проснулся зверский аппетит и вернулась утраченная с годами бодрость. Врачи вновь обследовали Ланя и с удивлением обнаружили, что у старика прорезались новые зубы, а корни седых волос стали черными! "Выражение "беззубая старость" никак теперь не подходит к 90-летней жительнице Шанхая Тань Цзичжень, - пишет китайская газета "Цзефанг жибао". - У нее за короткое время выросло 25 новых зубов, составивших вместе с уцелевшими полный комплект. Демонстрируя в улыбке свои обновы, старушка рассказала журналистам, что зубы у нее стали выпадать еще несколько десятилетий назад. Но однажды бабушка Тань почувствовала зуд и болезненные ощущения в деснах, как это бывает у малышей, когда у них режутся зубки. Когда спустя несколько дней она посмотрела в зеркало, то чуть не упала: обе челюсти сияли молодым жемчужным блеском!" Несколько лет назад агентство "Синьхуа" уже сообщало о подобном чуде, происшедшем с одной пожилой китайской крестьянкой. Правда, радость той старушки не в пример была полнее: вместе с зубами начали активно расти и черные, как смоль, волосы!
А вот то, что недавно начало происходить с 97-летней итальянкой Розой Фарони, не укладывается ни в какие медицинские рамки: сегодня у нее фигура девушки, и она не только не стареет, но и с каждым днем выглядит все моложе! Врачи обескуражены, они потребовали проверить, нет ли обмана, провели обследования на предмет пластических операций, но ничего подобного обнаружено не было. Более того, Роза Фарони даже косметикой никогда не пользовалась. "Эта женщина потрясает. Она, никогда не прибегавшая к пластической операции, выглядит на 70 лет моложе своего возраста! - удивлялся потрясенный доктор Граза на медицинской конференции в Генуе. - Ее память и мозг остры и ясны. Это наиболее загадочный феномен, с которым мне когда-либо довелось встречаться". Впервые он прочитал о Розе в итальянской газете. На фото была запечатлена красивая молодая женщина, окруженная шестью внуками, пятнадцатью правнуками и шестнадцатью праправнуками. Роза Фарони выглядела на фотографии моложе своей тридцатилетней правнучки. Проверка печени, сердца и кровяного артериального давления, проведенная в частной медицинской клинике, показала, что и анализы прабабушки не хуже, чем у девушки. Но, что еще удивительнее - они оказались лучше, чем были в 1960 году. Время словно потекло вспять! Доктор Граза, являющийся экспертом по проблемам старения, будет наблюдать за женщиной полгода, надеясь найти разгадку в ее генетике. А пока он только разводит руками. Сама же виновница переполоха врачей объясняет все благословением свыше. "Я ем все, курю и пью больше, чем нужно, - говорит Роза. - Единственное, что меня обескураживает, это страх забеременеть - смешно рожать, когда тебе под сто, и я вынуждена принимать противозачаточные пилюли".
Японка Сэй Сенагон из города Фукуока, достигнув 75 лет, также почувствовала необъяснимые изменения в своем организме. Сначала у нее исчезла седина, и волосы приобрели былой блеск и черный цвет. Затем стали кровоточить десны, так что она не могла носить зубной протез. Сэй подумала, что это последствия радиации и даже хотела уже написать завещание, но на всякий случай решила все же проконсультироваться с врачами и первый визит нанесла стоматологу. Но тот, осмотрев десны старушки, заявил, что радиация радиацией, но умрет она, видимо, еще не скоро, т.к. у нее неизвестно по какой причине вдруг стали резаться зубы! А дальше последовали и вовсе фантастические события. У Сэй стала разглаживаться кожа на теле и лице, мышцы приобрели былую эластичность, канули в небытие приступы остеохондроза и прочих старческих болячек, и уже через пару лет Сэй перестали узнавать подруги на улице, поскольку она помолодела лет на двадцать. Еще через некоторое время у нее возобновился менструальный цикл, она разошлась со своим супругом и вышла замуж за сорокалетнего банковского служащего, который утверждает, что Сэй выглядит не старше тридцати. Сэй Сенагон на некоторое время стала самой знаменитой и узнаваемой женщиной Японии. У нее без конца брали интервью, приглашали на различные ток-шоу и без конца досаждали просьбами продать за любые деньги секрет ее молодости. Однако еще более удивительно то, что сегодня Сэй выглядит гораздо моложе тридцатилетней женщины и серьезно опасается, что если процесс ее омоложения сохранит нынешние темпы, то лет через пятнадцать она превратится в десятилетнюю девочку! Чем объяснить такие феноменальные превращения, современная наука понять не может. Однако кое-какие шаги на пути познания уже есть: не так давно ученые- геронтологи обнаружили ген, который как бы помогает образованию клеток, способных уничтожать стареющие и умершие клетки.
У них возникла догадка, что онкоген, который при определенных обстоятельствах вызывает бурное и неуправляемое деление клеток и приводит к опухолевым заболеваниям, есть не что иное, как ген молодости, только словно "сошедший с ума" и истребляющий не больные клетки, а здоровые. Поэтому старение - совершенно противоестественно для человеческого организма, внутри которого изначально заложена целая система и программа защиты от надвигающейся смерти. Исследователи сегодня ставят задачу вывести дремлющие резервы из состояния покоя и заставить их активно функционировать. До конца геронтологам причина внезапного пробуждения генов молодости ясна не до конца. А если уж все называть своими именами, то вообще не ясна. Предстоит также выяснить, почему жизненно важные гены обычно спят. Естественно, что для окончательного решения столь сложных проблем ученым постоянно требуются подопытные кролики. И в качестве одного из таких "кроликов" в начале 90-х выступала жительница Германии Аманда Райденаур. Правда, про нее можно сказать, что она молода наполовину. На вид ей можно было дать лет семнадцать- восемнадцать, и она настоящая красавица: у нее прекрасные пышные волосы, нежная прозрачная гладкая кожа, ясные большие глаза, правильные черты лица...
При этом чудесная головка покоится на разбитом годами и болезнями теле - фрау Райденаур в действительности 95 лет, она прабабушка нескольких уже почти взрослых правнуков. И чувствует она себя соответственно своему возрасту. Старость, которая безжалостно расправляется с телом женщины, практически не коснулась ее лица. Этим феноменом заинтересовались медики, провели тщательное обследование и проверку необходимых документов и прежде всего выяснили, что женщина ни разу в жизни не прибегала к пластическим операциям. Ничего путного выяснить не удалось, и фрау Райденаур стали изучать генетики. Когда всемирно известный генетик доктор Герхард Дремкан увидел Аманду Райденаур впервые, то решил, что имеет дело со случаем необычной болезни у очень молодой женщины. Может, это какая-то неизученная форма прогерии, тяжелой неизлечимой болезни, при которой молодой организм начинает внезапно стареть, и человек умирает лет в 20-25, выглядя при этом глубоким стариком? Но Аманда - не молодая девушка, она реально прожила на свете 95 лет.

11 октября отмечается Международный день девочек (11 October is International Girl Child Day made by United Nations)

11 октября отмечается Международный день девочек (International Day of the Girl Child). Эту дату провозгласила Генеральная Ассамблея ООН в знак признания прав девочек и уникальных проблем, с которыми им приходится сталкиваться во всем мире. Впервые день девочек отмечался в 2012 году и был посвящен актуальной для многих стран мира проблеме — детским бракам. Как свидетельствует статистика, почти каждая третья женщина в мире в возрасте от 20 до 24 лет впервые вышла замуж до достижения 18-летия. Треть из них вступили в брак ранее, чем им исполнилось 15 лет. Особенно пугающе эта тенденция выглядит в развивающихся странах: 90 процентов детей, которые рождаются у 15–19-летних подростков, — это дети девочек, уже состоящих в браке. В то же время детские браки представляют собой нарушение основных прав человека и негативно влияют на все аспекты жизни девочек. Ранние браки лишают девочек детства. Их насильно заставляют прерывать образование, возможности таких девочек сильно ограничены, а опасность быть подвергнутыми насилию и домогательствам возрастает в несколько раз. Детские браки угрожают здоровью и жизни девочек, так как ведут к ранним беременностям, к которым детский организм зачастую просто не готов. Первый официально отмечаемый Всемирный день девочек был призван обратить внимание общественности на проблему ранних браков. В рамках этого дня правительствам разных стран в партнерстве с представителями гражданского общества и международным сообществом предлагалось незамедлительно принять меры к тому, чтобы покончить с пагубной практикой детских браков. Для этого ООН рекомендовала на уровне государственной власти принять законы, регламентирующие минимальный возраст вступления в брак, улучшить доступ к качественному начальному и среднему образованию, и оказывать помощь юным женщинам, уже состоящим в браке.

История женщины с 10 личностями
Мозг человека оснащён сложной системой обработки визуальной информации, которая обеспечивает нас зрением. Однако даже при исправном состоянии этой системы можно стать слепым. Именно это и произошло с героиней этой статьи, которая живёт в Германии. В какой-то момент своей жизни она просто перестала видеть. Поначалу врачи думали, что потеря зрения стала результатом травмы мозга, полученной во время аварии. Однако спустя несколько лет эта женщина проходила курс психотерапии (у неё обнаружилось психическое расстройство) и вдруг её зрительная система стала переключаться из зрячего состояния в слепое. В результате зрение вернулось к ней почти полностью. «Восстановление зрения произошло немедленно после сеанса терапии, в ходе которого мы пытались преодолеть последствия серьёзного травмирующего события. К тому моменту пациентка была слепой уже много лет», — рассказал доктор Ганс Страсбургер из Мюнхенского университета Людвига-Максимилиана. Около 14 лет назад 33-летняя (в то время) женщине с инициалами B.T. был поставлен диагноз диссоциативное нарушение идентичности. Ей была назначена терапия, которую она проходила в Мюнхене. Диссоциативное нарушение идентичности, известное также как синдром множественной личности характеризуется нарушениями в работе памяти и сосуществованием как минимум двух явно различимых состояний личности. Чаще всего им страдают люди, пережившие сильную психологическую травму в детстве, подвергавшиеся физическому или психологическому насилию. Однако сам диагноз считается довольно спорным – некоторые авторитетные специалисты считают его неким культурально-специфичным феноменом. По их мнению, психотерапевты сами подчас подталкивают пациента к тому, что он начинает верить в «расщепление» собственного сознания.
B.T. пришла на приём доктора Вальдвогель со своей собакой-поводырём, объяснив, что потеряла зрение 13 лет назад. Просмотрев её медицинские документы, доктор узнал, что пациентке был поставлен диагноз корковая слепота в результате черепно-мозговой травмы. В результате дальнейшего обследования выяснилось наличие 10 личностей B.T. – все с разными именами, манерой говорить, возрастом, полом, жестикуляцией, мимикой, умственными способностями, темпераментом и другими чертами характера. Некоторые личности говорили только по-английски, другие – только по-немецки, а третьи владели обоими языками (ребёнком В.Т. жила в англоязычной стране, где говорила только по-английски). На четвёртом году психотерапии, после очередного сеанса пациентка вдруг смогла распознать несколько слов, напечатанных на обложке журнала. В этот момент её тело принадлежало личности молодого юноши. Однако, хоть она и смогла узнать целые слова, но отдельные буквы, из которых эти слова состояли, она распознать была не в состоянии.
Но в ходе последующих сеансов В.Т. начала различать ярко освещённые объекты, пока её зрение не вернулось практически в нормальное состояние. Изначально способность пациентки видеть была ограничена только одной из живших в ней личностей. Однако понемногу, при помощи опытного психотерапевта, всё больше её личностей обретали зрение. По рассказам врачей, слепое и зрячее состояние могли меняться за считанные секунды.

«Снегурочка» из Тольятти
Среди нас живут люди, которые отличаются от всех остальных. Например 50-летняя жительница Тольятти, работница детского сада Галина Кутерева. На вид Галине можно дать 20 лет: стройная девичья фигурка и длинные волосы. Лишь при ближайшем рассмотрении заметно, что они седые. Видя, как она идет в мороз по сугробам в сарафане и босоножках, люди пугаются. Водители останавливаются и предлагают обогреть и подвезти. Но Галина Кутерева всегда лишь смеется в ответ. «Мне зимой не холодно, а летом не жарко. Я настоящая Снегурочка». Но так было не всегда: в детстве у Галины была аллергия на мороз, с годами появился целый «букет» заболеваний, но она не сдалась. Галина не только ходит в летней одежде зимой.  У нее целая программа: принимает контрастный душ, сотни шагов проходит на коленках, раздельное питание, раз в неделю Галина совсем не ест, для отдыха организма, не пользуется косметикой, умывается простой водой без моющих средств. Новая система не сразу, но дала положительный результат. Многие болезни просто исчезли. Галина неожиданно стала лучше видеть и сняла очки. Во время прогулки на морозе, как говорит Галина, человек задерживает дыхание, организм сам «подгоняет» свежую кровь к больным органам и лечит их. Сосуды становятся эластичными, и появляется чувство, как будто становишься моложе, когда можешь сделать то, что сейчас уже не под силу. Также нужно не забывать быть добрым по жизни. Нести людям добро и принимать добро. Жить, а не выживать.

Ведущий программы "Обратный отсчет к жизни" (выходит на канале BBC2) Майкл Мозли

Ведущий программы "Обратный отсчет к жизни" (выходит на канале BBC2) Майкл Мозли совершил своего рода удивительное открытие, посетив деревню Лас Салинас в Доминиканской Республике. В частности, он обнаружил детей, которые к 12 годам превратились из девочек в мальчиков, пишет Telegraph. С неконтролируемым изменением пола сталкивается одна из 90 девочек. Столь необычных детей называют machihembras, что означает "вначале женщина, потом мужчина". Журналист рассказал историю одного из местных жителей, который претерпел подобную метаморфозу. 24-летний Джонни до 12 лет был девочкой по имени Фелисита . Парень помнит, как ходил в школу в красном платье, обсуждал со сверстницами "женские" темы. Через какое-то время Фелисите кукол заменили игрушечные пистолеты, компанию девочек - мальчишки. Затем девочка превратилась в юношу во всех смыслах. Джулиан Императо напомнила, что все эмбрионы на начальном этапе формирования имеют только женские половые признаки.
Российская газета - RG.RU

В Доминикане обнаружили детей, у которых к 12 годам меняется пол