MAKING SENSE OF THE WORLD WE LIVE IN
Feminism’s new frontline ISRAEL p18
Identity and integrity come to the fore as Benjamin Netanyahu’s bid for re-election stutters
A clumsy attempt at censorship has reignited debate about the freedom of the press
Faced with economic stagnation, Japan’s leaders have turned to an expert panel of business leaders
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n South Asia more women are going to school, getting jobs and creating a vision for their own lives, yet the gang-rape and subsequent death of Jyoti Singh Pandey in Delhi and the shooting of Pakistani school girl Malala Yousafzai have cast a long shadow over women’s rights in the region, with increasing numbers taking to the streets rather than accepting the old adage that they must “shut up, and suffer” in the face of massive inequality and horrifying human rights abuses. In this week’s Dossier Afghani journalist and author Fariba Nawa reports on the shared outrage that is bringing together the women of Pakistan and India, as well as the issues that divide them—and questions the future for ‘feminism’ in Afghanistan after international troops withdraw in 2014. Roshaneh Zafar’s success running South Asia’s leading women’s micro-finance organization, and the launch of Hello! magazine in Pakistan, signifies that this is a region in flux. But women continue to suffer from entrenched attitudes, individual acts of violence, and institutional misogyny. Those who push for change do so at the risk of their own lives. They are the women truly fighting on the frontline of feminism. One activist on the streets of New Delhi, Manjima Bhattacharjya, tells The World Weekly that even if things return to ‘normal’, the deep vault of silence over sexual violence has been cracked open—and nothing can ever be the same again. We’ve had trememdous feedback from you about our first editions, and we are now considering a subscription model. If you are interested in subscribing to The World Weekly drop us a line at email@example.com. Otherwise look out for The World Weekly on Thursdays in leading corporate venues and transport hubs around London, and tell us what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE PICTURE Venezuela: The cult of Hugo
infographic Guantanamo Bay: Obama’s broken promise
good news Are leaders facing up to climate change?
world view Mind the gender gap
digest Northern Ireland’s hard road to reconciliation Belfast: Apathy rules and violence flourishes U.S. gun control’s ‘Ground Zero’ Mexico’s victim’s find a voice Israeli election: Undecided nation Terms of debate: Israel’s Anglophone voters The French in Mali: Come friendly bombs China’s censors overstep the mark Northern Ireland has been rocked by protests over the removal of the Union Flag from Belfast City Hall
dossier Feminism’s New Frontline: The women of South Asia
business Japan’s Abe seeks professional help The occupied brand: A brewery in the West Bank More time, please: Saving Britain’s pubs Co Editors Karen Bartlett Peter Guest Art Director John Bowling Writer/Reporters Zach Brown Frances Perraudin Designers Enrico Buratto Cath Levett (infographics) Researchers Sílvia Amaro Pauline Bock Maisie Lawrence Greg Walton Printed by Headley Brothers
Chairman Roland Rudd Managing Director Rory O’Grady Operations Manager Philip Olivier Global Sales Director John Pentin UK Sales Director Christian Morrow
CULTURE The legacy of Norman Borlaug Notes from Iran’s underground music scene
Crop researchers have been tackling a potentially devastating outbreak in Africa and Asia
Senior Advisors Nick Edgley Fiona Sanderson Distribution managers Mario Gaito Heloise Delegue Oliver Morgan (GKM)
Contributors: Manjima Bhattacharjya, Ed Curran, Dan Frosch, Khuzaima Fatima Haque, Jack Healy, Jonathan Kalan, Rachel Lu, Fariba Nawa, Jean-Philippe Rémy, Ben Sales, Linda Sieg, Noga Tarnopolsky, Lauren Villagram, Paul Waldie
next week’s news Obama’s inauguration, take two The 20th summit of the African Union
Front cover photograph: Ahmad Masood/Reuters. Small photos: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters, AFP/AFP/Getty Images, Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images
The World Weekly | january 17 2013 | 05
Peter Guest, Cathal McNaughton/Reuters (TOP)
Women on the frontline
The cult of Hugo Caracas, Venezuela
06 | The World Weekly | JANUARY 17 2013
an the revolution survive without its figurehead? Hugo Chavez is out of sight in Havana, and Venezuela is holding its breath. The health of the president remains a closely guarded secret. Chavez, who had cancer treatment in 2011, claimed he was healthy ahead of his re-election in 2012. However, shortly after triumphing in the polls he
Either way, Chavezâ€™s 14 years in power have seen profound change in Venezuela. Funded by rising oil exports, his government has cut extreme poverty from 23.4 percent of the population in 1999 to 8.5 percent in 2011. GDP per capita has more than doubled to over $11,290 in the same period, but crime rates have spiraled upwards. Chavez has named Nicolas Maduro as his successor, but very few people truly believe this flamboyant revolutionary is replaceable.
Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters
announced that his illness had returned and he traveled to Cuba for treatment. Chavez is a highly polarizing figure. To his detractors he is a dangerous left-wing demagogue, a throwback to the worst populist Latin American autocracies of the past. To his supporters he is the voice of the poor, a counterpoint to the U.S. in a region where North American interference conjures memories of CIAbacked coups and questionable interventions.
The World Weekly | JANUARY 17 2013 | 07
Obama’s broken promise INFOGRAPHIC
six foot by eight foot THE SIZE OF SHAKER AAMER’S CELL IN GUANTANANO BAY Aamer, a British resident and Saudi citizen arrested in Afghanistan, has been at the base for nearly a decade. (Equivalent to the floor space of just 10.8 average sized doormats, 550mm x 750mm)
the total estimated number of detainees in the camp’s lifetime
the number of original inmates from 2002 still held. Only one has stood trial
t became the visible expression of the West’s shadow war against violent extremism. For many around the world, the orange jumpsuits and shackled prisoners in cages showed America’s desire for revenge after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington D.C. on September 11, 2001. For others, the brutality of Guantanamo Bay was a necessary evil in the fight against a deadly and hard-to-detect threat. After his inauguration in 2009, President Barack Obama promised that he would take immediate steps to close the camp—a campaign pledge that has fallen by the wayside as
08 | The World Weekly | JANUARY 17 2013
the number of people currently believed to be held. 167 are being held without trial, according to Amnesty International
the number of inmates reported to have died in the camp
he takes the oath for the second time. Plans to shut “Gitmo” seem to have been indefinitely shelved, after the president signed a new bill in January, preventing the transfer of any of the camp’s detainees into the U.S. for any purpose—meaning that none will be able to face trial in a federal court. Obama has previously said that the facility undermines U.S. national security. When signing the bill, he blamed Congress for deliberately undermining his ability to close the prison. For the 167 detainees still interned in the facility, the wait goes on.
ILLUSTRATION: Cath Levett; Sources: U.S. Department of Defense, Amnesty International, American Civil Liberties Union, Reprieve
GENÈVE . GSTAAD . LONDON . HONGKONG
Big Mouth shuts up A notorious Somali pirate, nicknamed “Afweyneh”, or “Big Mouth,” has announced his retirement from hijacking. Over an eight-year career, Mohamed Abdi Hassan’s Hobyo-Harardhere Piracy Network was responsible for a string of attacks on shipping.
Waiting in the sky?
Leaders face up to climate change
merging economies are at the forefront of an international drive to tackle climate change, according to an influential association of lawmakers, Globe International. The group surveyed 33 major industrialized and developing economies’ climate-related legislation, and found that 32 had introduced or were in the process of introducing “significant” laws to reduce the impact of climate change. China, which is now the second largest economy in the world and continues to grow its manufacturing base, has begun to draft a national climate change law and regulations to control its rising carbon emissions. Other emerging countries, including India and Mexico, have begun to take similar steps, the group said. Even in countries where the debate over man-made climate change is highly polarized, there are signs that the prevailing sentiment is shifting. A draft of a congressional report in America, the U.S. National Climate Assessment, released in January, warned that the effects of climate change were now having a measurable impact on the economy, and said that “human activities, predominantly the burning of fossil fuel” were to blame. Good news for: Anyone living near sea level, although Globe International has acknowledged that the measures are too little to stop temperature rises. Bad news for: Carbon-intensive industries, who could find themselves paying up for their emissions as global pressure increases in step with temperatures.
ith the Mayan apocalypse out of the way, doomsday-watchers turned their eyes skyward again in January, as an asteroid called 99942 Apophis flew past the earth. Apophis, discovered in 2004, is thought to be one of the most likely asteroids to strike the earth. A direct hit would be equivalent to 10 hydrogen bombs. The danger has not entirely faded. Apophis will be back for another pass in 2029. Good news for: Anyone who had a holiday booked—or any other stake in human survival— during 2013. Bad news for: Survivalists, many of whom enjoyed 15 minutes of fame in the run-up to December 21.
10 | The World Weekly | january 17 2013
eventy-one former detainees in the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq have received a settlement of around $5 million from a private contractor which provided translation services for the U.S. military in postwar Iraq. The company, Engility Holdings, paid on behalf of its former subsidiary, L-3 Services, and did not respond to a request for comment. The facility was the centre of a major scandal in 2004, when images of guards humiliating and torturing prisoners were leaked. Several soldiers were court-martialed for their roles in the abuse. Good news for: Victims of corporate malfeasance. Bad news for: Military contractors and their shareholders.
asa’s Kepler space telescope has discovered 461 new potential planets as it scours the Milky Way for worlds that could host life. Four of the planets are in the so-called “Goldilocks zone”—just the right distance away from their star for liquid water to exist on their surfaces. While liquid water is not a certain indicator of life, or even habitability, it is generally equated with a higher possibility of both. Another analysis of Kepler data by the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics showed that “practically all” sun-like stars in the galaxy have planets orbiting them, and around half have Earth-sized planets around them. Extrapolating the analysis suggests that around 17 percent of all stars are orbited by Earth-sized rocks—a total of around 17 billion planets in the Milky Way alone. Astronomers have been using Kepler to scan 150,000 stars to search for earth-like planets that could host life. Steve Howell, Kepler mission project scientist, said in a statement: “It is no longer a question of will we find a true Earth analogue, but a question of when.” The search for extra-terrestrial water has also borne fruit closer to home. A meteorite believed to have come from Mars two billion years ago has been found to contain a substantial amount of water. The meteorite, uncovered in Morocco in 2011, is believed to have been formed in a volcanic eruption, and shows evidence that the planet once had either a layer of permafrost or liquid water at its surface. A robotic “rover” called Curiosity landed on Mars in August 2012 to begin a two-year search for signs that the planet was once habitable. To cap it all, veteran space-rocker David Bowie—who once famously sang “Is there life on Mars?”—emerged from six years out of the spotlight with a new album. Good news for: Everyone, potentially. Climate change, overpopulation and resource depletion could hasten the need for a new planetary home. Bad news for: Real estate agents and creationists—although the Vatican’s chief astronomer conceded in 2008 that life could indeed exist elsewhere in the universe.
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Mind the gender gap … WORLD VIEW
GENDER GAP INDEX KEY
ICELAND OVERALL INDEX NO. 1
No available data
Iceland’s Prime Minister, Johanna Sigurdardottir, is the world’s first openly gay leader
U.K. U.K. Only 18% of U.K. cabinet ministers are women
he challenges facing women in the developing world are depressingly familiar: child marriage in Yemen, girls’ education in Pakistan, maternal mortality in Chad, female circumcision in Somalia. The horrific rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey in New Delhi has drawn the world’s attention to gender inequality in India, but women’s rights are being contested all around the world. The mayor of the Indonesian city Lhokseumawe has announced a ban on women straddling motorbikes and bicycles because he says it encourages the violation of Sharia law. In the U.K., MPs have rejected a proposed European Commission bill to introduce a 40 percent female quota on company boards. The retirement late last year of Marjorie Scardino, the CEO of Pearson, left just two women in charge of FTSE 100 companies. Meanwhile, in the United States, a coalition of over 100 organizations signed a letter urging the Senate to ratify the U.N. Convention on Discrimination Against Women. The U.S. remains the only industrialized democracy not to have ratified the convention. Even in ‘the land of opportunity’, the gender gap is wide open. 12 | The World Weekly | JANUARY 17 2013
CHAD Early marriage and other cultural traditions mean that Chad has the lowest levels of female educational attainment in the world
56.3% RWANDA Rwanda has the highest proportion of female MPs in the world
65% BOTSWANA Botswana also has a higher percentage of girls enrolled in primary school than in the U.S. (84%)
The World Economic Forum’s analysis of the position of women around the world shows that equality is a long way off
E C O N O M I C PA R T I C I PAT I O N AND OPPORTUNITY
E D U C AT I O N A L AT TA I N M E N T
H E A LT H A N D S U RV I VA L
Percentage of women over 15 who are economically active World average: 51.2%
Percentage of girls enrolled in secondary school World average: 68%
Maternal mortality in deaths per 100,000 live births World average: 260
Percentage of MPs who are female World average: 19.8%
YEMEN OVERALL INDEX NO. 135 The World Economic Forum ranked Yemen as last in its Gender Gap Index
1,400 A F G H A N I S TA N Afghan women are 200 times more likely to die giving birth than from bombs or bullets
PA K I S TA N
0% SAUDI ARABIA Women can’t vote or run for election, but from 2015 they will be able to in local polls
TA N Z A N I A Has the world’s highest percentage of women over 15 in work ILLUSTRATION: Cath Levett
The World Weekly | JANUARY 17 2013 | 13
A hard road to reconciliation Northern Ireland’s first minister says that the peace process was always likely to be complicated The Globe and Mail Paul Waldie, Belfast
Weeks of violence in Belfast have highlighted the fragility of Northern Ireland’s peace process 14 | The World Weekly | january 17 2013
elfast has been gripped by almost daily protests for more than a month, with images of masked men throwing rocks and firebombs at police broadcast around the world. It’s the worst violence the city has seen in years, and there are fears some neighbourhoods could revert back to the dark days of the 1970s and 1980s, when Belfast was overrun with sectarian violence and battles raged between the IRA, Protestant paramilitaries and British soldiers. “The peace process in which we are involved was never going to be some straightforward linear progression to peace. There were always going to be bumps along that route,” said Peter Robinson [First Minister of Northern Ireland]. “And anybody who simply closed the chapter and thought that was the end of the story I think is wrong. There is still a lot of work yet to be done.” The protests started after Belfast City Council, led by Catholic republicans, voted to fly the British flag atop City Hall only on 18 days per year instead of every day. Catholics argued the decision was a fair
compromise because the Union Jack is a divisive symbol. But Protestants saw the move as a rejection of 103 years of history and a slap in the face. Many have been protesting ever since. “I can understand that a lot of people [around the world] will be scratching their head and finding it difficult to understand,” said Robinson, whose position is akin to a provincial premier. “The flag encapsulates the identity of a community and we had a very peaceful Belfast City Council for many decades.” A Protestant, he blamed republican councillors for provoking the issue. “Nationalists and republicans decided to poke unionists in the eye by pulling down the flag simply because they could, and that has had consequences—consequences that you’ve seen on the streets.” But he also acknowledged there are bigger issues at play, in particular the growing disconnect between working-class Protestants and their political leaders. Many believe Robinson and others are out of touch and too complacent. And some are turning to a new radical group called the Ulster People’s Forum that is leading the protests. Police say paramilitaries have also taken a leading role in the violence—a worrying throwback to Northern Ireland’s dark past. “What I do recognize is that there are many people who feel that they are left behind—that they are
disengaged with the political process,” said Robinson, who has been involved in unionist politics for 40 years and leads the largest Protestant party, the Democratic POINTS Unionist Party, which was founded by Rev. Ian Paisley in the 1970s. “I don’t know any country in On Dec. 3 the world where you will get unanimity with everyone 2012 the majorityon the population on any political issue. So of course nationalist Belfast there are people in our society who are against what City Council we are doing.” voted to only fly Last week, the other community leaders created the Union Jack flag on designated days the Unionist Forum—an outreach group that they hope will convince angry Protestants to give up their of the year. protests and become involved in the political process. Recentlyreleased 2011 It’s the first time unionists have worked together like census data shows this in decades, he said. that Catholics So far there is little indication anything is quelling make up the fury. The protests have battered Belfast’s economy, 45 percent and which was already struggling with a recession. Protestants Business at some downtown shops and restaurants has 48 percent of been down as much as 40 percent since the protests Northern Ireland’s started and foreign investors have started to become population. wary of investing in the city. “We are having to spend a lot of time talking, not just to people that are close to taking investment decisions to come into Northern
Ireland, but even some people who have invested in Northern Ireland, and we’re obviously trying to convince them that this is isolated,” Robinson said. That kind of hand holding is frustrating, he said, because he and others have spent years promoting what was supposed to be a new period of reconciliation in Northern Ireland. “I’ve spent a lot of my time going around the world. I’ve been to the United States, Canada, China, United Arab Emirates. I’ve been to Dubai, I’ve been to India,” he said. “So I go around the world trying to convince people that we have a new era here in Northern Ireland and then the violence that happens in a few streets in Belfast gets shown around the world.” And yet, Robinson is hopeful Northern Ireland has changed and more progress will slowly come. “I have no doubt that ordinary people in Northern Ireland want to move forward. They want to enter a new era—they want to have a share in society,” he said, and then added: “We aren’t there yet. We still have to work on it.” The Globe and Mail is a Canadian daily newspaper based in Toronto.
Apathy rules and violence flourishes Comment: Political apathy in Northern Ireland makes sectarian violence all the more dangerous
Global leaders, like George W. Bush, once heralded the success of Northern Ireland’s progress
The Belfast Telegraph, Ed Curran, Belfast
o one should underestimate the threat from dissident republicans or loyalist flag protesters to the fragile stability of Northern Ireland in 2013. Disaffection in a divided community looms large in this New Year and still has the capacity to undo much of what has been achieved to date. The politicians at Stormont have their work cut out to cope with these threats, which are part of a wider challenge: how to govern a small country where virtually one in two people could not care less about politics and don’t bother to vote. The last Assembly vote was eight percent lower than the previous one and 15 percent down on the first one in 1998. These figures do not suggest that Northern Ireland is impressed by the performance of the Stormont Executive. On the contrary, disillusion appears to have grown over time. Unfortunately, the powers-that-be at Stormont continue to promise much, but deliver little. A headline in this newspaper [the Belfast Telegraph] aptly summed up the five-party coalition: ‘Only thing Executive seems to be sharing is ability to delay’. The prime responsibility rests with those in charge — principally Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness and their respective parties. The other three parties cannot be absolved totally. By acquiescing blandly, they deliver a seal of approval to the lethargy around them. Years, never mind months, pass at Stormont without agreement on key issues. Posturing is the order of the day too often. The dillying and dallying is unending. The amicable smiling faces of the first and deputy first ministers on ceremonial occasions, such as the visit of
the Queen, or Hillary Clinton, or trips to China and the United States, may impress the outside world, but are no substitute for decisive local leadership on difficult and divisive issues. Robinson and McGuinness need to reinvigorate a flagging (if they will forgive the pun) political process and do more to persuade a seriously disillusioned public that devolution is working effectively and efficiently. If dissidents and loyalist mobs operated in a vacuum, they might be easier to handle. But within the context of such general apathy with Stormont, they become an even more dangerous force against stability. People want to believe Stormont is better than direct rule, but arguments in favor of local control are not helped by images of a near-empty Assembly chamber, where MLAs [Members of the Legislative Assembly] don’t turn up to present questions and, above all, where legislative progress is painfully slow. Just as the onus is on republicans and nationalists to engage with dissidents and not to wash their hands of the threat, so it is imperative that mainstream unionists recognize they have lost touch in tough loyalist neighborhoods. If the principal purpose of the new unionist forum is to re-engage with these difficult areas, it should be welcomed by all. The New Year must bring more concerted leadership from Stormont—with more interest and support from London and Dublin— otherwise the dangers of disenchantment will be even more manifest in the months to come. The Belfast Telegraph is a daily newspaper based in Northern Ireland. The World Weekly | january 17 2013 | 15
In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook and Denver shootings, U.S. divisions over firearms regulation are starkly drawn in Colorado The New York Times Jack Healy and Dan Frosch, Denver
A firearms show in Connecticut in January shows that gun advocates retain a strong lobby 16 | The World Weekly | january 17 2013
ith politicians in Washington deeply divided over new gun regulations, an urgent national debate ignited by the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School is storming into state legislatures across the country. And nowhere is that debate more emotionally charged or politically consequential than in Colorado, a reluctant crucible for the battle over guns. This state, one of hunters and sport-shooters, has endured two of the most horrific mass shootings in U.S. history, and this year for the first time in more than a decade it could pass major gun-control legislation. Gun-control advocates say it is a moment forged in part by a massacre inside a suburban Denver movie theater that left 12 people dead. But it is also one created by demographics, of population shifts that have nudged the political center left while transforming traditionally rural, conservative swaths of the West. “We’ve had it with mass shootings,” said Beth McCann, a Democratic state representative. “People just don’t want to hear about another massacre. This is enough.” To lawmakers and advocates on both sides of the debate, Colorado is becoming a national test case for what kind of gun regulations—if any—can gather support from lawmakers, law enforcement officials and a public whose relationship with guns has been forged by tradition as much as tragedy. This is a place where even the horrors of the 1999 attack at Columbine High School in suburban Denver only temporarily shifted the debate on guns. In 2000, Colorado voters passed new restrictions on purchases made at gun shows, but a few years later, the legislature relaxed gun laws by making it easier for people to carry concealed weapons and also limited
Carlo Allegri / Reuters
Gun control’s ‘Ground Zero’ towns and cities from passing strict gun laws. Gun ownership here crosses generations and political divisions. Liberal Denver lawyers own handguns and the Democratic governor takes his son to hunting safety classes. A popular family shooting range sits in the center of Cherry Creek State Park, drawing some sport-shooters who voted for President Barack Obama and others who insist he is a communist. As state legislators across the country reconvene, heavily Democratic states like New York, New Jersey and California are considering proposals to restrict assault weapons and ammunition that are far more aggressive than anything likely to pass in Colorado, even with Democrats now in control of the Statehouse. Governor John W. Hickenlooper, a first-term Democrat, has called for universal background checks of private, individual gun sales, in addition to the checks now required at gun shows and at retail establishments. But in an interview, Hickenlooper said he was unsure about proposals from Democratic lawmakers to ban high-capacity ammunition magazines. “Even saying that puts some people into a frenzy,” Hickenlooper said. “People in the West have a very strong, deeply anchored belief in people’s right to bear arms.” Democratic lawmakers have not formally introduced their gun-control measures, but have said they are writing bills that would create background checks for private, person-to-person sales and restrict high-capacity magazines like those used by the gunman in the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado. Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a national guncontrol organization, is entering the fray here, and has hired a Denver lobbying firm to support new guncontrol laws.
State Senator Greg Brophy, a Republican, said the attention from outside groups would make Colorado “Ground Zero for gun control in the United States.” Republican supporters of gun rights have bristled at the push for tighter gun laws. One of the first bills introduced in the Legislature would allow teachers with concealed-weapons permits to carry guns inside their classrooms with a school district’s permission. Brophy was one who recoiled at the universal background checks, saying that the only way to enforce such a system would be to require all gun owners to register their firearms. “That is the most onerous regulation ever conceived of in this country outside the outright confiscation of firearms,” he said. “Even if I want to loan a shotgun to my nephew to take out pheasant hunting, I can’t do that. I don’t think they realize here in Colorado just how dangerous that proposal is to liberty.” The prospect of stricter gun laws has sent gun sales soaring, and unleashed a torrent of new applications for background checks and concealed-carry permits. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation, which runs the checks, has a backlog of nearly 11,000 applications. Across the country, the battle over guns is pulling states in sharply different directions. While
Democratic-controlled states are pushing for greater restrictions on ammunition, assault DATA weapons and tougher background checks, POINTS lawmakers in Mississippi are considering changes to the state’s concealed weapons bill backed The firearmby the National Rifle Association. As the gun debate moves ahead, some of the related death rate most influential voices may not belong to lobbyists in the U.S. is 10.2 per every 100,000 or lawmakers, but to family members who lost their deaths, just sons and daughters, husbands and wives to the library behind Mexico. of Columbine and Theater 9 in Aurora. For months, However, more several of these families have been huddling with than half of those lawmakers and making public appearances to call for are suicides. tighter background checks and measures to keep guns Of the 61 away from people with mental illnesses. mass shootings “It’s different now because children are being across the U.S. butchered in schools,” said Dave Hoover, a police in the past 30 officer in Lakewood, Colorado, whose nephew years, more than A.J. Boik was one of the 12 people killed in 75 percent of Aurora. “Because kids were killed at a movie. the perpetrators Because families went to church and were gunned obtained their firearms legally. down ... I don’t understand why we are even arguing about this.” The New York Times is a U.S.-based daily newspaper.
Mexico’s victims find a voice The families of the thousands killed in drug wars may finally get access to reparations under a new “victims’ law”
ocío Uribe Ruiz stood at the back of a conference room in the Mexican presidential residence, silently holding a picture of her missing daughter, as President Enrique Peña Nieto touted a new law to protect victims of the country’s devastating organized crime epidemic. With more than 60,000 people killed in drug violence in the past six years, and tens of thousands more disappeared, Mexico now faces the monumental task of addressing the needs of the growing group of those affected. The new legislation, signed into law this week, promises to do just that. For the first time, Mexico will specifically address victims’ rights with additional legal protection and financial reparations, among other benefits. “It gives me hope,” says Uribe Ruiz, whose 14-year-old daughter, Maria Fernanda Tlapanco Uribe, went missing nine months ago. “But really, will it be applicable to us, and not just to whoever they want? The laws aren’t for us. They are for the ‘big’ people.” The law, officially called the General Law of Victims, is the joint work of academics, advocates, and victims themselves. Proposed and promoted by the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity—which is led by the poet Javier Sicilia, whose son, Juan Francisco, was killed in March 2011—the law received nearly unanimous support in Congress last year before hitting a wall with former President Felipe Calderón. Calderón declared the law unviable and unconstitutional. However, Peña Nieto promised to revive it. To start, the law makes “victim” a legally recognized
entity. It provides for a victim’s right to respectful treatment, a full investigation of the crime, and the awarding of damages whenever possible. The law also demands the creation of a new ‘National System of Attention to Victims’ to aid victims in various capacities, a national victims’ registry, and a fund to dole out reparations—ostensibly to be paid for with cash and property seized from criminals. Critics, including other victims’ groups, say the law is flawed. In a statement, the victims’ advocate group Mexico S.O.S. says the law only covers victims of federal crimes, not state and local crimes. And it creates a scheme in which the state must pay out damages caused by a criminal. They argue that the law defines “victim” in terms that are unnecessarily sweeping and vague. Colombia was the first nation in Latin America to enact legislation protecting victims. That country’s June 2011 Victims and Land Restitution Law sought to restore millions of acres to people displaced by the decades of fighting between the government and guerrilla forces. The law also provides for financial compensation to victims of human rights violations. “I have hopes that they’ll listen to us,” says María Eugenia Morales, whose 19-year-old daughter, Nayeli Francia Morales, has been missing for nearly two years. “We aren’t just one or two” who have lost someone, she says. “We are millions.” The Christian Science Monitor is a U.S.-based news outlet headquartered in Boston.
The Christian Science Monitor Lauren Villagram, Mexico City
Tomas Bravo / Reuters
The families of those missing in Mexico’s drug war may now qualify for reparations
The World Weekly | january 17 2013 | 17
Israel Undecided As the Israeli election approaches, the indictment of running mate Avigdor Lieberman has shaken Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign Global Post Noga Tarnopolsky, Jerusalem
Benjamin Netanyahu was first elected Prime Minister of Israel in 1996, serving until 1999. He was finance minister in Ariel Sharon’s government for two years from 2003 and reelected as prime minister in March 2009. In October 2012, Netanyahu’s Likud party merged with then-foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman’s nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party. Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu faces a tough fight for re-election after a series of campaign miscalculations 18 | The World Weekly | january 17 2013
hen Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for elections in October, he quickly moved to unify his right-wing Likud party with the even more right-wing party of his foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman. Experts considered the pair a shoo-in. Polls predicted the joint team could gain up to 45 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, Israel’s parliament. It was taken as an article of faith that the canny Netanyahu had safeguarded his rightward flank through the union with Lieberman and that, at the very least, he would maintain the 41 seat bloc they hold today. While not an outright majority, that kind of win could have led to an easily constructed coalition with the addition of just one mid-sized party from Israel’s turnstile stable of them. But something has happened on the way to the voting booths, which open on Jan. 22. The latest polls show Netanyahu’s Likud down to as low as 32 seats. Of course, being the frontrunner—while enviable— carries certain risks, including voter indifference or apathy. In addition, the Likud campaign team, once thought of as a well-oiled if not unbeatable machine, has proven itself surprisingly lackluster this electoral season. It has made maladroit errors, such as attacking both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas—who is not seen as a factor in this electoral season—and Israel’s own ever-popular President Shimon Peres, in a single weekend. Then there’s the problem of Netanyahu himself. While seen to be the inevitable future prime minister, he is not widely liked. “Many are just not enthusiastic about Netanyahu. But as none of the other party leaders are really considered potential prime ministers, he is seen as the only one who can win,” said pollster Rafi Smith in a
briefing for journalists. The flip side, of course, is that banking on a Netanyahu win, many Likud voters are allowing their eyes to stray to smaller niche parties. It’s “as if there were a direct election for prime minister, and not a matter of who will win the most seats in the Knesset,” said Hebrew University political science professor Gidi Rahat. “He could get a very low number of mandates, not even a majority in government. And if Lieberman ends up undoing the union with Likud, as he has threatened, it will be even smaller. Given that there are no other options, I think it will be easy for him to be re-elected. On the other hand, it will be very hard to govern.” Assuming the election will be decided on security issues, as most in this country have been, the Likud seems not to have prepared for critiques of its handling of the economy. This omission has opened a vulnerable front with the Labor Party, which is seeing something of a rebirth at about 18 projected seats. The upstart and secularist Yesh Atid party of former journalist Yair Lapid is also making inroads, holding steady now at 10 or 11 seats. But worst of all for Netanyahu is the predicament of Lieberman, who only days after the election announcement found himself indicted on corruption charges. He was obliged to resign his ministerial job, though not his parliamentary seat. Naftali Bennett, the phenomenon of these elections, deftly stepped in to fill the vacuum left by Lieberman’s enforced departure. A former Netanyahu aide and high-tech wizard who sold his start-up company for $145 million, Bennett is a former soldier in Israel’s most elite army unit. who incarnates almost every idealized Israeli archetype—and has quickly become Netanyahu’s nemesis. The latest polls show Bennett’s Jewish Home party swelling to 14 seats. Bennett is one of the more radical voices on the right and has shown a showman’s propensity for drawing media attention by proposing extremist policies, such as the annexation of the West Bank and the “voluntary deportation” of Palestinians. Smith, the pollster, said the Lieberman indictment provoked some voters of Russian origin—a huge Lieberman demographic—“to feel disappointed and lose their political bearings somewhat. They are not sure how to take this. The largest percentage of undecideds is found among these Russians—and almost 25 percent of potential voters are still undecided.”
Ronen Zvulun / Reuters
DIGEST MIDDLE EAST
The Global Post is a U.S.-based international news outlet.
UNITED ARAB LIST
KEY OPPOSITION GOVERNMENT
SHELLY YACHIMOVICH Labor
KADIMA LABOR YESH ATID MERETZ HATNUAH HADASH BAKAD SECULAR
DIGEST MIDDLE EAST
Terms of debate
JTA Ben Sales, Tel Aviv
he debate moderator asked the candidates what their parties would do to prevent a third intifada, an increasingly common concern in the Israeli election campaign. In his answer, Jeremy Gimpel drew from his upbringing—in Atlanta, Georgia. “I’m from America,” Gimpel said in English. “We don’t talk to terrorists. In America, we eliminate terrorists.” Soon after Gimpel had finished, New Jersey native Alon Tal shot back: “There are graves in the Wild West that say, ‘Here lies John Smith, who exercised all his rights’,” Tal said, also in English. “Do we want to find a pragmatic solution or do we want to be self-righteous?” Tal is a candidate for the center-left Hatnua party, while Gimpel is running with the hard-right Jewish Home faction. They are two of a handful of American-born candidates at the forefront of an intensive push to win over English-speaking voters in advance of Israel’s Jan. 22 elections. While English-language campaigns aren’t new in Israel, candidates and observers say this year’s effort feels larger and more sophisticated than those of elections past. American-born candidates such as Gimpel, Tal and Dov Lipman of the centrist Yesh Atid are hosting parlor meetings in American homes. Party leaders like Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid and Jewish Home’s Naftali Bennett have addressed large crowds in English. The Jerusalem Post has sponsored four English debates in Anglo-heavy population centers. Some parties have English bumper stickers and fliers. “The English-speaking community is finally stepping up to the plate, as we become more comfortable and understanding of the system,” said David London, executive director of the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI), which co-sponsored The Jerusalem Post debates. London noted that like American Jews, Anglo Israelis are just a small fraction of the population— estimates are between 3 and 4 percent—but they tend to be more financially successful than the average Israeli. Some 300,000 native English speakers live
JEWISH HOME PARTY
AFTALI BENNET wish Home Party
YISRAEL BEITEINU YAIR LAPID Yesh Atid
AVIGDOR LEIBERMAN Yisrael Beiteinu
ILLUSTRATION: Cath Levett
in Israel, the majority of them American, according to AACI. Gimpel, Tal and Lipman hope to replicate American economic success in the political arena. Israel has not had an American-born member of Knesset since 1984, when the ultranationalist Rabbi Meir Kahane was elected. His party, Kach, was later deemed racist and disqualified from running in the 1988 elections. The polls show Gimpel 14th on the Jewish Home list and Tal 13th on Hatnua—on the verge of winning Knesset seats. Lipman, 17th on the Yesh Atid slate, is a more unlikely victor. “My mother tongue is English, so I wanted to empower the English-speaking immigrant community,” said Gimpel, 33, who moved to Israel when he was 11. While the three candidates come from different parts of the political spectrum, they agree that most English speakers care about strengthening the state’s democratic values and reforming its fragmented political system, in which as many as 15 parties may enter the next Knesset. Tal and Lipman both noted that Americans, who come from a tradition of religious pluralism, also emphasize issues of religion and state and tend to oppose government support for Haredi [ultra- DATA conservative] Orthodox institutions. POINTS All three candidates agreed that a common stereotype Israelis have of American voters, that Former Foreign they care only about supporting settlements, is false. Lipman said that English speakers are “very much Minister Avigdor in line with mainstream Israel” and, like a majority Lieberman was of Israelis, are prioritizing economic issues in formally indicted under charges of this election. breach of trust Although Anglo political influence is on the rise, and fraud in it’s unclear if English speakers will follow in the December. footsteps of Russian immigrants, who formed their During his time own powerful Knesset party, Yisrael Beiteinu. Gil in government, Troy, a McGill University history professor who Lieberman was is now a fellow at Jerusalem’s Shalom Hartman the only serving Institute, said that English speakers have historically foreign minister tried to blend into mainstream Israeli society rather to live outside the sovereign state than form their own distinct culture. “There was always this kind of American he represents, immigrant zeal to be truly Israeli and out-Hebraicize living in the the Hebraists,” Troy said. “There’s a lot of American isolated Nokdim immigrant feeling of inadequacy in our Hebrew, so settlement in the West Bank. you try to overcompensate by not acknowledging that you’re a separate community.” Gimpel said that Americans are eager to integrate into Israeli society because they came to Israel by choice, unlike Russian or Ethiopian Israelis, who were fleeing oppression. “If Americans were interested in themselves they would have stayed in America,” he said. “They want Anglophone what’s best for Israel.” JTA is an international news service focusing on Jewish issues around the world.
migrants voting in Israel’s forthcoming election could prove to be an important constituency
The World Weekly | january 17 2013 | 19
Israel’s Anglophone immigrants are growing in influence
China’s censors overstep the mark A clumsy attempt to change a newspaper article has created widespread dissent on social media
Microblogging site Sina Weibo has become a phenomenon in China, with more than 350 million registered users posting around 100 million messages per day. Western social networks Twitter and Facebook are banned in China, but many internet users have found their way around blocks to use both. Sina Weibo has become a hub for dissent in China, with subscribers using puns and allegories to post messages critical of Chinese officials.
Protestors have gathered outside the Southern Weekend’s Guangzhou offices calling for greater press freedom 20 | The World Weekly | january 17 2013
hen Tuo Zhen, the propaganda chief of Guangdong province, rewrote and replaced the New Year editorial of the Southern Weekend weekly newspaper without the consent of its editors, he probably did not think it would make much of a splash. Indeed, Tuo might have believed that it was a natural extension of his job, which involved issuing censorship directives to newspaper editors, approving story ideas and having the final say on whether an article is put to ink. He could not have been more wrong. In China, where journalists usually accept censorship of the print press as a fact of life, Tuo’s presumptuous move somehow touched a raw nerve. Through China’s social media, in particular its Twitter-like microblog platforms, the editors of Southern Weekend released statements about the incident. And almost overnight, “Southern Weekend” became the rallying cry of users longing for freedom of press in China. These include some of Chinese social media’s most high profile users from all walks of life. Celebrities such as actress Yao Chen—with 31 million followers— and actor Chen Kui—with 27 million followers— tweeted explicit messages of support on Sina Weibo, a microblog platform. Yao quoted the 1970 Nobel lecture of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Russian author and dissident, along with a logo of Southern Weekend. Chen was more direct: “I am not that deep, and I don’t play word games; I support the friends at Southern Weekend.” Active censorship of this topic on social media, including the deletion of Weibo accounts of several outspoken commentators, have not dampened users’ determination to keep the cause alive. Ren Zhiqiang, one of the most outspoken businessmen in China with almost 13 million followers, tweeted on Sina Weibo, “Freedom of press and freedom of speech are rights given to the society and the people by the constitution; they are also symbols of human rights and freedom. Yet they have become pipe dreams without the rule of law, being seriously distorted and restricted. If truth is not allowed to be spoken, would truth disappear?” Li Chengpeng and Han Han, China’s two most famous bloggers, both wrote articles in support of Southern Weekend. Li wrote, “We don’t need tall buildings, but we need a newspaper that speaks the truth. We don’t need the second highest GDP in the world, but we need a newspaper that speaks the truth. We don’t need a fleet of aircraft carriers, but we need a newspaper that speaks the truth.” Even the web editors of China’s biggest Internet portals, including Sina, Sohu and Netease, showed their
tea leaf nation Rachel Lu, Hong Kong
support with a little subversive game. For example, when read vertically, the first characters of seemingly unrelated headlines on a Sina news page delivered the hidden message “Go Southern Weekend!” Online action has translated into real-life protest. Hundreds of supporters held rallies outside of Southern Weekend’s headquarters in Guangzhou, many bearing chrysanthemums, a flower believed to be able to endure harsh climates. Many were not afraid to show their faces while holding up signs and placards calling for freedom of press. Indeed, one girl held up two fingers in a victory sign as the police took photos of her, presumably as evidence for potential prosecution in the future. Lin Tianhong, a magazine editor, penned a Sina Weibo post that seemed to capture the sense that a tipping point may have been reached. He wrote: “Over the years, we journalists have been censored and silenced. We are used to it. We started to compromise and self-comfort. We became familiar with the explicit and not-so-explicit boundaries of our work, and we began to self-censor. We were like frogs being cooked in tepid water … We have gone too far, as if we have forgotten why we chose this profession to begin with. Why are we trying to protect our colleagues at Southern Weekend? For me there is only one reason, life is just a few decades long, how can you forget your innocence?” Tea Leaf Nation is an online magazine focusing on the Chinese media.
Come friendly bombs
A long-running Tuareg and Islamist insurgency in the north of Mali was bolstered by the return of thousands of former mercenaries from Libya after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. Government forces were routed from major cities in the north in 2012. A major protest by soldiers in the capital, Bamako, brought down the government and handed power to a military junta.
hey all come out at once, in the early afternoon, in the center of Mali’s capital, Bamako—the little French flags, being sold by street vendors. Down the road, a truck drives by with a huge blue, white and red banner flying in the wind, its loudspeakers playing the 19th Century French Sambre and Meuse Regiment military anthem at full blast. In this African capital, which is not known for its love of all things French, these are unexpected sights and sounds. Today, though, is all about the French intervention. “France saved us from the Islamists, we will never forget this,” says Kassoum Tapo. He is the representative of Mopti, the loyalist city closest to the area controlled by the rebels in northern Mali, which by all accounts was saved from an impending rebel invasion thanks to French military intervention. Since then, the French army has been covering more and more ground, which gives Bamako hope that its national military forces will be able to recapture the north. “We have to be careful, we need to keep the momentum going at all cost, and then the Malian army needs to take over, otherwise it will be impossible to restart,” says a senior French official. In the northern half of Mali, controlled by the Islamist armed groups, the first effects of the intervention are starting to appear. People are worried about the bombs, and are fleeing from Timbuktu and the surrounding towns. In some cities, the rebels are purposely setting camp near hospitals or places filled with civilians. Médecins Sans Frontières has already issued a statement saying that there were “reports of numerous deaths and injuries from armed conflict in Konna, including civilians,” according to Mego Terzian, the NGO’s emergency response manager in Mali. More than the bombs, people are worried about retaliations
after nine months of rule by armed groups that pillaged the towns and perpetrated violent acts in northern Mali. In Timbuktu, where Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb fighters and their Ansar Dine allies retreated after their failed offensive on the city of Sevare, civilians have started their exodus. “Light-skinned people, whether they are Tuareg or Arab, are fleeing the city to avoid retaliations if the Islamic groups are defeated, for fear of being taken for Islamists,” an anonymous source said. “Ethnic violence is the greatest risk in this area, we were aware of that. This region harbors so much hatred that ethnic groups may be targeted collectively. On Sunday, in Sevare, members of the Peul ethnic group were assaulted in their homes, and even in mosques, by soldiers who accused them of helping the Islamic groups just because these organizations recruit many Peuls,” said Mali expert Charles Grémont. Similar incidents are being observed all around Mali, including small towns. The French troops have a huge task ahead, considering how strong the Islamist coalition is. Before the intervention, it was not clear whether the leader of the local Tuareg outfit Ansar Dine, Iyad Ghali, was linked with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, but several sources now certify that this Tuareg chief was part of the offensive to take Sevare. Hundreds of his men have joined the ranks of the Al Qaeda fighters. In all of this, where are the MNLA Tuareg rebels who had previously claimed northern Mali as an independent state before being overwhelmed by the Islamists? Those who hadn’t already joined Ansar Dine quickly crossed the Mauritanian border just before the French air strikes began. Le Monde is a French daily newspaper. Worldcrunch translates selected articles from the international press.
ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images
French airstrikes against Islamist militants in Mali have led to a rare show of support for the former colonial power in Africa
LE MONDE/WORLDCRUNCH Jean-Philippe Rémy, Bamako
French soldiers have arrived in Mali to take part in an offensive against Islamist militias The World Weekly | january 17 2013 | 21
Feminism’s new front
Outraged by the Delhi gang-rape, the shooting of Malala Yousafzai, and institutional abuse, a new women’s movement is fighting back in Asia Karen Bartlett THE WORLD WEEKLy
22 | The World Weekly | January 17 2013
t started with a trip to see the film, Life of Pi, and ended with Jyoti Singh Pandey’s final words on her deathbed in a Singapore hospital: “I am so sorry, mummy.” The 23 year old physiotherapy student from New Delhi was horrifically injured in a gang rape on board a moving bus. Yet her plight did little to stir politicians or India’s justice system into action until a wave of protest across the country forced the systemic abuses against women into the spotlight. A victory of sorts, but not for Jyoti Singh Pandey. Similarly, for Malala Yousafzai the outcry surrounding her attack probably did not feel like a triumph. The 14 year-old Pakistani was shot in the head by Taliban assailants on her way home from doing the thing that enraged them most: going to school. Her condition remained critical for days, but male Pakistani commentators, like Syed Fazl-e-Haider from the Dawn newspaper, quickly proclaimed “Malala has won,” highlighting the condemnation towards the attack from secular parts of the population. Women are not so sure. Former Pakistani MP Amna Buttar said the world needed to start looking at women “through a new lens,” adding that girls need support, instead of “spending their time dodging the bullets of angry men.” While women’s rights remains a global problem, Pakistani novelist and columnist Bina Shah says that Asian culture in particular must slay a double-headed beast where “honor is linked to women’s bodies, and fear of disgrace becomes an obsession.” Shortly before the latest gang-rape in Delhi, Indian women’s rights activists were condemning the “medieval institutions” behind a new local government initiative proposing to lower the marriage age for girls as a means of tackling rape. In Afghanistan, the depressing toll of crimes against women and girls continues, with human rights groups in Herat reporting a growing trend of women’s beheadings. As if a veil has been lifted, commentators are suddenly rubbing their eyes and asking: what in the world is happening to women? And how did half the world’s population—the female half—ever allow it to be this way? A plethora of women’s groups have sprung up in recent years, aided by changing attitudes and social media. The challenge for ordinary activists is whether they can come together, and implement change (See Delhi’s winter of discontent page 27). A new movement, One Billion Rising, has already been gaining traction in Asia (and elsewhere around the world) to protest at the one billion women the U.N. estimates will be subjected to violence in their lifetime. Feminism remains a contentious term, but the women of Pakistan, India and Afghanistan are in no doubt that they are fighting for their lives.
“Shut up, and suffer” Activists protest, but long-term progress is elusive Fariba Nawa The world weekly
n a dark movie theater, 12-year-old ‘Simrit’ sat next to her mother and grandmother about to enjoy a Bollywood feature. But the enjoyment was cut short. A man behind her reached his hand over her clothes and grabbed her breast. The wide-eyed, shy preteen jerked away and moved close to the edge of her chair. Her mother shouted at the molester and he disappeared from the cinema. It was Simrit’s first interaction with sexual harassment but not her last. “You walk on the street and men pass lewd comments, if you’re on a crowded bus or any other public transport, some man would try to feel you up. I don’t think there is any woman in this country who hasn’t gone through this,” said the soft-spoken Delhi resident. Simrit didn’t report the constant sexual harassment to police partly because she was afraid. “Our parents have said ‘if a man teases you, walk away. Today he is passing lewd comments, if you react, tomorrow he
RIZWAN TABASSUM/getty images
› will rape you.’ A girl has been brought up to live in
women, according to a 2012 Thomson Reuters Foundation survey, and the numbers of reported cases fear,” she said. of sexual violence is increasing. In India a But that fear gave way to anger and courage woman is raped every 22 minutes, according last month. At age 27, Simrit wore black, to India’s National Crime Records Bureau. strutted from the metro train to India Gate In Afghanistan 87 percent of women say and joined tens of thousands of Indians they face domestic violence. Ironically, to protest and condemn the brutal rape of these numbers may be a positive sign. Jyoti Singh Pandey. honor killings In Pakistan, by contrast, the organization The protests have touched a nerve. A in Pakistan, 2011 War Against Rape, estimates that 60 to 70 blaze of support for the Indian demonstrators percent of cases are not reported because of the filled airwaves, the Internet and inspired stigma associated with sexual abuse. international protests and vigils. In South Asia, Despite national differences, the rape of Jyoti where India is viewed as a leader in setting trends, the protests have become the catalyst to what analysts Singh Pandey sparked regional believe is a feminist movement sweeping the region sympathy, and anger. Mehr Tarar, from Afghanistan to Nepal. Social and traditional the op-ed editor at Pakistan’s media are contributing to heighten awareness about Daily Times, wrote “I have stayed women’s rights. But in each country, the movement awake at nights since I heard what happened to her. I see her takes very different forms. In India, a collective movement of people has unconscious, bloody body on the taken to the streets, but in Afghanistan and Pakistan, side of that road, and I go cold. I where the numbers of abused may be much higher, see her face in the women I see any burgeoning women’s movement is propelled by walking on roads in Lahore now. individuals. Many of these women may be averse to I mutter a silent prayer for them the word feminism, but they are seeking the right to as I blink my tears away for her.” Tarar found out about the rape education, to work, to divorce—and to prosecute rape. Afghanistan, Pakistan and India are ranked among on Twitter, and she says that many women in Pakistan the five most dangerous countries in the world for empathized. “The case illustrated what women in
Pakistani women in Swat protest Malala Yousafzai’s shooting and demand education for girls (above) Fariba Nawa on assginment in Afghanistan (below)
Knife designed by Jop van der Kroef/The Noun Project
› The World Weekly | January 17 2013 | 23 The World Weekly 15/11/2012 | page 23
› South Asia have for long been saying—that you don’t
Afghanistan’s first ‘feminist newspaper’ the Ruidad Weekly was launched by 22 year old Heleena Kakar in 2012. The small staff of 5 aims to “create a reformed mindset towards women and their rights in Afghanistan society”. The number of women with jobs in Pakistan grew from 5.69 million to 12.11 million over the past decade, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. More than 1 million Indian women are holding elected office in Panchayati Rajs— village councils—due to a 1992 quota reserving a proportion of seats for women. 90% of women in Pakistan suffer domestic abuse according to a recent Thomson Reuters Foundation Poll, while in Afghanistan 80% of women face forced marriages.
Malala Yousafzai was shot by the Pakistan Taliban for going to school
24 | The World Weekly | January 17 2013
have to dress wrong, or live in some backward area, or in some way be at special risk, in order to become a target of sexual violence. This case has been a catalyst for long-felt beliefs to express themselves.” But Tarar said that while she felt in solidarity with India’s women, feminism in Pakistan faces “huge odds and opposition.” Pakistan’s women have been struggling to repeal laws that the late dictator Ziaul Haq imposed in the 1980s, restricting women’s freedoms under the banner of Islam. India’s women’s movement is older, more secular and more organized. Still, Tarar feels hopeful. Women’s groups are gaining momentum in Pakistan. The rape of Mukhtar Mai in 2002 and, most recently, the shooting of Malala Yousafzai, has opened up discussions on diverse issues ranging from the rising violence against women to the atrocities of the Taliban over girls in Pakistan. Malala’s shooting sparked outrage and protests in Pakistan, and thousands of men joined the fight for women’s education. Nighat Dad, a Pakistani women’s rights activist and lawyer based in Lahore, has been instrumental in drafting and pushing to pass laws that protect women. Dad worked with Yousafzai and then, after the shooting, wrote articles condemning the Taliban. She received death threats, but has continued her activism. The lawyer utilizes technology to promote women’s rights and says social media has played a vital role in giving women a safe space to tell their stories. In December, television and newspapers initially ignored protests of two rapes, one of a 6-year-old Hindu girl at the hands of politically connected men in Umerkot village, Sindh province. “Young women’s rights activists were able to bring media attention towards the issue after making a massive uproar on Twitter and Facebook.” One of those activists is Karachi-based Ayesha Asghar, who is an avid Twitter user and blogger. She expressed outrage at the lack of justice for the Hindu victims, accusing the Pakistani government of complicity. Asghar said one Pakistani police officer sent her a threatening message online. The officer demanded that Asghar stops talking about the Umerkot rapes. She was giving Pakistan a bad name and she would be “dealt” with. In the last two years, women have pushed through two important laws. Victims of acid attacks and sexual harassment in the workplace can prosecute their attackers in the courts. Those convicted for acid attacks may face life imprisonment. The problem is few of these laws are implemented. Asghar is more critical of the women’s rights movement than Dad and Tarar, claiming that domestic violence and reproductive rights bills
have languished and faced opposition from religious extremists who delegitimize any rights for women as “Western.” The majority of the Pakistani public look the other way, she says, when they are asked to support women. They may react to one incident, like the Malala shooting, but the momentum quickly dies. “They are brainwashed beyond reason. Even an average Pakistani woman will … delegitimize a survivor of gender violence because she’s supporting the ‘infidels.’ She needs to shut up and suffer,” Asghar said. That mindset is what Afghan activist Wazhma Frogh deals with on a daily basis in Afghanistan. Frogh, an award-winning women’s rights worker and the director of the Research Institute for Women, Peace and Security, has spent time in all three countries. She said her native country is far behind Pakistan and India, both of which have a history of civil movements that have demanded rights for women. In Afghanistan the future for women hangs in the balance. Millions of Afghan girls are going to school for the first time, and women are taking seats in Parliament and receiving better healthcare—but these women are in a fragile place. No one knows what will happen after international troops pullout in 2014. Frogh said Afghans barely reacted to the Delhi rape in part because the Afghan media didn’t give it coherent coverage. However, Afghanistan has received ample international media attention for barbaric human rights abuses against women. The U.S.-led and NATO war against the Taliban, who banned women from work and education, has exploited the cause of women’s rights without delivering sufficient results, many Afghan activists say. The insurgency stones women to death and assassinates women fighting to protect other women, and the Afghan government has failed to curb the violence. Instead, the government throws victims of rape in jail and tries to close down women’s shelters run by NGOs. Yet, these same activists admit that it’s the presence of the international community and its support for civil society and local media that has allowed for women to speak up and report violent acts in the last decade. A testament of a feminist movement in Afghanistan can be seen in the female victims who sought help, from Bibi Aisha, whose nose and ears were cut off to Sahar Gul, a 15-year-old who was tortured and beaten by her husband and in-laws for refusing to become a prostitute, to Lal Bibi, who admitted to being raped by a northern commander and demanded prosecution. Sahar Gul’s attackers were sentenced to 10 years in prison last year. Urban Afghan women are taking advantage of their opportunities and holding on tight to their hard-earned freedoms. Soosan Feroz, the first female Afghan rapper, sings about oppression, while filmmaker Alka Sadat, depicts the horrors of life for Afghan women in
Nowhere to hide Afghanistan’s constitution enshrines women’s rights, but laws are seldom effective in changing entrenched attitudes. Justice minister, Habibullah Ghalib, described abused women’s shelters as “dens of immorality and prostitution” in June 2012.
› her award-winning films.
Palwasha Mirbacha, an economist who lives in Kabul, has witnessed life under three different regimes. She said she has seen immense improvements on the streets of Kabul. “Women are part of the public space again. They work in stores, go shopping with their fiancées and husbands and attend university. They have more freedom to wear what they want and voice their opinions. I can take a cab across town without fear,” Mirbacha said. Some of them, albeit in small numbers, are also organizing and even dare to call themselves feminists. One group of Afghans have published the first “feminist” publication. Ruidad Weekly gives a platform for women’s voices. Heleena Kakar, the force behind the publication, said Afghanistan is part of the global feminist movement. Kakar said the women in her country can find solutions in the teachings of the Koran, which encourages education and basic human rights that Afghan society prohibits now. Both the insurgents and the government lay claim to Islamic law, but neither side is following “true” Islam. The articulate 23-yearold activist and computer science graduate echoed what many Afghan women want to hear: that the imminent inclusion of the Taliban in the government will not strip them of their freedoms. Kakar said she is one of those women who would risk her life to preserve these rights. “I believe that the era of not going to school or stopping work has passed and will not be back. The general awareness of Afghan women has been raised to the extent that they are ready for any type of sacrifice to ensure their preliminary rights. I trust even if the Taliban returns, they will have to accept the new constitution of Afghanistan and should pay respect to women.” Kakar recently visited India to meet with women’s rights activists and university students. She believes women across the globe must work together to curb
Media type Hello! magazine launched in Pakistan in 2012, tapping into a thirst for glamour and celebrity. Publisher Zahraa Saifullah said, “Pakistan’s image has been dulled by the shadow of bad press. But this is not a reality for Pakistanis, who feel misrepresented by the ubiquitous fire and brimstone of media hype.”
About the author Fariba Nawa The world weekly
“My family fled the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan when I was nine years old, and we settled in the San Francisco Bay Area. I returned to the region to report in 2000 when the Taliban were in power. I lived and reported in Pakistan and Afghanistan until 2007. I met my husband in Afghanistan and we married in our
hometown Herat. When I became pregnant with my first child, a girl, I returned to the Bay Area. I was raised in a war zone, and I don’t want my two daughters to face the insecurity and bloodshed of war. I will return to Afghanistan to visit and work if safety returns, and the feminist movement progresses. Having reported this issue for the last 13 years, I’m hopeful that women will continue the struggle. The Taliban and others who want to stop the mobilization will have to face women like Kakar and Asghar, who are willing to give up their lives for the cause. In each country, the movement is in a different stage but globalization and the power of social media is accelerating the fight. Changing mentalities will take generations but laws and their implementation can happen soon if women and men band together like they have in India.”
the increasing violence against women. Across India the protests continue, but in smaller numbers. One of the organizers, Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association in Delhi, is adamant that the demonstrations are not just an outburst, but the next step in a revolution for Indian feminists. “This is a rare moment, ripe with possibilities for the women’s movement—when young women and men are on the streets, with eyes and ears open, talking
Soosan Feroz raps about women’s oppression in Afghanistan
The World Weekly | January 17 2013 | 25
Top job Pakistan, India and Bangladesh have all had women heads of government (including former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto) although most senior female politicians are from powerful families. Pakistan has had a higher percentage of women in Parliament than the U.K.
› about gender violence and discrimination. Patriarchal
commonsense is being shaken to its foundations,” she said. The question now is what transformation this movement will bring to the Indian justice system. Nevidita Menon, a feminist scholar and author of Seeing Like a Feminist, says it’s hard to predict what the current movement will achieve: “Constant vigilance and activism is clearly required for any real change to happen.” For Simrit, the girl once molested in a movie theatre, long-term progress is elusive. “Till the media
covers it, it will be a drawing room discussion. After that, like all other cases, it will be forgotten. I hope I’m wrong,” she said. Simrit began this interview with the agreement to give her real name. Four days later, she wasn’t comfortable sharing her name and insisted on anonymity. Activists are praying that in South Asia women’s rights does not also move back into the shadows. Fariba Nawa is an Afghan journalist and writer now based in the U.S.
What a way to make a living More women in Pakistan are employed, educated and (perhaps) empowered Khuzaima Fatima Haque, Lahore THE WORLD WEEKLy
Moneeza Hashmi began PTV women’s programming in 1999 with discussions about breast cancer, single mothers and divorce. “It was very nerve-wracking, we didn’t even know if we could say the word breast,” she says. Hashmi was Director of Programmes at the Pakistani state broadcaster before joining the women-focussed channel HUM. The daughter of poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz, and cousin of murdered Punjab governor Salman Taseer, Hashmi says Pakistan is being pulled apart by deep fissures. What happens to women will determine the country’s future. “There is a revolution taking place amongst lower middle class women,” she says. “They are coming into the cities, starting small businesses and getting educated. The majority of women in Pakistan are putting up a huge and very brave battle.”
Nine years ago Rehmat Bibi had nothing. She lived in a dilapidated room on the outskirts of Lahore. Married very young, with no skills, life was tough and an ailing husband added to her worries. “My children used to go to sleep after only drinking plain water,” she remembers. After getting a micro-finance loan she bought a donkey cart and hired a boy to collect garbage, which, in the evening, she sorted and sold on—using the profits to start a small shoe making business which now supplies markets outside Lahore. Her dream, she says, is to own a “big flashy car” and start a factory. “I believed in myself when no one else did and by the grace of Allah Almighty have fared so much better.”
“I do not want to be branded a feminist because those set of women advocate values that I simply don’t believe in,” says Raana Jilani, assistant manager of a private university. Jilani divorced her husband and raised family eyebrows by leaving her small daughter behind for six months when she took up a Fulbright Scholarship to the U.S., yet maintains that “in Pakistan, we as women have lots of advantages as compared to women in the West. We have a balanced approach, where our religion and society shields us to an extent that we have the freedom to take important decisions in our lives and yet also enjoy the privileges of being women.”
26 | The World Weekly | January 17 2013
Nineteen year old Sarah Masseh left her home town of Jehlum in the Punjab seven months ago to work in a beauty parlor in Karachi’s upmarket Clifton district, waxing, threading and blow-drying the country’s elite. She’s never talked to her customers about women’s rights, but says she’s found women in the cities are better off and can work on their own, earn and make lots of decisions for themselves as she and her two sisters are doing. “Working in an upbeat place in a metropolitan city like Karachi has given me a lot of confidence. I am earning and am very confident that my parents will not have to ask anyone for money to have three square meals a day. In fact, because of me, they can have new clothes.”
Tackling the women deficit Karen Bartlett THE WORLD WEEKLy
“We have an education emergency,” says Roshaneh Zafar, founder of Pakistan’s first, and leading, micro-finance organisation, the Kashf Foundation, which currently lends to more than 260,000 women. “There are parts of the country where education for girls is a complete no-no, and where even micro-finance doesn’t work.” Since it was founded in 1996 Kashf has worked mainly in the Punjab and south Sindh province, “but there are areas, like Balochistan, where we can’t send staff because it’s too dangerous, and those are the areas where women are the most disempowered.” Zafar was a World Bank economist until she was inspired by Muhammad Yunus to set-up Kashf. In 17 years the organisation has introduced a variety of innovative financial products for low-income households, funded private schools, and plans to pilot a health insurance scheme later this year. In a country where 84 percent of people have never
used a bank, Kashf has supported more than half a million families. Pakistan’s challenges are complex and intertwined, warns Zafar: “We’ve seen a transformation in women being able to access financial services. Young girls have more options than they did 20 years ago, but when it comes to poverty, conflict and fundamentalism there is no doubt that women are in the frontline. There are parts of the country where I shudder to think about what is happening to women—and I don’t see a resolution to that until we educate every man in Pakistan.”
Micro-future International public funding for micro-finance organizations fell by a third between 2009-2011 after micro-lending was linked to a wave of farmer suicides in India and to child labor in Bosnia. Now private funding for micro-finance is on the rise.
Delhi’s winter of discontent Manjima Bhattacharjya, New Delhi THE WORLD WEEKLy
A series of brutal rapes have shaken assumptions, and India’s antiquated justice system
Demonstrators in New Delhi mourn the death of Jyoti Singh Pandey
n innocuous SMS brought it to my notice. amongst many: in India a woman is raped every 22 “Switch on the TV news.” Nothing could minutes, according to the National Crime Records have prepared me for the images I was Bureau report for 2010. Delhi had 500 rape complaints about to see. Thousands of people, largely filed that year, but only one conviction. Yet for some young college students, had gathered at the heart reason, the brutality and violence of this particular of Delhi outside the security cordon that encloses incident became a tipping point for a so-far silent the massive complex that houses India’s president, public. Already primed for some coming-out-on-theRashtrapati Bhawan. It took a while to digest the streets (thanks to an anti-corruption movement fact that the sea of people was here to protest that stirred the middle class to action last rape. Not because rape wasn’t worth year, and campaigns like the Pink Chaddi protesting about. But because the silence and the Slutwalks led by young women around sexual violence in India was a through social media) the response was deep vault to which the combination had spontaneous and unstoppable. Even with 1 woman is raped every been forgotten. the water cannons, tear gas and lathi 22 mins in India according That last click in the combination was a charges (being hit with sticks, or lathis, by to National Crime Bureau horrific incident in which 23-year-old Jyoti policemen) the protests continued. As one Singh Pandey and her friend were brutally layer of young angry protesters was dispersed assaulted as they returned from watching a movie, by water cannons in Delhi’s foggy and icy cold winter, Life of Pi, one night. They got onto a bus that they another layer would emerge. What did these protestors thought was public transport but was actually a private want? Justice for Jyoti, the rapists punished, they bus being taken for a joyride by the driver and his wanted to show their anger and frustration at their lack friends who proceeded to of freedom in what they knew to be a free country— gang-rape Jyoti, beat her and their utter despair at the inaction of the state. friend, torture them both Mostly though, they just wanted to be heard, and to and insert iron rods into hear an assurance from their government that it cared, her with such force that that something would be done. they ripped her internal But the state did not respond—other than sending organs. It is said she put 39 sections of the Central Reserve Police Force up a good fight. Later including the Rapid Action Force (usually reserved in hospital, the doctors for terrorists) and the entire Delhi police machinery commended her will to to crack-down on the protestors, and shutting down survive. Thirteen days ten metro stations to the heart of the city so people later, in a hosipital in wouldn’t be able to get there (they still made it). Singapore, she died of Soon there were shocking, insensitive, statements multiple organ failure. from politicians, including one from the president’s No that’s inaccurate, she son, also a parliamentarian, that the female protestors died of rape. were only “dented and painted women chasing two The case was one minutes of fame”, one from a female opposition The World Weekly | January 17 2013 | 27 The World Weekly 15/11/2012 | page 27
Single life India’s National Forum for Single Women’s Rights lobbies for better recognition and benefits for the country’s 40 million single, separated and widowed women. Few qualify for government housing schemes, while half claim they have been denied a share in family lands.
› leader that the victim having been raped was now a
lie detectors on victims. Stop making “living corpse”, and one from the home minister that a ‘woman’s character’ a central if he spoke to the young people gathered, he’d have to part of the defense of accused speak to Maoist militia next. The prime minister made rapists. More than 20 new fast 6,227 a weak, scripted speech on television three days after track courts have been promised 34.6% Number of reported in to speed up rape cases, but the protests started. rapes in India in 2011 per 100,000 The deep misogyny and absolute lack of regard what of the types of judgements and percentage of convctions for women’s rights on the political agenda was laid we are accustomed to in rape cases, NORTH judges who tell victims to embarrassingly open to an aghast public. DELHI Since the attack the public has spoken of little else marry their rapists? What 2,246 46.5% other than rape. Scores of brilliant articles and heart- of the terrible rates of rending blog-posts have been generated. The media conviction and the NORTH 2,174 5,243 EAST has kept up an unrelenting dialogue with activists, grave injustice of the 21.2% 29% lawyers, police, politicians, celebrities and ordinary definition of ‘rape’ 4,409 Kolkatta WEST 19.8% citizens. Women have come out and told the men in (covering only penile Gir CENTRAL their lives and friends on social media the kind of insertion) in use? A sexual terror they’ve endured on the streets of their commission called the EAST INDIA cities for the last 30 years. Mothers have accompanied Justice Verma Commission Mumbai their daughters to the protests. In bedrooms, living comprising three members, rooms, dining halls, around office lunch tables, including one woman judge, Goa people spoke of what it was like to be a woman in this has been set up inviting 3,894 country. They spoke not of keeping their daughters at recommendations for changes to 12.94% home, but of teaching their sons how to behave. Not the rape law—a first in itself. There are the frustrating of shame and honour, but of respect and compassion. SOUTH Chennai These are no small achievements for women’s rights contradictions in a democracy, such as when an email from an in India. Madurai Women’s rights isn’t a new issue here. Since the angry citizen demanding chemical 1970s a strong women’s movement has consistently castration for rapists is treated just shown the massive gap between the constitutional the same as one from over a thousand equality Indian women are guaranteed and the realities women’s rights activists who’ve worked on cases for decades and have measured, practical, less they live in. It played a critical role in making populist recommendations. But in the end, what was seen as private matters—dowry the protests have achieved three things: harassment, domestic violence, child putting women’s rights on the political sexual abuse, sexual assault—a crime and agenda, bringing home to a vote-hungry a matter of public concern, and injecting party system of governance that women ideas of equality and rights into the Indian police use a “Until today I have not seen are a constituency, and establishing, mainstream discourse as well as into the ‘2 finger rule’ to check a single incident of rape with after all these years, that rape is not a DNA of coming generations of women. if a rape victim a respected lady.” Monlah Lal was a virgin. sexual act but a legally punishable, socially The movement’s form has changed over the Sharma, lawyer for the accused. despicable, crime. years going from an assortment of autonomous In parliament, the discussions have gone back to collectives and political women’s factions to a motley crew of women’s rights NGOs, feminist collectives, the peculiarities of Indian politics, the symbolism and “Had the girl simply surrendered...she would not academics, individual writers and artists, women’s posturing that it rides on and collects votes based on: have lost her intestine. Why factions of left-leaning political parties and an naming the new rape law after the victim, giving her was she out with her boyfriend increasing cadre of feminist-leaning social media a posthumous national bravery award, an unusually at 10pm?” Dr. Anite Shukla, warriors. The protests have put a spotlight on many of large amount of compensation for her family, maybe India Express the things women’s movements have been saying for a memorial in her name. They’ve gone back to her, years, but also compelled the movement to review its and not to rape and women’s rights, because after a “Consumption of fast food own position on issues such as capital punishment and forced foray into these issues, politicians have decided contributes to such incidents... it’s just too uncomfortable to deal with. But the public retributive justice. Chowmein leads to hormonal Amidst the calls for helplines, fast track courts, is still talking, and it’s not unusual to see groups of imbalance evoking an urge to death penalty or castration for rapists, a smaller group people out on the streets holding placards, lighting indugle in such acts.” Jitendar of voices have been saying other things: move your candles in memory of the victim—or just walking and Chattar, Panchayat leader gaze from the punishment to the process. Let’s look taking back Delhi. Decades of tolerance of a ‘rape culture’ have burst at what happens when women call a helpline. Let’s “I support death penalty for look at what happens when she goes to the police. at the seams this winter. This is what it’s like when Delhi rapists but there should Let’s look at how we bring up our men. Let’s look the silence is broken. Delhi’s winter of discontent also be a law that women at patriarchy. The answers are not pleasant: routinely has become a spring of hope for many of us around should not wear less clothes police refuse to file complaints, treat the victim as a the country. Even if India doesn’t change, things can and roam around with boys.” criminal, avoid investigation as it’s not a priority and never be the same again. Abu Asim Azmi, state president occasionally rape the complainant themselves. Stop of the MSP party. the two-finger test done on victims to test elasticity of Manjima Bhattacharjya is writer and activist based Reuters their vagina and assess past sexual history. Stop using in Mumbai
28 | The World Weekly | January 17 2013
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The World Weekly | January 17 2013 | 29 The World Weekly 15/11/2012 | page 29
Debt mountain Japan’s total gross debt, including government, non-financial and consumer debt borrowing, is now in excess of 450 percent of the country’s GDP. Since the 1990s the government has borrowed heavily to finance growth, but tax receipts have begun to stagnate.
Abe seeks professional help
Reuters Linda Sieg, Tokyo
Japan’s economy shrank by 5.5 percent in 2009 and it has sputtered along since, falling back into recession again in 2011. Liberal Democrat leader Shinzo Abe won a landslide election in December 2012, promising bold steps to kick-start the economy. In January, the government announced a $116 billion stimulus package in a fresh attempt to stir growth.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pledged to reform Japan’s ailing economy 30 | The World Weekly | January 17 2013
oubting politicians’ commitment to economic reform is a tough habit for Japan experts to kick, so the air of cautious optimism around the appointments of dynamic CEOs to advise on boosting industrial competitiveness comes as a bit of a surprise. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who returned to power last month after his business-friendly Liberal Democratic Party’s big election win, has prescribed a potent mix of government spending and easy money to revive a stagnant economy. But critics question whether he will also tackle the more painful structural reforms needed for longer-term growth. The list of eight CEOs and an academic joining cabinet ministers in a panel to advise on steps for competitiveness, however, has raised hopes that Abe may have a bigger appetite for reform than first thought. Among those tapped for the advisory panel are Hiroshi Mikitani, 47, CEO of e-commerce operator and Amazon.com rival Rakuten; convenience store chain Lawson CEO Takeshi Niinami, 53; and construction equipment maker Komatsu Ltd Chairman Masahiro Sakane, 72, ranked by Harvard Business Review among the top 20 global CEOs in 2009. Mikitani, for one, has been an outspoken critic of Japan’s ‘old guard’ business leaders, dropping out of the biggest lobby Keidanren and starting his own rival group. “My mission is to contribute to creating a framework that makes it easy to start venture businesses,” local media quoted Mikitani as telling reporters, mentioning tax breaks and other steps. Also included is academic Heizo Takenaka, an ex-economics minister who served as then-premier
Junichiro Koizumi’s reform czar during the latter’s 2001-06 tenure and the arch-nemesis of many LDP politicians for favoring reforms that would hurt the interests of some of their staunchest supporters. Takenaka has also criticized Abe’s plan to boost public works in light of the country’s massive public debt, now more than twice the size of its economy. Unlike the maverick Koizumi, Abe has no history of commitment to economic reforms. This time, though, with another tough national election for parliament’s upper house looming in July, Abe has made reviving the economy his top priority. The LDP and its coalition partner have a twothirds majority in the lower house and so can override rejections of bills by the upper chamber, but want to win a majority there to make enacting legislation smoother. “The most urgent issue is that he needs to show results or lose the election, and he is working on all kinds of things to spend and print money that could produce results in the short-term,” said Martin Schulz, senior economist at the Fujitsu Research Institute. “On the other hand, he has to follow up on structural policies—and this is where we could have some hope.” Still, skepticism remains strong given the deep resistance to change among many of the vested interest groups, such as doctors, farmers and small businesses, that could suffer from deregulation seen by many experts as key to generating growth in an economy whose population is aging fast and shrinking. “They’ve learned that ‘It’s the economy, stupid’, but in terms of structural policies, most of Abe’s supporters are not friends of structural reform,” Schulz added. “That the LDP does nothing is still the most likely forecast.” Even if Abe takes on board recommendations crafted by the panel for a growth strategy to be drafted by June, some fear the reforms may help companies, but not the domestic economy itself. “What the Abe government is thinking of as structural reform is ... how to reduce costs to boost the competitiveness of the manufacturing sector, so they can increase exports. But that will expand the current account surplus and the yen will rise again and competitiveness will decline,” said Koichi Haji, chief economist at NLI Research Institute in Tokyo. “What they are thinking about is how to reduce the corporate burden, rather than how to develop businesses that will help the Japanese economy develop,” he said. “Because they are not just oldfashioned manufacturers, we can have some hope, but their concept is to make money from overseas demand. “It’s a half-step forward from focusing on public works and construction, but it doesn’t mean a big change in thinking.” Reuters is an international news agency headquartered in London.
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The creation of an advisory panel of dynamic business leaders is raising hopes that real measures to boost Japanese competitiveness could finally be forced through
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Jobs crisis Unemployment in the Occupied Territories is high, at around 23 percent during 2012. The large, young population has access to few economic opportunities. The government is the biggest employer, but faces a huge funding shortfall after Israel withheld tax revenues.
The occupied brand How Nadim Khoury made Taybeh the best brewery in the Palestinian Territories
icons/the noun project
ot far from where Jesus is said to have turned water into wine, Nadim Khoury has pulled off another alcoholic miracle. Just 20 kilometers and several military checkpoints northeast of Jerusalem in the little town of Taybeh, sits a long room packed with giant slick steel barrels, twisting pipes, empty cases and thick brown bottles. Boiling vats shoot plumes of steam into the air. Tiny Palestinian flags are draped across the ceiling, and the slippery floors emit the sweet rich smell of malted hops. Here, at the Taybeh Brewing Company, Khoury masterfully mixes hops, malt and barley to turn the immaculate water from the Ein Samia springs into an improbable brew—Taybeh Beer, the pride of Palestinian beer drinkers. Taybeh Beer, established in 1995, is arguably the Middle East’s boldest beer company—and it’s not just the taste. Against all odds this little brewery has survived social, political, religious and military conflicts to retain its title as the only brewery in Palestinian Territories and first microbrewery ever in the Middle East. Named after the town itself, Taybeh, a tiny hilltop village ringed by magnificent olive trees which fittingly 32 | The World Weekly | january 17 2013
means “delicious” in Arabic, the brewery crafts the Holy Land’s finest 100 percent natural dark, amber, and golden ales. Riding a wave of optimism that followed the Oslo peace accords of the mid-1990s, which brought temporary stability to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Khoury, Taybeh’s founder and brew master, returned to the West Bank in 1994 after living much of his life in the U.S. He dreamed of turning his passion of home brewing into a symbol of Palestinian identity and unity. “I wanted to make something for my homeland, for Palestine,” he says. “We believe this is how the state of Palestine can be built—through the people, Palestinian brands and products.” Together with his family, part of a shrinking minority of Christian Palestinians, Khoury pulled together $1.2 million to open the brewery in their ancestral home. “Everyone thought I was out of my mind to open a brewery in a Muslim country,” Khoury says. Although the religion of Islam prohibits drinking alcohol, Palestinians tend to be slightly more liberal in their interpretation. The one percent of Christians left in the West Bank can’t consume a million bottles of beer each year, he adds with a wry smile, “so someone must be doing a good job.”
Jonathan Kalan, Taybeh The World Weekly
Nadim Khoury returned to the West Bank in 1994 to start a brewery that has survived blockades and conflicts to sell a million bottles of beer a year
The Occupied Territories’ economy depends on aid as trade restrictions imposed by Israel have largely destroyed its export sector. Agriculture accounts for a large part of the Palestinian economy but has been damaged by the construction of barriers and settlements.
More time, please The British government has stepped in to protect pubs from their owners’ predatory pricing
he public house has for centuries been at the heart of British culture, serving variously as a political meeting house, a place of commerce and supplier of the country’s principal social lubricant. Some, like the Cittie of Yorke on London’s High Holborn have been serving continuously since the 15th Century. Faced with high costs and a poor trading environment, this institution is under now threat. Many have been acquired by large chains, or “pubcos”, which rent out the premises to licensees and set the price of beer. As the economic downturn bites, these pubcos have been accused of abusing their pricing power to squeeze publicans and the government has now stepped in, announcing a statutory code to regulate the ties between owners and licensees. “Tied” public houses—those owned by the pubcos—have been particularly hard hit since the crash. The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), a beer industry pressure group, says that more than 3,500 have shut since 2009. The group blames high rents and above market-rate pricing for beer have driven many licensees to the wall. “The big companies, rather than passing on the economy of scale to the lessee and to the consumer,
Yet despite the difficulties, Taybeh Beer has chugged on for more than 15 years. Last year, they sold over a million bottles of beer, and show no signs of slowing down. Most of their customers are the West Bank, Jerusalem and Israel, but a handful of international consumers have developed an appreciation for their product—Japan and Norway are both large markets for them abroad. The town of Taybeh itself may be a paltry tourist destination in comparison to neighboring Jerusalem— it boasts just one biblical reference site and a handful of crumbling historic sites—but the brewery is working to change that. Since 2005, Taybeh has held the only “Occupied Oktoberfest” in the West Bank, uniting thousands of lederhosen-clad, keffiyeh-wearing, beer-drinking tourists, curious Palestinians and brave Israelis for two days of music, dancing, and drinking each year. Politics are put on hold while glasses are raised. Next year, Khoury also plans to open a boutique winery in the basement of an 80-room resort hotel he is building in Taybeh. Locals laugh, and claim there are no tourists, that the ongoing occupation and military conflict will make it impossible it host a boutique winery in the West Bank. Khoury simply shrugs his shoulders and points to the success of the brewery. “The tourists will come. Things will get better,” he says, hopeful. “Inshallah.”
The larger challenge though, he says, has been the occupation. “It’s the most difficult obstacle we’re facing—we have no borders,” he laments. With no borders of their own, everything made in Palestinian Territories must pass through heavily regulated checkpoints and be exported through Israel. Though Taybeh is just a few minutes drive from Jerusalem, the beer must pass through a checkpoint nearly two hours away for security reasons. Uprisings and protests can seal borders in an instant, making deliveries complicated. Once, during the Second Intifada from 2000-2005, the situation was so dire the company ended up delivering beer to Jerusalem by donkey caravan—the fastest way to cross the checkpoints.
Peter Guest the world weekly
instead take the entirety of that economy of scale and more,” Jonathan Mail, head of public affairs at Camra, says.“Tied licensees pay on average about 50 percent more to their landlord than they would pay if they were buying it on the open market.” The British high street has been devastated by a second recession in five years and a subsequent slump in consumer confidence and spending. Away from the thoroughfares of the U.K.’s largest cities, boarded-up shops and clearance sales are increasingly a feature. The same slump has hit the leisure industry badly. A report in November 2012 by Camra warned that as many as 18 pubs were closing each week. At the height of the recession in 2009, more than 50 shut their doors per week. Some pubcos were caught in the updraft of the precrash economy and took either debt or private equity investment before the market turned in 2009. In the current environment they have to match repayments with dwindling revenues. “I think that has exacerbated the situation,” Mail says. “The big pub companies are carrying big debt levels, and that level of debt has forced them to focus on squeezing out the maximum level of short term return. It’s also led the pub companies to adopt a strategy of selling off pubs when they become empty so they can use that money to pay off the debts.” The British Beer and Pub Association, which represents the pubcos, expressed its “disappointment” at the announcement of a statutory code, claiming that it will create additional bureaucracy.
Heavy drinkers In 2011, 192 billion liters of beer were produced worldwide. Several of the larger industrialized nations saw consumption fall due to the prolonged economic downturn, but emerging markets, and China in particular, drove an overall growth in the brewing industry.
Boarded-up pubs, like the Old Rose in Shadwell, London, are a common sight The World Weekly | january 17 2013 | 33
Eye in the sky A Canadian company plans to offer a high-definition video stream of the Earth by attaching two cameras to the International Space Station later in 2013. The company, Urthecast, hopes it can be used for agricultural and environmental monitoring.
When a mutant form of a devastating crop pathogen emerged in Uganda, a network of scientists picked up the mantle of their mentor, Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug
Peter Guest, Nakuru The World Weekly
Norman Borlaug, who died in 2009, is credited with saving hundreds of millions of lives through his advances in crop breeding. Among Borlaug’s achievements was the breeding of stem rust-resistant varieties of wheat, which almost eliminated the pathogen from the U.S. Unpredictable weather patterns have added to fears that a new strain of stem rust could spread rapidly across Africa and Asia. Ravi Singh (left) is one of a number of agronomists tackling a stem rust outbreak
34 | The World Weekly | JANUARY 17 2013
even thousand feet up in the Rift Valley town of Nakuru, a group of the world’s leading wheat experts gather by the pool in the Merica Hotel. Around a table cluttered with empty Tusker bottles are Ronnie Coffman, a big, bearded Kentuckian and chairman of Cornell University’s Center for Plant Breeding; Gordon Cisar, a Wisconsin native and 20year veteran of the U.S. seed industry; Ravi Singh, from India, now heading the wheat programme at Mexico’s Cimmyt research center; and the Australian Bob McIntosh, described fondly by his colleagues as the planet’s greatest wheat pathologist—and a “crusty old bastard.” Between them, they represent probably the greatest concentration of knowledge about wheat diseases, and in particular a virulent—but neglected—pathogen, Puccinia graminis, more commonly known as stem rust. A fungus, stem rust attacks the stalk of cereal crops, causing severe reductions in yields, and in extreme cases the death of the plants. In the 1920s and again in the 1950s, stem rust hit U.S. wheat, destroying more than a fifth of the total crop in the outbreak’s worst years. It was the father of the ‘Green Revolution’ in Mexico and India, the Nobel Peace Prize winning agronomist Norman Borlaug, who, in the 1940s and 50s, led a concerted effort to breed resistant varieties. Borlaug, who died in 2009, is credited with transforming the global food supply through his expertise in plant breeding, most prominently in Mexico. His success in targeting stem rust also bred a degree of complacency, according to Singh. “People did such a good job of breeding resistance
that like other diseases—like plague or polio—it was kind of gone,” he says. “With pathogens they are sitting somewhere, they are still evolving, and they will come back. But no one puts money [for research] there because it is not seen as an immediate issue. Very often we are doing damage control. We don’t plan ahead for what is coming.” In 1998, stem rust came back. Researchers in Uganda sent samples of a fungus found on wheat crops in East Africa for analysis by researcher Zak Pretorius in South Africa. It was not until the following year that the gravity of the find was established. Using the nomenclature of pathogen classification, the mutant species was dubbed according to its place of origin and the year of its identification—Ug99. The fungus was able to overcome the genetic resistance bred into the world’s wheat by Borlaug and his successors. As much as 90 percent of the global crop was vulnerable. Before long, spores had reached Kenya and, crucially, Ethiopia—where, unlike much of Africa, wheat is a staple crop. Carried in the wind, they kept spreading. “It’s present all the way up the east coast of Africa, from South Africa to Yemen,” Coffman says. “It jumped the Red Sea into Yemen about five years ago, and it has had an incursion into Iran. It is basically poised in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres to move into other continents. It could move into South Asia, which could be tragic if they’re not ready for it. It could move to Central Asia, where very little has been done to prepare for it, and into China, which is the largest wheat growing country in the world.” The potential impact on the developing world could be colossal. Earlier this month the UN warned that falling production and growing demand were seeing food prices rising, putting even greater pressure on the poor. In Africa, many countries import wheat to supplement their production of other staples, leaving them exposed to high prices on the international market. Some are now attempting to increase domestic production, but with the specter of a stem rust epidemic hanging over them, this seems a difficult prospect. However, there is hope. Singh and his team have been identifying genes which confer resistance to the pathogen. At a test site at Njoro, near Nakuru, the fruits of their labor, and test crops from around the world, are being grown. In plots surrounded by stunted wheat infected with rust, the researchers have developed a number of plants that are able, to varying degrees, to survive the epidemic. With funding from USAID, they have deployed test crops to Ethiopia, Egypt and several Asian countries. In a classroom at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute in Njoro, a group of students, newly-trained
Den of Spies Golden Globe winning thriller ‘Argo’ is to be remade from an Iranian perspective. The riposte, ‘The General Staff’, directed by Ataollah Salmanian, will show fugitive embassy staff being safely returned to the U.S. by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
in recognizing and containing the disease, wait to be handed graduation certificates. Scientists from Pakistan sit with those from India, Americans with Iranians. The disease does not respect borders, so those fighting it have had to learn to talk to each other. This ability of the world’s agronomists to cooperate despite the complexities of international politics was always a huge part of Borlaug’s credo, Coffman says. At the heart of the 21st Century response to stem rust have been Borlaug’s direct “descendants.” Coffman was the Nobel winner’s only PhD student. The Cimmyt center in Mexico was the hub for breeding and disseminating information. Around the tables in Nakuru, and in the field in Njoro, “Norm” is a name that resonates. It was Borlaug who, before his death, used his political clout and influence to secure funding from the Gates Foundation to scale up the Njoro research facility. The UK’s Department for International Development has since also contributed. Without this, it is hard to see where the money to respond to the evolving crisis would have come from. “The corporate and political memory of a wheat crop is last year’s crop. When you have these problems of an epidemic with a probability of one year in 15 or one year in 20, there’s no real political interest,” McIntosh says. Without political interest, there is no
cash for research, he adds. “The researchers are attracted to money. If there’s no money in the pot, the researchers go wandering off. You’ve got to remember that money stimulates research. When this [UG99 epidemic] started, probably in the world there were five or six serious stem rust workers.” At Njoro, it is something that is worrying the group. As Coffman says, “The bigger issue is the status of public research capacity in agriculture worldwide.” When U.S. and U.K. public funding for agricultural research dried up in the 1980s, the private sector took on the burden of crop science. Wheat farmers tend to store their own seed, meaning that big seed companies have little interest in the crop. “Vast wealth is in private hands, that’s where our money is going to come from,” Coffman says. “There is a whole new way of generating public goods. It remains to be seen if it’s going to be adequate.” Among the agronomists, there is a grim consensus that although there has been a brief flurry of activity and their work has progressed rapidly, this interest could be fleeting—until the next new mutant pathogen. Their success is a problem in itself. “If we get it right,” Cisar muses. “No one will hear about it.”
20% of the world’s calories come from wheat
Notes from the underground As restrictions are tightened, Iran’s independent musicians are feeling the pinch There is a long lyrical tradition in Iran, where verse written in rhyming couplets is revered and remains as popular amongst young people as ever. “It’s in the blood I guess,” says the bassist. “As much as an Italian growing up with great architecture, we’ve grown up with poetry.” Gigs and new music are publicized on Facebook and Soundcloud, though the government’s position on the legality of social media shifts week-by-week, but Iran’s technology-literate youth use an armory of virtual private networks and other work-arounds to get ample—if slow—online access. On occasion, bands get to play in public at one of Tehran’s handful of music institutes, under the guise of “research orientated performances”. Acquiring a permit directly from the ministry of culture is nearly impossible, so the institutes’ managers take great personal risks by granting permission for performances under their own licenses. Lyrics have to be purged of political or sexual content. Trying to work out what is acceptable is complicated by the lack of clarity from the country’s authorities. “The rules have become so strict they have closed down some of the coffee shops we used to play in,” says the musician, “They don’t like young boys and girls getting together, you know, Big Brother is watching.”
Zach Brown The World Weekly
n a dank cellar in Northern Tehran, four wild-haired men are tuning up. On the concrete floor, around thirty people are strewn across a crescent of broken chairs and sullied cushions, chattering and laughing in anticipation of the gig. In the dark, the white plumes of hash smoke and cheap tobacco curl into the air and orange juice is mixed with oily moonshine from clear plastic bottles. This is Iran’s underground music scene. “It’s getting stricter,” says the bassist for one of the capital’s better known bands. “Lately, one of the best practice studios was shut down because someone filmed a session there and sent it to one of the music channels overseas to broadcast.” This week, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency, an all-girl rock group was arrested for alleged contact with “dissident satellite channels” based in the U.S.. Female-only groups are banned in Iran, and women are restricted to backing vocals or support roles. Hip-hop and metal are dismissed completely as “decadent” and Western. Yet the music scene in Tehran, and beyond, is burgeoning. Countless bands play in enclaves around the country, occasionally becoming officially sanctioned, or breaking out internationally to have mainstream hits in ‘Tehrangeles’, where satellite channels beam home raunchy pop videos, filled with enough bling to make the most ostentatious of U.S. rappers look retiring.
Iranian musicians are forced to play their gigs behind closed doors
The World Weekly | JANUARY 17 2013 | 35
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36 | The World Weekly | JANUARY 17 2013
NEXT WEEK'S NEWS
Nuclear referendum Bulgarians will vote directly on the construction of a nuclear power plant in the country this January. The government, which cancelled the construction of a $1 billion project in 2008, agreed to stage a referendum after a petition attracted 545,000 signatures.
Washington D.C., U.S.A
What it is U.S. President Barack Obama is sworn in for his second term in office after his re-election in November 2012. Why it matters Second-term presidents are freer to take on special interest groups and Obama has already indicated a greater willingness to drive through his key agendas. In the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting, action on gun control might be one early marker. However, despite an 11th-hour deal to avoid going over the “fiscal cliff”—which would have lead to tax rises and spending cuts—there remain ideological gaps between the Democrats and Republicans and aggressive partisanship is likely to complicate decision making on Capitol Hill. What to expect Brinkmanship, rhetoric and increasing “deadline fatigue” in capital markets as lawmakers flirt with economic disaster. Cairo, Egypt
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
What it is Jordan will hold parliamentary elections on Jan. 23, just one day after its neighbor Israel (See pages 18 and 19). Why it matters Jordan’s economy is in trouble. Unemployment stands at 11 percent, while cuts in fuel subsidies late last year provoked protests across the Hashemite Kingdom. Amid murmurings that Jordan might be coming late to the Arab Spring, the government has slashed cigarette prices in an attempt to placate the electorate. What to expect More of the same. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamic Action Front plans to boycott the election, as do a number of youth groups, protesting political stagnation and a lack of electoral reform. With 139 of the candidates having previously served as parliamentarians, the 17th Jordanian Parliament will likely resemble it predecessors.
What it is Africa’s heads of state and government meet at the 2013 summit of the African Union. Why it matters After a decade of economic growth and relative political stability, the future had appeared to be considerably brighter for many of Africa’s countries. However, 2012 saw new threats to security in some areas of the continent—such as the once-stable Mali—and several simmering conflicts in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic once again boil over. The A.U. has taken on a greater role in managing conflicts and peacekeeping in recent years, and has been emboldened by successes in Somalia.
38 | The World Weekly | January 17 2013
New crises, however, could test its capacity in 2013. What to expect African Union meetings are often torturously slow, but unfolding crises in West and Central Africa could add a muchneeded sense of urgency.
Khaled Abdullah Ali Al Mahdi/Reuters
What it is The second anniversary of Egypt’s mass protests, which eventually led to the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. Why it matters President Mohamed Morsi finally signed the country’s new constitution into law at the end of 2012, but critics say it offers too few protections for Egyptians’ civil rights and the fallout from Morsi’s controversial decree, which was to give him wide-ranging powers until he back-tracked in November, still rankles. What to expect Renewed focus on the state of Egypt’s transition to democracy. Two years after they first took to the streets, Egyptians still need to know what, if anything, has changed.
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