News in Asia

This edition of News in Asia concentrates on Afghanistan, but includes news from other countries, too.

Human Rights Watch has called on the Afghani government to force provincial police departments to build separate, lockable toilets and changing rooms for policewomen, who face sexual harassment and assault on a regular basis. Sidiq Sidiqi, the spokesman for the Interior Ministry, which oversees the Afghan police, says that while policewomen working in major police stations have separate facilities, the government is still working to get provincial police forces to comply. He added that even though policewomen receive threats to their person, the government should be commended for bucking the prevailing culture and recruiting women in the first place. Can someone get this man a cookie?

I’m including this opinion piece from Foreign Policy Magazine to spark discussion (or head banging because this reeks of privilege) on the idea that the best way to help Afghani women is to educate the boys.

There are times I read the news and headlines and just think, “No shit Sherlock.” This piece on how the U.S. drone program is stirring up anti-American sentiment in Central Asia is one of them.

In Pakistan, a bomb exploded outside of an election office. It is the latest in a series of Taliban-claimed bombings against secular political parties in the run up to the May 11 election. The validity of the upcoming election is being questioned because many of the more liberal and secular Pakistani political parties are hesitant to participate because of the violence.

This news story broke earlier in the week, but a garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed, killing a now estimated 300 people with still more people trapped within the collapsed building. This is the third major incident at a garment factory in as many months. The majority of employees at these factories are women and the clothes they make are exported to Europe (60 percent), the U.S. (23 percent), and Canada (five percent.) This latest incident has sparked mass protests from many of the 3.6 million garment workers in Bangladesh.

With the events in Boston, Texas, and Congress being a big bunch of dicks, news of North Korea has fallen to the wayside, but that doesn’t mean stuff still isn’t happening. This week, South Korea is pulling the remaining workers from the jointly-run factory in North Korea, which has long been a symbol of hope for reunification. On a side-note: My second informal and totally non-scientific survey of friends in South Korea tells me that the general population of the country is much less concerned about North Korea than everyone else.

Finally, this may be a good time to review your dystopian future/apocalyptic survival plans as Taiwan has announced the first case of bird flu outside of mainland China.

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Stephens

Florida girl, would-be world traveler and semi-permanent expat. Her main strategy of life is to throw out the nets and hope something useful comes back, but many times it's just an old shoe. She also really, really hates winter and people who are consistently late.

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