Stories: Social Issues

  • Russia’s Disappearing Women

    When they were younger, before their son was born, Maria's boyfriend started hurting her. He would place his hands on her neck and squeeze tightly until her skin turned pink and she gasped for air. After her son Andrei came along, the abuse got worse, and her arms were regularly crowded with bruises, her face sore and swollen. Maria...

  • Guatemalan women transform their town one brushstroke at a time

    Lidia Florentino Cumes Cumez greets visitors to her small, bright office with a giggle before grabbing a brochure and launching into a well-honed explanation of what it means to paint this entire town on the banks of Guatemala’s majestic Lake Atitlán.  “These are the base colors,” she said recently, displaying a palette...

  • ‘I Don’t Go Out During the Day’: Inside Senegal’s LGBT Crackdown

    DAKAR, Senegal—Watching as dusk falls on the dusty streets of this city, Marie, a 27-year-old trans woman, explains that she only leaves her house after sunset. “I don’t go out during the day,” she says, flicking back her long red hair. “Only at night. I don’t even want to open my...

  • Inside the EU’s deeply flawed $200 million migration deal with Sudan

    In interviews with over 25 Eritrean and Ethiopian asylum seekers in Khartoum and the eastern city of Kassala, as well as local journalists, and lawyers working on behalf of refugees, IRIN has documented allegations of endemic police abuse, including extortion, violence, and sexual assault. The pattern of corruption and rights violations uncovered feeds into broader concerns over whether the EU&rsquo...

  • In Northern Uganda, Male Mentors Spread the Word on Family Planning

    GULU, UGANDA – When Josephine Lamwaka was growing up, she watched her father abuse her mother almost every day, sometimes even threatening to kill her with a machete. Lamwaka’s father also forbade her mother from using contraception or visiting the local family planning clinic. With her parents as her only model for marriage, Lamwaka, 30, didn’t expect...

  • “If You Have Money, You Can Think Whatever You Want”

    People in Nepal’s Thulopakhar village shudder to hear of a girl going to work abroad. Under their voices, neighbors mutter about sex work, abuse, impropriety. In this village, nestled beneath the Himalayas, some 70 kilometers from the capital city of Kathmandu, boys leave because they have no choice but to earn money for their families; girls need to stay...

  • In Tanzania, mothers learn how to teach the facts of life

    DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania — On a warm Saturday in October, a dozen women in the neighborhood of Mbagala Charambe in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, sat together in the open-air waiting area at Samaria Health Centre. On most weekends, women gather here to learn how to talk with their preteen and teenage daughters about puberty, their changing bodies, contraception and...

  • The Logic of Power

    BLOCKADES ARE THE WORKHORSE of Bolivian political protest. People who live in La Paz, the seat of government, have grown accustomed to them. They know that, nearly any day, they can expect to be descending one of the steeply angled downtown streets, or squeezed into the back of one of the minibuses, or vans, that compose the mass transit system,...

  • For Senegal island’s residents, famed slavery heritage site incurs a cost

    Each day, Deguène Gaye watches the ferry chug in from the mainland, disgorging a herd of sunburned tourists onto Gorée Island’s white-sand beaches. From there, she knows, they’ll probably trace a familiar itinerary, following their guides somberly past a memorial to the transatlantic slave trade and then to the famous House of...

  • The women and girls in Senegal pushing through the tech industry’s gender barriers

    The first time Binta Coudy Dé left Senegal was in 2011, when the then 22-year-old computer engineer was invited to participate in a tech competition organised by Microsoft in New York. Amongst the groups from all around the world participating in the competition, Dé’s group from Senegal was the only all-female team. “We knew that...