In early March, I visited two refugee camps along the Thai-Myanmar border to report on the challenges facing refugee women and girls and was struck by the enthusiasm of students I met in Ban Mae Surin, a camp set in a remote but picturesque setting along the Mae Surin river.
The students were part of the Karenni Further Studies Programme and were rehearsing a group dance for International Women’s Day celebrations on March 8.
I had always thought – naively as it turns out – that rape is when a person forces another person, either physically or by using threats, to have sex and/or when there’s an absence of a clear ‘yes’.
According to the laws in some of Southeast Asia’s fast-developing nations, rape within a marriage isn’t rape. Or if you go by some of the decisions handed down by the courts, it’s not rape if there isn’t a physical struggle or the perpetrator is in his 60s.
A loud bang woke me. I realised after a few seconds it was the sound of the long bamboo pole that held down the tarpaulins sheltering me banging against the balcony outside my room with ferocious force.
Then came the piercing sound of the wind. It was here in eastern Mindanao – in a small two-storey house recently repaired after Typhoon Bopha blew away its roof – that I truly understood what a “howling” wind was.
An international rights group is urging Indonesian authorities to allow foreign media and civil society groups access to its Papua island following violence which has left at least 14 people dead since May.
In a separate incident – perhaps a sign of rising tensions – latest news reports say angry residents in Papua burned cars and shops on Thursday after an independent activist was shot and killed.