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ON THE AGENDA: Female genital cutting and Colombia’s women rebels

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Mon, 22 Jul 2013 12:20 GMT
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A teenager from Uganda's Sebei tribe sits inside a mud hut after undergoing female genital mutilation in Bukwa district, about 357 kms (214 miles) northeast of Kampala, in 2008. REUTERS/James Akena
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Today the U.N. children’s agency, UNICEF, launches the first global overview of female genital mutilation, a practice that puts millions of girls a year at risk of serious physical and psychological problems. We’ll be covering the report in detail and examining the many challenges involved in stopping the scourge. Check out our special spotlight on FGM from 1500 GMT.

Meanwhile, Nita Bhalla continues her exclusive coverage of the deadliest disaster ever to hit the Himalayas. She’s been at the epicentre of last month’s floods and landslides, triggered by record-breaking monsoon rain and dubbed the “Himalayan tsunami”.

Today she reports on the terror still felt by communities in India’s Uttarakhand state, where every new downpour brings foreboding. “The rain means death to us now,” remarks one farmer without hyperbole.

The delivery of life-saving aid doesn’t get much harder than in the foothills of the Himalayas. Atrocious weather, treacherous mountain roads and avalanches of rocks are just a few of the challenges faced by those seeking to get food to tens of thousands of villagers cut off by the floods, as Nita will report.

She’ll also be examining the impact of the disaster on people’s livelihoods. Many of the affected were farmers who could do nothing to stop their crops and livestock being washed away. Others were working in the tourism industry.

Which brings us to a tragic irony of the disaster. This unprecedented catastrophe took place in the most religious of sites for Hindus, considered “Dev Bhoomi” or the land of the Gods. Sadly, many of the 6,000-plus who died came as pilgrims seeking salvation, to be assured their place in heaven. Keep an eye on our spotlight, India’s deadly Himalayan floods, for all this and more.

Still on the humanitarian aid theme, Megan Rowling will be untangling work to develop a new core standard to make sure aid agencies are effective and accountable to the people they are trying to help. All well and good – but such standards already exist. What’s wrong with them? What will be different about the new lot? What will they achieve?

Meanwhile, we have a beautiful photo blog in the offing. Syrian refugees have turned a camp in Jordan into art, collaborating with artists to paint murals and bring colour to an otherwise bland landscape of white tents. Magda Mis will bring you the words and pictures.

Anastasia Moloney has the moving story of a mother in Dominican Republic who is seeking justice after her 16-year-old daughter was denied life-saving treatment for acute leukaemia while she was pregnant. Why? Because in Dominican Republic, abortion is banned under any circumstances.

Anastasia will also have a follow-up to her recent special report on how hopes of ending Colombia’s 50-year conflict hinge on battleground drugs corridors where the rule of law is but a hazy memory. This time she’ll be looking at life for female rebel fighters. It’s estimated that 30 percent of FARC rebels are women.

And Katie Nguyen has an interview with Britain’s director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, who has overseen a record high number of convictions for rape and domestic violence. She’ll be seeing what lessons there might be for other countries and asking what’s stopping even more cases of violence against women going to court.

Finally, Katy Migiro has been spending time in Nairobi’s Korogocho slum, where women and girls are teaching each other about reproductive rights and sexual violence. Expect some interesting multimedia. Stay tuned for this and plenty more besides.


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