Today I had the chance to interview Olivia Ward, a foreign affairs reporter for the Toronto Star.‚ The interview was absolutely enlightening.
Foreign affairs reporters have to be the coolest journalists out there.‚ They get to travel around the world covering the most newsworthy events.‚ She’s covered everything from this past U.S. election to human rights issues in Africa and Asia.
I talked to her about a whole host of things, but focused mainly on women’s rights.‚ She’s one of the most knowledgeable people I’ve ever spoken to, especially in regards to the the global standing of women.
It was a radio interview so I can’t really provide a transcript but I’ll give you the gist.
She wrote an article earlier this year ranking the 10 worst countries in which a woman can live.‚ On that list is Iraq, a country that before the U.S. invasion had some of the most liberal women’s rights views in the entire Arab world, and one of the highest female literacy rates among Arab countries.
Now, they have one of the worst.‚ Women are persecuted, raped at schools and some are completely segregated and socially subtracted.
She was talking about the situation there and it was pretty unbelievable.‚ It’s stuff you don’t really read about in the news.‚ It’s hardcore.‚ Stuff I couldn’t even imagine.
She told me about a meeting she had with two Congolese women who told her about some of the terrible things that take place in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
She had to pause, she couldn’t even put it in words.‚ Women are absolutely mangled in that country, some are even used as tactics of war.‚ Opposing forces will take women and sexually violate them as an act of war.
The U.N. recently declared sexual violence as an act of war, but what will come of that remains to be seen.
The bad thing is, the women can’t even report the rapes and violations.‚ They have no authority, no power.‚ They go unnoticed.
I’ve only ever read about things like this.‚ I knew they were happening but to hear them from someone who’s seen the aftermath first hand was a whole other thing.