TIME Afghanistan

An Afghan Cleric Got 20 Years for Rape in a Landmark Judgment

For once, the victim, a 10-year-old girl, is not made to share the blame

A Muslim cleric has been sentenced in a Kabul court to 20 years in prison for raping a young girl in his mosque.

The trial was widely hailed on Saturday as a significant milepost in the fight for women’s rights in Afghanistan, for the fact that the 10-year-old victim was not held responsible for the rape, as is still common in such cases, CNN reports.

The saga began when rights group Women for Afghan Women intervened in the case to shelter the victim and protect her from family members who were overheard contemplating murdering her, in a so-called “honor killing.” The victim has since been returned to her family, who have made promises not to harm her and who attended the proceedings.

It ended with the child confronting her attacker, Mullah Mohammad Amin, in court, shaking, weeping, and saying: “You are a liar…you ruined my life…God will hate you for what you did to me, he will punish you.”

Amin’s lawyers had contended that the victim was 17-years-old and that the sex was consensual, making him culpable not of rape but the lesser crime of adultery — a charge that would make the girl also eligible for punishment. Medical evidence disputed the cleric’s Sharia Law defense.

Amin received a sentence consistent with the 2009 Elimination of Violence Against Women law, which for the first time made rape a crime in Afghanistan.

[CNN]

TIME Afghanistan

Afghan Troop Death Toll Hits Record High

Afghan Army handover
Michel du Cille—The Washington Post / Getty Images Afghan Army soldiers carry their comrade in a wheel-barrow after he was shot during a firefight on Tuesday April 2, 2013 in Wardak Province.

2014 marked the deadliest year for Afghan forces struggling to take control of the country

More than 4,000 Afghan troops died in combat in 2014, a record high since the U.S.-led invasion began in 2001, according to new casualty figures released by the Afghan defense ministry.

The new figure marks the first update to the death toll since 2013, when a mounting number of casualties prompted officials to suspend the count rather than risk doing harm to troop morale, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The updated tally counts roughly 4,380 casualties suffered by Afghanistan soldiers and police since the beginning of 2014, underscoring an escalating battle between Taliban rebels and Afghanistan’s fledgeling administration, which is racing to gain control of the country before the last remaining US combat troops withdraw by the end of 2014.

[WSJ]

TIME the backstory

Photojournalism Daily: Oct. 16, 2014

Photojournalism Links is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen

Today’s daily Photojournalism Links collection highlights Kiana Hayeri’s work that explores Iran’s sexual minorities. The photographs capture the story of a 19-year-old gay man called Amir, who moves to Turkey in the hope of a better future. The series is a powerful document of the young adult at a life’s crossroads and in the midst of continuing sexual transformation, and it just received an Honorable Mention from the 2014 Emerging Photographer Fund.


Kiana Hayeri: Jense Degar (The Other Sex) (Burn Magazine)

Misha Friedman: Bogdan and Yegor (Time.com) A Crimean gay couple decides to emigrate as Russian homophobia sets in.

Katie Orlinsky: Bear Town USA (Al Jazeera America) A small Alaskan village goes through major changes as Arctic Sea ice retreats.

Seeing Beauty Where Others Do Not (The New York Times Lens) Sarah Stacke writes about Marc Riboud, whose Asia work is now on show at the Rubin Museum of Art, in New York.

A Lens to the Front (Roads & Kingdoms) The story behind Metrography, the first and only independent photo agency in Iraq.

Chasing Militants While Pregnant (BBC World Service — Outlook) Fascinating radio interview with French photographer Veronique de Viguerie on some of her most dangerous assignments. Starts 30 seconds in.


Photojournalism Links is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen, Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.


TIME the backstory

Photojournalism Daily: Oct. 15, 2014

Photojournalism Links is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen

Today’s daily Photojournalism Links collection highlights Birte Kaufmann‘s compelling photographs of Irish Travellers. The work, which looks at the everyday reality of one large family within the largest minority group in Ireland, was just awarded the 2014 Emerging Photographer Fund – Runner-Up Award by Burn magazine.


Birte Kaufmann: The Travellers (Burn Magazine)

Debi Cornwall: Guantánamo’s Surreal Prison Landscape (The New York Times Lens) Intriguing, unsettling photographs juxtaposing prisoners’ and soldiers’ facilities at the U.S. enclave in Cuba.

Chris McGrath: The Quiet Defiance of Hong Kong’s Slumbering Protestors (Wired Raw File) A different look at the pro-democracy demonstrators.

Sebastien Van Malleghem: Life Inside Belgian Prisons (TIME LightBox) The photographer received extraordinary access to the country’s prison system.

Majid Saeedi (The Eye of Photography) Interview with the 2014 FotoEvidence Book Award winner.

The truth of war: A room that was one’s own (The Age) Photographer Ashley Gilbertson talks about his Bedrooms of the Fallen work.


Photojournalism Links is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen, Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.


TIME the backstory

Photojournalism Daily: Oct. 14, 2014

Photojournalism Links is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen

Today’s daily Photojournalism Links collection highlights Zun Lee’s photographs of the protests in Ferguson, Missouri. Lee’s images capture a community’s anger and sorrow for the perceived lack of justice after the death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown as well as other young black men who have died at the hands of the police across the country.


Zun Lee: Ferguson’s Weekend of Resistance (MSNBC)

Steve McCurry: Behind Closed Doors (The New York Times Lens) Powerful portraits of Asian domestic workers who have been abused by their employers.

Glenna Gordon: West African Countries Try to Cope With Ebola Crisis (Wall Street Journal) Documenting the outbreak in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Photographers Capture The Sorrow And Pain Of Global Girls (NPR) Five female photographers interviewed on their work on issues affecting young women and girls around the world.

A View On Chechnya (British Journal of Photography) Photographs from Monteleone’s new book on Chechnya, will be on display at London’s Saatchi Gallery.

Chris Killip’s In Flagrante (The Telegraph) Selection of images from Killip’s seminal work, which The J. Paul Getty Museum in California recently acquired in its entirety.

Magnum Photos, and Founders, Will Come to Life in Upcoming TV Show (TIME LightBox) The legendary photo agency announced its story will be made into a television series.


Photojournalism Links is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen, Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.


TIME war

Stop Pretending Drone Warfare Is Casualty-Free for America

The Invisible Front
The Invisible Front

Yochi Dreazen is managing editor of Foreign Policy. His new book, The Invisible Front: Love and Loss in an Era of Endless War, is out today.

Make no mistake: U.S. troops may not die during the fight against the Islamic State, but there will be a human cost

President Barack Obama has been delivering a single message again and again in the weeks since U.S. warplanes started bombing Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria: there will be no American boots on the ground in either country. Bombing the militants from the air rather than sending U.S. forces to fight them on the ground means that there is virtually no chance of U.S. casualties, which is crucial to maintaining the support of a war-weary American public.

But the White House is wrong to suggest that the current campaign will have no human costs. U.S. pilots may not get killed in combat or suffer physical wounds, but they aren’t immune to post-traumatic stress disorder and the other invisible wounds afflicting hundreds of thousands of veterans of the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Quite the opposite: reams of military-funded research has found that growing numbers of the pilots flying both manned fighter planes and armed drones are suffering from PTSD and depression because modern technology gives them uncomfortably vivid views of the carnage that results from one of their airstrikes. Have no illusions about the current campaign: U.S. troops may not die or suffer grievous physical injuries during the fight against the Islamic State, but it will exact a human toll all the same.

Drone operators are being hit particularly hard, and understanding why means taking a closer look at what those responsible for wielding the Obama administration’s weapon of choice against militants around the world see and experience every time they pick up the controls. The drone pilots typically work out of windowless trailers at bases in Nevada and California, spending 12 hours at a time hunched over video screens beaming back high-resolution imagery—better and clearer that what the average American watches on an HD TV—of the people and vehicles moving on the ground thousands of miles away. They track their targets for days or weeks before pulling the trigger. And that’s when, researchers say, the problems really start.

The results of the growing number of studies examining what long-distance war does to those who fight it are stark and striking. An Air Force survey in 2011 found that 41% of the Air Force personnel operating the unmanned aircrafts’ advanced surveillance systems reported “high operational stress,” along with 46% of those actually piloting the robotic planes.

The survey’s findings on post-traumatic stress disorder, one of the worst psychological maladies of the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, were just as striking. It concluded that 7% of the drone crews were in danger of developing PTSD, roughly half the proportion of troops returning from actual combat (the civilian rate is about 5%). PTSD is linked to depression and anxiety and is thought to be the primary reason for the military’s record suicide rate.

Last year, a study by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center found that drone operators were at “similar risk” for mental health issues like PTSD, depression, and anxiety as the pilots of the manned warplanes and other aircraft flying over Iraq and Afghanistan from bases in the two war zones because they were experiencing — even from the safety of their trailers thousands of miles away — “witnessing traumatic experiences” like the deaths of U.S. troops or the militants they had just killed by pulling a trigger on what looks like a video game joystick.

To understand what that means in human terms, consider the story of former Airman First Class Brandon Bryant, who flew drones over Afghanistan. In searing interviews with GQ, Bryant described the strange intimacy of using infrared cameras to watch the purported militants he was tracking as they went about their daily lives: having sex with their wives on the rooftops of their houses or playing soccer with their children. Then he would pull his trigger, and some of those the men would disappear in a flash of white flame.

“The smoke clears, and there’s pieces of the two guys around the crater. And there’s this guy over here, and he’s missing his right leg above his knee. He’s holding it, and he’s rolling around, and the blood is squirting out of his leg, and it’s hitting the ground, and it’s hot,” Bryant told the magazine, remembering one strike. It took him a long time to die. I just watched him.”

Another time, Bryant was using his drone to fly over a convoy of Humvees traveling down a dusty road in a blood-soaked stretch of Iraq, looking out for possible buried bombs. He spotted something suspicious, but a communications problem prevented him from being able to warn the Humvee commander on the ground. He watched, powerless to help, as a bomb tore through one of the vehicles, killing three soldiers and wounding several others.

The vivid imagery of the deaths he’d caused and seen sent Bryant over the edge. He drank so much whiskey and Coke that he would pass out and sleep in a parking lot near his hometown. Once, his mother woke up to discover that he had left a loaded semi-automatic pistol. She immediately worried he was getting to the point where he would take his own life. He began to seek help and was quickly diagnosed with PTSD. Therapy eventually pulled him back from the brink, but it had been a close call.

Bryant’s invisible wound is all-too-common among the pilots flying manned and unmanned warplanes in war zones. The White House has been deliberately vague about how long the current campaign against the Islamic State will continue, but has warned that it could take years. That means America’s pilots will be at war for a long time to come, even if America’s ground troops are not. Those pilots may never set foot in Iraq or Syria, but they could become casualties of war all the same.

 

Yochi Dreazen is managing editor of Foreign Policy. He covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for The Wall Street Journal and has reported from more than 30 countries. His new book, The Invisible Front: Love and Loss in an Era of Endless War, is out today.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME the backstory

Photojournalism Daily: Oct. 6, 2014

Photojournalism Links is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen

Today’s daily Photojournalism Links collection highlights Magnum photographer Larry Towell’s new book, Afghanistan, published at the end of this month. The mammoth monograph, consisting of the photographer’s work shot between 2008-2011, is an impressive chronicle of a country at the end of nearly a decade of war. The black-and-white panoramas are particularly striking.


Larry Towell: Picturing Afghanistan (The New Yorker Photo Booth)

Andrew Quilty: Crossing Over (Foreign Policy) Powerful photographs of the plight of the new Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Emin Özmen: Escaping a war without borders (Paris Match L’Instant) Another series documenting the refugee flood on the Syrian-Turkish border.

Marcus Bleasdale on Photography, Advocacy and Passion (Alexia Foundation blog) The photographer explains what compels him to make meaningful work.

Joel Meyerowitz on The Open Road (Aperture blog) Meyerowitz reflects on doing work on the road.

Nadav Kander on the worst of the west in China (Phaidon) Kander talks about his stunning landscapes of the Yangtze River in China, some of which are now on show at the Barbican in London.

Love Story (National Geographic) Aaron Huey reflects on returning to photograph Svaneti, Georgia, where he first worked while still in college.


Photojournalism Links is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen, Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.


TIME Disease

What It Will Take to End Polio

President Franklin D. Roosevelt leaves his home at 49 East 65th Street for a short visit to his family estate at Hyde Park, north of New York City on Sept. 27, 1933.
Martin Mcevilly—NY Daily News/Getty Images President Franklin D. Roosevelt leaves his home at 49 East 65th Street for a short visit to his family estate at Hyde Park, north of New York City on Sept. 27, 1933.

Jeffrey Kluger is Editor at Large for TIME.

Franklin Roosevelt never knew the Pakistani babies battling polio today, but he knew their pain. The world is fighting to end that suffering forever

You can still see the ramps and rails at Franklin Roosevelt’s house on East 65th Street in Manhattan—even though they’ve been gone for decades. They’re easily visible in the pictures that decorate the home. They’re visible, too, in the popular iconography of Roosevelt, who was photographed standing countless times after being paralyzed by polio in 1921, but always with a hand on a bannister, an arm on an aide, a cane in his grip—and ramps and rails at the ready.

The six-story Roosevelt house, where the family lived from 1908 until their move to the White House in 1933, is now owned—and was restored—by New York’s Hunter College. These days it’s a place of learning and policy conferences. But it is also a place of historical serendipity.

“When the house was built, it was one of the first private residences in New York that had its own elevators,” Hunter president Jennifer Raab told me as we toured the building this morning. Those became indispensable once FDR became paralyzed, and it was in that house that his kitchen cabinet thus gathered in the four months between his election in 1932 and his inauguration 1933. “The New Deal was born here,” Raab says.

For FDR, there were abundant compensations for polio. As Ken Burns’ documentary The Roosevelts makes clear, the disease deepened and grounded him. It made him a champion of children with polio—an effort that led to the March of Dimes and the later Salk and Sabin vaccines—and for that matter a champion of all people who suffered hardship. It was polio that gave Roosevelt a fuller temperament—and in turn gave the nation a fuller Roosevelt.

There are no such compensations for the handful of children around the world who still contract the crippling disease. On the same morning I was making my visit to the Roosevelt house, word came out of Pakistan that the country is on target to top 200 polio cases in 2014, its biggest caseload since 2000. Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio remains endemic—the other two are Afghanistan and Nigeria, with 10 and six cases respectively so far this year—and it’s the only one in which the caseloads are moving in the wrong direction.

As recently as 2005, Pakistan’s case count was down to just 28, helping to push polio to the brink of eradication. That same year, however, religious leaders in northern Nigeria declared a boycott of the vaccine, claiming that it contained HIV and was intended to sterilize Muslim girls. This led to a wildfire spread of the Nigerian strain that stretched as far southeast as Indonesia.

But Nigeria got its house in order, and the hot zone now—a more challenging one—has shifted to Pakistan, particularly in the tribal areas in the north and in the mega-city of Karachi. Some of the problem is simply the crowded, unhygienic conditions in Karachi. But the bigger piece is the fighting in the tribal regions, which have made vaccinations difficult or impossible. That’s been exacerbated by Taliban gunmen, who have shot and killed 59 polio field workers and police officers trying to protect them since 2012.

“It’s a very sad thing,” Aziz Memon, head of Rotary International’s PolioPlus team, told TIME by phone from Pakistan today. “We’re trying to get vaccinators on the ground and into the field despite the ban. And now rains and flooding that have broken 100-year-old records are creating more problems.”

Rotary, which has been the point-organization for the eradication of polio for more than 25 years, is being assisted by the Gates Foundation, Save the Children and multiple other international groups, all working to push back against the Taliban blockade. Vaccinators routinely wait at bus stops around Pakistan, climbing aboard and looking for kids who have no vaccination records and administering the drops on the spot. Refugee camps in the war torn tribal regions provide another way of standing between the virus and the babies.

“When the virus is contained like this it’s a good opportunity to step in and control it,” says Memon. “We can also take advantage of the low-transmission season, which starts soon.”

The effort to snuff out polio altogether is more than merely the moral thing, it’s also the practical thing. Bill Gates repeatedly stresses that $1 billion spent per year over the next few years can save $50 billion of the next 20 years, money that would otherwise be spent treating polio and constantly fighting the brushfire war of vaccinating against outbreaks. Eliminate the disease for good and those costs go with it. What’s more, the delivery networks that are put in place to do the job can be easily repurposed to fight other diseases.

None of this long-range thinking makes a lick of difference to the 187 Pakistani children—or the 10 Afghanis or six Nigerians—who forever lost the use of their legs this year. They are paralyzed, as they will be for life. For them, there is no offsetting wealth, no townhouse with an elevator, no path to global greatness. There is only the disease—a pain FDR recognized and fought to fix. In Pakistan, that same fight is being waged today.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME the backstory

Photojournalism Daily: Sept. 29, 2014

Photojournalism Links is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen

Today’s daily Photojournalism Links collection highlights Alec Soth’s series from Georgia, which is part of a long-term collaboration the photographer has had with writer Brad Zellar. The pair have previously made trips to six U.S. states, and published the same number of tabloids, each dedicated to one of the states visited. Soth and Zellar have a distinctive — somewhat eccentric, yet empathetic — way of seeing things as this work, which is said to be the last tabloid they’ll produce together, demonstrates.


Alec Soth: Southern Gothic (The New York Times Magazine) See also the magazine’s blog for a conversation about Soth’s and Zellar’s collaboration.

Christopher Anderson: Derek Jeter Opens the Door (New York Magazine) The Magnum photographer documents the life of Yankee legend Derek Jeter, who played his last professional game on Sunday.

Mikhael Subotzky and Patrick Waterhouse: The Evolution of Africa’s Tallest Residential Skyscraper (TIME LightBox) Work from the book, Ponte City, published by Steidl.

Oksana Yushko: Outgrowing Childhood Horrors in Beslan (The New York Times Lens blog) Presenting the photographer’s long-term project on the survivors of the school massacre in Russia.

Ian Teh’s Changed Chinese Landscapes (The New Yorker Photo Booth) Majestic panoramas of the rapidly changing country.

Ebrahim Noroozi: Iranian Coal Miners (AP Images blog) A look at an Iranian heavy industry hindered by international sanctions.

Andrew Quilty (The Broadsheet) The Australian photographer explains how he began to work internationally and why he finds himself returning to Afghanistan, time and time again.


Photojournalism Links is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen, Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.


TIME Afghanistan

Senior Democrat: We Should Be Proud of Afghanistan Progress

Levin Briefs On Investigation Into Private Security Contractors In Afghanistan
Alex Wong / Getty Images Carl Levin, retiring chairman of the armed services committee, thinks Americans have a "distorted" view of what the U.S. has accomplished in Afghanistan.

Retiring Sen. Carl Levin (D—Mich), chairman of the armed services committee, says things are getting better all the time in Afghanistan

Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who chairs the armed services committee, is leaving the Senate after 36 years. He spent Wednesday’s breakfast with a bunch of defense reporters responding to their questions on the U.S.-led attacks against Islamic militants and the Pentagon’s budget crunch.

Levin is no bomb-thrower or partisan hack. When we offered him the chance to say a final word at the end of his final breakfast with us, we listened:

Thank you for the years that we’ve been having breakfast together. I guess my one request, which I have feelings about, is our view of Afghanistan. I’ve been there a dozen times…they’ve made some amazing progress…The people of Afghanistan, by al measure, are glad we came. Eight million kids in school now, versus 800,000 kids under the Taliban; 40% girls, 40% women teachers. Universities now have formed.

Kabul, you can move in. Yea, there’s bombings and they’re covered all the time, and I understand it. But is it a glass half full? I think at least half full and I think, more importantly, it’s getting fuller…

I feel so strongly that the American public view of Afghanistan is distorted—it’s highly negative, they feel we failed. They have a right to feel some real satisfaction because we didn’t fail—quite the opposite. They haven’t succeeded yet, but with our help they have made some real strides, and it doesn’t come through.

So my plea would be, since this may be my last opportunity, would be to somehow or other cover the positives that have occurred in Afghanistan…

I just quote these public opinion polls: Americans, 70% or 65% think we have not achieved anything. In Afghanistan it’s 70 or 80% think we have. How does that happen that the people who are in the middle of that war think we’ve really done some good, and the people who are 10,000 or 15,000 miles away think we haven’t?

Particularly our troops and their families, they’ve got a right to feel they’ve accomplished something, ‘cause they have.

The American people, taxpayers, have a right to feel they’ve accomplished something, ‘cause they have…

I’m just going to hope that somehow or other [ex-defense secretary Robert] Gates’ point, his statement, will no longer prove to be true after a couple of more years. The statement that he made was that Afghanistan is the only war he’s ever seen that the closer you get to it, the better it looks.

I believe that that’s true, and I hope a couple of years from now, when I find a way to visit Afghanistan, that we’ll not only see more progress, but the American people finally realize that `Hey, it was worth it.’

 

 

U.S. Congressional Delegation Visits Afghanistan
U.S. Navy / Getty ImagesCarl Levin, center, on a 2011 visit to Afghanistan.

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