TIME United Kingdom

Boy Excluded From School For Dressing Up As Christian Grey

Teachers didn't see the humor in the 11-year-old's costume for World Book Day

Eleven-year-old Liam Scholes faced punishment at his British high school when he showed up for class dressed as the title character from Fifty Shades of Grey.

Sale High School, in northern England, was celebrating World Book Day on Wednesday and students were encouraged to dress up as characters from books. Taking his cue from the worldwide best-seller by EL James, which famously features a lot of explicit sex and bondage, Scholes dressed up as Christian Grey, wearing a gray suit and carrying cable ties and an eye mask. The school reportedly deemed the get-up “inappropriate” and kept the boy out of the class photo.

Yet the boy’s mother, Nicola Scholes, feels the school’s stance is hypocritical, as she explained to the BBC that the school felt it was “appropriate for a teacher to dress up as a serial killer” and “acceptable for kids to dress up as people that kill others” and “come in with [toy] guns.”

“Liam was advised to dress as James Bond, but he was promiscuous and a murderer,” she said. “Personally, I’m more offended by a murderer.”

She also said that her son’s friends “all talk about sex” and the costume “has been massively blown out of proportion. It was meant as a laugh and tongue in cheek.”

TIME gender equality

No Country Has Reached Gender Equality, Says U.N.

Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka speaks at the United Nations Office in Geneva on Nov. 6, 2014 in Geneva.
Harold Cunningham—Getty Images Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka speaks at the United Nations Office in Geneva on Nov. 6, 2014 in Geneva.

The under-representation of women in decision-making and violence against women are "global phenomena," said the head of U.N. Women

UNITED NATIONS — The head of the U.N. agency promoting equality for women is lamenting that a girl born today will be an 81-year-old grandmother before she has the same chance as a man to be CEO of a company — and she will have to wait until she’s 50-years-old to have an equal chance to lead a country.

Twenty years after 189 countries adopted a blueprint to achieve equality for women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said in an interview with The Associated Press that not a single country has reached gender parity and equality.

The executive director of UN Women spoke ahead of International Women’s Day on Friday and next week’s meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women. The commission will review the 150-page platform for action to achieve equality that was adopted at the groundbreaking U.N. women’s conference in Beijing in 1995. Then-U.S. first lady Hillary Clinton inspired delegates and women worldwide when she declared in a keynote speech: “Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights.”

Although there has been progress since Beijing, especially in women’s health and girls’ education, Mlambo-Ngcuka said, there are fewer than 20 female heads of state and government, and the number of women lawmakers has increased from 11 percent to just 22 percent in the last two decades.

“We just don’t have critical mass to say that post-Beijing women have reached a tipping point in their representation,” she said.

She said the under-representation of women in decision-making and violence against women are “global phenomena,” a result of male domination in the world that needs to change if women are ever to be truly equal.

The Beijing platform called for governments to end discrimination against women and close the gender gap in 12 critical areas including health, education, employment, political participation and human rights. For the first time, it recognized that women have the right to control their own sexuality without coercion, and reaffirmed their right to decide whether and when to have children.

Mlambo-Ngcuka said the issue of sexual and reproductive rights, which were the most controversial issues in Beijing, still stirs the biggest controversy in U.N. negotiations.

“Instead of becoming a norm … there has been resistance to those rights — deadly resistance as we have seen now in the Middle East” and with the school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria who have reportedly been sold off to men as wives without any rights, she said.

Mlambo-Ngcuka said “the sheer scale of the use of rape that we’ve seen post-Beijing,” especially in conflict situations, “I think tells us that the women’s bodies are viewed not as something to respect, but as something that men have the right to control and to abuse.”

What all of this means, she said, is that world leaders must start speaking out “very strongly and very openly” against sexual violence and the denial of women’s rights — and promoting gender equality must be a top issue on their agenda, which it isn’t now.

Mlambo-Ngcuka said the key is for men and boys to give up the privileges of patriarchy that they are born with.

Mlambo-Ngcuka said UN Women is looking for 10 world leaders, 10 CEOs and 10 universities to “break the mode” and become champions of the agency’s “He for She” campaign, which calls on the world’s male leaders, fathers, sons, husbands and brothers to stand up and support equality for women in all areas of life.

If that happens, she said, “we’ve got something to work with, taking the campaign forward.”

TIME Middle East

U.S. Concerned by Iran’s Growing Role in Fight Against ISIS

People return to the destroyed city, after it was freed from a four-month ISIS seige, in Kobani, Syria, March 3, 2015.
Alexandro Auler—XianPix/Corbis People return to the destroyed city, after it was freed from a four-month ISIS seige, in Kobani, Syria, March 3, 2015.

Iran is asserting itself in a divided Iraq like never before

WASHINGTON — Iran’s growing influence in Iraq is setting off alarm bells, and nowhere is the problem starker than in the high-stakes battle for Tikrit. It marks a crucial fight in the bigger war to expel the Islamic State group from Iraq, and yet Iran and the Shiite militias it empowers — not the U.S. — are leading the charge.

This is both a political and military dilemma for the Obama administration, which is under heavy criticism for negotiating with Iran over limits on its nuclear program. Iran, meanwhile, is asserting itself in a divided Iraq like never before.

The battle for Tikrit raises the question: Who is really running this war? Iraq? The U.S.? Iran?

Defense Secretary Ash Carter, under questioning from Sen. John McCain this week, acknowledged his concern when McCain asked if it alarms him that Iran “has basically taken over the fight.”

“It does. It does,” Carter replied, adding, “We’re watching it very closely.”

Watching, but not participating.

The Iraqis did not ask the U.S. led-coalition to coordinate or provide airstrikes in support of the Iraqi ground forces in Tikrit, even though it was largely U.S. air power that halted Islamic State advances after its fighters swept across northern Iraq last summer and captured key cities, including Tikrit and Mosul, as the Iraqi army quickly folded.

Instead, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey told McCain’s committee, about two-thirds of the Iraqi forces fighting for Tikrit are Shiite militias supported by Iran, which also has provided artillery and other resources. The rest are regular Iraqi soldiers.

The issue is the two major powers — the U.S. and Iran — might be running parallel campaigns with different goals. Both want the Islamic State group out of Iraq, but the U.S. hopes for an inclusive Iraqi government that includes Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. Iran, the major Shiite power in the region, would prefer a largely Shiite Iraq.

The Iranian involvement has also raised concerns among key members of the U.S. coalition fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

“What is happening in Tikrit is exactly what we are worried about. Iran is taking over the country,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said at a news conference on Thursday in Riyadh with Secretary of State John Kerry.

Kerry, however, said he was glad to see the Iraqi government taking the lead, even if it meant Iranian involvement.

“This was put together by the Iraqis, formulated by the Iraqis, executed by the Iraqis, and that’s the best thing all of us could, frankly, ask for,” Kerry said. “So we take it the way it is and we’ll hope for the best results and move from there.”

Tikrit is ripe with irony. It is the birthplace of Saddam Hussein, the former president who led Iraq into a devastating 1980-88 war with Iran. Now Baghdad has embraced Iranian military leadership in the fight for Tikrit, to the exclusion of the Americans, who invaded Iraq 12 years ago this month to topple Saddam and lost thousands of lives trying to ensure a stable, multi-sectarian and independent Iraq.

Stephen Biddle, a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University and an occasional consultant to U.S. commanders, said the Iraqis see the Iranians as a convenient alternative to the Americans as Washington pushes Iraq to be more accepting of Sunni political interests.

“So if we push them too hard they can just go to the Iranians,” Biddle said. “The Tikrit offensive is a terrific example of that in practice.”

Dempsey called the Iranian involvement in Tikrit “the most overt” Iranian military support thus far in Iraq’s campaign against IS, but he held out hope that it could work out.

“Frankly, it will only be a problem if it results in sectarianism,” Dempsey said, referring to the fact that the Shiite militias could inflame sectarian tensions in Sunni-dominated Tikrit

Analysts at the private Institute for the Study of War wrote Wednesday that the presence of Shiite militias in the Tikrit area could generate sectarian reprisal attacks.

“The greater question,” they wrote, “is one of Iran’s involvement in the operation,” including the presence of Iranian Gen. Ghasem Soleimani, commander of the elite Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, and Iranian military advisers.

“It raises questions about the independent capability and operational leadership” of the Iraqi security forces, the analysts wrote, and “calls attention to next steps and where Iran’s battle plans will stop.”

A U.S. defense official said Thursday that Washington has confirmed that Soleimani is in Iraq and providing military advice but not necessarily at the front lines in Tikrit. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence information.

Carter’s view, shared by the Army general who is overseeing the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, Lloyd Austin, is that to gain a durable defeat of the Islamic State, the Iraqis have to decide for themselves what will work and whom they will partner with.

“We will enable their efforts with our air power, with our advice and assistance in any way we can,” Austin said Tuesday. “But at the end of the day, they have to be able to do this,” and at times that has meant partnering with Iran.

“I can say that Iran’s influence is growing in Iraq,” Austin said, “but how much they have, I can’t speak to that.”

Biddle, for one, is skeptical of chances that the Iraqi government under Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, a Shiite, will make the political reforms Washington thinks are necessary, including replacing sectarian military and police commanders.

“The Iraqis don’t want to make those changes for a variety of perfectly understandable reasons.” he said, and the Americans may not have sufficient leverage to force them to change, given Iran’s willingness to provide an easy alternative.


Why Pope Francis Won’t Let Women Become Priests

TIME Books

The first pope of the Catholic Church to have had a woman as a boss is steadfast in his defense of the status quo when it comes to women and Church leadership

This month marks the second anniversary of Pope Francis’ election. The following is taken from THE FRANCIS MIRACLE: Inside the Transformation of the Pope and the Church by John L. Allen Jr.

On two occasions when Pope Francis has been asked about possibly admitting women to the ranks of the clergy, he has given a firm no.

At the same time, he has said that he wants to see a “greater role” for women in Catholicism, including participation in the “important decisions . . . where the authority of the Church is exercised.” He has also said that he wants a “deeper theology” about the place of women in the faith, one that will emphasize the critically important contributions they make. During his first two years in office, however, there were relatively few steps forward in either regard. No groundbreaking new roles for women were created and no new theological study was commissioned. While Francis’s popularity tends to insulate him against the criticism that such a record might otherwise attract, over time his ability to reframe impressions of the Catholic Church as a boys’ club, at least at the top, will be an important measure of his success—not merely because it’s a question of interest to the outside world but also because Francis himself has set it as a standard.

Pope Francis was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in 1936 and entered the Society of Jesus in 1958, meaning most of his formative experiences as a priest came before the reforming Second Vatican Council, held from 1962–65. The pre–Vatican II period was an era in which prospective clergymen typically entered the system young and lived in an environment in which interaction with the opposite sex was deliberately restricted, to the point that they were discouraged from looking too closely at women, a discipline known in the argot of the clerical world as “custody of the eyes.”

As a result, when talk turns to women, clerics of the pope’s generation often talk about their mothers or grandmothers, or perhaps a nun who taught them in grade school. They are keen to extol the domestic contributions of women—their importance in raising families, passing on the faith and imparting basic human virtues—which can make their rhetoric seem outdated and patronizing. Francis certainly feels such fondness for the women in his own family, especially, as we have seen, his paternal grandmother, Rosa.

On the other hand, Francis is atypical of many clergymen of his generation in that he did not enter a minor seminary as a teenager, where he would have been cut off from the outside world. Instead, he moved in the hurly-burly world of Argentina in the 1950s, a time when the Latin American nation was considered one of the most developed, cosmopolitan societies in the world. It was an environment in which women could serve in leadership capacities, inspired by Eva Perón’s de facto role as spiritual leader of the nation.

After earning a degree from a technical school as a chemical assistant, Bergoglio worked in the foods section of the Hickethier-Bachmann laboratory, running chemical tests on nutrients. Bergoglio’s supervisor at the lab was Esther Ballestrino de Careaga, a Paraguayan communist who had fled her country’s military dictatorship in 1949 and settled in Buenos Aires with her daughters. Although Francis didn’t realize it at the time, he would later become the first pope of the Catholic Church to have had a woman as a boss. He has often referred to Ballestrino as a major influence on his life. She was undoubtedly in his mind when he said in a 2013 interview that he wasn’t offended by Rush Limbaugh calling him a Marxist because “I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people.” Francis has said that Ballestrino drilled into him the importance of paying attention to details in his work, forcing him to repeat tests to confirm his results. “The work I did was one of the best things I’ve done in my life,” Bergoglio later said in a 2010 interview with Argentine journalists Sergio Rubin and Francesca Ambrogetti. “[Esther Ballestrino de Careaga was] an extraordinary boss. When I handed her an analysis, she’d say, ‘Wow, you did that so fast. . . . Did you do the test or not?’ I would answer, ‘What for?’ If I’d done all the previous tests, it would surely be more or less the same. ‘No, you have to do things properly,’ she would chide me. In short, she taught me the seriousness of hard work. Truly, I owe a huge amount to that great woman.” In another section of the interview, Bergoglio said that Ballestrino “taught me so much about politics.”

Bergoglio reconnected with his former boss a decade later, when she and her family were under surveillance by the Argentine military regime. At one point, Ballestrino called to ask him to come to her house to give a relative last rites, which surprised Bergoglio because he knew the family wasn’t religious. The truth was that Ballestrino needed someone to stash her extensive collection of Marxist literature; the young Jesuit provincial superior agreed to do so. Later, Bergoglio helped Ballestrino find one of her daughters who had been kidnapped by military forces. (She was detained and tortured for several months before being released.) Ballestrino became one of the founders of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, often reaching out to Bergoglio for help.

Tragically, Ballestrino herself “disappeared” at the hands of security forces in 1977. Almost three decades later, when her remains were discovered and identified, Bergoglio gave permission for her to be buried in the garden of a Buenos Aires church called Santa Cruz, the spot where she had been abducted. Her daughter requested that her mother and several other women be buried there because “it was the last place they had been as free people.” Despite knowing full well that Ballestrino was not a believing Catholic, the future pope readily consented.

Despite his talk of expanded roles for women in the Church, Francis is still firmly against ordaining women as priests or, for that matter, as clergy of any kind. He has even rejected the idea of reviving an older tradition of lay cardinals that would include women. (A lay cardinal is a nonclerical member of the College of Cardinals.) The proposal has drawn influential support from the likes of Lucetta Scaraffia, a historian and columnist for the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, but Francis has unambiguously shot it down. Francis’s clearest statement on the ordination issue came during an airborne press conference in July 2013, when he was returning from Rio de Janeiro. “The Church has spoken and says no. . . . That door is closed,” he said.

The pontiff’s rejection of female clergy is so unwavering that critics have accused him of having a blind spot on women’s issues. Jon O’Brien of the liberal dissent group Catholics for Choice, an organization that defies orthodoxy by supporting abortion rights, said in 2013 that the pope’s message seems to be “Women can wait while he takes care of more important issues.” In October 2013 a progressive priests’ group in Ireland leveled a similar charge when Francis signed off on the excommunication of Australian Fr. Greg Reynolds, in part for his advocacy of women’s ordination.

In May 2014 an advocacy group called Women’s Ordination Worldwide held a rally and press conference in Rome to complain that Francis’s reforming stance on other matters isn’t matched by his position on women’s issues. “It’s true that Pope Francis is portraying a new image of the Church being open to all and that he is trying to shake off the judgments and restrictions of the past,” said activist Miriam Duignan in Rome. “But despite this openness . . . Francis holds fast to the old party line that says, ‘Women in priesthood is not open to discussion. It is reserved for men alone. Women are not welcome.’ How long do women have to wait to be considered equal and worthy of receiving the same welcome by the official Church as men?”

For many people, including rank-and-file Catholics who believe in gender equality, it is difficult to square Francis’s overall reputation as a maverick and a progressive reformer—plus his specific pledges to enhance the role of women in Catholicism—with his steadfast defense of the status quo when it comes to female priests.

The fundamental reason for the Church’s refusal to admit women to the priesthood is that it’s bound by the example of Christ. Jesus did not include women among his original 12 apostles, so the argument runs, and the Church is compelled to follow that example, restricting the priesthood today to men. Although Francis presumably accepts that teaching, it’s not the basis of his own stance on the issue. For him, the push for women priests is where two forces repellent to him intersect: machismo, which is an especially resonant concept for a Latin American, and clericalism, an exaggerated emphasis on the power and privilege of the clergy, which is virtually this pope’s personal bête noire.

Prior to his election as pope, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger likewise argued that some models of feminism were based on a utilitarian logic that understands human relationships in terms of a contest for power, saying that on the man’s side of the ledger that sort of thinking “heads in the direction of machismo,” and thus feminism becomes an equal and opposite “reaction against the exploitation of woman.” In effect, the argument was that real feminism is not about an arms race with men, but rather about ending the arms race once and for all by rejecting power as the only way to evaluate one’s worth or dignity. As applied to the priesthood, the conclusion is that it’s a fallacy to believe that women will never be equal to men in the Church until they wield the same ecclesiastical power. Instead, the argument runs, real feminism means embracing “complementarity”: the idea that men and women play different but complementary roles in the wider world and inside the Church.

Naturally, it’s an argument that’s met with an uneven reception, as many women have responded that it’s rather disingenuous to play down the importance of power when you’re the one wielding it. Moreover, many theologians in Catholicism, both men and women, point out that in all its official teaching on the subject, the Church describes the priesthood in terms of service rather than power. If that’s true, they ask, couldn’t the desire of women to become priests be understood in terms of a call to serve rather than a lust for power? In other words, they wonder, has official papal rhetoric set up a straw man?

If anything, Francis recoils from clericalism even more viscerally than machismo. As Francis has defined it, clericalism means two things: first, an over-emphasis on what he called “small-minded rules” at the expense of mercy and compassion; and second, an exalted notion of clerical power and privilege, as opposed to the spirit of service. Francis sees clericalism almost as the original sin of the Catholic priesthood. In informal remarks to leaders of religious orders in late 2013, he referred to the hypocrisy of clericalism as “one of the worst evils” in the Church and memorably said that unless future priests are inoculated against it when they’re young, they risk turning out to be “little monsters.”

Francis believes the demand for women’s admission to the clerical ranks betrays an unconscious clericalism. In a December 2013 interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa, he was asked about the notion that he might name female cardinals. “I don’t know where this idea sprang from,” Francis replied. “Women in the Church must be valued, not ‘clericalized.’ Whoever thinks of women as cardinals suffers a bit from clericalism.” In his mind, conceding that the only way to elevate the role of women is to make them clergy feeds the mistaken notion that clerics are what’s most important about Catholicism, when he sees his mission instead as exalting the role of the laity. When he talks about a “deeper theology” of women, this is likely part of what he has in mind—a sort of Copernican revolution in Catholic consciousness, with laity and women the real protagonists of the Church’s mission in the world and the clergy a supporting cast. When he traveled to South Korea in August 2014, he repeatedly invoked the unique history of the Korean Church as one founded not by priests or foreign missionaries but by laypeople, and his delight in that fact was palpable.

To be sure, the argument is unlikely to satisfy many Catholics or women outside the Church, who will always see the ban on female priests as an anachronistic means of defending male privilege. But when Francis said, “That door is closed,” he seemed to mean it.

Excerpted from THE FRANCIS MIRACLE: Inside the Transformation of the Pope and the Church by John L. Allen Jr., published by TIME Books, an imprint of Time Home Entertainment Inc.

TIME Middle East

Suspected Palestinian Driver Crashes Into Group of Israelis

An Israeli border policeman stands near the car used to ram into a group of pedestrians in Jerusalem on March 6, 2015.
Ammar Awad—Reuters An Israeli border policeman stands near the car used to ram into a group of pedestrians in Jerusalem on March 6, 2015.

At least 5 injured at incident by police station

JERUSALEM — A suspected Palestinian motorist rammed his car into a group of people near an Israeli police station in east Jerusalem on Friday, injuring five before being shot and wounded by guards, the police said.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri described the assault as a “terror attack.”

The attacker plowed onto the curb next to the police station in east Jerusalem, running over five people, including four officers, Samri said. The guards fired at the vehicle from the entrance to the station, she added.

The motorist then got out of the car, apparently holding a knife, and the guards shot and seriously wounded him, she said. The injured and the motorist were taken to hospital.

Police were still trying to identify the attacker. Samri said initial reports suggested he is a Palestinian from east Jerusalem and the car he was driving was registered as belonging to a Palestinian from east Jerusalem.

“The swift and determined response stopped the attack as it was beginning and prevented more innocents from being injured,” said Moshe Edri, regional police commander.

The attack mirrored a spate of similar assaults on Israelis late last year amid heightened tensions over the most sensitive holy site in Jerusalem, revered by Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and by Jews as the Temple Mount.

TIME India

Indian Lawyers May Be Reprimanded for Sexist Remarks in Rape Documentary

Mukesh Singh, one of the four men who were sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a young woman on a bus last December, is escorted by police outside a court in New Delhi
Reuters Mukesh Singh, center, one of the four men who were sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a young woman on a bus in December 2012, is escorted by police outside a court in New Delhi on Sept. 24, 2013

"In our culture, there is no place for women," one of them said in the documentary India's Daughter

The two defense lawyers featured in controversial documentary India’s Daughter may face action from the Delhi Bar Council and the Bar Council of India after their sexist statements caused public outrage.

The lawyers are shown in the documentary echoing and even endorsing the views of their client — a man convicted of the gang rape of a New Delhi student in 2012 and who blames his victim and believes women should not be out at night.

“We will have a meeting then and discuss what can be done,” Manan Mishra, chairman of the Bar Council of India, told the Indian Express.

The council leadership is set to meet on Friday, despite it being the Indian religious holiday Holi, in order to discuss the comments of M.L. Sharma and A.K. Singh in the documentary.

“We have taken this very seriously,” Mishra told local news channel NDTV. “Prima facie, this appears to be a clear case of professional misconduct.”

The film, directed by British filmmaker Leslee Udwin, was banned from being broadcast in India over worries that comments by convicted rapist Mukesh Singh would cause public unrest. Singh is shown making a host of shocking statements, including that girls are far more responsible for rape than boys and that they are only meant for housework.

But after the BBC released the documentary online on YouTube on Wednesday (despite the government’s best efforts to block it there as well), there was a greater uproar over the statements of the two lawyers — Sharma, at one point, says: “In our culture, there is no place for a woman,” while A.K. Singh said he would set his daughter on fire if he found her indulging in “premarital activities.”

Both men continued to show scant remorse for their words, with Sharma telling NDTV that he had “committed no crime.” His colleague called those against him “biased” and said he received many calls supporting his views.

TIME Burma

Burma Cracks Down on Education Protest at Rangoon Pagoda

Min Thu Kyaw, a student protest leader, talks to journalists March 5, 2015, in Yangon, Burma
Khin Maung Win—AP Min Thu Kyaw, a student protest leader, talks to journalists March 5, 2015, in Yangon, Burma

Students oppose Burma's new education law, which activists say restricts academic freedom

(RANGOON, Burma) — Police cracked down on students and other activists opposing Burma’s new education law Thursday, charging protesters with batons and dragging them into trucks at a landmark pagoda in the heart of the old capital.

Several demonstrators were slightly injured and at least 15 were arrested, witnesses and an activist said.

The protest in front of the Sule Pagoda in Yangon drew around 30 people, including prominent activist Nilar Thein and other student leaders. They were calling on the government to amend an education law they say restricts academic freedom.

Minutes after telling the group to disperse, baton-wielding police and thuggish men hired to carry out the crackdown started chasing down protesters.

Since Burma started moving from a half-century of brutal military rule toward democracy four years ago, the government has found itself grappling with the consequences of newfound freedoms of expression. Many of the early reforms that marked President Thein Sein early days in office have stalled or started rolling back, with particular sensitivities shown toward public rallies and criticism in the press.

Late Wednesday, police detained more than a dozen workers protesting for higher wages and better working conditions at factories in two industrial zones just outside Yangon. Hundreds of people have been arrested in the last four years, many of them farmers speaking out against land grabs by the rich and powerful.

In recent days, the government warned it would “take action” if student protesters who were stopped at a monastery in Letpadan tried marching to Yangon, 140 kilometers (95 miles) to the south.

The groups at Letpadan and at Sule Pagoda have similar aim: They want the government to scrap a law passed by parliament in September that puts all decisions about education policy and curriculum in the hands of a group largely made up of government ministers. Students say the law undermines the autonomy of universities, which are still struggling to recover after clampdowns on academic independence and freedom during the junta’s rule.

A prominent activist Kyaw Min Yu from the 88 Generation Open Society confirmed that at least a dozen people, including his wife, Nilar Thein, were arrested in Thursday’s crackdown. The couple were both former political prisoners during the days of dictatorship.

“Those detained are taken to an interrogation center and we are waiting for the news,” Kyaw Min Yu said.

“Authorities are using the old technique by needlessly cracking down the peaceful protesters,” he said.

TIME India

Indian Mob Breaks Into Prison, Lynches Alleged Rapist

NOAH SEELAM—AFP/Getty Images Indian students of St. Joseph Degree College participate during an antirape protest in Hyderabad, India, on Sept. 13, 2013

They dragged him naked through the streets, kicking and pelting him with stones before hanging him

An incensed mob in India publicly executed an alleged rapist on Friday, after breaking into his jail cell and parading him naked through the streets.

The lynch mob of more than 1,000 people broke the prison fences and overpowered guards to drag out Syed Farid Khan, the Indian Express reported.

Khan, 35, was being held in a prison in Dimapur, in the northeastern state of Nagaland, after being arrested for allegedly raping a student from a local women’s college. The crowd stripped him naked and dragged him to the town’s clock tower, kicking and pelting him with stones on the way, and hung him there once they arrived.

The mob also clashed with authorities and reportedly set shops ablaze, prompting the police to open fire and wound several people.

Tensions are currently high in India, particularly regarding allegations sexual assault, following the government’s decision to ban a British documentary based on a fatal gang rape in New Delhi in 2012 that garnered worldwide attention. The film features interviews with one of the convicted rapists as well as two defense lawyers belittling the crime and making sexist remarks.

TIME Aviation

The Mystery of MH 370 Haunts Families and Baffles Experts One Year On


Without a single scrap of debris, the search for the missing jet will likely end soon, taking with it all remaining hope

You can’t blame Jennifer Chong for being a nervous flyer.

Every time she boards a plane, the resident of Melbourne faces the inevitable walk past the cabin’s front row where her husband of more than 20 years, Chong Ling Tan, had been seated on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

Twelve months on from arguably the greatest aviation mystery of all time, Chong says those empty seats can still induce panic.

“I start to think that if anything happened, like a hijacking, then he would be the first one who knows because he’s the one nearest to the cockpit,” Chong tells TIME.

Sunday marks one year since MH 370 veered off course en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and vanished from radar screens. Planes and ships from seven countries have completed more than 300 sorties over vast tracts of the southern Indian Ocean in search for the errant Boeing 777, but not a single scrap of debris has been recovered.

Now just four boats continue to comb a 23,000-sq.-mi. patch of ocean floor 1,000 miles off the coast of Perth, western Australia. Australian authorities are set to finish trawling the designated search area in May.

During a parliamentary address earlier this week, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott acknowledged that officials are beginning to question the value of continuing beyond this point. “I can’t promise that the search will go on at this intensity forever, but we will continue our very best efforts to resolve this mystery and provide some answers,” he said.

But for Chong and hundreds of other distraught relatives, simply giving up translates to abandoning the investigation into how a plane with 239 passengers and crew can simply vanish.

“They’re trying to slowly put the thoughts in the minds of the public and the families, so that they will slowly wind down the search after May because it’s about to money and who’s going to pay,” she says.

Justin Green, a lawyer representing 24 of the victims’ relatives, says the search must continue not just for the families’ sake, but also to improve aviation-safety standards in the future. Green points to the years investigators took to uncover the crucial findings that explained other disasters, such as Air France Flight 447 and TWA 800. “None of the subsequent improvements [to airline safety] would have happened if the countries involved had just given up,” he says.

In late January, Malaysian authorities caught families and aviation experts off guard with a sudden announcement that MH 370’s disappearance had been caused by an accident and that no one had survived.

In the absence of facts, myriad theories have surfaced over the past year offering plausible scenarios to explain what transpired. These include that the plane was shot down or driven into the sea by a deranged pilot or passenger. According to experts, no theory can’t be wholly dismissed until concrete evidence proves otherwise.

“With the Malaysian government declaring this an accident, well does that limit or preclude further investigation into these other areas?” asks Mike Daniel, an international aviation-safety consultant based in Singapore. “There’s a difference between an accident investigation as opposed to a criminal investigation.”

Despite talk of halting the investigation or ratcheting down recovery operations, Australian officials remain upbeat that their current search will yield results. “We are cautiously optimistic we’ll find that aircraft,” Martin Dolan, chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, told the BBC this week. “We know we will find that aircraft if it’s in the priority search area.”

However, experts remain divided over where to look for the plane. Are the four Australian search vessels mapping large swaths of the Indian Ocean’s floor even scanning the correct hemisphere? Some even suggest the plane headed north towards the Caucuses.

“The fact that nothing has been found by the way of debris suggests to me that they’re looking in the wrong place,” said Jason Middleton, an aviation professor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

The current search zone was drawn up in accordance with calculations based on a number of electronic handshakes MH 370 made with a satellite during its last hours of flight. But Middleton argues that these assessments are problematic at best.

“These calculations rely on a whole bunch of issues that are not easily verifiable by outside sources,” explains Middleton. “The science is not demonstrably repeatable.”

But without a shred of evidence, crucial questions will remain unanswered. Why were the transponders deliberately turned off? Why did whoever had control repeatedly change course? Why was there no Mayday call? And why have Malaysian authorities been reticent to release the flight’s cargo manifest in its entirety?

In lieu of answers, the public clamors for new technology to track planes wherever they might be, yet there’s little evidence that any advances could have prevented this mystery, given that existing systems were deliberately scuttled in the cockpit. (Pilots need to be able to turn off all onboard electronics in case of fire.)

“I don’t know really what to believe. It’s just so bizarre to me,” says Chong. “One year later and I’m in the same position with no further answers.”

As the anniversary approaches, Chong says she plans to brave another flight from Melbourne, where she moved two years ago, to Kuala Lumpur to gather with other families and call for the continuation of the search. Without answers, she tries to remain hopeful that the plane will one day be recovered, but admits that it’s difficult at times to convince herself that her husband and his fellow passengers will be found.

“I’m still hopeful that they will be able to find the plane,” she says. “But we don’t know when. Maybe in one year, 10 years or 40 years. I’ll be holding out hope until then.”

TIME portfolio

Discover South Africa’s Spiritual World

German photographer Corinna Kern takes us on an unexpected spiritual journey

From former male model and horse breeder to respected traditional healer, Chris Ntombemhlophe Reid left his life of excess and wealth to become one of the first white sangomas among the Pondoland people in South Africa.

Sangomas are spiritual healers who practice traditional forms of African medicine. However, they do not reject Western medication, often incorporating it into their practices.

Reid is one of 200,000 sangomas in South Africa. He was first initiated in 1997, and regularly gives consultations in Cape Town as well as around his homestead in the Transkei, a southeastern region of South Africa.

Before becoming a full-fledged sangoma, trainees must go through a learning period when they are referred to as a “thwassa”. This process, which can last several years, culminates into a spiritual initiation ceremony.

German photojournalist Corinna Kern was given unprecedented access to follow sangoma Reid to document this initiation. “I slept with them in the homestead at his place, it was very rural and there was no electricity,” she tells TIME. “The most eye-opening thing for me about this whole project was the trainees and what they have to go through to become a sangoma. They have to wear white clothing when they get initiated and they are not allowed to sleep on beds. They can only sleep on the ground or on a thin mat.”

Looking back on her project, Kern is “grateful to have had this unique experience, to see all of these things that most people, even in South Africa, would never see.”

Corinna Kern is a photojournalist and documentary photographer based in South Africa. Follow her on Twitter

Adam Glanzman is a contributor to TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram

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