India Feature | Transwomen

Mayana Kollai: Hindu Transwomen’s Annual Oasis of Acceptance

Mayana Kollai, a festival honoring the Hindu goddess Angala Parameswari, provides a rare opportunity for the public acknowledgment of transwomen in India. The women—known as kothis, among other designations—transform into spiritually revered beings welcomed into homes for blessings and incorporated into major festival events. Offering brief respite from the social struggles faced by the Indian trans community including physical and sexual violence, the late-winter/early-spring celebration involves elaborate preparations for the women, some of whom have become minor celebrities in their own right. The New York Times features a photo series of kothis in the state of Tamil Nadu as they prepare for the festival, marking the bridge from social marginalization to divine honor.

Mortal to Divine and Back: India’s Transgender Goddesses” (The New York Times)

(Image Credit: Candace Feit, via The New York Times)

South Korea Feature | Women

Fearing the Decline of South Korea’s First Female President

The widening scandal President Park Geun-hye, South Korea’s first female president, has become embroiled in has created an environment some women and gender equality advocates worry will poison the prospects for future female presidential aspirants. Ongoing revelations of Park’s connection to her friend Choi Soon-sil’s alleged use of state power to extort businesses has led to mass demonstrations and increasing calls for her resignation from men and women alike. Some Korean women have expressed concern about the failure of her presidency being unfairly generalized to cast doubt on the abilities of female executives as a whole, and as advocates have drawn attention to data showing increased gender inequality across key metrics since Park took office in 2012, some advocates have sought to separate Park’s historic achievement from the effects of her presidency. The New York Times examines the complicated gender dynamics of anti-Park sentiment and fears of its impact on the future of gender equality in politics and beyond.

Gender Colors Outrage Over Scandal Involving South Korea’s President” (The New York Times)

Anti-Park protests flare up across the country; 600,000 people gathered in Seoul” (The Korea Times)

(Image Credit: Lee Jin-man/Associated Press, via The New York Times)

Afghanistan News | Shiite Muslims

Attack on Shiite mosque in Kabul kills more than 30, injures dozens more
  • A suicide attacker entered the Baqir-ul-Olum mosque during a gathering for Arbaeen, a devotional ritual.
  • Among the dead were a number of children, and reports put the number of injured at at least 35.
  • The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest in a series targeting Shiite Muslims in the Sunni-majority country.

Read more:
IS claims attack that kills dozens at Shi’ite mosque in Kabul” (Reuters)
Afghanistan Kabul mosque suicide attack kills dozens” (BBC)
Afghanistan mosque attack: 30 dead, ISIS claims responsibility” (CNN)

(Image Credit: Reuters, via BBC)

U.S. News | Native Americans

Tensions escalate in North Dakota as protesters and police clash in Dakota Access Pipeline protests
  • Protesters reported police wielding tear gas and water cannons in the 23-degree weather after claiming the protests had dissolved into a “riot,” heightening already pronounced concerns about hypothermia in the below-freezing conditions.
  • Reports indicated that more than 150 were injured and at least seven hospitalized as a result of the confrontation.
  • More than 400 activists have been arrested since the standoff began over the ongoing dispute over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.

Read more:
Standing Rock protest: hundreds clash with police over Dakota Access Pipeline” (The Guardian)
Dakota Access Pipeline Protesters Soaked by Water Cannons in Clash With Police” (The New York Times)
Police, Protesters Clash Near Dakota Access Pipeline Route” (NPR)

(Image Credit: Stephanie Keith/Reuters, via The New York Times)