What Happened to Myanmar’s Human-Rights Icon?
Hannah Beech | New Yorker
“Recently, I travelled to Myanmar and interviewed dozens of people to assess what had gone wrong. Many of them pointed out that Suu Kyi’s power is sharply limited. She has no authority over the Army, while military officers still control key areas of government and have the power to reverse democratic reforms. Some believe that she has made a political calculation not to risk domestic popularity for the sake of a hated and powerless minority; others regard her as lacking political skills. There are also those who think that she shares the Army’s authoritarian reflexes and the anti-Muslim prejudices of the Buddhist Bamar majority. But almost everyone I talked to expressed surprise at the speed and the scale of her transformation. ‘We never expected that Aung San Suu Kyi would get us this far,’ a former student activist and political prisoner who once served as her bodyguard told me. ‘But, at the same time, we never expected that Aung San Suu Kyi would have changed so much herself once she got into power.’”
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West Africa’s Most Daring Designer
Alexis Okeowo | New Yorker
“Osakwe’s career coincides with a subtle change in Nigeria. Women are working more and making more money; with that increased power, they are pushing against long-standing norms. Female organizers helped pass an act prohibiting violence against women, and a senate bill to ban ‘indecent dressing’ was defeated. Still, abortion remains illegal in most cases, and nearly half of girls marry before they are eighteen. Amina Mama, a women’s-studies professor at the University of California, Davis, said, ‘When it comes to sexual freedoms, our society is rushing backward to a colonial, missionary idea. It’s almost as if they are overreacting to progress in women’s rights.’ Osakwe’s clothes, for clients who can afford them, are both armor and lingerie: intimidating but inviting, with unyielding lines and delicate materials. They reflect her sense that Nigerian women are constantly negotiating how tough or how soft to be in a patriarchal society. ‘I’m living this also, and it’s still something I haven’t got the exact formula for,’ Osakwe said. ‘I don’t think any woman has, and every woman makes a choice at a cost to something.’”