Nepal election: The women who want to bring change

The first local elections in nearly 20 years are taking place in Nepal. Under the new constitution, local bodies have substantial clout – they will draft laws, collect certain taxes and even have some judicial powers.

Nearly 20,000 women are standing for election in the first phase on 14 May. Women must fill certain positions in the local administrations and this has driven strong female engagement across Nepal, especially among women under 30.

The BBC spoke to three young female candidates who want to end the dominance of older men. A second phase is expected on 14 June.

How the East India Company became a weapon to challenge UK’s colonial past

When he left his native India to set up a business in London in the 1980s, Sanjiv Mehta never dreamed of returning home one day with the East India Company in his pocket. By 2005 he had bought the entire company, which gave him the rights to trade using its name, and its coat of arms as a trademark. Now he has set out to redefine the legacy of the company that once ruled the country of his birth and enslaved his people.

‘People think we’re sex workers but we can be doctors’

‘Sex,” Kami Sid declares, “is between your legs. Gender is in your head.” Sid wants to get this into everyone’s head in Pakistan. A 26-year-old transgender activist, she is currently enjoying a breakthrough turn as a model who can carry off a sari while calling out Pakistanis for transphobia.

Saba Imtiaz met with Kami Sid, Pakistan’s first trans model and an ardent activist for her country’s marginalised transgender community.

Banished for Bleeding

The landscape of Nepal is a geographical staircase, descending from snow-capped Himalayan mountains, through steep middle hills, to the lush flat plains of the south. In the middle step, in the remote far west of the country, life has changed little over the decades.

For 18-year-old Ishwari Joshi, this means doing as her mother and grandmother did before her and leaving her home when she has her period.

The practice is called “chhaupadi” – a name for menstruation which also conveys the meaning that a woman is unclean when she is bleeding.

Joanna Jolly, Vibeke Venema, Divya Shrestha and Nirmala Limbu brings us to the world of banished women of Nepal.

Maldives blogger stabbed to death in capital

A blogger who frequently satirised the Maldives’ political and religious establishment has been stabbed to death in the capital, the third media figure to be targeted in the Indian ocean archipelago in the past five years. Yameen Rasheed, 29, was found dead early on Sunday April 23, 2017 in the stairwell of his apartment building in Malé with multiple stab wounds to his neck and chest. He died shortly after being taken to hospital, Michael Safi of The Guardian reports.

Arunachal Pradesh: China renames districts in disputed India state

BBC India

China has renamed six districts along a disputed Himalayan border region with India, in a move seen as “retaliation” for a visit by the Dalai Lama.
The Tibetan spiritual leader, 81, had visited Arunachal Pradesh in India’s remote north-east earlier in April.

China had said the visit had a “negative impact” on bilateral relations and warned India against “undermining” Beijing’s interests.

India has not yet commented on the Chinese announcement, made on Tuesday.

However, it has maintained that the Dalai Lama’s visit was purely for religious reasons. It is also not the first time he has visited the state – he made official trips there in 1983, 1997, twice in 2003 and in 2009.

“China has standardised the names of six places in South Tibet, a region that is part of China’s territory but in which some areas are currently controlled by India,” a Chinese state media report said.

Dalai Lama meets guard from 1959 escape

China accused of Indian incursion

It dated the decision one day after the Dalai Lama ended his week-long visit to Arunachal Pradesh.

This marks the first time China has officially named regions in the disputed territory.

The announcement was made days after India’s foreign ministry spokesman Gopal Baglay said there was no change in India’s position that Tibet was part of China.

The election where no-one came to vote

India and Pakistan have disputed over Kashmir for nearly 70 years – since independence from Britain.

On Thursday, April 13, 2017,  India attempted to hold a highly contentious by-election in Indian-administered Kashmir. But separatist leaders called for voters to boycott the polls and protestors attacked more than 150 polling centres. There was massive security in place. But an election without voters is a very sad affair.

The Obscure Religion that Shaped the West.

Prior to Zarathustra, the ancient Persians worshipped the deities of the old Irano-Aryan religion, a counterpart to the Indo-Aryan religion that would come to be known as Hinduism. Zarathustra, however, condemned this practice, and preached that God alone – Ahura Mazda, the Lord of Wisdom – should be worshipped. In doing so, he not only contributed to the great divide between the Iranian and Indian Aryans, but arguably introduced to mankind its first monotheistic faith.


Zoroastrianism has influenced Star Wars and Game of Thrones – and characters as diverse as Voltaire, Nietzsche and Freddie Mercury have cited it as an inspiration. So what is Zoroastrianism? Joobin Bekhrad finds out.

Bachabaze of Afghanistan

In Afghanistan women are not allowed to dance in public, but boys can be made to dance in women’s clothing – and they are often sexually abused. This is an ancient tradition. People call it bachabaze which literally means “playing with boys”. 


The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan a 2010 documentary film produced by Clover Films and directed by Afghan journalist Najibullah Quraishi, also brought before our eyes the thriving practice  in Afghanistan, where powerful and rich men keep dancing boys as status symbols.

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