Assignment Asia

Operation: Drug War

Since President Rodrigo Duterte took office and declared a war on drugs, hundreds of people have been killed in that "war." Authorities say most of the victims were killed by unknown assailants or have died in firefights with local police. Reporter Barnaby Lo takes viewers inside the brutal drug war in the Philippines, which has raised international concern over human rights violations and extrajudicial killings.

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Ancient Cultures in a Modern World

Asia is home to some of the world's oldest cultures and ethnic groups. But in modern times many of them are on the verge of fading. In South Korea, female divers called the haenyeo have been scouring the seas for food for more than 1,000 years. Yet today's sea women are ageing, and there's a dearth of new divers. Reporter Jack Barton travels to Jeju Island to meet some of its oldest haenyeo and looked into efforts to stop their tradition from dying. Seafaring tribes long inhabited the waters of Thailand and its neighbors, Myanmar and Malaysia.

  • 2018-08-19T15:30:00-07:00
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Challenging Gender Norms

Steeped in tradition, many Asian cultures have tightly conservative gender norms. But in some places, people are daring to challenge them. In Turkey, male belly dancing is making a comeback after generations of being kept in the background. It's an art usually associated with femininity. But in Istanbul, men are grabbing the spotlight and breaking stereotypes by swaying their bodies. As Reporter Natalie Carney reports, they are also raising the profile of Turkey's marginalized gay community.

Women Empowerment

Women in many parts of Asia remain vulnerable to abuse, but a few bright spots in the fight for empowerment and equality have emerged. In Pakistan, where thousands of women fall victims to violence every year, a law ensuring their protection was passed in early 2016. Reporter Danial Khan spoke with survivors of domestic violence who have risen above their ordeal and are now finding hope in the new law. Despite the reforms and changes sweeping the country, gender inequality persists in Myanmar, and women are particularly vulnerable to different forms of abuse.

Development

Asia has some of the world's most pressing problems, including poverty and disease. But despite the odds, progress is being made in some parts of the region. Pakistan is one of only two countries in the world where polio remains endemic. The Pakistani government has launched an aggressive vaccination drive, but workers on the ground face security threats, and sometimes, an unwelcoming public. Reporter Danial Khan meets the health workers who confront dangers and challenges in their mission to eradicate polio in Pakistan.

Emergency

This episode of Assignment Asia features groups and individuals on a mission to save lives. Without a state-run emergency service in their country, volunteers have taken on the task of responding to accidents and other emergencies in the Thai capital, Bangkok. They patrol the streets of the bustling city every night, rushing anywhere anyone needs rescue. Reporter Martin Lowe spent one busy but ultimately tragic night with Bangkok's volunteer rescuers. Among the casualties of war in Afghanistan is its healthcare system.