Reporters on the Job

WOMEN AT WORK: Ilene Prusher has been looking for working women since she arrived in Kabul last week. First, she'd love to hire a female fixer, as journalists call them. That's someone who sets up interviews, translates, etc. But she's been told that there are no women available to do that, since Taliban rule prohibited women from working or attending school.

The woman in today's story (this page) happens to have the first bare face Ilene has seen in Kabul. "We just started talking," Ilene says. "And it turned out she works at Radio Kabul. Now, Marzia Adeel is going to request permission to work with Ilene.

A HIGHER PROFILE: Three years ago, Fred Weir wrote a piece for a Canadian newspaper on a Canadian project that is trying to help give a higher profile to the disabled issue in Russia. In doing that piece, Fred interviewed Antonina Bastrykina, who is the chairperson of the Society of Disabled People. "She is wheelchair-bound," Fred says. "And she is a very strong, cheerful professor of medical sciences."

She suggested that she and Fred go out for coffee, at a place two blocks from her office. "With another strong man helping me, it took about an hour to get from her office to the coffee shop," Fred says. "We had to carry her down the steps, then up the steps of two underpasses." It took almost 10 minutes to get past one point, where the sidewalk was under repair. Getting her into the coffeeshop was worse. They had to physically carry her in and seat her, then go back for the wheelchair, fold it up and bring it up a flight of stairs, through two diagonal doors. In two places along the way, scores of people stopped to stare at them, but no one offered to help. Fred had the feeling they'd never seen anyone in a wheelchair before. He recalls Antonina smiling after all that, and asking if Fred had any further questions about accessibility problems for disabled people in Moscow.

Cultural snapshot

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