Reporters on the Job

Gender Rules : Asia editor Ben Arnoldy, on assignment in Afghanistan, initially attempted to report today's story on Afghan women in sports (page 1) by hiring a local female interpreter. He was frustrated in his efforts by the cultural norms. "Getting a female interpreter to work for a foreign news organization is a delicate process, made even harder because she would be working with a Western male - me. The one I tried to hire was denied permission by her parents," says Ben.

Later, Ben tried to get into one of the new all-female gyms in Kabul but was denied entrance. "I asked if I could come back with a female interpreter, and the owner of one gym said that it wouldn't matter," says Ben.

He did get into another gym, and interviewed several Afghan women. But he began to notice that there would always be another man in the room. "He would not be introduced, and seemingly had little interest in the interview or other reason for being there. It eventually dawned on me that the men were chaperons of a sort, to ensure that the women would not be meeting with a strange man alone," says Ben. "In the middle of one interview, the husband of my interviewee entered her office. After exchanging greetings, I sat down again and noticed that his wife had moved her scarf from her shoulders to over her head to cover her hair."

Women's Vote in Limbo in Kuwait: In the May 3 article, "Political gains for Mideast women," it was noted that Kuwaiti lawmakers approved a bill allowing women to vote and run in local council elections. Tuesday, the constitutionality of a parliamentary vote on female suffrage was challenged - delaying a final decision on the issue and preventing women from voting in the coming municipal elections.

David Clark Scott
World editor

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