Reporters on the Job

Martin Meissner
Where meerkats meet: At a zoo in Duisburg, Germany, meerkats from the Kalahari Desert gather under a heater.

Saudi Divorcées: Many times outsiders believe that Saudi women are apathetic about their situation, says correspondent Caryle Murphy. But Caryle saw something quite different in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, when she attended the first Saudi Divorce Initiative Forum – a gathering of about 150 women, mostly in their 20s and 30s and of all marital statuses (see story).

"It was a dramatic example of women speaking up about things they regard as unjust – and doing something about it," she says. "I'm not sure this is going to result in an organized effort, but they are going to present their recommendations to the sponsors of the conference, including the Shura Council [that advises the Saudi king]. I really think this is very unusual – that they all got together, got up on the stage, and essentially said, these things have got to change. They didn't use those words, but that was the message."

Return to the Children's Ward: Staff writer Scott Peterson has been looking at the state of Iraq's health system – off and on – for more than a decade. During Saddam Hussein's reign, he wrote about the impact of United Nations sanctions on healthcare. Ordinary Iraqis suffered mightily – a fact played up by the regime at every chance. "Hospitals could provide nothing, and the real problem was that patients often were already so depleted by malnourishment and other social hardship that they could not survive even ordinary, preventable health problems," says Scott.

He recalls witnessing the passing of two newborn children within 30 minutes in a children's hospital. Only recently has it been safe enough in Baghdad for an American reporter to return to that same hospital. "I was pleasantly surprised that things are improving," he says.

David Clark Scott

World editor

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