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Editor’s note: All in the family
Theorists have long recognized the family as the place where “politics become personal,” writes Christopher Shay. Perhaps it is not surprising, then, that so-called “traditional family values” are often used to “cajole and coerce the public.” Shay describes how, in the pages of World Policy Journal, we learn about the linkages between right-wing notions of family and economic reforms, the challenges of parenting in increasingly fragile societies, and the ways in which the concept of family is being reasserted and redefined.
The big question: What values from your parents’ generation would you keep in a changing world?
World Policy Journal asks leading writers and thinkers about the role of family values in an evolving world. We hear from Mexican-American authors Sandra Cisneros and Erika L. Sanchez, Afghan nonprofit leader Sakena Yacoobi, Tajik novelist Shahzoda Nazarova, and writer Devdutt Pattanaik of India.
Daddy issues: “Responsible paternity” as public policy in Latin America
Latin America has long been known for its low marriage rates and high rates of children born outside of marriage. Beginning in 2000, politicians across the region began promoting “responsible paternity,” sponsoring legislation to help women track down their children’s fathers and subsidizing DNA testing that could hold the men responsible for financial support. Nara Milanich, an associate professor of history at Barnard College, describes how these policies have been shaped not by the wishes of low-income mothers but by the political agendas of neoliberal states.
Love’s labor’s cost: The family life of migrant domestic workers
In homes across Asia, the Middle East, and the United States, female migrant laborers are doing the difficult work of child and elder care. But these women often leave behind children of their own in countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines. Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, a professor of sociology and gender studies at the University of Southern California, describes how the lack of legal protections for domestic laborers has made it more challenging for women to be present in their children’s lives.
Minimum income required: U.K. migration rules put a price on family unification
Britain’s “minimum income requirement” restricts citizens and legal residents who earn less than £18,600 ($24,000) from bringing their spouses from outside Europe to live with them. Journalist Ismail Einashe looks at the consequences of this threshold, advanced by now-Prime Minister Theresa May when she was home secretary, for parents and children. Einashe describes how the 2012 law has created thousands of “Skype families” who go years without seeing one another, and how its opponents warn it will lead to a brain drain from the United Kingdom.
Anatomy: Work till you drop?
World Policy Journal examines the aging workforce in six countries, and finds that seniors in France and Spain are least likely to work full-time or live in poverty.
Blood ties: Intimate violence in Shinzô Abe’s Japan
Chelsea Szendi Schieder, a contemporary historian at Tokyo’s Meiji University, describes how, in the wake of Japan’s triple disaster (earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown), the country has moved to fortify national harmony and women’s place in the traditional family unit. But Schieder writes that, for women struggling to extricate themselves from violent households, these “bonds that link families become bondage.” She discusses how policies under Shinzô Abe, including a proposed constitutional revision, seek to strengthen the neoliberal order at the expense of women.
“Justice is afraid of the priest’s robe”: Rape and power in Nicaragua
Lucia was 15 when she became pregnant. The news was a shock to her family: Lucia didn’t have a boyfriend and spent her time doing homework and singing in the church choir. But amid tears, the girl revealed to her mother that the local priest had been raping her for the past two years. Journalist Ian Bateson reports on how Nicaragua’s total ban on abortions, backed by President Daniel Ortega, has left girls like Lucia without options, and how a handful of women’s rights groups are fighting back.
Terror and the family: How jihadi groups are redefining the role of women
A new propaganda magazine unveiled this summer by the Pakistani Taliban targets an unexpected audience: women. Journalist Rafia Zakaria describes how the Taliban, who came to power on a promise to eliminate females from the public sphere, are now calling on girls and women to rebel against the strictures of their drab domestic life and join in the jihadi struggle.
Saving families from our fate: A conversation with Saliha Ben Ali
Journalist Lisa De Bode interviews Saliha Ben Ali, whose son left the family’s home in Belgium four years ago to join a terrorist group in Syria. He was killed a few months later. Since his death, Ben Ali has become an outspoken advocate for parents who fear losing their children to terrorist recruiters.
Saudi tales of love
Saudi wedding photographer Tasneem Alsultan was curious about what happened to love and marriage after the big day. Alsultan, herself a divorcee, began to share (with their permission) the stories of the women whose weddings she photographed. As part of her project Saudi Love Stories, she has followed a widow, a happily married couple, and an exuberant single businesswoman.
Criminalizing indigenous rights: The battle for land in Brazil
Brazil is in the midst of perhaps the most sweeping criminalization of indigenous rights in recent history. The “ruralists,” politicians in Congress with ties to the country’s influential agribusiness lobby, are pushing through legislation to rob independent government agencies of the ability to designate ancestral land for indigenous peoples. Brazilian journalist Fernanda Canofre reports on the politics behind the nation’s land battles, which killed more than 60 people last year.
Cashing in on coal: Kenya’s unnecessary power plant
Kenya’s plan to build a coal-burning power plant on the doorstep of an historic island has sparked some of the country’s most intense environmental organizing in years, reports journalist Nanjala Nyabola. Activists say the plan, part of Kenya’s foreign-policy pivot to China, would devastate marine life and the economy of one of the East African nation’s most important tourist destinations. In response to their legal appeals, a judge granted a stay on the project, but its future remains unclear.
“Death by deportation”: Repatriating the mentally ill to Cambodia
Thousands of mentally ill people residing legally in the United States have been deported after committing crimes as minor as shoplifting. Journalist Katya Cengel reports on Cambodians who fled the country’s killing fields as children and who, after being repatriated, are struggling to make a life for themselves in their unfamiliar homelands. She introduces us to Khe Khoeun, a former refugee now living with relatives in Cambodia, and describes how those with mental health problems are singularly ill-equipped to navigate America’s complicated immigration court system.
The Trump effect: Elections at home and abroad dampen Liberia’s gay-rights revival
After a backlash against gay rights in 2012, LGBT Liberians have begun to organize and be more public in their demands for equality. But two presidential races—last November’s election of Donald Trump and the selection of a successor to Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf this fall—threaten to undo that progress. Journalist Robbie Corey-Boulet reports on the challenges facing Liberia’s LGBT leaders as they contend with possible U.S. funding cuts and local politicians who are stoking homophobia.
Radical democracy: Spain’s cities overthrow neoliberalism
Spanish cities have become laboratories for democracy that hold lessons for grass-roots organizers and politicians worldwide, writes journalist Bernardo Gutiérrez. He describes how the technology-based participatory strategies developed by hackers from the 15-M Movement, which served as a precursor to Occupy Wall Street, have spread to urban centers across Spain. After electoral wins in Barcelona, Madrid, A Coruña, and elsewhere, former activists have ushered in changes to the business of governance that offer a credible and compelling alternative to neoliberalism.
The global gamble
For the past year, a network of journalists from Africa, Australia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States have been investigating the global lottery industry. Jeff Kelly Lowenstein and Raymond Joseph discuss the misspending, tax avoidance, and fraud they have uncovered.
Jackpot tax avoidance: How one lottery company hides its millions
World Policy Institute fellow Khadija Sharife investigates the tax avoidance strategies of one of the world’s biggest lottery corporations. While the company, GTech (now known as IGT), profits off the poor, it has shielded hundreds of millions in revenue from the tax man by “inverting” its headquarters overseas and relying on tax havens.
Infographic: Leisure gap
World Policy Journal examines six countries to see how the burden of child care, household chores, and other unpaid work falls disproportionately on women.