Argentina legalises abortion, joining a small Latin American group

ARGENTINA HAS become the latest, and most populous, country in Latin America and the Caribbean to legalise abortion. On December 30th its Senate voted to legalise terminations in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy; previously abortions had been permitted only in cases of rape or when the mother’s health was in danger or the fetus malformed. As well as legalising many of the roughly 500,000 abortions that already take place each year in Argentina, according to campaigners, the change will increase the proportion of women in Latin America and the Caribbean with access to legal abortion from 3% to 10%.

The pandemic has changed China’s nightclubs

Getting into Zhao Dai, an underground nightclub in a fashionable part of Beijing, involves a little more faff than it once did. Party animals must prove that they have not travelled anywhere they might have picked up covid-19, by showing doormen a code generated by a government mobile app. Once inside, however, the smoke-filled basement is just as sweaty as usual. On a recent Saturday a hundred unmasked revellers bopped to techno tunes. No one bothered to maintain social distancing while dancing.

Don’t Count on China’s Help With a Coronavirus Inquiry

The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. But while many countries are still grappling with how to handle the second wave, a group of international scientists is starting to investigate the origins of the coronavirus and how the next pandemic might be averted. Don’t expect any help from Beijing on this, though. China’s striking success in handling the pandemic has won it plaudits—but it is unlikely to meet international expectations for a transparent, meticulous, and meaningful inquiry into the viral spread.

Egyptian women speak up about sex crimes

When Nadeen Ashraf was walking through a wealthy part of Cairo last month, she was not surprised to hear sexual comments aimed her way. Most women in Egypt have experienced sexual harassment or violence. But her catcaller was surprised when the 22-year-old philosophy student jumped into the taxi he was driving. “I had an hour-long conversation with him,” she recalls. “It was so foreign to him that this was sexual harassment.”

Calls to boycott the Beijing winter Olympics are growing stronger

ON A RAINY day in central London in April 2008, Laurence Lee, then a presenter for Al Jazeera, a broadcaster, told viewers that that year’s Olympics in Beijing would be “the most heavily politicised Olympics since Moscow in 1980.” Mr Lee was reporting from the London stretch of the global torch relay, at which pro-Tibet protesters clashed with police as they tried to draw attention to human-rights abuses in China.

Blocking students is not the answer to Chinese spying in America

ON SEPTEMBER 9TH a Chinese international student at Rice University in Houston found a nasty surprise waiting for her at her apartment. While she was out, someone had scrawled the word “spy” in capital letters across her front door, and again on the knocker. She was “pretty scared,” says Iris Li, a childhood friend and fellow student in America who shared the pictures online. “She doesn’t feel safe in that community."

Why women in England and Wales are having abortions earlier

Within a week of discovering she was pregnant in late April, Sylvie (not her real name) knew she wanted an abortion. The pandemic had made her the sole breadwinner, and she had a young daughter to look after. She called Marie Stopes, a charity, which arranged a phone consultation with a representative from BPAS, another charity, at her local hospital. Four days later a packet of medicine arrived through the letterbox, and she terminated her pregnancy at home with the support of her partner. Abortion is a “horrible thing,” she says. But “in terms of how it was handled, it couldn’t have gone better”.

Why China’s divorce law is so controversial

Under China's new civil code, adopted in May, couples will have to wait 30 days between registering their intent to split for good and actually doing so. Nothing wrong with that, some might argue—many other countries have similar “cooling-off” requirements. On matters related to marriage, Chinese law is still remarkably liberal. Yet weeks after the restriction was introduced (it will take effect in January), many netizens remain furious. It will, they say, imperil the lives of women.

Canadian courts test the “rough sex” defence

In a trial in Canada later this year, one of the questions is whether Cindy Gladue liked rough sex. Specifically, if she liked it rough enough to consent to digital penetration that tore an 11cm wound in her vaginal wall. Ms Gladue bled to death, so she cannot testify. Bradley Barton, charged with her manslaughter, says her death was a tragic accident. Mr Barton’s case, a retrial, will be heard in November. The verdict in another case is expected on July 31st.

Many Hong Kongers are considering emigration

In September 2018, Matthew Torne, a British filmmaker, released the third in his trilogy of documentaries about Hong Kong. “Last Exit To Kai Tak” is a bittersweet chronicle of five Hong Kongers who, after the disappointment of the pro-democracy “umbrella” protests of 2014, grapple with what is left for them in the city, as its liberties are chipped away by an increasingly bellicose Chinese government. The burning question, as one character puts it, is this: “revolution or emigration?”

A Chinese trans woman wins a surprising legal victory

In many ways , Gao Moumou was lucky. She had a good job as a product director in Beijing for Dangdang, an e-commerce firm, which allowed her to save enough money for her gender-reassignment surgery. Her office gave her time off to recover, but on September 6th, 2018, less than three months after her surgery, Dangdang fired Ms Gao, citing her “continuous absenteeism”. Ms Gao thinks the real reason was transphobia. In January this year a court in Beijing surprised many by agreeing with her.

Stronger than dust

Yan Lianke is in turmoil. He has a complicated relationship with his past, his family and, as the son of rural peasants, the land. It is these ties he seeks to explore in Three Brothers: Memories of my family, the first of his non-fiction works to be published in English, delicately translated by Carlos Rojas. By Yan’s own admission, the task is futile. Although he dreamt while growing up of leaving the hardship of his Henan village, the gulf between the city and the countryside is a “chasm that I would never succeed in crossing”.

The challenges of reducing America’s jail population

It might have been the most polite bank robbery in New York’s history. At half past five in the afternoon on January 10th a man in a Chicago Bulls baseball cap walked into a Chase Bank branch in Brooklyn and handed a note to the teller. “This is a robbery,” the message said, in handwritten red ink. “Big bills only.” He walked out with $1,000. The man accused of the heist is Gerod Woodberry. Less than four hours before the Brooklyn incident, Mr Woodberry had been released from police custody after being
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