Friday, December 02, 2011

My previous blog on Wednesday ended with the hope that Newsround would take human rights more seriously. And to be fair, it has recently been doing quite a lot to enlighten viewers about women's equality. Tuesday's Newsround led with a report on the controversy surrounding the BBC Sports Personality of the Year nominations - all of which were for men, for the first time in 5 years. The BBC has since said it will review the procedures by which nominees are chosen.

Thursday's Newsround at 5pm began with another women's equality story - this time a report by Nel Hedayat, who used to live in Afghanistan.

Ore: First to Afghanistan. Improving women's rights there was a key target of British and American troops after they overthrew the Taliban 10 years ago.

Hayley: The Taliban had been ruling the country, and under their strict regime women weren't allowed to do basic things like go to school.

Ore: But international troops are now getting ready to leave Afghanistan, and women there are really worried that things will go back to how they used to be. Here's Nel with more.

Nel's video report.

Hayley: Well Nel has come to speak to us now. Is it right that you used to live in Afghanistan?

Nel: Yes, yep.

Hayley: And you've recently gone over there to make a documentary about what it's like.

Nel: Yes.

Hayley: How do you feel girls and women - how is their life over there?

Nel: Well under the Taliban it was really, really strict. And women suffered immensely. My auntie, for example, she used to be a teacher. And under the Taliban she was forced to do it secretly. And my cousin had to attend a secret school just to be able to learn to read. With the troops there it was safe for her.

Ore: So would you say that it's fair to say when the troops were there it changed young girls' lives hugely?

Nel: Absolutely. Absolutely, it just meant that girls were able to go outside and play. They were able to go to school. That they were able to eventually get a job. And the worry is now that the girls that were able to do this - you know they're not going to be able to do it once the troops leave.

Hayley: So it's quite risky. What's the biggest risk they've got?

Nel: The biggest risk they've got is that they could be punished for doing the very things that they enjoy doing. Otherwise they'll be forced to stay at home and just completely be ignored.

Hayley: Thank you Nel.

Ore: Right, cheers for that.

Today's Newsround included a short Q & A section with the Archbishop of York answering questions put to him by pupils from York Minster School. The Archbishop was keen to promote it on Twitter - here and here.

Ore: ... This is the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu - the second most important man in the Church of England. Over the years he's chopped up his dog collar on TV and lived for a week in a tent to protest against human rights abuse around the world. And he's hiked 280 miles for charity ...

Unfortunately the Archbishop of York has a poor record on some human rights issues. Here is a case where Sentamu, quite disgracefully, invokes the name of William Wilberforce to support discrimination against gay people.

So Newsround does cover human rights, and as we've seen, it's particularly good on gender equality. But, like the Archbishop, the programme still hasn't demonstrated any interest in lesbian rights and equality.

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