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Celebrating International Women’s Day, kicking tobacco in Malaysia and rethinking trafficking narratives

Hello Globe readers,

Southeast Asia Globe staff members joined millions of people around the world this week in commemorating International Women’s Day.

In a roundup of some of our favourite stories about the lives and accomplishments of women over the years, editor Amanda Oon unearthed gems such as the tale of a female Vietnam war hero, Cambodia’s culture of victim-blaming and the fight to increase Indonesian women’s political participation. The collection, she wrote, “is our way of celebrating what progress we’ve made, but also recognising how far we still have to go.”

In Malaysia, where smoking rates are barely declining, new legislation would ban tobacco product purchases by anyone born after 2005. But sceptical experts told reporter Ashley Yeong that an age-based ban isn’t enough to significantly cut smoking rates and should be accompanied by efforts to monitor tobacco use, provide education, raise taxes and encourage methods of quitting.

Fueled by an “adrenaline rush” from investigating sex and labour traffickers, author Sylvia Yu Friedman’s latest book presents a vulnerable but three-dimensional view of both victims and perpetrators, Amanda wrote in a review of A Long Road to Justice. Aiming to cut across stereotypical narratives of sex slavery, Friedman’s book explores financial and familial pressures leading to labour and sex trafficking.

In international relations, United States Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s recent visit to Indonesia emphasised the country’s importance to maritime cooperation and regional security, contributor Aristyo Rizka Darmawan wrote. The growing perception of China as a security threat to Indonesia makes a U.S. push for strong maritime relations increasingly timely.

And in a contemplative piece, contributor Alaka Skinner described how her family couldn’t help but notice nature flourishing as human interaction slowed during the early period of the Covid-19 health crisis in Singapore. Her children’s newfound love of birdwatching and greenery helped Skinner reevaluate the interdependence of people and nature, lessons she said we ought to take forward through the shifting pandemic.

Finally, we’re excited to announce the arrival of our upcoming Spring Festival event, a two-day outdoor concert here in Phnom Penh full of music, dancing, food, drinks and activities for families. Set to take place March 25-26, Globe members receive a free ticket, so subscribe today and come enjoy the more than five live bands and perhaps meet some of the Globe team.

We hope to see you at Spring Festival and enjoy this week’s stories

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