Backpackers, doe eens normaal in Azië

Gepubliceerd in Trouw op 5 februari 2018

In Cambodja zijn tien toeristen opgepakt, onder wie de 22-jarige Job uit Haarlem. Ze hebben ‘pornografische’ dansen uitgevoerd vlak bij heilige tempels. De foto’s tonen inderdaad een halve orgie, met kleren aan. Vooropgesteld: ik hoop dat ze snel de Cambodjaanse bak uit mogen. Het jaar cel dat ze boven het hoofd hangt is niet best. En eigenlijk bezocht Job alleen een wild feestje.

De Cambodjanen lijken vooral een statement te willen maken. Laten zien hoe hoog de instanties de heersende traditionele waarden hebben zitten. Een beetje zoals politici in Nederland zich opeens heel heftig uitspreken over normen en waarden om stemmen te winnen. Denk aan premier Rutte met zijn ridicule doe-maar-normaal-brief in de aanloop naar de vorige verkiezingen.

US: Justice for American Veterans with PTSD

Tucson, Arizona – Josh had never felt so angry. A small remark made by his wife triggered an argument that turned into something bigger and, before he knew it, he had smashed and broken his Xbox games console and terrified his wife.

They’d argued a lot since he had returned from military deployment, so she already knew that he was going through a difficult time. But that day was particularly bad and the 31-year-old army veteran was charged with domestic violence after their neighbours called the police.

Read on via Al Jazeera

In Peru, sexual equality is a controversial issue

Published in Deutsche Welle on 20 May 2017

IQUITOS, Peru – Even before she sits down, Milagros Rios starts to weep. She takes some tissues from the box on her desk to dry her eyes. In front of her lies the new school curriculum manual, which the Peruvian government sent out to all schools at the beginning of the new academic year. To her left, up on the wall, hangs an image of Jesus on the cross.

“How can I teach this to the children?” she asks. For a while she sobs silently. The new school curriculum states that men and women should have the same rights and should be treated equally. It is founded in the idea that everyone should be respected in their sexual choices. It was meant to enforce women who are often still pushed into the traditional work of cleaning the house and cooking.

Read on via DW

Hampered by lack of resources, Peruvian officials struggle to address illegal wildlife trade

Published in Earth Island Journal on 15 May 2017

TARAPOTO, Peru – On first sight, as we wait by the river for a ferry, there appear to be only a few rickety stalls where banana chips and cans of soda are sold to Peruvian tourists waiting in their cars to cross. But as soon as the vendors have determined the coast is clear, the scene quickly changes: two snakes are pulled out of a frayed rucksack. Three monkeys are removed from a cardboard box beneath a counter. A child walks past the line of cars, showing off a woolly monkey. All of these animals are for sale.

The illegal trade and imprisonment of exotic animals is not always visible in Peru. Many local people have learned that Westerners don’t usually like seeing monkeys and sloths bound and chained up. The animals, therefore, are not always shown to Western tourists. However, anyone inquiring at a market about a particular animal species is led through the corrugated-iron shacks to someone who has that animal.

Read on in the online magazine

Connecting Iquitos: Building a road through the Amazon

Published in Al Jazeera on 15 May 2017

Iquitos, Peru – Late afternoon is the busiest time in the muddy harbour of Iquitos in the Amazon basin, in the northeast of Peru. Men haul stacks of bottled soda and kilos of rice on their backs, motorcycle taxis load passengers and their luggage, and an old man strolls around selling hammocks, which boat passengers use to sleep in.

Travelling by cargo boat is the most economical way to move around the Amazon region. The boats travel along rivers lined with communities.  Iquitos is a city of almost half a million inhabitants that flourished during the rubber boom of the late 19th century.

But today, parts of the historical centre are abandoned: buildings have collapsed, leaving only their facades, while the land is slowly being reclaimed by the jungle. Many of the older buildings that remain intact have been turned into casinos or supermarkets.

Read on via Al Jazeera

Living alongside the wall of shame

Published in Deutsche Welle on 10th of May 2017

LIMA, Peru – With a sense of pride, Claudia Luna relates how she and many other migrants managed to stay, even though the police repeatedly came on horses to chase them away. “All these hills were empty when we came,” Luna told DW. “Now, bit by bit, we are getting there. Despite the police burning down everything. For us, this is the only way to have a roof above our heads.”

What started with a few tents alongside the hill, turned into small houses made of wood and corrugated iron. Concrete stairs were built and electricity wires pulled up. In time, the houses will be rebuilt using bricks, and this new part of the city will eventually be connected to the water system.

Read on in DW

Los-vast in Lima

Gepubliceerd in De Nieuwe Revu, op 29 maart 2017

Nederlandse ex-gedetineerden zitten nog maanden vast in Peru voordat zij het land uit mogen, in afwachting van een uitreisdocument. In die tijd kunnen zij niet legaal werken of studeren, waardoor het geregeld voorkomt dat zij in parkjes slapen en terug de criminaliteit in gaan.

LIMA, Peru – Na vijf jaar staat hij buiten. Voor de poort van de gevangenis Ancón. Het is zondagochtend en zoals vrijwel altijd in Lima is de lucht grijs. Michel van der Knaap had vastgezeten voor een poging per vliegtuig cocaïne naar Nederland te smokkelen. Hij kijkt uit over een stoffige zandweg en houten huisjes met golfplaten daken. Duizend sol – zo’n driehonderd euro – heeft hij op zak, verder helemaal niets. Peru kent hij niet, Spaans spreekt hij amper.

Online te lezen via Blendle

Lima struggles with flooding aftermath

Published in Deutsche Welle on 24th of March 2017

On the bridge Puente de Piedra, 81-year-old Francisco Purizaga looks out over the churning, muddy water of the river Rímac rushing by. The guitar player came to Lima from his home in the northern region of Piura for a concert, but now he’s stuck here in the capital. The roads are closed due to the floods and mudslides, caused by extreme rainfall in the Andes, which have left more than half of the country in a state of emergency.

“The river swells every year to a certain extent,” Purizaga told DW, while pointing to the roaring brown water coming from the mountains. “But I have never seen it this wild.”

The mudslides have caused yet another problem for the people in Lima: together with plastic waste dragged from the shores, the mud has clogged the filters of the Sedapal water company forcing it to disconnect most of the city from supplies. Water is now brought to certain distribution points by trucks, where people line up with buckets and jerrycans to at least cover their basic needs. In the first days following the water cut, the supermarkets quickly ran out of bottled drinking water – a further crisis in what is already an abnormally hot summer for Lima, home to some 10 million inhabitants.

Read on via DW