By now, you probably have read about 15-year-old Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, who was ambushed and shot in the head by the Taliban on her way home from school last week. Airlifted to Great Britain for further treatment, she is in stable condition as of this writing, though her long-term prognosis remains uncertain. Malala rose to international attention writing a diary for the BBC about the difficulty of pursuing an education as a girl under the Taliban regime in Pakistan’s contentious Swat Valley.
Adam Ellick’s moving 2009 documentary, “Class Dismissed,” follows Malala and her father as the Taliban shut down the girls school that her family ran. It’s a portrait of a daring family and a preternaturally brave and insightful girl awakening to the political situation around her and fighting for what she views as her fundamental rights.
Across the border in Afghanistan, there were at least 185 documented attacks on schools and hospitals last year, according to the United Nations. Most were attributed to armed groups opposed to education for girls. “Educating the Next Generation of Girls in Afghanistan” profiles one woman who has dedicated her career to empowering and educating the girls and women of her country.
What sounds like something out of a twisted fairy tale is actually a growing new reality in Uganda – witch doctors abducting children to perform human sacrifice for clients wishing to gain greater wealth or good health. Practically unheard of three years ago, the problem is now widespread enough to require a dedicated child sacrifice police task force in the capital of Kampala. But a BBC investigation finds that many child sacrifice cases are not being pursued and that little is being done to protect potential victims.
The BBC’s Ian Pannell reports on the civilians caught in the crossfire of Syria’s increasingly violent civil war. Pannell shadows the rebel Free Syrian Army through the streets of Aleppo, dodging sniper fire through a scarred cityscape that is beginning to look post-apocalyptic. He also visits a frontline hospital in Aleppo that is overwhelmed with trauma victims. Pannell finds that no matter what side they support, civilians are bearing the brunt of a conflict they did not choose and that no one seems capable of stopping.
“The Hunted and the Hated” offers another twist on the stop-and-frisk debate in New York. The Nation obtained a secret audio recording of stop and frisk in action as police seemingly target young men of color for no other reason than, in the recorded words of one officer, for “being a … mutt.”
If the presidential debates aren’t providing you with enough context for your electoral decision, check out Frontline’s “The Choice 2012.” The PBS documentary goes behind the headlines, delving into the candidates’ friends, family, critics and colleagues to try to understand the two men running for president.
Finally, an election story that will actually make you smile: a fun and offbeat New York Times Op-Doc about an unemployed man in the Bronx who discovers the audacity of hope and a new lease on life as a professional Obama look-alike.
Next week on The I Files …
Coal energy emerged as a hot topic in the presidential debate this week, with both candidates accusing the other of being anti-coal. This is not surprising, as the coal industry is a huge part of the economy in swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania. The I Files takes a look inside the coal industry and the reality of “clean coal” with an extended excerpt from the documentary “Dirty Business,” produced by the Center for Investigative Reporting.
We’ll also feature “Iraq’s Secret War Files,” a documentary from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism that used unprecedented access to WikiLeaks classified documents to investigate the reality behind the Iraq war.
And don’t forget to subscribe to The I Files for updates on the latest stories and the best investigations from around the world.