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Thinking Outside The Mainstream

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My show Reporters Uncensored (RUTV) wants out. Out of the stifling frame that limits what stories get told by the major news organizations. Each week, we take an out of the mainstream perspective and ask how the group or individual became a change-maker. After 10 episodes in season one and another 8 set for completion this fall--two shows have stuck out the most, in my opinion, as profiling thinkers who approach their subject matter in an innovative way.

The show on Afghan marriage laws, an issue which has largely been ignored by mainstream media networks, documented President Hamid Karzai's decision to overturn basic women's rights --a decision fought hard by Afghan women in parliament. The law was designed by the Taliban, according to the group RUTV profiled, Women for Women International. It allows men to dictate to their wives where they can go, and denies women their basic human rights like access to education or the ability to drive a car. Women must also have sex with their husband's within a mandatory time limit. Earlier this year, Parliament was debating whether or not to overturn this law--but negotiations have stalled. This is primarily due to the prioritization of security in conjunction with the impending escalation of the war by the United States as Obama seeks an early January military upsurge. It would be a shame if the Taliban gained back their rights to women's minds and bodies. It would also be shameful if the world community allowed this debate to go unnoticed as the focus lands on military might over basic civil rights.

Episode 2 chronicles Iran, Twitter and the power of mobile technology during the election coup in my native country this past June. So many people living outside Iran were able to see that indeed, the country is a modern society--very advanced in mobile technology. The world cast Iran in a new light--divorcing it from the image of the black clad woman in a chador. Our social innovator that week was United4Iran, and the group listed the number of political prisoners being raped, beaten and abused inside Iran's notorious prisons.

Desperate to liberate these prisoners, the world community mobilized to set up campaigns and petitions to put pressure on the Iranian authorities for their release. Dozens have been released--but now witnesses, including a local doctor, who was believed to have been poisoned by Iranian officials after he witnessed massive violence being committed against prisoners, and several others--are coming forward to share their stories. Forced out of their comfort zones, they are willing to risk their lives for the salvation of Iran's growing "green" movement.

These were great shows. They allowed me to see the issues in a new way. Social innovators and change-makers in Afghanistan and Iran--they are the real stories--the realities outside the mainstream. Let's talk more about political prisoners in Iran--and less about nuclear threats. And let's make sure this law in Afghanistan doesn't come back to haunt those women who are unable to escape male dominance and domestic violence.

Join us for a live chat with Ashoka's fellows December 10 at 6pm (EDT) LIVE and ON DEMAND and

Reporters Uncensored (RUTV) is anchored by journalist and senior advisor to Reporters without Borders, Tala Dowlatshahi and features a team of independent local reporters from around the world.

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