International Press Institute (IPI) World Congress in Yangon, Myanmar

In cooperation with the International Press Institute (IPI), the Media Programme Asia is hosting the IPI’s 2015 World Congress and General Assembly in Myanmar – a country in the midst of transition with great potential for a more independent press.


On this episode of Assignment Asia, our correspondent Danial Khan investigates the roots of the Pakistani madrassa, the core of religious education for many Pakistanis. Over the last 15 years or so, these schools have come under intense scrutiny for providing an atmosphere that fosters religious extremism – seen today in a post-9/11 world, with the rise of groups like ISIL and the Taliban. Danial takes us through the history of the madrassa and talks to experts to give us a more in-depth picture of this traditional educational institution. (Asia Asignment)

Bangladesh’s Third Gender

Shahria Sharmin

Shahria Sharmin had gone to her husband’s factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, looking to tell a positive story about the garment industry, one that would offset negative public perceptions. What she found, instead, was an even more challenging topic: the lives of five hijras, the local term for the culture of men who identify as women. By day, they presented themselves as men, but at night they dressed as women and kept a home for their boyfriends.

That this was happening in Bangladesh, which has the world’s fourth largest Muslim population, intrigued Ms. Sharmin, who grew up in a conservative family in which such topics were never discussed. (New York Times)