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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Polar Explorers Make History

February 7th, 2014
11:05 PM ET

Ben Saunders and Tarka L'Herpiniere have made history. They’ve broken the world record for the longest polar journey on foot – by walking to the South Pole and back.

Becky spoke to polar explorer Robert Swan to get his reaction.

"They're not mad, they're amazing," he said. "It's terrifically exciting... They'll be feeling very light in their souls, very light in their spirit, and damn proud of what they've done. I'm their patron, I've been following them, I'm really just so impressed by their guts, what they've achieved, and they've done it with style and dignity, which I think is really important."

Saunders and L'Herpiniere were recreating Captain Robert Falcon Scott's ill-fated expedition, which ended in disaster over 100 years ago –when Scott’s team starved to death on the ice.  The modern pair had originally planned on travelling unaided, but received an emergency food drop in January after their supplies ran out. However, Swan says that this won't have any impact on their accomplishment. "There's not much point dying at the South Pole. They won't be disappointed, they've achieved the most amazing piece of history."

Swan also shared what he thinks the team’s most looking forward to when they arrive home.

"They're going to be really thin on return. After only 70 days I lost nearly 50lbs in body weight. They're going to be thinking solely about food. Nothing else. And I just hope they don't make the same mistake I made which is to eat too much at the end and then to be really quite sick for a long time. What you really yearn for also is to sit in a chair. They've been 105 days lying down, eating, lying down again."

Swan was the first person ever to walk to both the North and South Pole. "I threatened never to walk anywhere ever again," he said about his one-way journey through Antarctica. And the Scott Expedition adventurers have travelled double that distance. "It's like walking from London to Moscow, or from San Francisco to Chicago. It's just stunning."

Filed under:  Antartica

Fighting female genital mutilation

February 7th, 2014
04:56 PM ET

The World Health Organization estimates that some 140 million women have been subjected to some form of female genital mutilation. A practice the UN calls a violation of human rights and gender equality. They say around 3 million girls face the risk of FGM every year and have declared February 6th the 'International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation'. To mark this day, Becky spoke to Naana Otoo-Oyortey from the Foundation for Women's Health Research and Development.

She identified various recurring problems when it comes to tackling this subject.

"There are women who don't even know that they've been through FGM, and that in itself is challenging because if you had it at a much younger age you may not recall when it happened, and you may not see yourself as different, you'd see yourself as normal."

There is also a common acceptance of this as a tradition within certain communities. "For a lot of people they are born into a culture where they see it also as part of their culture. We've had young girls in the UK who have said 'I wanted to go through it because I felt it was part of my culture'. Some girls who say 'I went on holiday and I insisted that I went through it'."

However, Otoo-Oyortey notes that progress is also being made, particularly in Europe, where the younger generation are challenging the status quo. "FGM affects primarily younger people, and in Africa even though you see that the campaign is mainly led by older women, we're seeing in Europe that there's much more engagement, primarily because young people have more access and have a better voice, and are able to understand their rights, and are able to engage on this issue."


Filed under:  Africa • Becky's Interviews • Girls Education • Health

Journalist: Egypt cracking down on foreign media

February 7th, 2014
04:07 PM ET

Egyptian authorities have served the Al Jazeera network with a charge sheet identifying 20 people – all believed to be journalists – who they want to see stand trial for allegedly conspiring with a “terrorist group”.  Eight staff members are known to be on the list, three of those – Australian Peter Greste and Eygptians Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy – have been held in detention in Cairo since December 29.

Dutch journalist Rena Netjes is also on that list, despite never having worked for Al Jazeera.  She's the Egypt and Libya correspondent for BNR Nieuwsradio. She managed to flee Egypt with help from the Dutch Embassy and spoke to Becky about her ordeal.

She told Becky she met with the Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Famy once "not even for an interview, not even for a report, but just for my general knowledge... Now it seems that they believe that I work with Al Jazeera, that I provided them with money, with aid, with tools, with footage... and that I gave false information to defame the Egyptian state."

In a letter released from prison, Australian Peter Greste stated his arrest was an attack on media freedoms, and that "journalists are never supposed to become the story".

Becky asked Netjes about the Egyptian government's reasoning for such harsh action. "If I see it from the Egyptian point of view, they are in a state of war with extremists. The Egyptian army interfered because they did not want to let extremists take more power like in Sinai or in the rest of Egypt. But this war means they completely want to wipe out anybody who gives any chance for the opponents, like Muslim Brotherhood supporters, to speak out. So that's why Al Jazeera English is targeted also in such a harsh way."

Text: Detained Al Jazeera journalists and others face criminal trial

Filed under:  Becky's Interviews • Egypt • Middle East