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tv   Talk to Al Jazeera  Al Jazeera  April 4, 2015 4:30am-5:01am EDT

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country's modernization it is perhaps remarkable that this train has survived this long. adrian brown, al jazeera in danzu province. >> there's more on al jazeera including analysis and opinion. on our website >> there are 100,000 girls, american girls, home-grown girls trafficked into sex trade each year in the u.s. when shawna resisted, her mother shot her with heroin, shawna remembers falling on the water bed in a rush. that was her initiation. "a path appears," the latest book by journalists nicholas kristof and sheryl wudunn highlights problems in the u.s.,
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including sexual exploitation, and was turned into a pbs series examining domestic violence. >> in 1978, in surveys, half of americans said it was sometimes appropriate for a man to beat his wife with a stick or a belt. half of americans said that. >> the husband and wife pair recruited celebrity activists as they looked at ways to tackle poverty. >> you do need to work together to raise a child to break them out of poverty. >> it's easier to help a 6 month old, than it is a struggling 16 year old down the road. >> the duo also talked about their lives and pulitzer prize winning work in china. >> when i met sheryl. she worked for "the wall street journal", and i for the "new york times". it was better to collaborate as a colleague rather than a rival. >> i sat with nicholas kristof and sheryl wudunn in new york. >> so you have a book, and a
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project. it's called "a path appears". sheryl, talk about where that title comes from. >> it came from a chinese author, who said "hope is like a path in the countryside, as more walk, a path appears". it's about hope and strategies for change. that's why we thought "a path appears" would be about. and it turned out to be exactly the way we describe. >> the first episode focuses on sex trafficking. this is something your other book also focus on. this episode was about sex trafficking in the united states. >> right. >> how much of a problem is it here? >> we think it's about foreign women being smuggled into the u.s., and that's real, it's here. but there are 100,000 girls, american girls, home-grown girls who are trafficked into the sex trade each year in the u.s.
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the scale is extraordinary, and the response - these are victims, teenage girls. the pimps are not arrested, the johns are not arrested. they are arrested. the victims. >> it's shocking. a couple of people you profile is that they were sold by the very people supposed to love them and care for them. in one case you mention that a girl's mom sold her to a pimp at the age of 12. how does that happen? >> obviously shawna's mother herself was in the business and addicted to drugs, and was, you know. not in control of her own world. shawna goodwin, first of all, didn't go to school. she did go. failed the first or second grade. she remembers one time her mom took her to a friend's house, they go to a pimp's
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house. the mother tried to get her to spend time with the pimp. >> when shawna resisted, her mother shot her with heroin. shawna remembers falling back on the water bed in a rush. that was her initiation. >> oh my god. another shocking statistic that you mentioned is that 15% of american men regularly purchase sex. >> i think that we can dramatically improve the situation. and that involves ending the impunity. for pimps, so shawna - she was arrested 167 times for prostitution. her pimp never, not once. if you start arresting some pimps that will reduce the incentive to traffic the girls. >> and what about the johns? >> and the johns. about 300,000 men buy sex on
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any given day in the u.s., 300,000. they almost - almost none of them are ever arrested. a lot of them have revocation, they have things to lose. if you were to arrest 1% that will create disincentive, demand would drop 25%, meaning fewer girls would be trafficked. >> episode 2 looks at poverty with the actress jennifer garner, who is from west virginia. what did you find in west virginia was perpetuating the cycle of poverty? >> we tend to think of poverty in terms of metrics of income and wealth. there are cycles. i think that the better metric of child poverty is how many books are in the home, how often you are hugged or read to. there we have situations with 20% of kids born in
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west virginia are born with drugs or alcohol in the system. often kids are having kids, bad for the mom and child. in a situation of hopelessness, people self-medicate with substances. they get arrested. and with a criminal record they are less employable, there's very few jobs around and there's a miasma of hopelessness. there's poverty in west virginia or africa or asia, it's a sense of despair, and self destructive behaviours that make that self-fulfilling. >> you have writen about this so often that the path to escape is education. the path to escape is education, it's a foundation it's not the end all. it was with education, you can start thinking for itself.
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you can build the strategy for life. that is important. when you don't feel as though you know how to add two and two, you don't have a sense of confidence. you feel you have to go with the flow are or that you are not going to challenge whatever your status quo is. >> it needs to begin early in the first two years. more and more research. that says that is the part that matters the most. >> partly because of way of the brain transforms and the way grows. when you are in your teenage years, your brain is growing but the most rapid growth is 0 to 5, even the first 1,000 days of life. it starts in the womb actually. when you drink and smoke when your baby's in the womb that has an impact on the child 15 years later. >> there are two big lessons to learn from our efforts to tackle poverty at home and abroad. the first is we don't start early enough it's easier to help a 6 month
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old than a struggling 16-year-old down the road. the second is that one of the best ways to create a better environment for those kids is to coach parents to do a better job of parenting. >> whose responsibility is it really to make sure that starting from babies all the way up to adolescence and later in life, people are given the same opportunities? >> it takes a village, and one of the things that drives me up the wall is when we hear a narrative about personal irresponsibility as being what drives poverty. there is plenty of irresponsibility. there is self destructive behaviour among the poor and rich. in the book in the documentary, we described a 4-year-old boy in west virginia, johnny, who can't speak because he didn't get a hearing screening, and people were not aware that he was deaf. the time his brain is developing, he's not getting the auditory simulation until too
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late. that is not johnny's fault, it's our fault as a society that we do not provide screenings for at-risk kids in west virginia. for the rest of his life he may not be able to participate or contribute to society. >> it was something as simple as a hearing screening. >> a lot of people will say "don't tell me how to raise my kid", but if you are not educated, and you yourself were not raised properly by your parents, let's say your parents never hugged or kissed you or never read to you. so you never had exposure to books at an early age, you wouldn't think about doing that for your kid. at some point the responsibility has to be shared or there has to be an intervention early on. and not in the sense that your invading our sense of personal responsibility, but you need to work together to
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raise a child to break them out of that cycle of poverty. >> is that the responsibility of government? >> i think that it is a shared responsibility. government can play a role. certainly through social services. there are many programs that have been proven through randomized controlled trials to be very effective. it's a shared responsibility. if you look at a problem like teen pregnancy. 30% of teenage girls become pregnant by age 19. there is a huge problem, how do we address it. clearly those kids themselves have a role. they should be more responsible about unprotected sex. schools have a responsibility to provide sex education, parents have responsibility. government also has a responsibility to provide access to reversible contraceptives to at risk teenage kids. we need
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a full pattern here, full cooperation here with government, parents, schools, and people themselves, all showing responsibility. >> when you talk about contraceptives, reminds me of a theme i have seen through your writing in books and the current series, the belief that education on top of the ability for a woman to control how many children she has, really does help to break the cycle, and yet there's a cultural resistance to contraception in a lot of cases. >> internationally we, meaning the u.s. policy makers have made a mistake in focussing on a military toolbox to address security challenges whether in iraq, afghanistan, yemen, whoever it may be, and obviously a military toolbox is useful. in the short term, especially,
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it can do what others can't. we underuse the education toolbox. and one reason why they are effective is that if you educate a boy, it doesn't have an effect on the number of children he will have, but if you educate a girl, it will be a dramatic effect. if you want to reduce the youth bulge in the population which corresponds in security, to terrorism. then you need to reduce that and you do that in part by educating girls today. >> you talk about that in your ted talk, you quote larry summers, saying that that is the greatest return on investment. educating a girl. >> that's right. educating a girl. she actually herself tends to have fewer kids when she is educated. it's hard when we talk about population control. people criticize china when they are promoting their one-child policy.
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yes, my goodness, it's severe. we were so glad - we were in china at the time, and glad that i was able to have three kids. americans are not subject to that. we are grateful for it. on the other hand, if you look at countries in africa and india - right now, they have been able to bring maybe 100 million people in the entire continent out of poverty because of all the policies that they've been trying to implement to improve the poverty there. however, at the same time, because of the growth in population. there are new - maybe 100 to 200 million more people in poverty, so they have 400 million people under the poverty line. when you add up - grossing up the families, large families, it's a huge number. it makes a big difference.
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>> still ahead on "talk to al jazeera". half of americans used to think it was okay for a man to beat his wife. i'll talk about domestic violence today with nicholas kristof and sheryl wudunn.
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you're watching "talk to al jazeera". i'm stephanie sy, speaking with nicholas kristof and sheryl wudunn, about their latest book and documentary series that calls attention to what they say is an opportunity gap in the u.s. going back the so series episode 1 focussing on sexual trafficking, episode 2 on poverty. episode 3 deals with domestic violence, and again a shocking statistic. in the u.s. domestic violence claims for than three lives a day when you average it out. much? >> they have.
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there has been improvement in domestic violence in america over the last generation, and you see that in both the in the, the proportion of women beaten, and in attitudes. in 1978 in surveys, half of americans said it was appropriate for a man to beat his wife with a stick or a belt. half of americans said that. >> in 1970? >> in 1978. it would be absurd to ask. likewise the incidents as far as we can tell of domestic abuse has fallen by more than half in that period. now, why. it used to be there was complete impunity. the police should not get involved short of the fatality. now, there is some risk that a guy is going to get arrested, and so even though he's drunk and furious, he's less likely to beat up his girlfriend or wife. >> so there are more legal protections for women?
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>> yes and this is a really hard issue and legal solutions don't work perfectly because often the result is to break up a family. it's hard on the children. there are no perfect solutions here. it's clear that impunity for a - you know, for a man in the household was a completely failed strategy. >> it's important to underscore that because things are better than they were back in 1978, it shows that we can, you know, push through progress. it's slow, and you - you know, at one point you don't see the progress, but over time we see the progress. >> you also travel to kenya for this episode. and you go to a slum called... >> kibera. >>..kibera. what did you find there? >> kibera is a place where you have education failure. you have hopelessness, people self medicating with narcotics,
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enormous measures of sexual violence, half of women in kibera, their first sexual experience is through rape. >> sometimes by a relative. >> often at incredibly young ages. in this place it might seem the least hospitable for change. there's a remarkable organization that we focus on, led by a local kid in the slum who never had formal education until he was accepted by wesleyan to go to college, graduated and became the commencement speaker. >> how did he have no education and get a scholarship? >> he had founded a local grassroots self-help organization in kibera, and did things like street theatre to convince guys not to beat up their girlfriends, so a young student at wesleyan during her
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junior year abroad, jessica. she went out to work with him. and convinced him that he needs an education. he said "i never went to the first grade." she said "let's work on wesleyan", he had no transcripts, education, they did skype interviews. wesleyan took a risk, accepted him. jess and kennedy were married, started an organization at the school for girls in a slum, that is the most inspiring, imagine. >> a lot of people you describe as being transformative in their communities are making a big impact. one of them is nine years old. the one that opens up your book, "a path appears," rachel beckwith. tell me about her. >> so rachel is a remarkable girl from seattle. at age 8 she heard about how
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many people worldwide didn't have access to clean water. she decided to donate her ninth birthday to charity water. instead of gifts she asked for money to build a well. she set a goal of raising 300 dollars for a well in ethiopia. she was bummed out she was only able to raise just over 200. soon after she was in a car accident, she was fighting for life. people were trying to show support. people went to her page, donated. the amount raised surges. past $300, past $5,000 - but - in the end she died. she did not make it. but people wanted all the more to commemorate her life, to support rachel's last fundraiser, and raised $1.2 million water for 37,000 people, and rachel's mom says while there's nothing that can
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solve the grief of losing your 9-year-old child, that this provided not only a way to commemorate a big-heart girl, but to provide an overlay of purpose, and meaning to an event that was not just tragic, but so frustratingly random. >> what is interesting is that compassion and giving - it stimulates a certain part of the brain that is stimulated when you get addicted to drugs. there is some conjecture. this hasn't been studied. that you can't cultivate a habit of giving. sort of an addiction to giving. >> the other theme that emerges from a lot of your writing is inequality. you have written in the last 35 years in the u.s. income stagnation, lose of jobs, education in this country has fallen behind others. you have written a lot about that. is the u.s. still in a period of decline?
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>> i don't know that we are in a position of decline. i think it's - certainly since world war ii we are in a position of relative decline. we were in an unusual position at the end of the war. i think we have some economic advantages, i think our biggest risk is education. we used to be number one in the world. we have been declining since, among young people. especially among boys. people are - there's downward mobility in education. where that extends in the future, i think, is hard to say. it's certainly a risk factor for the country. i think one of my concerns is we perceive threats to the united states from, you know, iranian nuclear program, which is, i think, a real concern, but not from home-grown problems like
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education failure. that in the long run are a risk to american preeminence. >> you speak with some authority on this. because you are a product of the american dream. and your father was a world war ii refugee. how much did that inform, you know your belief system about what can lead to opportunity in this country? >> i think that one of the things that tends to hold us back is we think that the problems are so vast, and we can't solve problems because they are just too big. one of the things i learnt from my family background. what one is capable of doing is having an effect on an individual. my dad was a refugee from eastern europe. a family sponsored him to come to the u.s., it didn't make a dent in the refugee problem, you know, but for my dad it was transformative. i wouldn't be here if it weren't for them taking that risk on
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him. and like wise, i think today there's a danger that we tune out from the global problems because they seem to vast. one could have an impact on individuals short of solving the global problem. stay with us - still to come on "talk to al jazeera", nicholas kristof and sheryl wudunn talk about their relationship. >> america's first climate refugees >> this is probably a hurricane away from it being gone. >> who's to blame? >> 36% of land lost was caused by oil and gas industry... >> ...and a fight to save america's coastline. >> we have kinda made a deal with the devil >> fault lines al jazeera america's hard hitting... >> today they will be arrested... >> ground breaking... they're firing canisters of gas at us... award winning investigative documentary series... the disappearing delta only on al jazeera america >> part of al jazeera america's >> special month long evironmental focus
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fragile planet
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i'm stephanie sy my guests this week on "talk to al jazeera" are journalists nicholas kristof and sheryl wudunn. you won a pulitzer prize in '89 for the coverage of tiananmen square. >> our honeymoon was china. we married and immediately moved
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to china. you were the first married couple to receive the pulitzer prize together. was that your first collaboration? >> yes, certainly. we were married - we were married. we never were able to write stories together, we wrote separate stories but covered many aspects of that period of china. >> who edits whom in this relationship? >> we both edit each other. when i met sheryl, she was working for "the wall street journal", i for the "new york times". it's better collaborating as a colleague rather than as a rival. >> i read so much of what you have written over the years, in the last week, and it occurred you have evolved to become for some a moral compass. was that your intention. >> no, it was not our intention, and i think it evolved naturally.
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and i don't think of myself as a moral example. some people are far more philosophical. as i mentioned, there are some people that are role models, i could not put myself in their category, we have so many that are heros or heroins they are at the front lines, bringing about the solution, dedicating the lives to how to improve society. >> if you are in journalism, or writing books. in a sense you have a spotlight. you are in the lighting business, and when you shine that on an issue that is not illuminated, you can sometimes make people upset. make them spill their coffee in the morning in a way that will bring that on to the agenda, i like to think that's what we aspire to do. >> nicholas kristof and sheryl wudunn - thank you so much for talking to al jazeera.
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>> thank you very much. >> thank you. uhuru kenyatta houthi rebels and loyalists fight for the port city of aden. you're watching al jazeera, i'm jane dutton live from doha. also coming up in the programme - protests in kenya against al-shabab, after the armed group attacked the university fighting for control of yarmouk. i.s.i.l. fighters take over more of the refugee camp in syria we go to