tv Focus on Europe PBS January 23, 2016 6:00pm-6:31pm PST
[captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] michelle: hello and welcome to "focus on europe," with some of the most fascinating personal stories from across the continent. i'm michelle henery. thanks for joining us. on today's show -- german soul searching over new year's eve attacks on women. campaigners in britain demand action for "the forgotten thalidomide." and the young albanians reversing the tide of brain drain to brain gain. when you hear stories about women feeling unsafe to walk through a crowded city centre, fearing sexual assault, images of tahrir square in egypt may come to mind. during the 2011 arab spring protests and other public
gatherings that took place there, hundreds of women were subjected to mob sexual assaults. such scenes were impossible to imagine here in germany. but that is exactly what happened to many women across the country on new year's eve. hundreds of women were attacked just in cologne. recently arrived migrants are alleged to have carried out most of the assaults. during the end of 2015, germany enthusiastically welcomed more than a million migrants seeking refuge from unrest across the middle east and africa. now that mood is changing. the country is asking itself, has it ignored violence against women, either by immigrants or natives, for too long. reporter: jamin oh hasn't hasn't felt safe in cologne since new year's eve. crowds in front of the main train station put her on edge. she wanted to meet up with some friends to ring in the new year. but suddenly, she was encircled by a group of men.
>> they began to grope me. it started off tame enough, touching my behind. then it got worse. i got really mad. i felt hopeless, i was in shock. it felt so foreign. i know this sounds very weird, but it didn't feel like germany. reporter: that night scores of women were assaulted, robbed, some even raped. undreds of incidents were reported to the police, prompting protests in solidarity with the victims. once again the issue of migration was pushed to the forefront. the attackers have been described as of arab or north african descent, but some protesters highlighted the danger of tarring all asylum seekers with the same brush. >> there are so many people who come here from a different culture and manage to integrate well.
but we do need a tougher response to people who refuse to accept our culture. >> i've been in germany for 10 years and i enjoy the sense of freedom here. i condemn what happened to women on new year's eve. that doesnt belong here. reporter: police believe organized gangs were behind the robberies and sexual assaults. >> these people aren't refugees in the real sense of the word. they haven't fled war or anything. they are men who have come here to support their families in north africa. if it were the case that they were working to do that -- legally or not -- it would be one thing. but becoming part of organized crime here is another. and unfortunately, the problem is that it's the latter.
reporter: the police were unprepared for the horrors that unfolded that night. islamic scholars say what happened amounts to far more than a clash of cultures. >> in the arab islamic world, sexuality is highly restricted. sex before marriage is not accepted and many young people can only marry when they've found a job -- it's the men who are supposed to support the family. you can imagine that men are highly sexually charged -- and this frustration is reflected in the sexual assaults. they happen every day in the arab-islamic world. reporter: opponents to germany's open-door migration policy used the attacks in cologne as a platform to spread their own messages. far right groups and hooligans chanted anti-foreign slogans. jamin oh wants to see her attacks face justice. but she's also worried that innocent refugees who've fled war might face discrimination.
>> it was so clear that they came from a completely different culture. i think they need to learn what is okay in germany and europe and what isn't -- what you can do and what you can't. these things didn't seem to be clear at all. reporter: police officers were overstretched and it's unlikely that all of the attackers will be caught. cologne's police chief already had to go. but germany's sexual assault laws have also come under criticism. many believe that attackers come off too lightly. jamin oh used to feel safe walking around cologne. now she no longer does. michelle: for all of this talk, what will make women safer in our cities? will a change in policy affect a change in attitude? let us know what you think about that or any of today's stories by getting in touch on facebook, email or twitter.
an entire generation has passed since the berlin wall here in germany and indeed the iron curtain in the whole of europe came down. many in the former communist countries of central and eastern europe now take for granted life in a free democratic society. among the older generation there are worries that the young may never truly understand some of the horrors they faced living under communism. in our next report, our correspondent speaks to two men who were forced to work under horrific conditions in a uranium mine in former czechoslovakia. their crime? daring to speak out against the government. they were released more than 60 years ago, but the memories are still fresh and painful for these two survivors, who want to make sure that their experiences are never forgotten. reporter: zdenek mandrholec and
jaroslav cibulka return to the mine, drilled 300 meters into the mountain. everything is still exactly as it was shortly after world war two, when they worked here as forced laborers mining uranium for the soviet nuclear industry. the two men remember the hard work under inhuman conditions. >> i worked directly in a vein of uranium ore with a simple hammer drill. i had to quarry the ore in a very narrow shaft and then load it into metal barrels. the chunks weighed up to 90 kilograms. i was bathed in radiation all day long. reporter: radioactivity and backbreaking labor underground. a small piece of bread was breakfast, a thin gruel lunch and dinner. that was all. >> accidents were frequent. one time a prisoner fell into a
shaft and was buried in rubble. we spent a whole day trying to dig him out. when we reached him, he was already dead. reporter: zdenek mandrholec and jaroslav cibulka survived the czech gulag. they were political prisoners, sentenced to hard labor for treason because they had worked against the communist government. >> as a young soldier, i founded an anti-communist cell. there were 17 of us. we spied on an arms depot. and then i was arrested. reporter: jachymov is in the forests of the erz mountains, near the border to what was then east germany.
after world war two, it was the soviets' primary source of uranium. the suffering of the forced laborers is documented in the city's museum. tens of thousands of political prisoners were crammed into barracks under wretched conditions. thousands died. >> guards with machine guns were posted in guard towers all around the camp's periphery. there were two fences. between them was the death strip. it was brightly illuminated at night. there was no escape. reporter: zdenek mandrholec worked in the uranium mine for six and a half years. jaroslav cibulka spent about nine years mining. neither had adequate nourishment or protective clothing against the radiation. >> it saddens me to think about that time. they robbed me of the best years of my life. but i'm glad that i survived it all, have lived so long, and can speak openly about what happened.
reporter: zdenek mandrholec and jaroslav cibulka don't want their forced labor and suffering under the communist system to be forgotten. they think it's very important for the younger generation to learn what went on under the dictatorship. michelle: after turkey shot down a russian figher jet in november, president vladimir putin promised what he called serious consequences. the once close relationship between the two countries is now in tatters. companies are discouraged from hiring turkish employees, economic sanctions were imposed on goods and even russian football clubs were banned from signing turkish players. yet, it's ordinary turks living in russia who are bearing the brunt of the fallout between these regional players. reporter: voronezh, five hours by car from the russian capital moscow. it's traditionally a student
city. young people come here from all over the world. 2000 came in 2015 alone. but student life in this shared apartment on the outskirts of the city will be coming to an end. two of the turkish flatmates might have to leave russia in a few days. on one of their last evenings together, ugur and his friends look back on their three years in russia -- and talk about how everything changed a few weeks ago when they were declared enemies of the state. >> one of my friends was kicked out of his apartment, just because he was turkish. others had to leave the university. another friend was detained by police.
they threatened him and took his money. now, we're living in fear. fear that we will have to leave the country. for whatever reason. the authorities will find a reason. reporter: all of a sudden, they feel powerless, the students say. they add there have been attempts to intimidate them. >> they called us and said they should be able to know where we are. every hour. they said they should know how to find us. every half hour even. i don't know what to say. it's unpleasant. reporter: since turkey shot down a russian fighter jet over syria the relationship between the two governments has soured and turkish citizens in russia have come under pressure.
in the past, however, turkey and russia were good friends, with close business interests. for example, turkey's influence in russia is visible in the capital's new district "moscow city" -- which many are proud of. a turkish firm called "renaissance construction" built the "evolution tower". this mosque was apparently the last highlight of the russian-turkish friendship. turkish president recep tayyip erdogan and his russian counterpart vladimir putin celebrated the opening of europe's biggest mosque last september. four months later, it's harder to speak turkish on the streets, including in voronezh. >> people have been looking at us very differently since the shooting down of the russian plane. they used to say they loved turkey. tell us they'd been to antalya. ask about the weather there. now we don't even dare say we're turkish.
we get looked at strangely if we speak turkish. it's not a nice feeling. reporter: the rector of the university where ugur studies refused to talk to us. he sent us this letter instead, where he admits exmatriculating nine out of 10 turkish students. nothing to do with politics, he says, but with poor grades. the students say this is just an excuse to leave them no other choice but to leave. >> i don't want to leave russia. but all my friends here have already left. it's not that i'm really scared but i feel uncomfortable. reporter: unwanted, enemies of the state -- once russia's best friends, turks in russia are now in a very uncertain situation.
michelle: for many people, a new year brings lists of resolutions and big plans. some of us hope to change their job, move house orororven have a baby. but the latter isn't always a happy outcome for some families. in britain, campaigners say that a scandal around a popular pregnancy drug was kept quiet for decades. in the 1960's and 1970's many of the mothers who took primodos had children with birth defects. the drug was produced by german company schering, which was subsequently taken over by bayer. legal action against the firm was halted in 1982 because of a lack of evidence. now, a group of families finally have managed to take their fight all the way to the british parliament. reporter: this mother and daughter hardly leave each other's side. their walk by the sea in
liverpool is a daily ritual. pam mawdsley has devoted her life to looking after her daughter louise. louise was born with deformities 42 years ago. her development has been very restricted. louise has needed 24-hour care ever since her birth. it's a full-time job for pam. she recalls the difficult days after the birth. >> all her bones stopped growing and stopped her brain from growing so she's got a very small head. her brain stopped growing so it couldn't develop anymore and when she had an operation on her brain when she was about 10 months, nine months old, they found there were great cavities with nothing in.
reporter: pam is certain that the cause lies in a pregnancy test that she took. >> i went to my doctor to see if i was pregnant and he gave me two tablets. one to be taken one day and one the next. and if i didn't have my period i was pregnant. and i didn't have my period so i was pregnant. i just took what he gave me, he didn't give me a prescription, he got them from a drawer in his desk. reporter: this was at a time when the drug had already long been suspected of damaging the embryo. duogynon -- which is called primodos in britain -- was made by the german pharmaceuticals firm schering, which now belongs to bayer. authorities had warned about the drug two years before louise's birth but it was only taken off the market in the 1980's. louise could have grown up like her relative woody. if her mother had not taken the pills. pam is often plagued by feelings
of guilt. and she is determined to find out what really is responsible for louise's disabilities. the 70-year-old has joined an association which looks into birth defects caused by medication. they've brought the primodos case to parliament. >> we have the second enquiry meeting on friday the 4th december. reporter: there are thousands of cases. not all the children suffered such severe deformities as louise. some have smaller birth defects. heart problems are a frequent issue. >> my hope is that the enquiry will be able to uncover and assess all the information that we've sent. be assessed by the panel.
reporter: the british parliament has opened a new inquiry. the hope is that the pharmaceuticals company will put all the facts on the table. >> schering actually did discontinue the product and stopped using it for the pregnancy test. which again surely must suggest that there is something wrong with this drug, otherwise why are we taking it off the market. reporter: most of the families affected simply want to know finally where the guilt lies, what's responsible for the birth defects. but some want more. >> an apology is not good enough. i want to know for the rest of my life i will be ok financially, if i have to give up work, i know that i should be able to still have a good quality of life, you know i am lucky, i keep saying i'm lucky, there's people in wheelchairs but i don't know what the long-term effects are going to be. reporter: so far, the pharma company has been able to resist complaints from all over the
world. according to german law, the plaintiffs would have to prove to schering that the drug caused the defects. this is almost impossible. pam mawdsley hopes that politics will prevail over the justice system -- and that something wil finally happen after more than 40 years. >> it will just give me peace of mind. all this time, 42 years, i just want to know what caused lou's problems. i just need to know because i used to think when she was first born -- is it my fault, what have i done, did i do something wrong in the pregnancy? reporter: from the point of view of the pharmaceuticals giant, nothing is proven. pam and louise are prepared to fight -- but they know they won't be able to win this battle without help.
michelle: one of the biggest problems facing countries in transition is the so called "brain drain". once their young people complete their university studies, instead of investing their efforts into their homeland, they decide to go abroad. but on europe's balkan peninsula, there is a growing group of young albanians who are going against the trend and sewing the seeds of a better future at home. reporter: a baby crib for the boss. in a few weeks, pezana rexha will be having her first child. but she still comes to the workshop. she can't imagine not working. the architect has been designing furniture for the last two years. >> i was facing a lot of problems when i was doing interiors for my clients. because i couldn't find unique furniture.
everything was made in china and looked almost the same so i said lets begin to produce furniture. reporter: pezana rexha's company makes furniture from used wood. she now has 13 employees. she makes a point of hiring people who have a hard time finding work in albania's labor market because they are handicapped or suffer discrimination as roma. some are retired people who can't make ends meet on their small pensions. >> to make the work together it was quite difficult and even to talk with the clients, it was difficult to explain to them what a social enterprise is. they usually didn't believe me. and some of them didn't see it as a value and didn't believe that a marginalized group could do decent work. reporter: it was quite a challenge. many people want to leave albania, many already have left. as a child, pezana and her family lived in germany and greece for a long time.
that's not an option for her now. but running a business isn't simple in albania, where corruption is rampant and resignation common. a socially oriented entrepreneur like pezana is the exception. >> i am used to difficulties. so if there is no difficulty, don't enjoy things. that is why i am staying around. because there are a lot of difficulties here in tirana. and i would like to face them, every single day. reporter: a few kilometers outside the capital tirana, in the countryside. flori and arber uka studied aboad, but they returned -- even though they had job offers elsewhere. now the two brothers have a little farm, with organic vegetables, vineyards, and their own restaurant. >> these are very hard times for albania, we have to be honest about it. but it is in this period that you start building something, then eventually when things start to get better that's when you start collecting the fruits.
>> i see myself here. i feel like no one abroad and i feel like someone here. reporter: the two brothers are still paying off their loans and have to deal with bureaucracy and taxes. but the ukas are proud, especially of their wine -- even if albanian wine is still not popular at home. >> this was not an investment like generally in albania, like let's make money in 1 week, 1 year, etc. i had to be patient to wait for the results. now i am watching the results. the wine is going good, they like it. i am selling it but this is the result of hard work. reporter: hard work here, too -- this pub in the center of tirana was one of pezana rexha's first projects. shops, bars, and cafés are a large part of her clients. and pezana wants more. >> i would like to have a huge
factory. 1000 employees, it's a big dream. to have several shops in albania, in the region, and even in europe to show that sometimes you can come from small countries like albania but you can make it happen. reporter: big hopes in tirana. and young entrepreneurs who show that albania, has opportunities. michelle: well, that's it for today. thank you for watching. get in touch anytime with your thoughts and comments. we are always interested in hearing from you. in the meantime it's goodbye from me and the whole team. see you next time.
steves: london is growing, and its underground is growing with it. historically, most london attractions have been contained within its downtown circle line, but there's a new tube network emerging, and it's clear -- london is shifting east. each morning, a thunderous high-tech workforce surges into a district called the docklands. once a gritty industrial harbor, then a neglected no-man's-land, today the docklands has been transformed. it fills a peninsula created by a bend in the thames
with gleaming skyscrapers springing out of a futuristic people zone. canary wharf tower is one of the mightiest skyscrapers in all of europe. workers enjoy good public transit and plenty of green spaces for relaxing. the entire ensemble sits upon a vast underground shopping mall. in the 1700s, the thames riverfront was jammed up with shipping in downtown london while this end of town was an industrial zone with the stinky industries -- glue making, chemical works, and so on -- conveniently located just downwind from the rest of the city. in order to relieve all the congestion in downtown london, they decided to replace the industries out here with what became the world's ultimate port. the docklands organized shipping for the vast british empire. evoking the days when britannia ruled the waves, the old west india warehouses survive.
but rather than trading sugar and rum, today they house the museum of london docklands and a row of happening restaurants. london's docklands illustrates how, in order to fully experience the energy of a great city, you often need to get out of the historic old town and explore its modern business district.