A F F A I R S
The Struggle Continues
She returned to Eritrea last winter to find out, funded by a Pew
Fellowship from Hopkins's
Nitze School of Advanced
International Studies (SAIS). The newly launched program at
SAIS encourages working journalists to bring to light important
international stories that have received scant attention. What
Hatch found in Eritrea was "a report card both good and bad," she
says. After just several years of peace, war erupted again in
1998, in what has now become, she says, "the bloodiest conflict
on the planet, one that both sides say they don't want, and
neither side can explain." Hatch slept in refugee camps, holed
up in front-line bunkers, and conducted countless interviews to
capture the images you see here. Her findings: Eritrean women now
have representation in government and the right to own property.
And more young women are choosing the men they marry. But other
things haven't changed. Some 85 percent of women remain
illiterate, and 85 percent of girls, both Christian and Muslim,
are still being genitally mutilated.
Beginning at 4 a.m. each morning, crowds of Eritrean women gather
at St. Mary's Church in Asmara to pray for peace (opening
"Women now have the right to own property and you see fewer arranged marriages; but there's been little progress in terms of genital mutilation and illiteracy."
In the heat of the day, a lone fighter stands guard in an acacia
tree at Egri Mikhal (top). Beyond the front-line trench, the
Eritreans have heavily mined the stretch of land that separates
them from the Ethiopian soldiers.
Genitally mutilated when she was a young girl,
16-year-old Gabriella Zerom (right) now works in a
government-sponsored campaign to educate others about associated
health risks; circumcision is practiced upon 85 percent of women
"The fighting between Ethiopia and Eritrea is pretty much the bloodiest conflict on the planet and nobody's talking about it."
After her Sunday morning Orthodox wedding at St. Mary's church,
Freweine Asgedom, 26, returns home to freshen up (above). She and
her family will shortly host the groom's friends and family at a
lavish lunch, with dancing and drinking of mes, a honey wine.
Waking from a late afternoon nap, an Eritrean soldier plays his
handmade kirar, a traditional musical instrument, in a bunker in
the front-line trench at Egri Mikhal (top).
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