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The Observers

A swimmer's challenge in Iran, children at work in Burma, and more

This show is made up entirely of amateur images. We've seen time and time again how images captured by ordinary citizens then uploaded onto the Web can change history, or at least shift the balance of power. This week, we take a look back at some of those moments.

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Story 1: Iran

We begin today with a long-distance swimmer in Iran. Elham Sadat Asghari recently completed the feat of swimming 20 kilometers in the open sea. That's a record for an Iranian woman - and she did it wearing a diving suit, a long jacket and a headscarf. That's because in Iran, women have to hide their figures from men. Women's swimming contests are held - in all-female pools - but if you're swimming in the sea you have to cover up. Elham thought she'd covered up, but it wasn't enough for the country's sports federation, which called her outfit "inappropriate" - and refused to register her achievement. Our Observer is a friend of the swimmer.

 

Story 2: Burma

Now to Burma. The country's impressive moves toward democracy have opened it up to the outside world, winning the approval of Western leaders. Critics say it has a long way to go, though. One area is child labor. Burma does have a law banning children under 15 from working. But activists say it's not enforced. They say only 25 to 35 percent of children finish primary school, because their families put them to work instead. Our Observer went to meet some of them.

 

Story 3: World

Now for our weekly look at other stories and images sent in by our observers.

First stop Abidjan, in Ivory Coast, at the city's Adjamé Gbêba bus station. Our Observer sees a crowd gathering and goes to see what's happening. He sees a young woman being harassed by a group of men. They said her skirt was too short; that she was dressed too sexy. And their solution... was to tear off the rest of her clothes. Luckily, station guards intervened and rescued the woman. One of them told our Observer they'd seen a spate of sexual assaults at the bus station in recent months - in each case, the attackers saying they were acting in the name of public decency.

Next up, two very different videos from Syria. First a propaganda video that appeared a few months ago: a child surrounded by Islamist fighters, singing about how he'll slit the throats of their enemies, the Alawite regime. A horrible scene, turned on its head by a collective of young Syrians who make online reports of the civil war. They made a parody called "We're coming to slaughter you". Not just Allawites, but Shiites, Kurds, Catholics, Armenians, Circassians, Druzes, Sikhs, Hindus. Everyone. Our observer Haythem says that during war, humour is a mechanism for survival.

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