Download the latest documentaries investigating global developments, issues and affairs.
America’s solitary inmates
Since the pandemic struck, millions around the world have endured lockdowns, with many finding it hard to tolerate long periods indoors. But what if lockdown meant years on end spent entirely alone, in a single room, sometimes no bigger than a large elevator? In many US states, jails and prisons routinely use solitary confinement to enforce discipline and indeed, sometimes to quarantine inmates for health reasons. Officials say it’s essential to ensure safety behind bars. Prisoners can be segregated for serious and violent offences, but also for infringing minor rules. And some have spent decades in isolation, despite the United Nations defining a stretch of more than fifteen days as torture. As one of the most prominent states, New York, now moves to accept the UN limit and reform the use of segregation, Hilary Andersson meets inmates and prison staff to understand what this draconian punishment is like, and what its psychological effects can be upon those affected, who include children as young as thirteen.
Produced for radio by Michael Gallagher
If you have been affected by any of the issues discussed in this programme, you can contact help at Befrienders International: www.befrienders.org
(Image: A juvenile inmate in a cell seen through the door hatch. Credit: Richard Ross)
Don't log off: My life, my world
Alan Dein hears how the pandemic year has affected the life of 19-year-old student Mursalina in Kabul, Afghanistan. She has been studying at home online, but has become increasingly aware of the impact of Covid-19 on the city's poorest people who come knocking on her door for food donations. She also fears for the health of her father who works in a hospital. At the same time, she is keen to keep her young people's group active, promoting education and independence for women in her community.
Dance divas: 1978-1988
We meet Yvonne Turner, Rebecca Mackenzie, Carol Cooper, Gail Sky King and Sharon White who were all Paradise Garage regulars from its opening in the late 70s. We follow their first steps in the music business, after the death of disco. But in a cut-throat music industry, many women, including Martha, had to fight to get proper credit for their work and recognition for their achievements is long overdue. Now in their 60s, we follow their remarkable stories over several decades, as underground dance music evolved from disco into house, striving for success in an environment which was often hostile to women.
Coronavirus: Surviving isolation
The pandemic has caused many people to feel lonely and isolated. For three women, the isolation is as a result of travelling and having to quarantine in hotels on arrival - Michelle in Australia, Amanda in Indonesia and Charlotte in New Zealand. They tell host Nuala McGovern how they are passing the time and share recommendations.
It’s not just people living alone who can feel isolated, of course, and three single parents from the Philippines, the United States and the UK share their experiences - both the highs and lows - of living with their children 24/7. For theatre artist Floyd in Manila, it has resulted in singing regularly with his ten year old son.
The day I met Prince Philip
Over his seven decades of service to Queen Elizabeth the Second, to the United Kingdom, her 15 other realms, and to the Commonwealth, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, met many millions of people. They all have stories to tell about those meetings and in this special programme Winifred Robinson hears some of them.
The stories reflect on the Prince’s many passions, the charities he was involved with, his commitment to individuals and causes and also his support for the Queen and the Commonwealth. We also hear about his sharp wit and sense of humour.
Sexual healing in the Israeli military
Soldiers returning from the line of duty with injuries affecting sexual performance are universal to all militaries around the world, but Israeli psychologist Dr Ronit Aloni set about making hers the only nation that offers a unique therapeutic approach to restoring the sexuality of their troops as a matter of course: surrogate partner therapy (SPT), or sexual surrogacy. After studying the niche treatment in the US in the early nineties, Dr Aloni conducted studies, lobbied the government and met with religious leaders in order to make this therapy, considered fringe and often taboo in other nations, available to those who need it via Ministry of Defense funding. But why is Israel alone in this? The therapy is best described as traditional psychotherapy combined with intimate sexual therapy with a surrogate lover, in every form that can mean, and it was Dr Aloni’s dogged belief in its life-changing benefits for her clients that caused her to pursue provision for the troops. For Assignment, Yolande Knell tells the story of that policy through Dr Aloni’s work and her Tel Aviv clinic, the work of surrogate partner Seraphina, and two military veterans who have accessed the service: one of the first to be offered it on the Defense Ministry’s time in the late nineties, and one a conscripted young man paralysed by his injuries who after years of begging for death, says the therapy “restored his humanity.”
Producer: Philip Marzouk
Editor: Bridget Harney
(Image: Hand being held in a gesture of comfort. Credit: PeopleImages via Getty)