Women We Read this Week

Jean Friedman-Rudovsky’s “The Ghost Rapes of Bolivia” in Vice

This is a story that I did not want to read because I knew it would haunt me. Over a nine-month period, Jean Friedman-Rudovsky investigated a series of rapes in a small Mennonite community in Bolivia. The resulting article, accompanied by eerie photos taken by Noah Friedman-Rudovsky, is a devastating exploration of a seemingly impossible crime. As Friedman-Rudovsky describes, “For a while, the residents of Manitoba Colony thought demons were raping the town’s women. There was no other explanation.” The author began reporting on the crimes for Time in 2011, and she returned in 2013 to follow up on her initial investigation. The photos show the pale, emotionless faces of the Manitoba community, women in knee-length flowered dresses, stony-eyed children. I think what got me about this article is that the photos and the text haunted me equally. — Alice

Jessica Benko’s “What’s Killing Minnesota’s Moose?” in OnEarth

In her completely level-headed and precise science reporting, Jessica Benko’s narrative reveals the disturbing reality of a moose dying from infected wounds. A population of moose in northern Minnesota is mysteriously diminishing. Benko travels with wildlife biologists to track a dying radio-collared cow and then back to the lab to watch technicians perform an autopsy. This specific moose died from infections due to a wolf attack: “the wolves had made contact and landed at least one bite; bacteria did the rest, taking down the enormous animal that the wolves could not.” But it seems that this dramatic decline might be more connected to parasites and climate change. (Benko limns equally horrific images of moose riddled with hundreds of thousands of ticks scratching their hair off to get rid of the parasites and then dying of cold.) Of the dead moose that have been studied so far, “none of those causes of death tell the full story,” Benko writes. “It will take several years of data collection for the researchers to tease out patterns of co-infection by parasites and disease and correlations with temperature and habitat changes due to climate change.”  — Amanda

Hanna Rosin’s “Murder By Craigslist” in The Atlantic

It isn’t just that Hanna Rosin‘s investigative profile of serial killer Richard Beaslet is well-researched, well-reported and articulate. Lots of long-form journalism is. What catapults this piece into a different category for me is how it gracefully, gently taps into something larger than the murders themselves: the particular heartbreak and yearning of down-and-out, middle-aged working-class white men. And more than even that, the relationships they seek to fill a void:

Christians often talk about a “God-shaped hole,” a need inside us that can be filled only by faith. But perhaps we share a “family-shaped hole.” When the old structures recede for men, they find ways to replace them with alternative attachments, bonds with one or two people that offer the warmth and intimacy typically provided by a wife or significant other. If anything, these improvised families can prove more intense…

This was the heart of this piece for me, the story inside the story: yet another example of how so many of us are struggling with the same things, in seemingly different ways. — Lauren


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