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CONNECT THE WORLD
International Outrage Involving Iranian Woman Sentenced to Death by Stoning; Global Connections Link Sweden and Malaysia; Divorce Ceremonies Help Unhappy Couples Find Closure; The UK Sees Rising Trend in "Divorce Tourism"; World Heavyweight Champion David Haye Answers Your Questions
Aired September 6, 2010 - 16:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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BERNARD KOUCHNER, FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER: I don't know for the fate of Sakineh but we are all in charge of Sakineh's fate.
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BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: France's foreign minister tells CNN why his country is fighting for the life of Sakineh Ashtiani. Shown here, she's an Iranian woman who's being sentenced to death by stoning. Tonight with her fate still unclear, how a story out of Tehran resonates in Paris, London, Berlin and beyond.
Going beyond borders on CNN, this is how we CONNECT THE WORLD.
There's a strange dilemma in the case of Sakineh Ashtiani. The more the world tries to help, the more we may be hurting her cause. I'm Becky Anderson in London, joining the docks (ph) on the day's big stories for you.
Tonight desperation in Pakistan. Farmers risk their lives just trying to save their livelihood.
We reveal what might seem like a strange tradition in Japan. Ceremonies to bless, not weddings, but divorces.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID HAYE, BOXER: I couldn't say that I'd be Mohammad Ali. He's the greatest and he's great for a reason because he could beat everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: He admits he doesn't dance like a butterfly or sing like a bee, but the haymaker can pack a punch. David Haye is answering your questions as our "Connect the Day."
We want your input into our new Global Connections initiative. This weeks, what connects the country of Sweden with Malaysia? Tweet me @BeckyCNN. You've got 140 characters so get your thinking caps on.
First, the son of an Iranian woman sentenced to death fears weeks of uncertainty over her fate could soon come to a tragic end. The agony for her family and supporters doesn't stop there. A case of mistaken identity may have recently earned her even more punishments.
Mohammed Jamjoon following developments from Abu Dhabi. What can you tell us, sir?
MOHAMMED JAMJOON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Becky, it's been a very confusing day on this case with all the developments that have come out. We've spoke to Ashtiani's son Sajaad (ph) a few hours ago. He told us that he now believes that his mother, in addition to having been sentenced to die by stoning for the crime of adultery, she's not also been flogged. And international outrage has been mounting since news first broke that Ashtiani was going to be sentenced to die and going to be sentenced by stoning. Now with news that she may have been sentenced to 99 lashes and that that sentenced may have been carried out, people are even more upset.
JAMJOON (voice-over): It seems like nobody knows the true condition of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. The Iranian woman sentenced to be stoned to death by adultery hasn't been seen by her son or her Iran-based lawyer for three weeks. One of her two lawyers says she's been whipped 99 times for another alleged offense, while a second lawyer, not recognized by a family cast doubt on the suggestion.
Ashtiani's son Sajaad gets bits and pieces of information through those who say they've seen her. A woman contacted him saying she had been imprisoned with his mother and that his mother had been lashed over a newspaper photograph that appeared to show her not wearing and head scarf.
Iranian law requires all women to cover their hair regardless of their religion.
The "Times of London" ran the photo on its front page on August 28, mistakenly identifying a woman as Ashtiani. It later apologized saying it was not her. Today, the "Times" issued a statement by Martin Fletcher. "If the Iranian authorities have sentenced or already subjected Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani to 99 lashes for a perceived offense that she patently did not commit, they are piling outrage on outrage."
Meanwhile, outrage grows as more countries are supporting Ashtiani and asking Iranian officials to show her clemency. Yesterday it was Italy, today it's France.
BERNARD KOUCHNER, FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER (though translator): Really this is a national case for us and the president said that France must defend Sakineh. It's a national case and it's a personal case and I'm making this a personal case and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to save her. If it means going to Tehran, I will go to Tehran.
JAMJOON: Complicating matters even further, at Kouchner's side was attorney Mohammad Mustafi (ph). A few days ago he said he no longer represented Ashtiani. Today he said he was her lawyer, that he had spoken to Iranian judiciary sources and that she had not been sentenced to lashes.
The Iranian government will neither confirm or deny that the lashings occurred. Ashtiani's son Sajaad worries that his mother may be executed after Ramadan.
JAMJOON: Many have wondered what the Iranian government could possibly gain from sentencing her to this additional punishment. When we asked her Iran-based attorney earlier in the day, Javid Kian, why that might be, he suggested the answer might be quite simple, simply to apply pressure on the family to not speak publicly anymore about this case -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Mohammed, thank you very much indeed for that.
That is the story that stands at present. We just heard Sir Bernard Kouchner call this a national case for France, also a personal case, as well.
When I talked the French foreign minister just a short time ago, I started off by asking why he is taking such an interest in the fate of a woman so far away.
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KOUCHNER: I'm a moral person because this is barbaric treatment and because sometimes you have to -- this is not my personal case only, as I told you, I'm also a foreign minister. Sometimes you have to involve yourself in what you believe in, even as a foreign minister, more if you're a foreign minister sometimes.
ANDERSON: Carla Bruni has spoken out in Sakineh's defense which is infuriated editors of a leading Iranian newspaper who branded the French First Lady a prostitute who deserves to die, they said. What is your official response to the rhetoric?
KOUCHNER: It was so sad to read that. It was so ridiculous for them. It was a sort of sentence of stupidity.
ANDERSON: What do you know of any reports of potential involvement of the Pope in this case?
KOUCHNER: Yes, very good. Very good. All the Christian world and the Vatican, they are -- we are, sorry to say, Madame, but who is protesting, who is in favor of this sentence? Who is in favor of stoning this lady to death? Adultery or not, I mean, it's impossible to accept, it's very cruel. You know that last week we have heard that the Taliban in Afghanistan did the same. They stoned to death a lady. This is impossible to accept. We are fighting in Afghanistan for democratic reason and to change the perspective of the Afghan. And in acting like we are, in protesting against this sentence, we are on the Iranian people's side.
ANDERSON: What kind of pressure, sir, has France been able to put on Tehran over this case?
KOUCHNER: You know, the political world opinion, I believe, quite all, close to all of the governments of the world and the public opinion. Did you see some papers, did you see some show in favor of this sentence? We are offering to our Iranian friends, certainly more the Green Movement and the government, I know, we are offering them to change the relationship between them and us, us and them.
ANDERSON: In what way, sir?
KOUCHNER: In what way? In the human rights way, in the human nature way. In believing that the Sharia, which I know very well, is not that soft (ph) of behavior. Not at all.
ANDERSON: I'm wondering about what concrete options you have though sir, at this point. The sanctions already in place. Does the world have any other leverage over Tehran at this point?
KOUCHNER: I want to separate this political sanction, economical sanction we are working on, not only with the U.N. resolution, remember that, but also in Europe. And of course, this is economic sanction because of nuclear problem. I don't want to mix up the nuclear problem and this barbaric treatment. Not at all. We have a political fight, and we have, Madame, a real human fight.
ANDERSON: Are you concerned that Tehran might mix the two, though?
KOUCHNER: Yes. We have to understand that at the same time they are very different problems. And also there is a common problem of having good contact with the Iranian people, trying to understand their views. But to one very simple point: no barbaric treatment.
ANDERSON: Let me ask you this question, we have seen protests in London, in Berlin, in Stockholm, as well as across French cities. Protesters protesting the treatment of Ashtiani. There are those who are concerned that keeping her story in the international media spotlight will hinder, will hurt her cause rather than help it.
What do you say to people who have those concerned?
KOUCHNER: They are more or less right, I know. Sakineh Ashtiani is a symbolic case but other cases around the world deserve to be treated and to support also a pressure coming from the public opinion, I know. But for the time being, Madame, we are talking about Sakineh. I don't know for the fate of Sakineh but we are all in charge of Sakineh's fate.
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ANDERSON: Many of you share the foreign minister's outrage over this case.
Hatlkva writes on our blog, "I pray that Sakineh Ashtiani's death sentence will be overturned and that she will be freed but I'm not hopeful as she is dealing with a violent Iranian regime and the inhumanity of Sharia law. Incomprehensible that there are still cultures that still practice in injustice in the name of their God and of their self made laws."
From someone under the name of TheHerald, "Under international law, governments do not have the right to interfere in the internal affairs of another. That does not mean ordinary people and even governments cannot protest what they perceive as unjust sentences."
Then sugar says, "This woman is of no concern to me. She's Iranian. She knew the penalty that would await her if she committed adultery. If she did, she shouldn't be surprised if she's stoned to death for it or whipped. Islam in Iran is backwards and unevolved."
CNN.com/connect. Join the debate.
Still to come, paying the ultimate price. Farmers go to great lengths to protect their animals. Trying to help their families survive, Pakistan's flood crisis. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson in London. Stay with us.
ANDERSON: Under attack from two devastating forces: militants in Pakistan have struck with deadly impact, even as this country struggles to deal with its flood catastrophe. The suicide bomber rammed his vehicle into a police station in the northwest, killing at least 17 people and wounding some 40 others. Policemen and children were among the victims there. The attack follows Friday's suicide blast in the southwest, which killed 73 people.
(INAUDIBLE) few days, we hear of more lives lost in Pakistan's flood crisis. The toll currently stands above 17,000. Officials, though, say it will climb further as flood victims increasingly battle disease and starvation. Aid is limited, of course, though for many, survival depends on self sufficiency. And as Sara Sidner shows us, that can come at a devastating cost.
SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lashker Khan Jatoi stares out at the flooded Indus River. The current is still as swift as when it swallowed his father a few days ago. Seventy-year-old Lalbach (ph) had escaped the floodwaters rushing towards his patch of land in rural Sindh (ph) province, but when the river sucked one of his animals under, he dove in to save its life.
(on camera): Knowing how fast-flowing the flooded river is, why did your father risk his life for one animal, one buffalo?
The livestock is worth more than even our own lives because the it's the only way we make a living, he says. We are making our entire living and feeding our families off of these animals.
Navy diver Zamrad Moen (ph) says he pulled Lalbach's body from the river just 100 yards downstream. Moen says people are so desperate to save their livestock that they even try to bring them on small rescue boats.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When we cannot take their animals in our boats, people sometimes refused to be rescued.
(on camera): This must really add to the difficulties for the rescue effort because people are trying to save their animals.
(voice-over): The United Nations estimates the floods have killed some 200,000 animals, a devastating toll in a country where nearly half the people live off the land and livestock are the key to survival.
(on camera): In the villages, people learn at a very early age how important animals are. Kubadar (ph) here is 9 years old and he helps his family make a living by using his donkey to take feed to the buffalo.
(voice-over): Buffalo are prized possessions. They provide milk and farm labor. Even their dung is useful as fertilizer and dried and burned as fuel for cooking fires. The animals cost about $1,000 each, a fortune for those who earn about $1 per day. People pay handsomely to have them loaded on a truck and carted to safety as the floodwaters approach.
Not everyone can afford such an expense. Farmer Naveed Dahani suffered a long and exhausting trek to get his herd out of harm's way.
(on camera): How did you get your animals out when the floods came?
We herded our livestock and walked three or four days to bring them here, he says. In Sindh province alone, 1.7 million acres of farmland has been flooded. The U.N. is asking for millions of dollars to help livestock survive because even if they escape the deluge, much of their pasture has vanished in the swirling waters.
Sara Sidner, CNN, Jaridero (ph), Pakistan.
ANDERSON: Surviving the aftermath. And that is the challenge ahead for the 17 million people affected by those floods. Paul Garwood is with the World Health Organization. He joins me now on the phone from Islamabad.
It's disheartening when you see the sort of reports that Sara Sidner has filed today. What can you tell us about what's happening on the ground healthwise?
PAUL GARWOOD, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (via telephone): We see healthwise there are many challenges across the country, particularly in the south. We see, again, increasing numbers of waterborne diseases. We see concerns around suspected malaria cases, and you know, a range of other concerns.
At the same time, I suppose, we are seeing things starting to - not turn around, but you know, we see health providers here making a difference here to the lives of many people that we've seen. There are more than 4.7 million people being treated since the start of this crisis. We've seen health facilities starting to stand up around the place, to be established, particularly to treat waterborne diseases. And we're seeing more and more efforts ongoing to better understand what are the disease risks. You know, getting more medical staff, thousands of volunteers and hundreds and hundreds of medical teams in affected communities to try and make a difference healthwise.
ANDERSON: That is fantastic to hear, Paul. It's the military who's behind this great push to get the infrastructure sort of back and operational and getting the aid who need it the most?
GARWOOD: The military has been an integral part in all of this. Without their support (ph), (INAUDIBLE) support and the medical kind of paralysis (ph) in numbers, many people that would have struggled to receive some care. You know, so provincial authorities - I mean, health authorities from the federal level down have been vital as well.
But at the same time, we see health providers from around the world who are throwing (INAUDIBLE) support behind this. We're seeing experts - the most leading experts in the world in say, diarrheal disease coming to Pakistan to try and help the people, to try and improve the language (ph). Health care facilities are treating people.
ANDERSON: Paul, what are your biggest challenges going forward?
GARWOOD: Well, I see - I mean, funding has got to be a continuing concern. We need to keep providing medicines to people, you know, for the months going ahead. We need to be able to (INAUDIBLE) back many of the hospitals and (INAUDIBLE) could have been damaged. More than 50 hospitals and clinics have been damaged or destroyed.
Again, we need to ensure that routine health care is available for everyone. More than 500,000 women will be pregnant during the next six months. You know, 32,000 of those will have complicated deliveries. We need to ensure, you know, that basic and routine that you and I would expect to receive, you know, for granted in our countries is available to many of these people in Pakistan, or to all.
ANDERSON: Voice of Paul Garwood there out of Islamabad for the World Health Organization. Your Connect Line lets you know that we are moving to saving lives at this point. How you can help: head to the special section of our Web site: CNN.com/inpact. Don't forget, there's still an awful lot that needs to be done. You'll see a range of ways in which you can help out and which charities are working there in Pakistan on the ground. CNN.com/impact.
Tonight, CONNECT THE WORLD will be right back after this short break.
ANDERSON: Fall designers are putting the finishing touches to their collections for New York's Fashion Week. Richard Chies (ph) at catwalk show will be packed full of magazine editors and fashionistas. See whose name beat men's wear designer of the year in the emerging talent category at fashion's equivalent of the Oscars.
He wasn't the only Asian-American designer to take the runway by storm. Jason Wu, famous for that dress worn by Michelle Obama, also came out on top. As countries like South Korea and Japan rapid develop their fashion industries, it seems more and more Asian designers are feeding the show.
With an eye to the launch of catwalk season, all this week, we are looking at fashion and its global influences. We're going to kick off with a rapidly changing sector of the industry. Clothes for fashion-conscious Muslim women. Ivan Watson has more from the catwalk in Istabul.
IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Backstage at a fashion show in Istanbul. Models are getting ready to hit the catwalk.
But this is not your typical fashion show. The models are displaying Islamic women's clothing, even though only a few of the models working here are Muslim.
CRISTINA BUDERACKY, MODEL: We're all in there, walking shorts, T-shirts, flip-flops, you know. Like a free to show it (ph). But here, it's totally different.
WATSON: Believe it or not, these outfits are part of a swimsuit collection.
(on camera): This is your bathing suit?
ALFINA NASYROVA, MODEL: Yes. This is, like, casual. We can wear it at home, we can wear it, like, for a walk. I'm feeling now - (INAUDIBLE).
WATSON (voice-over): The full-body swimsuits are called hasema. They're designed to let conservative women swim and exercise without being too revealing. The Turkish company that makes them says sales are booming.
TURAN KISA, HASEMA MARKETING EXECUTIVE: We are exporting (INAUDIBLE) to 35 countries now.
WATSON (on camera): So, this was the most popular model last season.
KISA: It was the most popular model.
WATSON (voice-over): Modern Islamic women's fashion has evolved quite a bit from the black robes and the all-concealing burqas many Westerners associate with the Muslim world.
HAMZA ALI, MUSLIMCLOTHING.COM: The younger generation of the Muslims coming out, they want something stylish. You know, they want to be modest, but they still want to be stylish with their friends. They want to look nice, hang out.
WATSON: This growing industry appears to be dominated by men. But there are some female designers here. Nur Yamankaradeniz makes high-priced gowns studded with Swarovski crystals.
NUR YAMANKARADENISZ, TURKISH DESIGNER: Islamic women should wear loose clothes that cover their bodies. But that doesn't mean they have to look scary.
WATSON: That seems to be the message here. Just because a Muslim woman wears conservative clothes doesn't mean she can't also be fashionable.
Ivan Watson, CNN, Istanbul.
ANDERSON: Well, the catwalk is constantly changing. And here in London, fashion dared to borrow some tricks from the stunt world. Check this out. Dressed in miniskirts and stilettos, models sailed into Oxford's Circus, one of the city's fashion hotspots, where they glided down a vertical catwalk to launch High Street Fashion Week. In the capital - they don't look very safe, do they?
Coming up tomorrow, how fashion can send a very powerful message. We're in Kabul, where decades of local traditions shape the hats, turbans and scarves of many Afghans. Be sure to join us all this week as we take a look at what's influencing the fashion industry around the world.
You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson. It's just before half past nine in London. We'll be back with the headlines after this.
ANDERSON: A very warm welcome back. You're with CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson in London. Coming up, we need your help. We're trying to connect two more countries this week that may appear to have little in common. So get ready to give us your feedback about today's "Global Connection."
Also, a husband and wife joining together to break apart. We'll see how divorce ceremonies are helping some unhappy couples find a bit of closure.
And then how soon will we see the world heavyweight champ battle one of the Pitchgo (ph) brothers? Well David Haye will answer your questions as "Connector of the Day."
All those stories are ahead in the next 30 minutes. It's just after half past nine in London. Give you a quick check of the headlines now.
Well, new reports suggest Iranian Sakineh Ashtiani has received additional lashes in jail after authorities accused her of appearing in a "Times" of London without a head covering. The "Times" now says she was not the woman pictured, and some sources dispute the report of additional lashes. She has been sentenced to death for adultery.
Officials say at least 17 people were killed and 40 others were wounded in a suicide bombing in Pakistan's northwest frontier province. They say the bomber drove a vehicle packed with explosives into a police building.
German chancellor Angela Merkel has announced plans to extend the lifetime of the country's 17 nuclear power plants by about a decade. They had been due to start shutting down by 2020. Mrs. Merkel says it's part of a revolutionary energy policy and longer reliance on nuclear power, she says, is unavoidable.
The former British prime minster, Tony Blair, has canceled a book- signing event in London because of concerns over protests. The decision came after police made arrests in Ireland this weekend when 200 anti-war demonstrators in Dublin voiced their anger over Blair's role in the war in Iraq. Blair says he doesn't want the signing to inconvenience the public.
Those are the headlines. It's time now to unveil this week's Global Connections.
All right. This is where we highlight two countries that at first glance may appear to have very little in common. We need you to tell us where the connections lie, whatever they are, from historical ties to your very own personal stories.
Tonight, we're traveling from one country whose stark beauty reaches toward the Arctic Circle, to another with lush rain forests straddling the Equator. We begin in tropical Malaysia. It's home to the Rafflesia, the largest flower ever discovered. It can bloom up to one meter across, I'm told.
Speaking of natural wonders, the Sarawak Chamber, the largest cave chamber in the world, is so big, you could fit nearly 40 football pitches in it.
The country is what could be called the world's only true elective monarchy. A king chosen from among nine sultans for a five-year term, but parliament still holds the power.
Thousands of miles to the north lies Sweden. It's also a constitutional monarchy, but what sets Sweden apart is that in 1980 it became the first country to let the firstborn girls assume the throne and not have to pass the honor onto one of their little, younger brothers.
It didn't have Malaysia's record-sized flower on it, but a Swedish postage stamp, printed in 1855, holds the title as the most expensive ever sold, more than $2.3 million. Much more reasonably priced, though, you can also thank Sweden for the zipper, the refrigerator, and the computer mouse.
That is what makes them unique as countries. What makes them connected? In a moment, we'll tell you how you can take part in deciding on that. First, want to bring in a guest who's a real favorite of the CONNECT THE WORLD team. Craig Glenday is editor-in-chief of Guinness World Records, and he joins me now here in the studio in London.
Good to have you back. Who could be better placed to wow us with some more of the unique ideas and facts, figures, and things about these two countries. Go on.
CRAIG GLENDAY, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, GUINESS WORLD RECORDS: Very kind. I'm glad you said Sweden when I had -- because Sweden happens to be the biggest country for Guinness World Records in terms of readership, so --
ANDERSON: Plug in there.
GLENDAY: It's got that you have the biggest readership, so that's interesting for us. Also, of course, what makes a difference with us is the difference between things. The difference between people, countries. That's where we get our records from. And Sweden, for example, has -- they have the largest underground sewer system, the first to do underground sewage. And -- this is nice. It's probably much better than above ground, of course.
And it's the weather. The ice hotel, for example. The largest ice hotel. If you have ever been, everything is made of ice, the bar, the chapel area, the restaurants, even the beds are made of ice.
Malaysia, of course, has the largest hotel ever. Not just made of ice, bricks. But since it's something like 6,200 rooms, which beats anything you can get in Vegas. So for us, there's these two countries, in fact, are very different. That means for us there's a whole wealth of records to be found.
ANDERSON: Yes, absolutely. Before we get to the connections, the countries couldn't be more different, of course, could they?
GLENDAY: That's right. The challenge of finding something that connects them when, in fact, there's so much difference. Look at the weather for one, the climate. You've got the snow off the European moderate to sub-Arctic climate up in Sweden, whereas, of course, you've got the lovely Equator of Malaysia, where you have things like the biodiversity, for example.
As a result of that, you have this huge wealth of animals. That's one of the 17 mega-diverse countries in terms of biology. So we have the largest insects, therefore the largest insectivores, the largest population of orangutans, butterflies, all these amazing things.
Sweden, we have the largest grouse. That's it. We can't find anything else, apart from Sweden has one big grouse.
ANDERSON: Well let me tell you that our viewers are good at this, and they're certainly good at coming up with connections. Last week's were absolutely fascinating, Nigeria and Brazil. So we're challenging them to come up with some really good connections.
But before I let you go tonight, come on. I want something unique that they haven't already come up with, because I know you've been checking the site.
GLENDAY: I have been, and I found one thing that no one's found yet. There's this unique type of thing called a LAN party. L - A - N, which is Local Area Network party. It's a bit of an IT thing. Both countries are very strong on their technology infrastructure. And the LAN parties, when you basically can use when nerds get together, especially video game freaks, and they connect their machines in these huge, big holes. I don't think the smell after one of these things --
Sweden and Malaysia are the two countries that have Guinness World Records for LAN parties, which is fascinating, I think. So Sweden had the largest, which is 11,000 people at once connected up in a LAN party, and Malaysia the longest, 40 hours. Interesting thing, about 10 or 12 people, I think, collapsed from fatigue during the Malaysian event. But otherwise, it's a very healthy -- very forward-reaching people.
ANDERSON: And those in Sweden got frostbite. Good stuff. We thank you for that. Come back, help us out with this as we move through the weeks to come. It's Sweden and Malaysia this week, viewers. So, there you go. A sense of what connects the two.
But like we said, it is your part of the show. It's your connections that count, no offense to you, Craig. Tell us the connections that we've overlooked, and we are especially interested in your own personal experiences. Family, business, for example. Do you have business in both countries? Vacations? Anything that ties them together for you.
Go to cnn.com/connect to find out how you can get involved. You can write in, you can send us video clips, you can tweet me, @beckycnn. We'll check all of the sites for all of your content, but make the Global Connections count. Again, details for taking part at cnn.com/connect. All the pleasure, sir.
Well, divorce, it can be an ugly business. Or, if you're in Japan, cause for a ceremony, apparently. Coming up, saying sayonara in smashing style.
ANDERSON: Welcome back. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson for you. We're all familiar with wedding ceremonies and the whole process of saying "I do." But an increasing divorce rate has prompted a whole new trend in Japan. Kyung Lah tells us unhappy couples are now planning ceremonies to say "It's over."
KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A diamond and platinum wedding ring, symbolizing eight years of this couple's marriage. Gone, in an increasingly popular ritual known in Japan as a divorce ceremony. Husband no longer, Taka (ph).
"It marks the end of this phase of our lives," he says.
The beginning for Taka and Michiko was in 2002. They had a child, built a life together but, eventually, grew apart.
"A part of me is expecting I'll feel much better after this," says Michiko. "I've had enough sadness."
The divorce ceremony begins with a silent and solemn procession through the streets of Tokyo. Two rickshaws carrying man and woman. Inside this purposely shabby building, a symbolic ceremony before witnesses, not to join together, but to break apart. The diamond and platinum ring takes several hard hits before it's finally cracked.
Walking to the reception, the former bride is all smiles. "I feel relieved. After I smashed the ring, I feel free."
The feeling's mutual, Taka tells me. "I feel better than before we did this," he says. "It's over."
LAH (on camera): So much of the ceremony is filled with symbolism. The couple at the reception sit back-to-back at separate tables, signifying their now separate lives. The party favors are chopsticks, because they're two sticks that you pull apart.
LAH (voice-over): There's no Chicken Dance, but a fish and cape-clad divorce musician at the reception, singing about splitting up.
Bizarre? No doubt. But a sign of the times in Japan. One in four marriages now end up in divorce, but it's still a cultural taboo. This ceremony, which only costs about $600, helps some Japanese come to grips with the country's changing social norms, says divorce ceremony planner, Hiroki Tarai (ph).
"There's no mistaking that divorce is a sad process," he says. "But I believe that by declaring your new start in life in front of your friends, relatives, and family, you draw a clear line. It helps emotionally."
Tarai says his business is booming. He's gotten a thousand calls, and has ceremonies booked for weeks. As far as Taka and Michiko, they say their thanks and farewells and walk off, separately ever after. Kyung Lah, CNN, Tokyo.
ANDERSON: While it all appears to be quite amicable in Japan, in Dubai, women can be divorced in a little less ceremonious form, as it were. Muslim men are allowed to end their marriage via SMS.
Divorce is frowned upon under Sharia law, but it is still on the rise in some Muslim parts of Nigeria. Husbands can call it quits simply by repeating their wish to get divorced three times.
The divorce rate has also skyrocketed in China following the introduction of more lenient laws seven years ago. Now, one in five marriages don't last, I'm afraid.
And here in the UK, there is a rising trend in so-called divorce tourism, where couples shop around the world for the most lucrative settlements. England is widely seen as delivering better deals for women. In fact, the UK was for some time known as the divorce capital of the world. My next guest is a man best served to tell us why. Nigel Shepherd is a divorce lawyer and partner with Mills & Reeve, professional partner, of course, that is.
Nigel, is the UK still the most popular place for divorce and, if so, why?
NIGEL SHEPHERD, PARTNER, MILLS & REEVE: I think it probably is, Becky, at the moment. It's because traditionally, we have the most generous settlements for those claiming the money. It's usually the wives, but not always the wives. And people have for some time now been coming here, where they have a choice as to where to divorce, to maximize their settlement.
ANDERSON: You deal with a lot of international divorce cases. So, say, hypothetically, an Italian woman wants to divorce a French bloke. They both live in the UK. They can divorce here, right?
SHEPHERD: That's absolutely right. The jurisdiction rules for Europe are governed by the Brussels Regulation, which came in a number of years ago. And as long as you fit the criteria, you can start divorce proceedings in this country, and you'll have your full finances dealt with under our law, which, as I say, tends to be very generous to wives.
ANDERSON: And good for lawyers who are working the professional beat, I guess. Is there an argument for harmonizing the rules in, say, the EU over divorce? How do they differ?
SHEPHERD: The rules as to where you can start proceedings are, in fact, harmonized. What's not harmonized is the jurisdiction that applies to the financial criteria. So if a Frenchman and a German woman are getting divorced in the UK, it's UK or England's divorce law that will apply to that settlement.
In some other countries, if you've got, for example, a couple of Italian nationals getting divorced in Germany, they will apply Italian law in the German courts to that settlement, and they'll get expert evidence from Italy as to what the family courts there would have done.
England has opted out of that and has made it very clear that we'd like to stick to our own law applying in our own country. But that may change in the future. There's quite a groundswell of opinion that we should harmonize in that way.
ANDERSON: Are you seeing an uptick in divorce cases?
SHEPHERD: It's actually been -- the divorce rate in the UK is actually falling at the moment, although, sadly, we're still one of the highest in Europe.
ANDERSON: Why would that be?
ANDERSON: I'm going to ask -- I'm just going to ask you this question. I think the technology is letting us down tonight. We've certainly paid our bills. No, it's the technology. The question was, why has the divorce rate been so high in the UK here? Is it because it's so much easier here to get divorced? Or is it something to do with the relationships that people have here?
SHEPHERD: I suspect it's the latter. Obviously, in some countries, it's harder to get divorced than in others. But compared to other European countries, for examples, it's not particularly easier to get divorced here. I think it's probably a society issue.
But it's common across the western world. As you've just said in the introductory piece there, it's now coming higher in Germany -- sorry, in China and in Japan. And I think that probably just goes with consumerism and the way that the world is changing.
ANDERSON: And with that, we're going to leave it there. We've struggled with the technology, but it's held up for us just. Nigel, we thank you for joining us. Come back and talk to us -- talk to us again. Nigel Shepherd there, talking divorce around the world.
Up next, your Connector of the Day. He's known as "The Hayemaker." He's the world heavyweight champion. But tonight, we are bravely taking him on for you and putting your questions to David Haye.
ANDERSON (voice-over): David Haye first tried on a pair of leather boxing gloves when he was ten. From that moment on, the ring became his home. Known as "The Hayemaker," the heavyweight boxer defeated Russian Nikolai Valuev in November 2009. The fight was billed as a classic David and Goliath battle. His coach even wore raised boots to helping him train for the bout with the seven foot two Valuev, known by some as "The Beast from the East."
The hard work paid off, and the win saw Haye fulfill a lifelong dream of lifting the world heavyweight belt.
With a new sports magazine out and lots of speculation about who he'll face next, boxing fans are eagerly awaiting the next chapter in "The Hayemaker's" reign. David Haye is your Connector of the Day.
ANDERSON: So, how does it feel to become the world heavyweight champion? You wanted to know. So I asked him.
DAVID HAYE, WBA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION: It was amazing, though, to see a full seven-foot giant. Over there in Germany, where the guy was based, he was a Russian -- he's a massive guy. I went over there, beat him, took his title, and it was the best feeling ever.
ANDERSON: I know your mum's wanted this all your life. Have you wanted this all your life?
HAYE: Yes. As far as I can remember, I've always said to anyone that listened, I'd be the heavyweight champ of the world.
ANDERSON: What got you into boxing?
HAYE: I've just been -- I can punch freakishly hard. I've always -- that's -- I've always wanted to fight, I've always been an energetic kid. And that's just what I've always wanted to do. So I went down that path.
ANDERSON: The big question is, what happens next? And there's a lot of rumor and conjecture out there.
HAYE: Yes, there's loads, since my last fight against John Ruiz. I've been keeping a low profile, just letting my management team arrange the details of the next fight, so we should have an announcement in the next few days.
ANDERSON: All right. Izzo has written to us. He says, "You've got two fights in a row. First, the one when you won this against Valuev to get that, and most recently the Puerto Rican John Ruiz in April 2010." He says, "What's your main strategy for beating your opponents, especially if they are so much bigger than you?"
HAYE: It's usually my athleticism, my skill. I believe I'm the best- skilled heavyweight in the world. I feel my world title is a tribute to that. And fighting guys bigger than me isn't a problem. I feel I've got a big heart, I train real hard, I'm focused, I'm dedicated. And I feel I'm the best on the planet.
ANDERSON: All right, good stuff. Sean W. from California says he was impressed by your fight with John Ruiz, and he says he's been thoroughly impressed with your career. "How soon," he says, "can we see you in the ring against one of the Klitschko brothers, and which one would it be, if you wanted it?"
HAYE: The two ways you wanted to go ahead with the fight, it hasn't happened. They've turned him down. Though they keep saying I'm turning it down, we've given them two options, and both times, they've --
ANDERSON: Well, I've certainly read that Wladmir, at least, calls you a little dog who runs from the big dog when he turns around. Are you running away from this fight?
HAYE: I tried to make -- I tried to make that fight happen. He's the one who turned it down. I gave him two different alternatives to take the fight. He can keep his German TV, me keep my UK TV, split things 50-50. All to a 50-50 of the maximum from every territory. Both options he wasn't having, so the fight hasn't happened. Happened because of him. I'd be willing to fight him in my next fight, but he obviously wants to go -- he wants to try to -- I don't know what his plan is. He's trying to twist the media a little to try to make it as if I'm running away from him.
ANDERSON: All right. Let's set out, then, who you might fight coming up. Because there are some big guys out there, aren't there? Just go through them. Tell me -- don't tell me who you're going to fight, but tell me who you'd like to fight.
HAYE: Obviously, you've got Wladmir and Vitali Klitschko, they're the other guys who hold versions of the world title. For me, they're number one on my target list. But, obviously, it doesn't look like it's happening.
You've got a big guy from the UK called Audley Harrison. He's making a lot of noise. You've got Tomasz Adamek, a good Polish fighter. He's a young guy like myself. He's pressed on the world scene. So, you've got a few guys out there that are -- who could generate a lot of money and who could bring a lot of excitement to the heavyweight division.
HAYE: Holyfield is a little old in the tooth, you know, he's --
ANDERSON: Would you fight him, then?
HAYE: He's pushing -- I don't think so. Holyfield was a hero when I was a little kid, he was my hero. To fight my hero, especially when he's pushing 50. It's crazy to fight --
ANDERSON: But what if he wanted it?
HAYE: If he wanted it -- no. I wouldn't want to do it. I think I'd get too much stick in the media, and I wouldn't be beating the real Holyfield, I'd be beating an old man Holyfield. If I was to fight the Holyfield that fought really bold, that would've been great, I'd love to do that. But he's not that guy anymore. He's lost a lot of level of opposition since.
ANDERSON: You'd beat him, yes?
ANDERSON: You would beat him.
HAYE: I would beat him, yes. I think pretty conclusively. But I wouldn't get any satisfaction from beating an older Holyfield.
ANDERSON: Mat's written to us. He says, "How do you think you'd have gotten on fighting some of the greats of boxing back in their prime?" And he says Ali, for example.
HAYE: Yes. Ali, I'd love to fight Ali. In my opinion, Ali's the greatest. He's -- not only in the ring, but outside the ring. But he would've kicked my ass.
HAYE: So that is the honest -- I couldn't say that I'd beat him, Mohammed Ali. He's the greatest, and he's the greatest for a reason, because he could beat everybody.
ANDERSON: Good stuff. You train long and hard --
HAYE: Yes. Oh, yes.
ANDERSON: To get something like that. When you're in the ring, what are you thinking?
HAYE: You don't really think. You react. You're in a situation where you've repeated certain movements in the gym day after day. You've done the groundwork, the weight training, you've done all the physical stuff to get you in shape. You don't really get out of breath.
It's a weird feeling. You feel sort of superhuman when you're in there. And you're just thinking about what your opponent's doing. You're sort of setting him up for little attacks, watching what he does, trying to figure out little chinks in his armor and trying to take him out.
ANDERSON: You heard there David talking about, amongst other things, Evander Holyfield. Well, tomorrow, we'll see what the Real Deal himself has to say about taking on Haye himself in the ring. Is he ready for a bout with "The Hayemaker." "The Hayemaker" says he's over the hill. Find out tomorrow what Holyfield thinks of that. Answering your questions as your Connector of the Day. Tonight, we'll be right back.
ANDERSON: Let's get you through the lens this evening. Afghanistan tonight, where US General David Petraeus has asked that 2,000 additional troops be deployed to the region. Part of their mission, to train Afghan forces in the hopes that they can gradually take over security responsibilities.
In the capital, the military has its hands full trying to protect Kabul Bank. People queuing to withdraw their money here after the bank was accused of large scale corruption, a claim that it denies.
And election campaign posters are littered across the country. Around 2500 candidates will compete for about 249 seats in Afghanistan's lower house of parliament, which is later this month.
And, as American troops continue into their ninth year in Afghanistan, here on CONNECT THE WORLD, we'll be looking at the country's past, present, and future in a special program this Thursday. A window on Afghanistan in our World in Pictures this evening.
And just before we go, Tony Blair's memoir is provoking strong reaction from protesters and from lots of you. Let's go through some of the blog, shall we, on the site, cnn.com/connect. The former prime minster, British prime minister, has canceled a book-signing event in London saying he doesn't want to inconvenience the public. The decision came after police made arrests in Ireland this weekend following anti-war demonstrations.
A few of your comments. A blogger who goes by the name of bilegsf jokes, "'A Journey of a Poodle' by Tony Blair. Great book," he says.
Blogger what's on your mind, or just whatson says, "Blair, you're a hero. Thank you for being one of our staunchest allies."
Sunseeker888 describes the former British prime minster as a terrorist and says he "needs to be held accountable."
But skyking169 writes, "Thank you. You did you best to make the world a safer and better place."
Get your voice heard on CNN. Head to the website, cnn.com/connect. And just before we go tonight, at Becca -- at Becca? -- @beckycnn is my Twitter address. This week's challenge, our Global Connections challenge is for you. Find what connects or links Sweden and Malaysia.
Danieto (ph) written to me tonight @beckycnn. "The connection between Sweden and Malaysia is the royal connection. Both actually do have monarchies." You've got to get a little bit deeper than that. So, have a go, cnn.com/connect or @beckycnn.
I am Becky Anderson, that is your world connected. "BackStory" up next, right after this check of the headlines.