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CONNECT THE WORLD
Interview With Farzana Bari; Todd Akin Vows To Continue Campaign
Aired August 21, 2012 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FIONNUALA SWEENEY, HOST: And tonight on Connect the World, fighting for change in Pakistan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a dishonor killing whatever they do. It is not an honor killing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SWEENEY: It's the courageous man who stands up for women's rights this way.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is Connect the World.
SWEENEY: Hello, and welcome to Connect the World. As part of our look at honor murders, we'll also speak to a female activist in Islamabad about what needs to be done to stop these killings.
Also tonight, it's not their way, but they are feeling the heat. We look at how the Syrian conflict is inflaming passions in neighboring Lebanon.
And we'll take a look at the Baliwood stars entering a whole new dimension.
It is a horrific practice. It's happening on the world -- all over the world on a frightening scale.
All this week, CNN is taking an in depth look at honor murders, women who are usually killed for bringing shame upon their family by being unfaithful or disobedient. And quite simply it's a heinous crime which is anything but honorable.
So we begin with a chilling account of a man in Pakistan who killed three members of his family. His apparent lack of remorse was startling.
MUHAMMAD ISMAIL: I don't remember how many times I shot my wife. The gun was loaded. I stopped when I was sure all the bullets were gone.
I am proud of what I did, that's why I turned myself over to the police.
My wife never made me happy. She was just like a prostitute.
SWEENEY: Well, let's be clear, this practice isn't confined to one country, or indeed a region. Atika Schubert recently brought us a story from the UK of two parents sentenced to life in prison for the murder of their teenage daughter. Prosecutors said they suffocated Shafilea Ahmed with a plastic bag killing her over her desire to live a westernized lifestyle.
Well, sadly honor murders are a growing problem in Pakistan. There were at least 943 women killed in honor crimes last year, that's according to the country's human rights commission. And among the victims were 93 miners. In most cases the murders were husbands or brothers of the victims. And in nearly 600 of these murders, illicit relations was blamed as the motive.
In more than 200 other cases it was the victim's demand to marry a husband of their own choice.
And of all the Pakistani women killed in honor crimes last year, only 20 were given medical aid before they died.
Well, my next guest says the Pakistani government should be doing a lot more. The real problem lies with the law.
But first, let's go to Reza Sayah with more on what is taking place in Pakistan.
REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: ...Bibi's husband accused her of flirting with other men so he beat his wife, then killed her, her mother says. He knows this, she says, because she heard her daughter's frantic cries in a desperate phone call for help.
HAMIDA BIBI, VICTIM'S MOTHER (through translator): I could hear her on the phone. She was screaming why are you beating me? Mother, please save me. They're killing me.
SAYAH: Farida's (ph) husband used her scarf to strangle her, her mother says. The bloody scar that rings her neck too gruesome to show.
BIBI (through translator): I have cried so much. I have gone blind from crying.
SAYAH: CNN has been unable to reach Farida's (ph) husband, but police say he denies killing his wife. He's not been charged or named as a suspect. According to police, the husband says a relative killed Farida (ph) over a land dispute. Police say they're investigating, but more than a year has passed since the killing. And activists are convinced Farida (ph) is another victim of an honor murder in Pakistan. Farida's (ph) parents say the only place that answer their plea for help in trying to build a case this dark and dusty office in Karachi.
This is where we found Hamida Bibi at the Madagar (ph) help center in Karachi. The reason the interview with her looks so dark is because the power often goes out here. As you can see, this place is nothing fancy, but for the many families who come here, the man who started this place is nothing short of a hero.
ZIA AWAN, HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER: My name is Zia Awan. I'm a lawyer by profession.
SAYAH: Few in Pakistan have done more to fight honor murders than Zia Awan.
AWAN: Honor killing is the worst form of violence against women, because they are being killed.
SAYAH: Killed because they're accused of bringing dishonor upon their families or communities. In 1999 Awan started the first help line for victims of abuse and those who lost loved ones in honor murder.
AWAN: We listen to them and we help them. Whatever we can do.
SAYAH: 13 years later, Awan has helped centers in four cities, every year giving thousands of victims and their families shelter, legal advice, medical care, most of it at no cost.
AWAN: The anger which I have, the cry which I have in my heart, so we convert into our movement.
SAYAH: Every day this call center gets scores of call or people just walking in. This is Shabira Bibi (ph) and her son Saddam (ph). Shabira (ph) says she's here because her husband was a victim of an honor killing. Now she says the killers are after her. Sadly, it's impossible to tell all these stories.
Activists here say one out of every five homicides in Pakistan is an honor murder, the crimes often justified by communities that say it's part of deeply rooted cultural norms.
AWAN: It's a dishonor killing, whatever they do. It is not an honor killing.
SAYAH: Awan and human rights groups say killers often go unpunished by local governments that either sympathize with them or are too weak or corrupt to prosecute them.
AWAN: Sometime it is very frustrating when you see that the systems are not working.
SAYAH: But he says the fight is slowly paying off. Police are making more arrests, the courts are prosecuting more cases.
AWAN: This is the change which I see, a big change.
SAYAH: And most importantly, he says, more and more people like the Bibi family, are no longer afraid to speak up.
BIBI (through translator): She was such a good girl. I need justice. The killers of my daughter should not go unpunished.
SAYAH: Reza Sayah, CNN, Karachi.
SWEENEY: While human rights activists and university professor Dr. Farzana Bari joins me now from Islamabad in Pakistan, she believes that if the Pakistani government did a lot more that the real problem for change and solution for change lies within the law.
Thank you for joining us, professor. If the law changed in Pakistan, would that actually change the Pakistani mindset?
FARZANA BARI, PROFESSOR, QUAID-E-AZAM UNIVERSITY: Not necessarily. But I think to change law is in my view a necessary step. But this of course is not going to be (inaudible). I think the (inaudible) in the law, especially in honor killing is, is that honor killing is a crime is made -- compoundable offense and as a result of that a lot of times, because we have (inaudible), which is a law for retribution.
So a lot of time what happens is in the honor killing crimes, because it's often (inaudible) family commit this crime. And in that case, someone -- some other member of the family become the guardian or the (inaudible) of the woman who has been killed and then give forgive.
So out of court settlements, because of this law I feel has been a major issue whereby there is no prosecutions in this case even. And these murderers are getting away, you know, with the killing of women in the name of so-called honor.
SWEENEY: Right, so it's -- if there were more prosecutions -- if there were more prosecutions you believe that that would actually reduce the number of honor killings.
So to what do you attribute the lack of movement on prosecutions? Is it a mindset issue, or is it the law that you adjust that line to a certain degree?
BARI: I think it's both. It's both. Certainly I feel that the law needs to be changed, but I don't think that automatically -- it would really go a long way if this culprits have been given a punishment, because I think there's a huge impunity in this crime. However, at the end of the day I feel like it is essentially this whole patriarchal mindset, which is very much rooted in our feudal and tribal formations, you know, and that's why you see that the honor killing, although it happens everywhere in the country, but mostly it happens in those areas where there is a stronghold of feudal and the tribal belt. And there is a stronghold of these power brokers over there.
And I feel that these are the focus in Pakistan where we keep on hearing about dishonor killing and these are the areas where the tribal judicial systems are all still operational, you know. There hardly state existence of civil courts, you know. There are (inaudible) which are dominated by the male elite in those areas and that's why they continue to...
SWEENEY: So professor, it's not just confined to any one religion as we know, it also affects Christian women, Hindu women as well as Muslim women. And as you say, it's also mainly due to the feudal system that exists in many parts of Pakistan.
So let me ask you in this battle or campaign on your part to try and change this law, where do you see glimmers of light? And do you think that it's a question of years before the law might change?
BARI: I think because this law was introduced in the name of, you know, Islam and I think it's been huge battle, because as you know that during (inaudible) time several (inaudible) legislation in the past in the name of Islam and (inaudible) and (inaudible) is another one.
And I took it almost 22 years to make a little amendment, you know, in (inaudible) ordinance. And initially they were all saying, you know, you can't touch it because I think the religious law is really strong in the sense, although they do not enjoy that kind of popular support, but because they have a lot of news (inaudible) so I think the ruling parties or the establishment here give a lot of sort of (inaudible) to that. And so any change or amendment in this law means that you have to confront this -- the religious lobby and several (inaudible) normally, because it is about (inaudible).
So they do not think that it's worthy of taking risks, you know. So I really don't see, you know, in the near future I think it's going to be -- it's going to long drawn (inaudible) in Pakistan to repeal those legislations which are actually supporting these murderers and is also helping people not to get any punishment because of this.
SWEENEY: Professor, thank you very much indeed for joining us there live from Islamabad. That is professor Dr. Farzana Bari joining me there on the line.
Now many activists are calling on governments to do more on the fight to stop this evil. And tomorrow we'll hear how the murder of a 20 year old Palestinian student by her uncle lead to tough, new legislation. Diana Magnay travels to the West Bank to see if they're making any difference here on Connect the world on Wednesday and indeed all this week.
But still to come tonight, world leaders praise the Ethiopian prime minister's economic endeavors after his sudden death.
A U.S. Republican contends he'll continue his bid for a Senate seat despite pressure for him to quit after controversial comments.
And in sports, swinging a club through the glass ceiling. All the reactions to this golf's icon's historic move. We'll have all that and much more when Connect the World continues.
SWEENEY: You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World. Welcome back.
Now, the prime minister of Ethiopia has died at the age of 57. And you're looking at live pictures coming to us from Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa. Crowds lining the streets of the city, awaiting the motorcade carrying the body of Meles Zanawi. Well, leaders have been praising him for improving Ethiopia's economy, but human rights groups remember him for what they call a questionable record.
CNN's David McKenzie looks back at his life.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He was one of Africa's most recognizable leaders. But to the end, Meles Zanawi was also one of its most secretive.
BEREKET SIMON, ETHIOPIAN COMMUNICATION MINISTER: In regards to the passing of our respected, honorable Prime Minister Meles Zanawi, as you have heard after attending medical services abroad our prime minister has passed away around midnight.
MCKENZIE: After decades in power, the government didn't even announce what he died of. And only when the pictures came out was it confirmed he died in Belgium.
The mystery is befitting for a man who many found hard to read. Zanawi vanished end of July, failing to show up at an African union summit in Addis Ababa. Rumors swirled of his ill health. More than once, social media declared him dead.
Ethiopian officials dismissed the claims saying he was, quote, in very good health. He always expected absolute loyalty.
In many ways, he always acted like the rebel leader he was when he ousted the Communist Junta of Mengistu Haile Mariam in '91, a regime that had killed hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians.
Once in power, he seemed never afraid of a fight, overseeing border wars in Eritrea and squashing internal rebellions. Their toughness won him many friends in Washington.
In the post-9/11 world, he became a crucial (inaudible). And in late 2006, he led a U.S. backed invasion of Somalia to oust an Islamic regime. Many Somalis resented the foreign troops and the Ethiopians would later withdrawal.
Economically Zanawi lead his country, famous for its devastating famines, through a period of strong economic growth and fiscal reform. But critics say he didn't foster enough diversity in the economy and millions are still dependent on international aid.
As with many long time leaders, he tightened his grip on power over time, becoming a lightning rod for criticism over his squashing of dissent most notably in 2005 when political opposition to his rule was all but obliterated and the press silenced.
He would win a much criticized election in 2010 by more than 90 percent.
The government says there will be no elections before 2015 and the deputy prime minister will succeed the prime minister. But Zanawi didn't groom any obvious successor and there are fears of instability in this country that still has deep divisions.
Meles Zanawi, leader of Ethiopia, dead at 57.
SWEENEY: And there you see on your screen live pictures coming to us from the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa where Meles Zanawi's body is now being taken through the streets. And the fears of instability potentially as noted by David McKenzie and his report there put aside for one moment. As you can see hundreds if not thousands of people line the streets to accompany his body.
We'll leave that there for the moment the scene from Addis Ababa and have a look at some of the other stories Connecting our World tonight.
Syrian opposition activists say at least 183 people have been killed in fierce fighting today. Heavy clashes and shelling attacks are reported across the country, including in parts of Aleppo and Damascus. Rebels now say they control almost two-thirds of Aleppo, Syria's biggest city, a claim that is rejected by the regime.
Yesterday's fighting in Aleppo took the life of a Japanese journalist Mika Yamamoto. Rebels say two other journalists, a Turk and a Palestinian, were seized by pro-government militia. We have much more on the Syrian crisis in about 15 minutes.
The company at the center of the South African mine shooting has backed down on its threat to sack striking workers after pressure from the country's government. Authorities say they've identified the bodies of 34 workers who were killed when police opened fire at the Lonmin Marikana mine site last week.
Lonmin says only about 30 percent of its (inaudible) since the shootings.
The U.S. Republican House member who sparked an uproar over remarks about abortion and rape is refusing to quit his bid for a Senate seat. Todd Akin's decision comes despite mounting pressure from Republican senators and party leaders. They called for him to withdraw from running for the Senate in Missouri. Akin has released a new TV ad asking for forgiveness after his comments in an interview on Sunday.
Let's get the latest from CNN's Dana Bash in Washington.
Hi there, Dana. And was it ever likely that he was going to resign?
DANA BASH, CNN CORREPESPONDENT: That was really good way to ask the question.
You know, the truth is nobody really knows and to the deep, deep frustration of Republican leaders, they don't know either. And they hadn't know either.
Look, it's about an hour-and-a-half until the deadline comes in the state of Missouri for him to voluntarily withdraw his name from the ballet without penalty for the Republican Party, and an easy way to do it. And he made very clear, though, to Mike Huckabee who is now a talk radio show host here in the United States. He's not going anywhere. Listen to what he said.
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REP. TODD AKIN, (R) MISSOURI: It does seem just -- misspoke one word and one sentence on one day. I hadn't done anything that was morally or ethically wrong as sometimes people in politics do. We do a lot of talking. And to get a word in the wrong place, you know, that's not a good thing to do or hurt anybody that way. But it does seem like a little bit of an overreaction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Now, but the truth -- you know, he's calling it an overreaction, that is hardly what Republican leaders across the United States believe, they believe that they are reacting appropriately given the political damage that he has done, not just to where he is running, which is the state of Missouri and the fact that they believe it's now much more possible that he could lose that race, lose his bid to unseat the Democrat and also could cost Republicans the Majority in the United States Senate. That's one problem that Republicans nationally think they have.
The other is, what are we talking about? We're talking about questions of rape, questions of abortion, social issues that the Republicans at the top of the ticket -- Republicans running for president and vice president, namely Mitt Ryan and Paul -- Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan rather. They don't want to talk about that, they want to talk about the issue that voters really care about here in the United States, which is the economy. It also happens to be the issue that benefits Republicans the most because Barack Obama is in the White House and the economy is, to say the least, not doing well.
SWEENEY: All right. We'll leave it there. Dana Bash in Washington, thanks very much for joining us.
Now we're going to take a short break, but when we come back, it is a beautiful day potentially for baseball, because look if you're a fan at who is making a return to the park at the grand old age of 50.
SWEENEY: You're watching Connect the World live from CNN Center. Welcome back. I'm Fionnuala Sweeney.
Now after Augusta National Golf Club's historic announcement on Monday today to finally allow women members, the big question was whether or not other golfing establishments would follow suit. And it appears we may be in for a long wait.
Don Riddell joins me now for reaction from one of golf's two governing bodies.
So this really story really hit the fan today.
DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, let's not be so negative. We might not be in for a long wait. We never thought Augusta would change their rules, but they did. But you're right, from the reaction that we've heard from some of the other golfing establishments today maybe we are in for at least some kind of a wait.
There are four major establishments in Britain and in world golf that still remain male only members. Those are St. Andrews, which regularly hosts the Open Championship, as does Royal Saint George's and Trune (ph). And the establishment that makes the rules of golf for most of the world, the R&A, the Royal&Ancient, they've responded today with an official statement saying, "we read the announcement from Augusta National with great interest. And we congratulate Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore on their membership. The rules of the Royal & Ancient golf club of St. Andrews specify a male membership. And this policy remains a matter for our members to determine."
So, there you go.
SWEENEY: It's still up in the air. We don't know if they'll (inaudible) any more.
But very quickly, we were talking about Roger Clemens just before the break if people didn't recognize him. He is making a grand old return, or should I say a return at the Grand Old Age of...
RIDDELL: Yeah, you're never too old, it would seem. Roger Clemens, one of the baseball legends really over the years. He had a glittering 24 year career in Major League Baseball. He played for four different sides. He was the best pitcher in the sport seven times. And today, he has announced his comeback.
It's going to be a minor league comeback, though. He's going to be playing for a minor league team in Texas called the Sugarland Skeeters. And he's downplaying the notion that he might actually make a full comeback to Major League Baseball. But he's certainly looking forward to pitching again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER CLEMENS, PITCHER: I'm 50 years old. So we're just going to go out and have fun with this and make it fun for the fans. I'm sure I'll get some jabs from the boys at home. They've already started it on me. So we'll have some fun, see if we can get it done, have a good time.
I've been to the major leagues and back a couple of times and I've retired and unretired. So this -- I wouldn't even consider thinking about that far ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RIDDELL: Fionnuala, he was asked if he's fit enough to play in the Major League Baseball again and he said he's nowhere near fit enough.
SWEENEY: Honest about this time. Don, thanks very much.
And Lance Armstrong is another athlete who is surrounded by doping allegations. And you can join Don in about an hour for World Sport for the very latest on his battle, not Don's, with the U.S. anti-doping agency.
But still to come on Connect the World, more troubling evidence that Lebanon is being drawn into the Syrian fight as we look at the spillover effect from a relentless civil war.
And the Bollywood blockbuster so technologically advanced it is tipped to break more than just box office records.
SWEENEY: A warm welcome to our viewers across Europe and around the world. I'm Fionnuala Sweeney, and these are the latest world headlines from CNN.
The body of Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi has been returned home after his death. You're looking at live pictures coming to us now from Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, where crowds have been lining the streets. The 57-year-old's death comes after months of speculation about the state of his health. He's been prime minister of Ethiopia since 1995.
Syrian rebels say they now control almost two thirds of Aleppo, but the government rejects that statement, says the army is, quote, "cleansing neighborhoods there of terrorists." Activists say at least 183 people were killed across Syria today.
The Lonmin mining company says production levels are insignificant at its Marikana mine site in South Africa. About a third of striking employees have returned to work after police shot and killed 34 miners last week. The company has dropped its threat to fire employees who don't return by today.
The pressure is mounting, but the US Republican congressman Todd Akin is refusing to quit is race for the Senate. He sparked a controversy after saying that "legitimate" resulted in pregnancy.
Well, first there was a wave of kidnappings in Lebanon linked to the Syrian crisis. Now, deadly clashes. At least five people were killed today in Tripoli, Lebanon's second-biggest city.
Fighting broke out between a Sunni community that is hostile to the Syrian regime and an Alawite community that supports it. And as Arwa Damon reports, the clashes, incredibly, began with kids and BB guns and escalated into something far more serious.
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is just one of the ways the Syrian uprising is manifesting itself in Lebanon, along a Sunni-Alawite sectarian front line in the northern city of Tripoli, with the Lebanese army trying to pound both sides into submission.
Some residents choose to move to safer ground. Others hang around nervously in doorways, now living on the lower floors.
"We spent Eid under gunfire. We had to eat in the stairway," this woman says, referring to the holiday at the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Many admit they often don't know how the fighting starts.
DAMON: Or how it ends. But what they do know is that events in Syria are aggravating long-standing tensions between these communities.
DAMON (on camera): There have been numerous holes smashed into the walls between buildings here, just like this one. But this is not a recent development. These neighborhoods have been preparing themselves for battle for years, now.
DAMON (voice-over): Some shops are open, not for business, but for safe passage. We're in the Sunni Bab al-Tebbaneh neighborhood, separated from the Alawite area in the hills, Jabal Mohsen. Dividing the two is the appropriately-named Syria Street.
DAMON (on camera): This is as close to the front line as we can get. People are having to dart across this one road, because right around the corner is Syria Street, and that is where these clashes are being concentrated.
DAMON (voice-over): It's not the first time these two sides have clashed, each time sparked by different events. In this case, both agree that it was children playing with BB guns, a scenario that somehow escalated into this. Both blame each other. And this time, residents fear it's going to last.
This woman says a shell just slammed into their bedroom right on the front line.
DAMON: They're going to hunker down with relatives nearby. No one was hurt, but it was clearly time to go.
DAMON (on camera): These makeshift, very crude routes are also how families are evacuating.
DAMON (voice-over): The Bab al-Tebbaneh gunmen say they are hardly firing back. The other side claims they are showing restraint as well. With gunfire echoing through the narrow streets, it's hard to determine where it's coming from.
DAMON (on camera): They're telling us to be careful of the opening right there as we move up towards one of the fighting positions.
DAMON (voice-over): This Sunni gunman says, "The Alawites are well- armed, funded by the Syrian regime." On this side of the battleground, it's clear where loyalties lie. The Syrian opposition flag is painted on a storefront. A poster on the wall of four people from the area killed in clashes since the Syrian uprising began, amidst fears that yet another generation will grow up to the sounds --
DAMON: -- and brutal lessons of war.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Tripoli, Lebanon.
SWEENEY: Well, earlier, I spoke to Rami Khouri, who's director of the Issam Fares Institute of the American University of Beirut. He says the Syrian crisis didn't create tensions in Tripoli, but instead aggravated long-standing disputes. I asked him about Hezbollah's role or lack of it in the situation.
RAMI KHOURI, ISSAM FARES INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC POLICY: Well --
KHOURI: -- country where there is virtually no serious Hezbollah presence, and that's why the area of Tripoli, the city and the areas around it, tend to be prone to these kinds of clashes. You have other groups, solitary groups, Sunni groups, pro-Syrian groups, and others who are there, and they have various ideological disagreements.
And so, Hezbollah is not really in a position to do anything up there in the north, although it is very powerful in the rest of the country.
SWEENEY: All right. But then, back to the arguments about how strong or otherwise is the central government. In your view, is the situation containable, and can the government have a strong, rapid, decisive response to what takes place on the streets.
KHOURI: Well, the answer to both of those questions is yes and no. There have been many situations where the government, the central government, has intervened and quieted things down, and then months, weeks later, they go back to fighting in Tripoli for some reason. So, the government can intervene and quiet things down, and in some cases, arrest people who've done the shooting.
And in other cases, it can't help. It really depends on how serious the fighting is, and it's erratic. It's not a consistent performance by the government.
But I think it's clear that in the last seven or eight years, there has been a -- since the Syrians left Lebanon, the central government has slowly but steadily become more forceful politically and more capable technically in dealing with these kinds of outbreaks of violence. And this is one of the heartening signs.
SWEENEY: Heartening. So, you sound optimistic about Lebanon's stability, at least in the short-to-medium term.
KHOURI: Well, optimistic in the sense that I think we will continue to see this level of low-intensity, localized fighting with an occasional bomb placed here or there or an explosive device or even an assassination. Now, we've had some of these kidnappings.
But this relatively low level of confrontation will probably continue. I don't think it will break out into a full-fledged Lebanese civil war again. So, I'm optimistic in that I don't think there'll be a civil war, but I'm realistic in that this level of violence and tension and instability will probably continue for some time.
The good news is that the Lebanese have lived like this for many, many years and seem to have adapted to this level of -- low level of conflict. But in the long rune, they really have to address some of the underlying issues. And this is something that they haven't really shown any serious sign of doing. So, there's good news and bad news.
SWEENEY: Right. Rami Khouri, there, from Beirut. He also writes for the "Daily Star," giving his view of the situation in Lebanon.
And we want to bring you an update on a story we've been following. We've been telling you about how the US Republican congressman Todd Akin is refusing to quit his race for the Senate. He sparked a controversy after saying that, quote, "legitimate rape results in pregnancy."
Now, CNN has confirmed that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has joined the chorus of party leaders calling for him to step aside, saying that his comments were "offensive and wrong."
Now, this just happened within the last few minutes, and this is quite a big deal for the Republicans, who are contesting one of the seats where Democrats are feared to be vulnerable, one of the few seats where Democrats are thought to be vulnerable, so they have been paying a lot of attention, as you can imagine, in what is a very tight Senate race and very tightly controlled.
Within the last few minutes, we're just hearing that Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican candidate, has called on Congressman Akin to quit his race for the Senate after his comments, which also included remarks that, in his view, pregnancy did not often result in legitimate rape because the body, in his view, female body, shuts down.
He has apologized profusely, putting out an advertisement later in the day today here in the United States saying that sometimes people misspoke and that it was wrong for him to say these things. But say them he did. And now, as you see, Mitt Romney is calling for him to quit the Senate race.
Still to come on CONNECT THE WORLD, we meet two Leading Women changing our landscape in very different ways.
SWEENEY: Hello and welcome back to CONNECT THE WORLD. Here on CNN, we like to bring you stories of inspirational women who are changing the world around them. And in today's Leading Women, Becky Anderson meets skyline-altering architect Zaha Hadid and Kristie Lu Stout introduces us to marketing magician Mercedes Erra.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Britain's Zaha Hadid is one of the most accomplished architect's in the world, and she has the body of work and accolades to prove it. On this day, we're in London, touring the construction site of the new wing she designed for the Serpentine Gallery.
ANDERSON (on camera): That will become a gallery. What will this become?
ZAHA HADID, ARCHITECT: This is a kind of social space --
HADID: -- for events, maybe a cafe. It's open to the public all the time.
ANDERSON (voice-over): Hadid is also the architect behind the aquatic center where Olympians recently enthralled world audiences. And there's the Evelyn Grace Academy, also in London. But she'd like to see more of her work in this city.
ANDERSON (on camera): Has being a woman stood in your way, do you think, really?
HADID: Well, I couldn't be anything else. Because you're not a stereotype, they don't know -- they let you get away with things which they would not let someone else get away with.
But on the other hand, because you're a woman, not a European guy, there are certain territories no matter what you do, you cannot enter. I will never be a part of the brotherhood, I cannot go golfing with these guys or on a boat trip. It's not going to happen.
ANDERSON (voice-over): She has some 300 employees working on her various programs, and there's also her exhibition space.
HADID: You can try it.
ANDERSON (on camera): Can I? Can I sit down?
The seed amongst the flowers.
HADID: Yes, it's nice.
ANDERSON: It's very nice.
ANDERSON (voice-over): And Hadid sounds like she has much more to create and remains passionate about her work.
HADID: I've totally focused on the projects. Nothing matters. It is the most rewarding experience.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): I'm Kristie Lu Stout. The passion for architecture and design continues with French advertising executive Mercedes Erra. You can see her talents in the beautiful layout of her home.
MERCEDES ERRA, FOUNDER, BETC EURO RSCG: I love order. For me, order and beauty have a relation.
STOUT: Mercedes Erra enjoys the things she works hard for and loves sharing them with family. A family that didn't have very much when she was growing up.
ERRA: My mother and my father have not much money, and when I have a little money, I -- first I bought a house for my mother and for my father, a boat house for my brother, after for my sister. Because for me, it's very important to have the capacity to share. And I don't think I shouldn't need too much money.
STOUT: Erra has five sons with her husband, Jean-Paul, who is a stay- at-home father.
JEAN-PAUL VALZ, ERRA'S HUSBAND: It's a real good job, because it's a job to stay at home and to be with the kids. But they really love her.
ERRA: Sometimes people think it's my husband who is in charge. I do many things at home. And I think it's good.
STOUT: Mercedes was born near Barcelona, Spain, and moved to France when she was six. After graduating from HEC, a prestigious business school in France, she began her career as an intern at Saatchi & Saatchi, where she eventually became managing director. Now, she is co-founder of her own agency, BETC, a leader in French advertising.
ERRA: My job is a difficult job. To move people is not easy. Advertising is very important. It's a true leverage for the brands.
STOUT: She's a powerhouse, respected by colleagues.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She doesn't try to make you work too much on your weaknesses. Some managers do that. She's not of this kind. Work on your qualities.
STOUT: Outspoken for women's rights, Erra was awarded the French Legion of Honor for her efforts to ensure women take on executive roles.
ERRA: I am very good at changing the world. It's because I respect women and men. I am sure about this.
STOUT: And standing up for what she believes in is something very admired at home.
VALZ: It's the reason why I'm so proud to be with her and she helps me to grow all the time.
SWEENEY: And for more on our series of Leading Women, head to our website, cnn.com/leadingwomen.
You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD, and when we come back, from black and white Bollywood to 3D blockbuster, we meet the woman planning to immortalize her mega-star father in film.
SWEENEY: It's one of the most hotly anticipated films in India this year. "Kochadaiyaan" is a blockbuster that is tipped to rival James Cameron's "Avatar" with its technology. It stars 61-year-old Tamil screen legend Rajinikanth. CNN caught up with his daughter, who's making her directorial debut with the film that is set to be record-breaking.
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ever since "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within" hit the big screens in 2001, computer- generated characters have become more and more realistic.
From creatures such as Gollum in "Lord of the Rings" --
ANDY SERKIS AS GOLLUM, "LORD OF THE RINGS: FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING": Precious!
VERJEE: To the facially-expressive Na'vi in 3D blockbuster "Avatar," now a new Indian film is trying to take the technology even further.
SOUNDARYA RAJINIKANTH ASHWIN, DIRECTOR, "KOCHADAIYAAN": Animation is still very new and India, and it's still considered just for children. It's still considered cartoon, which it is not.
But what we're doing here, the technology, where it's going to be different and more challenging is that I'm recreating an actor who's so famous, whose mannerisms and whose body language and whose talking style, everything is so rooted inside the audience's head that it needs to be him as he is.
I'm not having tails, I'm not having wings, I'm not doing the fictitious spitting fire dragons. I'm not doing any of that. So, it's a realistic, photo-realistic performance captured.
VERJEE: And that famous actor who's about to be cloned by a computer is Soundarya's father, Tamil film icon Rajinikanth.
ASHWIN: I really wanted to immortalize my dad, and I'm very passionate about animation. And this is going to break the myth that animation is cartoon. And post-production, visual effects, it's all so important in today's films.
Nine out of ten films undergoes so much post-production work, and animation, I think, and I strongly believe, is the future in terms of creating a 3D body double of actors and using them for stunt sequences.
VERJEE: Rajinikanth plays the hero in "Kochadaiyaan," an epic tale of good versus evil. Now, the 61-year-old actor is one of the few black-and- white screen legends to enter this new frontier in cinema.
ASHWIN: The character he plays in this movie is someone, I think, that people can look up to, because he does -- he's into philosophy and things like that. And he's someone who lives it. He's not just someone who preaches it.
And in real life, my father is someone who practices what he preaches. And when he talks, when he has to say something, he's come up in life. He was a bus conductor. And he came from this unknown land without knowing the language. And from where he was to where he is today, he's lived what he has to say.
VERJEE: The film's been made in both India and the United Kingdom and is being billed as a marriage between east and west.
ASHWIN: What makes it distinctly Indian, I think, as far as the visuals go, it's all Indian, in terms of our costumes, in terms of our locations, in terms of our dance sequences. Indian films are known for their song and dance, and you're going to have a lot of song and dance in this.
VERJEE: Distinctly Indian it may be, but "Kochadaiyaan" is targeting a global audience and will be released in several different languages, including English and Japanese.
ASHWIN: I've seen the way the Japanese -- the love they have for my father is incredible. And my dad's never been to Tokyo before.
And so, when I started this film and we had to think of the venues around the world where we do want to premier the film, I -- my first -- I was like, yes London, yes US, yes Singapore, yes Dubai, yes Malaysia, and definitely Tokyo. Take my dad to the place where people love him so much and want to see him.
VERJEE: Zain Verjee, CNN, London.
SWEENEY: And in tonight's Parting Shots, we leave you with pictures from a flash mob of food lovers that descended on New York's Lincoln Center for a feast with a twist. More than 3,000 diners donned their finest whites and armed themselves with picnic supplies for an exclusive banquet.
The secret event, called "Diner en Blanc," started in Paris more than 20 years ago and now takes place across five continents in cities from Sydney to Montreal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AYMERIC PASQUIER, ORGANIZER AND SON OF FOUNDER, DINER EN BLANC: It started very small with 200 people. And from year to year, the party, the gathering went bigger because friends were inviting other friends. Now, with social networks, of course, it has to get bigger.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's fun because we can be with all of our friends and we all enjoy feasting and spending time together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SWEENEY: There you have it. I'm Fionnuala Sweeney, that was CONNECT THE WORLD, thanks for watching. The world headlines are up next after this short break.