WEOS Finger Lakes Public Radio

Ashley Westerman

A recent string of violent episodes in Southeast Asian countries sheds some light on the challenges facing this region as it grapples with extremism.

In Indonesia last month, two suicide bombers blew themselves up at a Jakarta bus station. The attack was linked to an ISIS-affiliated group.

On April 24, 2013, the eight-story Rana Plaza building outside Dhaka, Bangladesh, collapsed, killing more than 1,100 people and injuring thousands of others. At the time, the building housed five garment factories that manufactured goods for major retail companies in Europe and North America.

Can all hope be lost?

I used to think not.

I used to think that no matter how tough life gets for people, they always have hope to cling to – to get them through it.

Then I met some Rohingya refugees on a trip to Bangladesh last month. Reporter Michael Sullivan and I were there to report on the latest wave of the Muslim minority group to flee over the border from Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

The judge presiding over an open records fight between the University of Kentucky and its own student newspaper, The Kentucky Kernel, has sided with the university.

There are a lot of reasons victims of sexual assault choose not to report it. High on that list is fear of retaliation, so many victims won't come forward unless they can stay anonymous.

The criminal justice system cannot guarantee that kind of confidentiality for accusers and the accused. Further, when sexual assault is reported to law enforcement, a majority of cases never make it to trial. In fact, only 3 percent to 18 percent of sexual assaults lead to a conviction, according to research funded by the Justice Department.

As an Asian-American woman, I've had any number of opportunities to see someone who looked like me on the big and small screen.

Since I was a little girl, I've seen Disney's Mulan, Trini Kwan from Fox Kids' Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Dr. Cristina Yang on Grey's Anatomy, to name a few. And while the portrayal of Asian-American women by Hollywood and television could use some work — too often they're oversexualized or rendered exotic — at least we're present and have some depth.