Type “March” and “month” into Google, and you’ll discover that the third month of the year wears many hats. March is National Kidney Month, Women’s History Month, National Nutrition Month, and Red Cross Month, just to name a few. In this issue of InTheFray, we look at what unites March’s many causes: the body — and women’s bodies in particular.

We begin in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where ITF contributors Anna Sussman and Jonathan Jones make a harrowing discovery: Rape in the West African nation has become the norm, a reality that both locals and the international community have come to accept. In an accompanying podcast, Sussman and Jones reveal just how excruciating this trend is when they speak with a rape victim and a Congolese doctor.

On the other side of the continent, women aren’t faring much better. As A Walk to Beautiful director Mary Olive Smith explains during her interview with fellow filmmaker and ITF Director Andrew Blackwell, a rare childbirth-induced injury has sentenced many Ethiopian women to shame and isolation. But as Smith’s documentary reveals, some women are rallying for a cure.

In Ghana, meanwhile, Julia Hellman discovers a new sense of community — and self — while tending to the body of a friend who died at an underresourced regional hospital. And in South Asia, ITF Visual Editor Laura Elizabeth Pohl documents the implausible perseverance of a Bhutanese paper that delivers news to refugees living in camps in eastern Nepal.

Back in the United States, Ashley Barney looks at a lighter side of corporeal (and sometimes romantic) existence. In What ever happened to college dating?  Barney explores how complicated dating has become for a generation who speak of “hooking up” and “friends with benefits” instead of “going steady.” Taking this look at language and self a step further, poet Cheryl Snell and artist Janet Snell collaborate to provide annotated and illustrated looks at relationships with doctors, lovers, gender, and the truth. Be sure to check out the accompanying podcasts of Cheryl reading her work.

Rounding out this month’s stories, ITF Books Editor Amy Brozio-Andrews tackles the relationship between names and identities in Rewriting History , her review of Vendela Vida’s Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name.

Coming next month: a special issue devoted to religion and politics.

Thanks for reading! We hope you enjoy this issue as much as we have enjoyed putting it together.

Laura Nathan
Buffalo, New York

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