The Most Shocking News Stories of 2010

From horrific honor killings showing up stateside to life as a mail-order bride, Marie Claire covered some of the most controversial moments across the globe this past year.

By Julia Morpurgo

November 16, 2010 5:00 PM
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a chinese woman with her two children
Tim Pelling
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China's One-Child Crackdown

One April day, Wei Laojin was preparing lunch for her two young sons in their Southern China home. But when the phone rang, she had no idea of the decision she'd soon be forced to make. Her husband was on the other line, frantic, calling to inform her that his brother had been thrown in jail — held hostage until she submitted to sterilization. China's infamous one-child policy has been in tact for years, upheld as a means of reducing the nation's quickly growing population. But the laws have become increasingly relaxed. Laojin and her husband had been well aware that they had breeched the policy when they had their second son, but they believed the joys of children well outweighed the exorbitant fines and government-imposed restrictions. Read more at marieclaire.com/onechild.
oksana makarova
Melissa Golden/Redux
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Life as a Mail-Order Bride

As a young, single mother living an impoverished life in the Ukraine, Oksana Makarova was intrigued by the promises of a wealthy doctor choosing her as his wife. Though twice her age, he offered her son a father if she'd agree to move to Florida and give him a family. Upon arrival, her new husband was nothing like the gentleman who'd pursued her only months before. He was controlling, domineering and became increasingly possessive, offering her nothing outside the walls of their home. This story chronicles her journey from reluctantly traveling 12 hours to meet American suitors to enduring a loveless, abusive marriage for the well-being of her young sons. Read more at marieclaire.com/mailorderbride.
ipad with plate, silver ware, and water
Stephen Lewis
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How Health Bloggers Could Be Putting You at Risk

Known among the insular food- and fitness-obsessed blog world as the "Big Six," the female cyber-celebrities offer their advice to hundreds of thousands of readers — to such an extent that they've gotten book deals and major corporations have taken notice. But their sites could have damaging consequences, showcasing their arguably unhealthy obsessions with food, exercise, and weight — as many update meticulous food quotas and grueling exercise practices several times a day, each then tirelessly dissected by readers, many potentially struggling with eating disorders of their own. Read more at marieclaire.com/foodbloggers.
justine musk
Lauren Greenfield
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The Starter Wife: Inside America's Messiest Divorce

Justine Musk had a fairytale life. She had fallen in love with a struggling 20-something entrepreneur who, overnight, developed a net worth of millions as cofounder of PayPal. They shared ambition, intelligence and, after their 2002 marriage, a Bel Air mansion and five sons. But as her husband's success grew, so did his dominant nature. Justine quickly found that, because of the vast economic imbalance, her husband's judgments overruled her own. Justine found herself depressed and alone — her husband obsessed with his work and her imperfections. Following an ultimatum, Justine found herself divorced, with an unfavorable postnup agreement. She also found herself free of the trophy-wife expectations she had been held to for years. Read more at marieclaire.com/starterwife.
Patricia Williams
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The Dangerous Rise in Untested Rape Kits

Reporter Ralph Blumenthal unearths the rape of teenage Helena Lazaro and the vastness of countless other untested rape kits in the U.S. that go unresolved, and often uninvestigated, for years — if not ever. Since the late '90s, a national database has contained more than seven million offender profiles, but matches have been nearly impossible to make with so many untested kits. In fact, Congress estimates that today, more than 180,000 rape kits remain untested nationwide. Through interviews with Congressmen, professors, rape treatment medical centers, and Human Rights Watch, Marie Claire explores the national disgrace and hopes to shed light on a promising, but at-present lagging, system. Read more at marieclaire.com/rapekits.

Honor Killings in America

The chilling trend of honor killings, the murder of a woman for behaving in a way that "shames" her family, is a practice with deep, tenacious roots in the tribal traditions of the Middle East and Asia. But now, as Abigail Pesta reports, honor killings have washed up on our shores, although the crimes remain largely ignored by the American media. One such victim was a beautiful 20-year-old Arizona woman named Noor Almaleki, whose father ran over her in his Jeep Cherokee in a suburban parking lot in Phoenix. The reason: She refused to marry an Iraqi man in her father's homeland. Noor's father, who was caught after fleeing to Mexico and then London, is awaiting trial and has justified killing his daughter as a matter of "Iraqi honor." Read more at marieclaire.com/honorkillings.
Splash News/Newscom
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The Dating Game Killer

Sheila Weller traces the devastating murder of her first cousin, Ellen, and recounts the drawn-out trial process of her killer. With her firsthand recollections, Weller examines the injustice of the persecution of the "Dating Game Killer" — aptly named after his appearance as a contestant of the popular television show. Shockingly, before he participated, he served a 34-month prison sentence for the rape of an 8-year-old, and after the show, he went on to brutally rape and murder a still undetermined number of women — but many seasoned investigators suspect his murder toll to be greater than that of Ted Bundy's, who confessed to killing more than 30 women. Read more at marieclaire.com/datingkiller.
Melissa Golden
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Sweet Sixteen Gift of 40 Lashes

To celebrate her 16th birthday, Tala Raassi and about 30 of her male and female friends had a party in a private home until the Iranian religious police arrested all the attendees on the spot. For days, the party-goers sat in rat-infested jail cells awaiting their brutal punishment — 50 lashes for the boys and 40 for the girls. Why? Islamic law restricts civilians from wearing indecent clothing, attending parties with both genders in attendance, and listening to Western music. The partygoers were found guilty of all the above. More than 11 years later, Raassi vividly remembers the excruciating pain of the lashes, and recalls questioning what she had done to deserve them. Read more at marieclaire.com/tala.
Rebecca Greenfield
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The Mistake That Landed One Woman in Prison

Piper Kerman had finally found her footing. She had established a career in producing and found her soul mate. But on an unsuspecting afternoon, Kerman opened the door to reveal not only the Feds, but also the one past mistake that would cost her everything now. In her 20s, Kerman had experimented with a stint in drug trafficking — smuggling drug money from Africa, through Europe and into the United States for a major West African drug lord. But as the demands intensified, Kerman escaped as quickly as she could, turning her back on her adventure-seeking life. Still, only when she finally settled into a happy, normal life, did her criminal past resurface, along with outrageous legal fees, an inevitable prison sentence, and the taxing pressures on her relationships. Read more at marieclaire.com/onemistake.
Kate Brooks
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How Women Will End the War in Afghanistan

Since 2009, the U.S. Marine efforts for peace in Afghanistan have been taken into female hands. Despite making up only six percent of the most male-dominated branch of the armed services, women in all-female units have been stationed throughout southwest Afghanistan. Their explicit mission? Communicating with Afghan women, who may appear invisible to the outside world but are in fact quiet influencers in the community, often holding intel about local bomb makers and terrorist training camps. The troops, on their day-to-day missions going door-to-door, gather information on women's health issues — all in hopes that an initial peace offering of medical care could lead to an alliance between the two nations and a new dawn for war efforts. Read more at marieclaire.com/womensoldiers.
Melissa Ann Pinney
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A Husband's Kidnapping in Mexico

Jayne Rager lived a fairytale life. She had fallen in love with a handsome art dealer, moved to a picturesque Mexican town, and had three beautiful children. But her world was turned upside down when she and her husband were violently assaulted by members of a radical populist group. They had been dragged from their car, brutally attacked, and held at gunpoint — all before Rager's husband was kidnapped, his freedom offered in exchange for an $8 million ransom. Rager recounts the most impossible seven months of her life — from struggling to comfort her young children to receiving desperate letters and phone calls from her tortured husband. Unable to pay the ransom, Rager employed a team of top kidnapping experts who explained that similar cases had seen captives held for years before their release. Read more at marieclaire.com/kidnapped.
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