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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Ri Sol-ju, wife of North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un

North Korea's Korean Central News Agency/AP

The first lady: Called "the Kate Middleton of North Korea" by the Global Post, Ri Sol-ju was only last year "outed" as the supreme leader's wife, having previously stood, unidentified, in photos with him.

Little is known about her in general other than that she's around 30 and comes from a well-to-do North Korean family.
However, the rumor mill has been churning out stories that she may have shot a homemade porn film, and that she once led a promiscuous lifestyle. Unproven reports claim that her husband ordered nine musicians who were supposedly perpetuating these rumors executed, says NBC World News.

There were also rumors that Kim Jong-un had his wife killed following accusations of his uncle's treason, until photos of her were published at later dates, quashing these speculations.

Her husband: Kim Jong-un took over the role of Supreme Leader when the country was already in trouble, with skyrocketing poverty and starvation rates. Still, the supreme leader himself lives a "seven-star party lifestyle."

Since taking power, he has replaced more than 40% of the nation's military leaders and other officials who served under his father in order to, according to analysts, show that he is a secure enough leader that he can shed his closest support, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Jeannette Kagame, wife of Rwandan President Paul Kagame

Eduardo Munoz/Reuters
The first lady: Jeannette Kagame returned to her native Rwanda after the genocide of 1994 and has since championed issues related to women's rights and children.

Her work as first lady has focused on ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic and improving the lives of its victims. Thanks to the collective efforts of Kagame and global leaders, new HIV infections have been cut in half and testing among young women has increased sixfold in the last decade.

Her husband: President Kagame is credited with leading Rwanda's remarkable recovery from war and genocide, reducing corruption, expanding women's rights, and jump-starting the economy; but his government has made these gains through tight restrictions on freedom of expression and association. In the most recent general election, authorities barred most opposing political parties from registering to vote, closed many independent newspapers, and were accused of killing journalists and exiled officials — efforts that helped Kagame garner a suspicious 93% of the vote.

Asma al-Assad, wife of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Hassene Dridi/AP
The first lady: British beauty Asma al-Assad has stood by President Assad as his fortune rocketed past $1 billion and a civil war rages on in Syria.

The Assads met in London, where she worked as an investment banker at J.P. Morgan and Assad was studying to be an eye surgeon. They married shortly after he assumed the presidency from his dictator-father in 2000, and have since gained recognition for projecting a secular, "modern image." 
The mother of three has become controversial, however, for extravagant shopping sprees, disingenuous photos of her charitable work on the president's official Instagram account, and overly-praiseworthy profile in Vogue.

Her husband: Western governments have accused Assad's administration of imprisoning dissidents, censoring the media and Internet, and using chemical weapons against its people — which prompted President Obama to seek congressional approval for military action earlier this year. More than 126,000 civilians have died since the civil war began in 2011.

Grace Mugabe, wife of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe

Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP

The first lady: Grace Mugabe, 41 years his junior, was President Mugabe's secretary when they began having an affair in the '80s. Two of their three children were born while the president was still married to his late wife, and the lovers tied the knot in an extravagant Catholic mass a few years after she died.

Reports of the first lady's lavish lifestyle and international shopping sprees have prompted the president's opponents to call her "Disgrace." She prefers the moniker "mother of the nation."
In a 2008 WikiLeaks cable, a former U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe accused Mugabe of reaping tremendous benefits from corruption and violence-plagued diamond fields in the eastern part of the country. She filed a $15 million suit against an independent newspaper that cited the cable.

Her husband: President Robert Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since the end of white domination in 1980 and retains an iron grip on the country’s feared security apparatus. He has been accused of vote rigging and setting up "torture camps" where opposition activists are beaten and intimidated into silence.

Kim Jong-un and Ri Sol-ju, North KoreaKim Jong-un's wife, Ri Sol-ju, is known as the "Kate Middleton of North Korea."REUTERS/KCNA

Behind every great man is a great woman, as they say. But who stands behind the world's dictators? In good times and in bad, the ladies of the Dictators' Wives Club sure put up with a lot: corruption, political uprisings, and often other wives.

Some, like Rwandan First Lady Jeannette Kagame, use their position to advocate for important charitable causes in their nations.
Others, like the president of Syria's wife, Asma al-Assad, are pros at looking the other way and smiling for official Instagram photos.
For this list, we defined a dictator as a near-absolute ruler known for human rights abuses, restrictions on freedom of the press, and oppression of opposition.


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