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International News Archive
February 07 - February 13, 2000


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This page contains news for the period Monday, February 07, 2000 through Sunday, February 13, 2000.





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Thursday, February 10, 2000

East German mothers say husbands 'not vital' to happy family life

A story published today in the South China Morning Post reports that many eastern German women say a man is not necessary for a happy family life. And these women mean it - never have so many children been born out of wedlock in the country's eastern states.

"Apart from a widow's pension, I see no advantage in a marriage certificate," said Birgit Uhlworm, a single mother-of-two.

Every second child born in eastern Germany is born outside marriage. In the west German states it is 29 per cent. In Catholic areas of the country it is as low as 13 per cent.

"In the east we do not have a problem of status. We don't need a man to feel complete," said Andrea Wagner, equal opportunities adviser in Weimar.

The story suggests that the trend is partly due to the strong welfare system which survives in the east and provides creches and child-care and other forms of support for single mothers.

This level of support is not available in Germany's western states, where women have always found it difficult to combine motherhood with work.

Discrimination against children both to unmarried parents was outlawed in 1998 with a reform of inheritance laws. This gave such children the same rights of inheritance as those born within wedlock.

Wagner said: "As a single mother I receive better welfare support than if I were married to an unemployed or low-wage-earning man."

Even men are less inclined to go to marry. Being single is seen as an advantage in a tight job market and postponing marriage is becoming more commonplace.

Canadians want laws to protect all relationships of economic dependency, not just sexual unions

A story published today in the Ottowa Citizen reports that a recent national poll shows that the overwhelming majority of Canadians want lawmakers to move beyond just sexual relationships when they craft new legislation to protect unmarried partners.

A bill will be introduced in the federal Parliament this week to amend some 60 laws so that protections currently given to unmarried heterosexual couples will also apply to same-sex partners. Some legislators want the new legislation to go even further so that all adult relationships of economic interdependency -- such as blood relatives who are living toether -- are covered.

The Justice Department released the results of a poll showing that Canadians strongly support protections for same-sex couples, but even more of them want a broader bill that includes nonsexual relationships as well. The poll, which was conducted in September 1998, surveyed 1,515 Canadians aged 18 or older.

More than two-thirds of respondents wanted current laws protecting unmarried heterosexual couples to include same-sex couples too. However, some 71% believed benefits and obligations should not depend on spouse-like relationships but should apply to any relationship of economic dependency.

Justice Minister Anne McLellan said that such a broader approach was being considered. However, she did not say whether it would be included in the administration's bill this week.


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