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International News Archive
February 14 - February 20, 2000


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This page contains news for the period Monday, February 14, 2000 through Sunday, February 20, 2000.





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Sunday, February 20, 2000

Canadian grandparents play important role in lives of children

A story published today in the Calgary Herald reports that in today's world of global economies, social change and increased family problems, the role of grandparents has become both more difficult and important in the development and nurturing of children.

"Grandparents can provide a tremendous stabilizing influence in the midst of family traumas," says Jim Gladstone, a professor of social work at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

"When, for whatever reason, the parents of the 'middle generation' can't provide the time, attention and emotional support to their kids, grandparents can stay constant figures in their grandchildren's lives, giving the parents time to regroup."

Gladstone's research involves children from dysfunctional families who still turn out well-adjusted. "When we look for what made the difference to that kid, usually we find some role model. Maybe a teacher or coach, but very often, a grandparent."

Florence Knight, director of the Alberta branch of the Canadian Grandparents' Rights Association, said the obstacles confronting grandparents are formidable, especially when divorce is involved. Alberta's divorce rate is second only to the Yukon's, with about 40 per cent of young marrieds expected to divorce.

"Grandparents are walking on eggshells to maintain friendly relations with their ex-in-laws, so they can maintain contact with their grandchildren," Knight said.

"That middle generation doesn't seem to realize that children have a right to their family heritage. And they don't appreciate how supportive grandparents can be in the lives of their grandchildren."

Prior to 1997, grandparents were "legal strangers" in Alberta divorce law, Knight said. The legislature passed a bill granting them status in divorce proceedings at the judge's discretion.

Knight added that often "judges still don't recognize grandparents as important in children's lives."


Saturday, February 19, 2000

Cohabitation does not mean legal marriage in India

A story published today in the Hindu reports that the Allahabad High Court on Friday ruled that mere living together of a man and a woman does not give them the status of husband and wife under the provisions of Indian law.

The ruling was given by a two-member Bench, comprising Mr.Justice M. Katju, and Justice D. R. Chaudhari, on a writ petition filed by Mr. Brijnath Singh Tripathi, Assistant Public Prosecutor here, seeking regularisation of his service on the plea that he was not living with two wives.

The story says that Tripathi was selected in 1972 as a public prosecutor and was posted at the police headquarters here on probation. But the authorities refused to regularise his service, alleging that he was living with two wives.

Tripathi moved the State Tribunal, but his plea was rejected and he filed a writ petition in the High Court challenging the tribunal order.

Observing that the burden was on the authorities to prove that the petitioner had two wives, the court directed the State Government to regularise the service of the petitioner, as they had failed to prove the allegation.


Monday, February 14, 2000

Same-sex couples in Scotland may gain new rights

A story published today in the London Guardian reports that same-sex couples may gain some new legal protections in Scotland under legislation which is already being condemned by family values campaigners.

Scottish ministers are coming under pressure from a parliamentary committee to amend forthcoming legislation with a clause which would, for the first time in Britain, enshrine the equal status of same-sex relationships on specific statute.

The issue has arisen from the incapable adults bill, which grants rights to the nearest relatives of someone who becomes incapable of making significant decisions for themselves. Currently, the law overlooks same sex partners in favor of parents or brothers and sisters.

Jim Wallace, the justice minister, said last year that he intended to end this type of discrimination.

Officials and ministers initially drew up a definition which would give same-sex couples who had been living together for at least six months the same status as unmarried heterosexual couples.

But MSPs said that was unfair towards same-sex couples, and the parliament's equal opportunities committee has made it clear that it will not allow the legislation to be discriminatory.

Officials will this week attempt to come up with a new definition which will meet the concerns of the committee. If it does not, the committee intends to make sure that the issue goes before the full parliament for debate.


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