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International News Archive
March 06 - March 12, 2000


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This page contains news for the period Monday, March 06, 2000 through Sunday, March 12, 2000.



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Saturday, March 11, 2000

Single adult population in Lebanon is skyrocketing

A story published today in the Daily Star reports that young Lebanese adults are either delaying marriage or not marring at all. The drop in the marriage rate is attributed to the effects of previous civil war and strife in Lebanon.

The civil war, which led to an imbalance in the numbers of unmarried men and women, and the current socio-economic situation characterized by low salaries and a high cost of living, are among the many factors preventing young Lebanese from marrying.

Marriage rates in Lebanon have plummeted to levels lower than in any other country in the region and one of the lowest in the world, according to the National Human Development Report, a UNDP study that focuses on Youth and Development and is based on the 1996 Population and Housing Survey of Lebanon, which covered 64,472 households and 3.1 million people. The study shows that in Lebanon marriage is often delayed for financial reasons.

In 1996, the average marriage rate for young people aged 18-24 in Lebanon was five per 1,000 people compared to 8.6 per 1,000 in Syria and 9.1 per 1,000 in the US.

The average age for first marriages rose from 29 for males and 23 for females in 1970 to 31 and 27.5 respectively in 1996. In America, the average age for first marriages is 25 for males and 23 for females. In Arab countries the ages vary between 25 and 28 for men and 21 and 25 for women.

The number of single women aged 25 and above doubled in Lebanon between 1970 and 1996.

Prem Saxena, professor and chairman of the Department of Population Studies at the American University of Beirut, classifies the current marriage situation in Lebanon as a "social problem." He based his conclusions on his 1998 study: Trends in Age at First Marriage and the Impact of Civil War on the Marriage Market in Lebanon.

Saxena said the civil war had an impact on marriage rates in two ways. "First, because of economic hardship, people are unable to form households, the primary requirement of a marital union. A couple needs the capital to invest in marriage and a house, and in Lebanon today this pushes people either to marry late or to not marry at all."

Demographic consequences of war have an impact, too, Saxena said. The Mate Availability Ratio (MAR) the proportion of single males in a particular age group per 100 females had suffered. "The largest fatality group during the civil war was young males and young males were the group most likely to emigrate for work during and after the war," he said. "All this has resulted in an imbalance in the sex ratio among people of marriageable age in Lebanese society, where marriage is still a necessary institution for a cohabitation of the sexes.


Tuesday, March 7, 2000

Another call to expand Canadian same-sex reform to protect all unmarried relationships of dependency

An editorial published today in the Montreal Gazette calls upon the federal government to expand the proposal pending in Parliament from a same-sex benefit bill to a broader measure.

Now before Parliament is Bill C-23, omnibus legislation in which same-sex partners would be included in the definition of common-law partners. They would be granted the same benefits and obligations as unmarried heterosexual couples and most of the benefits given to married couples under federal law.

Under Bill C-23, a same-sex partner would be able to claim a tax credit for his or her dependent partner, just as married couples and common-law partners can do now. Similarly, a surviving partner from a same-sex relationship could qualify for survivor's benefits under the Canada and Quebec Pension Plans.

In all, the federal law would revise 68 statutes affecting 20 federal departments and agencies in order to ensure that the definition of common-law relationships includes same-sex couples.

In introducing the measure, Justice Minister Anne McLellan stated that her legislation is all about "fairness." The editorial says that "she's only half right."

"While the bill would end the kind of legal discrimination against gay and lesbian couples that has already been struck down by the courts, it would deny the same kind of benefits to other relationships of dendency that are not sexual in nature: a pair of sisters living together or an unmarried son supporting his mother at home, " the editorial explained.

The newspaper recommends that the government "take sex out of the calculation of benefits. It's time to acknowledge the diversity of Canadian households and to make clear that a commitment to live together in economic interdependence is what counts, not the fact of a sexual relationship."

The same observation might be made here in the United States where most domestic partner benefits laws and programs exclude unmarried blood relatives. One might ask whether these relationships of dependency are less worthy of legal protection and economic benefits than relationships involving sexual intimacy.


Monday, March 6, 2000

Alcohol involved in nearly half of all pregnancies in Britain

A story published today by the London Guardian reports that most half of all children are conceived by parents who at the time are over the drink drive limit.

A new survey shows that more than four in 10 couples had been drinking on the night life was created, with the woman having had on average four drinks and the father five.

The survey was conducted for Pregnancy and Birth magazine.

The findings, based on questionnaires from 2,000 women, reveal that the average age of a British mother is 28 years, and 31 for her partner. Two-thirds of children are born to married couples, 26% to cohabiting parents, and one in 10 babies are born to single mothers.


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