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International News Archive
July 21 - July 27, 2000


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This page contains news for the period July 21, 2000 through July 27, 2000.



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Tuesday, July 25, 2000

Higher rate of domestic violence for unmarried couples in Canada

A report released today by Statistics Canada estimates that an estimated 1.2 million men and women faced some form of violence in their marriage or common-law relationship during the five years up to and including 1999, according to a survey on victimization and spousal violence.

Data from the 1999 General Social Survey show that an estimated 8% of women and 7% of men who were married or living in a "common-law relationship" during the previous five-year period experienced some type of violence committed by their partner on at least one occasion. This amounts to about 690,000 women and 549,000 men.

An unmarried man and woman who live together in Canada a spousal-like relationship are referred to as living in a "common law relationship."

While men reported a significant amount of violence, the survey showed that the nature and consequences of spousal violence were more severe for women.

Younger women and men, and couples in common-law unions, were at the greatest risk of being assaulted by a spouse or partner. In addition, women and men whose partners were emotionally abusive or who drank heavily were more likely to experience spousal violence than women and men whose partners were not emotionally abusive or who drank moderately or not at all.

In the majority of cases, spousal violence did not consist of an isolated incident. The frequency of violence directed at women by their partners was significantly greater than the frequency of violence directed at men by their partners.

Overall, 61% of people who reported spousal violence had been victimized on more than one occasion during the five-year period prior to the survey.

In addition to exposure to more severe forms of violence, women in violent unions were more likely than men to report repeated victimizations. Sixty-five percent of women who reported being assaulted by a partner said they were victimized on more than one occasion. Twenty-six percent said they were victimized more than 10 times in the five years before the survey.

In contrast, 54% of men who experienced marital violence in the previous five-year period were the targets of more than one such incident, and 13% said it happened more than 10 times.

Younger women and men were at greater risk of experiencing spousal violence than were older people.  About 5% of young women under the age of 25 reported at least one incident of violence in a current union during the 12 months prior to the survey, compared with 1% of women 45 and over. Similarly, men 25 to 34 were four times as likely to report an incident of violence than their older counterparts.

The risk of being a victim of spousal violence was also much higher for women and men living in common-law unions. About 4% of those living in a common-law union reported spousal violence during the 12 months before the survey, compared with 1% of those who were married.

The report is entitled "Family violence in Canada: A statistical profile. (2000)" The electronic version can be downloaded from Statistics Canada's Web site (www.statcan.ca). From the Products and services page, choose Downloadable publications (free).


Monday, July 24, 2000

Bias against single parents a problem in China

A story published today in the South China Morning Post reports that at least 30 per cent of people in china are biased against single-parent families, according to a new survey.

About one-third of 514 respondents to a Caritas-Hong Kong survey said such families were abnormal while 40 per cent agreed people with such backgrounds were being discriminated against. The Catholic charity has called on the new Women's Commission to list problems faced by single parents as its priority.

The survey also found that more than 40 per cent of respondents believed single parents had character problems and should not have too many children.

The spokesman for a Caritas Youth and Community Services taskforce on single parents, Bill Lay Yan-piau, said: "The survey results showed problems of discrimination against single-parent families exist."

But many of the people who held discriminatory attitudes were not aware of their bias and did not have sufficient knowledge about single-parent families. The survey found about 10 per cent of respondents admitted they had a negative impression about single-parent families while 84 per cent said they were "neutral" or "positive".

About 90 per cent overestimated the amount of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance single-parent
families are entitled to.

Mr. Lay said members of single-parent families were given about $1,800 a month on average, but a minority of respondents - more than three per cent - thought they could receive up to $15,000 a month. About 40 per cent believed single parents abused the welfare payment system.

"Many people are not aware that they're actually harming people from single-parent families by saying things like, 'Oh, you don't have a husband' or 'Poor you, you don't have a dad'," Mr. Lay said.

He said many single parents dared not tell their neighbors and employers about their families.

He said Caritas would urge the Women's Commission, the Equal Opportunities Commission, the Civic Education Commission and relevant government departments to address discrimination problems.


Friday, July 21, 2000

British Columbia to rule on same-sex marriages

A story published today by Reuters reports that the attorney general of British Columbia will ask the provincial Supreme Court to decide if same-sex couples are entitled to become legally married in Canada.

Attorney general Andrew Petter said he does not think the federal common law definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman is still legal in the wake of recent court rulings.

"The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled Canadians cannot be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation," Petter said in a statement.

The story said the petition seeking legal guidance will be filed with the British Columbia Supreme Court.

The issue of same-sex unions came to a head in May when two Victoria women applied for a marriage permit. Officials have not decided whether to grant it. Two men were denied a license when they applied in 1998.

"Given the uncertainty of the law and the importance of the issue, I believe we should seek guidance from the courts before making a determination that could otherwise deny people their constitutional rights," Petter said.

Petter said federal lawmakers could also resolve the issue by revising the marriage rules.

Vermont this year became the first state in the United States to grant legal recognition to same-sex couples under a procedure known as "civil union." Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and the Netherlands have similar "registered partnership" laws.


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