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International News Archive
July 14 - July 20, 2001


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This page contains news for the period July 14 through July 20, 2001.



<<   July 2001  >>

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Thursday, July 19, 2001

Philippine officials fear divorce bill would increase population

A story published today by the Philippine Inquirer reports that health and population officials in the Philippines believe that the controversial divorce bill being pushed by Sen. Rodolfo Biazon could trigger a new population explosion.

“Divorce is a sensitive issue in the Philippines . . . because Filipino couples usually break up because of infidelities. This means they will seek and build new families. That simply means more children,” said Dante Evangelista, spokesperson of the Commission on Population (Popcom) in the Cordillera. 

The same officials, however, stressed that the country also shares a growing global partiality to smaller families.

Small urban families can cope with the changes a divorce law can make, Dr. Myrna Cabotaje, acting regional director of the Department of Health, said.

“Perhaps this means (that) the Filipino couples who will face a (culture that accepts) divorce will not automatically have children even after they break up,” she said.

The country’s 75.3-million population is a sign that some measure of stability is needed due to younger Filipinos’ preference for smaller families, she said.

Wednesday, July 18, 2001

Malaysian lawmaker condemns divorce through cell phone text messaging

A story released today by Wired News reports that a lawmaker of Malaysia's ruling party has asked the government not to validate divorce declarations sent by text message over mobile phones.

Azalina Othman, an outspoken attorney and head of the women's wing of the United Malays National Organization, condemned a ruling by a senior cleric last week that grants Muslim men the right to divorce their wives by sending them a mobile phone text message.

A Dubai, United Arab Emirates, court set a precedent for text message divorces last month when a man divorced his wife by sending a message to her mobile phone.

Under Islamic law, men who want a separation must first make a declaration by saying "I divorce you" three times. A senior cleric last week said it was OK for men to do that over mobile phones.

The privilege is not available to women.

But Othman said it is inappropriate to use mobile phones to end a marriage. Divorce cases should be handled in a court, she said.

Virginity test to be initiated on female Turkish nursing students

A story released today by the Associated Press reports that Turkish nurses vowed Tuesday to ``fight to the end'' against a new measure that calls for virginity tests on female nursing students suspected of having sex.

Representatives from the Association of Turkish Nurses met with Health Minister Osman Durmus to protest the measure announced Monday, saying it was ``archaic and against human rights and freedoms.''

Durmus defended the measure, saying it would protect minors from prostitution and underage sex. The new measure calls for the expulsion of students who have had sex. It applies only to students at medical schools, which train nurses and other medical staff such as midwives.

Turkey imposed a ban on forced virginity tests two years ago after five teen-age orphans attempted suicide rather than submit to the tests.

Under Durmus' new order, the tests can only be conducted with the order of a judge.

Tuesday, July 17, 2001

Pregnancy test implemented in African schools

A story released today by the African Eye News Service reports that a growing number of Swaziland schools are introducing compulsory pregnancy tests at the start of the year so that parents can hold their daughters back.

The idea is that parents not waste money on school fees, uniforms and textbooks, only to have their daughters drop out later on.

Deputy head teacher at Sigangeni High School in Mbabane, Muzi Dlamini, said his school occasionally used the services of the Family Life Association of Swaziland (FLAS) to conduct pregnancy tests.

"We did pregnancy tests on the girls when the year started and a number tested positive and were not admitted, regardless of the fact that they had wanted to enrol," he said. "Had we not done the tests, a number of parents would have lost a lot of money because their children would have dropped out as we speak. The children knew that they were pregnant, but did not have the guts to tell their parents."

FLAS program director Musa Mgogo said parents were justified in seeking pregnancy tests for their children because they were not refunded school fees.

"It is very painful for parents to see their children drop out of school before even the first term is over," he said. "Children are afraid of telling their parents the truth and they register at the school knowing full well that they are pregnant, which is more like cheating the parents of their hard earned money."

The kingdom's Ministry of Education does not have a clear-cut policy on whether pregnancy tests be conducted at schools.

It does, however, ban pregnant girls from attending school. Many join other schools after giving birth.

A local lawyer said the tests were not unlawful, because the children were minors and subject to their parents authority.

"If a parent consents to a pregnancy test, so be it. The child cannot bring litigation against the school for conducting the test," he said

Monday, July 16, 2001

Study shows more children are born outside wedlock in the Czech Republic

A story released today by the Czech News Agency reports that the number of children born outside wedlock has been increasing in the Czech Republic in recent years.

Tomas Fiala of the demographics department at the Prague economics university told the daily that in 1999 some 25 percent of firstborn children or one in four were born to women who were not married.

Fiala said the number of firstborn children born outside marriage has risen dramatically since 1989, when only one in nine was born outside marriage.

Sociologist Jaromir Volek believes that one reason could be that being an unmarried mother is no longer considered to be as much of a sin as it used to be.

 The Czech Republic is copying Western trends said Volek. "A lot of people live together. That's especially typical of Scandinavia."

The number of weddings has almost suffered dramatically in the last ten years. Last year 55,000 couples got married compared to 90,000 in 1990.

"Marriage doesn't have as much meaning for people any more. Also various economic advantages such as loans for newlyweds, which people could avail of in the past, don't exist any more,"said Fiala.

Fiala also added that it was too early to say whether the trend of more firstborn children being born outside marriage would continue.

 "It's hard to determine what future development will be like, because the new trend started just a few years ago."

Sunday, July 15, 2001

British insurers give driver discounts to unmarried couples, singles pay more

A story published by the Sunday Express reports that British insurance companies have increasingly lowered insurance rate premiums to people who have "settled down" with a partner.

Suzanne Moore from the Association of British Insurers says: "Discounts for people who are cohabiting or married is pretty widespread within the industry, which sees them as a lower risk. It does depend on the individual company's underwriting experience though and the driving history and age of your partner. Sometimes premiums can rise."

Admiral, which owns Diamond insurance, says its policy of offering discounts to married couples and cohabitees reflects its claims experience.

"It does seem that being in a stable relationship makes people drive more safely. The discount we offer depends on factors such as the age of your partner and whether you both have cars, but we typically reduce the premium by 5 to 10 per cent, " says pricing director David Stevens.

Direct Line insurance also charges married couples less for car insurance. A year's cover to drive would cost a single person GBP 393.75, but a married person who includes their spouse on their policy would pay GBP 379.05. Direct Line says it is changing its system so unmarried and same-sex couples also receive discounts.

Nigel Bartram, technical underwriting manager at Norwich Union Direct says: "We've just brought in a motor insurance discount for married or cohabiting couples because our data seems to show that their claims experience is better than that of single people of the same age." The discount will be about 10 per cent for most couples, he says.

Some insurance companies, however, take the view that lowering premiums for married or cohabiting couples could be seen as discriminatory and do not ask about marital status when quoting prices for motor or home insurance.



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