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International News Archive
October 14 - October 20, 2001


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



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Friday, October 19, 2001

Singaporean singles group launches support network of singles

A story released today by the Channelnewsasia.com reports that in Singapore, a civil society group called Singles Connect has been recently formed to provide as a support network for singles from all walks of life.

Their website, singlesconnect.org is a starting point for singles to connect with each other virtually. The site offers information on housing and financial matters, among other things.

Believed to be the first such group formed in Singapore, Singles Connect says it is not a matchmaking agency.

Heading the support group is journalist Irene Ng, believed to be on the People’s Action Party slate of new candidates.

When asked if she would champion the singles' cause by going into politics, Ms. Ng said: "I can't comment on that ... but I've always spoken up for singles for a long time, so wherever I am, I'll continue speaking up for singles."

The group has about 50 members, and it is tying up with local groups like, Marine Parade and Northeast CDC to reach out to more singles.

Sunday, October 14, 2001

Chile's divorce law still faces strong opposition

A story released today by the Associated Press reports that four years ago, the Chilean Congress passed a law to permitting divorce, but few Chileans trapped in broken marriages are holding their breath on the outcome of the law.

To date, the Chliean Senate has set no date for voting, and even if it finally happens, the outcome will hang on one or two votes, says Congresswoman Antonieta Saa.

If enacted, the Civil Marriage Law will make divorce costly and protracted affair.

Couples will have to show a judge that they underwent counseling. Stringent rules will protect the rights of children, guarantee their schooling is paid for, and that alimony and child support are provided.

So far so good, say both supporters and opponents. But proponents of the right to divorce are unhappy with the clause requiring husband and wife to show that they have lived apart for four years -- three if the divorce is uncontested.

"That's an eternity when things are not working out for a couple," said Saa.

The intent, explained Justice Minister Jose Antonio Gomez is "to protect the families and give couples a time to reflect."

Some think the law makes things worse. "It's better being the only Western country without a divorce law than the Western country with the worst divorce law," said Jimena Valdes, who runs a think tank specializing in women's studies.

At present the only way out of a Chilean marriage is by legal separation, obtainable if either side can prove there was a procedural error in the marriage process.

The result is that the marriage is declared to have never legally existed. But that leaves everyone's rights in limbo.

Various opinion polls show strong support for a divorce law, but the issue remains highly sensitive, especially because of church opposition in a country 84 percent of whose population calls itself Catholic.

Priests have denounced the law from their pulpits, with some urging worshipers to punish pro-divorce members of Congress in the December elections.

"It's divorce now, it will be abortion next and then probably marriages among homosexuals,'' said Pablo Lizama, a Catholic military chaplain.


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