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International News Archive
October 21 - October 28, 2001

 

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This page contains news for the period October  21 through October 28, 2001.

 

 

<<   October 2001  >>

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Wednesday, October 24, 2001

British teens think marriage should be delayed

A story published today by The Scotsman (U.K.) reports that according to a study done by the National Children’s Bureau, young people still believe in marriage, but many want to wait until they are older to give their relationships better chances of success.

A report drawing on research involving nearly 2,000 people aged 11 to 16 has found that for many marriage is seen as a "choice rather than a must". The most popular option was the prospect of living with a partner with the possibility of marriage.

Many young people expressed a desire to fulfil ambitions such as completing their education or traveling the world before committing themselves to a long-term relationship.

Others believed that it was important to have financial stability before getting married.

Sue Sharpe, the report’s author, said: "Many young people today have witnessed the making and breaking of adult relationships and that has given them a different perspective on the lives they themselves are likely to lead."

The report, entitled More Than Just a Piece of Paper? Young People’s Views of Marriages and Relationships, was published to mark Parents’ Week, an annual awareness event co-ordinated by the National Family and Parenting Institute.

Cohabitation common in the Dominican Republic

A story released today by Comtex reports that according to the Center of Solidarity for the Development of Women of the Dominican Republic, around 40 percent of Dominican households are made up of couples cohabiting informally or in common-law marriages.

The publication of these figures concurred with a Supreme Court ruling giving a woman the right to collect compensation upon the death of a man with whom she has lived for years without entering into a formal union.

The Oct. 17 ruling provides that a woman is entitled to collect compensation if her partner dies in a traffic accident.

The center’s director Graciela de la Cruz said that most out-of-wedlock couples live in rural areas, adding that the ruling "guarantees women's rights."

Attorney General Virgule Bell Rosa, State Secretary for Women Yadira Henriquez and Labor Secretary Milton Ray Guevara said that the court decision would have "a positive social effect."

Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, however, argued that the ruling was contrary to Church teachings, since "Jesus preached marriage as the ideal way of life."

British lawmaker to introduce bill for unwed couples

A story released today by the BBC News reports that British Parliament member Jane Griffiths is going before parliament on Wednesday to propose a law that would allow local authorities to formally register both unmarried and same sex couples.

The Law Society has welcomed the move as a step towards giving cohabitees greater rights, but recognizes that there is "a long road ahead" to bring about a law change.

Current law in Britain does not provide unmarried couples to have automatic rights to property, their partner's pension or inheritance of assets.

When a marriage breaks down, either husband or wife can be ordered to pay maintenance. The court can also transfer the family home to either spouse. But co-habitees who split up have no such recourse to the law.

In calling for the bill, Ms. Griffiths is taking up the case of her constituent Rose Green, who began campaigning for a change in the law after she was left with no automatic rights after her partner of more than 12 years died.

Ms Green said: "I had no status. I am not a widow. I can't officially call myself a widow. There isn't a word for my position."

Ms Griffiths said that it was time for legislation to be updated, given that the law that created marriage dated from 1753 and the next legislation for marriage and partnerships was 1949.

Mark Harper, of the Law Society's Family Law Committee, told BBC Breakfast that the present law was unfair to the one in four couples who live together.

"Someone who has lived with their partner for 10 or 20 years, why shouldn't they be able to claim for maintenance or a share of property? And also why can't they claim on the death of their partner as that is when more rights are needed," he said.

Mr. Harper said the Law Society supported Griffiths' bill which would see couples registering their relationship but he said the professional body for solicitors in England and Wales wanted the law to go a step further.

It believed that unmarried couples should have automatic rights from the moment they move in together.

But those rights would be more limited than for married couples, he added.

Turkish lawmakers introduce law that advances women’s rights

A story released today by the Associated Press reports that Turkey is finally revising its 75-year-old civil code to advance women's rights. Parliament is scheduled to start debating a new draft code Wednesday, and the changes are expected to be voted on later this month.

"The old code was the husbands' code," said Nukhet Sirman of KADER, a group that aims to promote women in politics. "The new code, at long last, formally recognizes that men and women are equals."

If the changes are passed, they would take effect Jan. 1, 2002, after endorsement by President Ahmet Necdet Sezer.

The draft new code scraps the phrase "the head of the marriage union is the man," giving women the right to have a say in decisions concerning the children or the family home. She no longer needs a husband's consent to go out to work. But a person could ask his or her spouse not to take up a job that would disrupt "calm in the marriage union."

The code also ensures that women are better off in the event of a divorce, guaranteeing that all assets accumulated during the union are shared equally. Currently, a divorced woman is only entitled to assets legally registered under her name.

But men get improvements, too, under the new code.

Men will be able to request alimony from wives who are better off. A man can also drop his own surname and take his wife's if he wishes, while the woman can use her maiden name only in connection with her husband's family name.

The new code also raises the legal age for marriage to 18 from the current 17 for men and 15 for women. It sets a legal separation period of six months before couples can file for divorce.

The code will also lower the legal age for adopting children from 35 to 30 and allows a single parent to adopt.

In a predominantly Muslim country where unmarried couples living together is still frowned upon, it makes no provisions for cohabiting families. It does, however, grant out-of-wedlock offspring the same inheritance rights as others.

Tuesday, October 23, 2001

Canadian study shows that love can literally break your heart

A story published today by the Halifax Herald Limited reports that a new study conducted by Heart and Stroke Foundation reveals that a bad marriage can break your heart in more ways than one.

"There is little question that a harmonious state of matrimony gives a healthy edge when it comes to medical matters of the heart," said Dr. Brian Baker, a Canadian psychiatrist specializing in cardiovascular medicine.

But not all marriages are healthy, he said.

His three-year study of 118 men and women with mild cases of high blood pressure found that people with good marriages had thinner heart walls, indicating lower blood pressure.

Those in bad marriages developed thicker heart walls, caused by the effort of pumping blood at a higher than normal blood pressure.

The results were presented at a national meeting of 3,000 Canadian cardiovascular health professionals being held in Halifax this week.

"In the good marriages, spousal contact - companionship - lowered blood pressure. It was quality and quantity of the contact," Dr. Baker said.

But in a bad marriage, contact had the opposite effect.

"In fact, in those cases, patients were better off avoiding their spouses," Dr. Baker said. A follow-up study is planned, for people with normal blood pressure, to measure how marriage affects their hearts, he said.

Monday, October 22, 2001

Japanese Court slaps restraining order to wife beater

A story published today by the Daily Yomiuri reports that a landmark decision made by the Osaka District Court has banned a Japanese man who regularly beat his wife from entering the couple's home for two weeks and also has ordered him not to approach his wife for six months.

It was the first time a court has used new powers to restrain perpetrators of domestic violence granted under the Law on the Prevention of Spousal Violence and the Protection of Victims, which went into force on Oct. 13.

According to court documents, the husband, who is in his 60s, began beating his wife, who is about 20 years his junior, soon after they married about 20 years ago. He later beat their two children.

In 1999 and again this year, the wife requested the court to mediate in divorce negotiations, but proceedings broke down on both occasions.

After being battered again late last month, the woman sought help at a women's center run by the Osaka prefectural government, and on Oct. 15 asked for court protection.

Under the new law, assailants who violate restraining orders face up to a year in prison or a fine of up to 1 million yen.

A lawyer for the woman said her client would leave the couple's home within the next two weeks and begin divorce proceedings.

 

 

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