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International News Archive
October 29 - October 31, 2001


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This page contains news for the period October 29 through October 31, 2001.



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Wednesday, October 31, 2001

British singles are not settling for traditional one-bedroom flats anymore

A story published today by the London Telegraph reports that singlehood has become a major force in the housing market in Britain. The number of single-person households is nudging seven million, compared with 5.7 million a decade ago. A new survey by the Henley Centre shows that the number of child-free single people buying large, multi-bedroom detached houses on new estates.

Laing Homes, which commissioned the survey, has found that almost half the large family-size houses in some London developments are being sold to people who live alone. A sector that for so long has been dominated by the stereotypical image of cosy child-centered bliss is being diluted by space-greedy singles.

At Montagu Road, an estate of 24 three-, four- and five-bedroom houses at Edmonton, North London, no fewer than 13 have gone to buyers living alone. Laing is also building in Oxford, where 10 singles have already bought on a development of 50 family-size houses by the canal.

Marjorie James, who works for the Arts Council, has just moved into a three-bedroom house in Edmonton. "I felt cooped up in the flat I was in before," she says. "I want to be able to eat, sleep, live and dine in different rooms. My family often comes to visit me, and I have a daughter who comes and goes, so I need separate rooms for them."

There is a feeling among singles that the consumer world has geared itself to families for too long, inadvertently marginalizing them and overlooking their needs. They want to break free of the one-bedroom flat, give themselves space to hold dinner parties and to invest their large disposable incomes on status symbols.

"Size is a way of saying they have arrived and can afford large houses just like anyone else," says Steve Lidgate, the managing director of Laing.

"They do a lot of entertaining. They don't use their houses just to sleep in, but maybe to have breakfast and dinner meetings, maybe to work at home. They might need a study - somewhere to do their hobbies. Often they want stonking great master bedrooms, while other bedrooms are turned into living areas."

Dr. Michelle Harrison, who led the Henley Centre's research, says it is a myth that single people want small houses: 28 percent of new homes now have four or more bedrooms."

Another space-rich single is 34-year-old Andrew Ashby, who has bought a large three-bedroom house at Waterways, Oxford, where he has three living-rooms.

"People think single blokes live in bedsits and behave like they do in Men Behaving Badly. But we earn a lot of money, read style magazines, and I have a lot of friends and family," he says.

"But it isn't just young singles. There are a lot of older and divorced singles who don't want to go back to living in tiny places. My mum is alone and she is buying a five-bedroom house so that she can have her grandchildren to stay. We are becoming a nation of people living on our own."

British kids run away due to poor relationships with parents

A story released today by Sky News (U.K.) reports that according to a report released by the Children’s Society, one in nine youngsters in the UK will run away for at least one night before the age of 16.

According to the study, poor relationships between parents and their children are the major cause of young people running away from home. The study also showed that communication problems in families often reach crisis point at times of major change such as separation or divorce.

Children in step families are three times more likely to run away or be thrown out of the family home than those living with their natural parents, while those in single parent families are twice as likely to run away or be forced to leave.

"This research shows the most significant factor in running away is the quality of relationships between children and parents."said Ian Sparks spokesman for Children’s Society.

The study, entitled Home Run: Families and Young Runaways, was based on a survey of 13,000 teenagers aged 14 to 16 in 134 schools across the UK. Researchers also carried out interviews with 200 young runaways.

An estimated 100,000 under-16s run away from home or from care every year.

Tuesday, October 30, 2001

Women associations in Morocco seek to amend country’s personal law

A story released today by the ArabicNews.com reports that a group of nine Moroccan women associations, unveiled in Casablanca a memo which focuses on reforms needed in personal laws of the country.

Proposals contained in the memo are based on the principle of gender equality in rights, duties and responsibilities. These principles which the group considers as the central axis, should underlie all of the personal law provisions.

The group also felt that the marrying age should be set at 18 years for both men and women and that both men and women should have the right to chose their spouse.

Other proposals introduced in the memo suggested that divorce proceedings should be conducted by a judge in the presence of the two spouses and that properties and other assets acquired during marriage should be equally divided in case of divorce. They also propositioned that housework should be considered as a contribution to these properties and assets.

The group also requested the unification of custody conditions after divorce and to allow both men and women to remarry and retain custody of their children.


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