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International News Archive
January 01 - Janurary 06, 2002


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This page contains news for the period January 01 through January 06, 2002.



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Friday, January 4, 2002

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Research shows that British single moms viewed as irresponsible

A story published today by the Guardian reports that according to a research conducted in Manchester, England, single mothers are still viewed as "women of easy virtue" and discriminated against by hospitals and clinics.

The city was chosen as the site for this new research because it has one of the highest percentages of single mothers in Britain, 53%.

Rachel Murphy, from the University of Nottingham, said that these women were often portrayed as irresponsible and of easy virtue, who became pregnant to obtain benefit and housing. In fact many thought they were in a stable relationship, and it was only at pregnancy it fell apart.

Ms. Murphy said there was no longer discrimination as such, but there still was institutionalized discrimination. "Pregnant women are expected to have partners who are involved in the pregnancy. All the programs are geared towards this and unmarried mothers are excluded by the process. It causes alienation, failure to attend appointments, and lack of care."

Two hospitals, North Manchester and Wythenshawe, had recognized the problem and catered for single parent needs, though lack of funds made this difficult. At Wythenshawe a unit to provide classes for teenage mothers had been set up, but there was still nothing for older single mothers.


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Young Australian women are sinking into booze

A story released today by the West Australian reports that a national survey by the Women's Health Australia project shows that 31 percent of women aged between 23 and 28 binge drink. The number rises to 70 percent for 18 to 23-year-olds.

Professor Charlotte de Crespigny, of Flinders University in Adelaide, is studying the behavior of young women drinkers. She says there has been an explosion in the number of young women going to bars and pubs in the past 10 years.

"There has been a matching, if not a surpassing, of their male peers," she said.

This trend even has a name. Women who drink as hard and fast as their male counterparts are known as ladettes. Their behavior is one of the ill-effects of feminism, says Martin Welman, of the drug and alcohol service at Nepean Hospital in Penrith on Sydney's western edge. He says that at least 15 percent of women he sees with alcohol-related liver disease are under 35.

Steve Allsop, director of clinical education and research at WA's Drug and Alcohol Office, said social changes in the past decade had made it more acceptable for women to drink alcohol. Women also were increasingly financially independent and able to take advantage of a bigger range of alcoholic drinks served in pubs and bars which were increasingly more attractive to them.

Australian Hotels Association WA president Bradley Woods said the industry had worked hard to make hotels more attractive to women drinkers, although only 30 percent of alcohol was consumed on licensed premises. He said the explosion in the wine industry and the expansion of the ready-to-drink market was at least attributable partly to women drinkers.

He said the latest National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines for safe drinking said men should stick to six standard drinks a day and women to four.


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Thirtysomethings in Japan are ill prepared to wed

A story published today by the Daily Yomiuri reports that a survey conducted by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research in Japan showed that more than 40 percent of men aged between 30 and 34 are single. In Tokyo alone, 54 percent of men in that age group are unmarried, the first time they have been a majority in the survey's history. Makoto Ato, director of the institute said, "This tendency will probably continue for a while."

According to the institute's 1997 survey, the wives in about 12 percent of couples who had been married for up to four years were already pregnant on their wedding day. An increasing number of couples do not decide to get married without a strong motive to do so, as in the phenomenon of "dekichatta kekkon" (Oops-I-am-pregnant marriage).

Nevertheless, it does not necessarily mean that men deny the value of marriage. According to a survey conducted by OMMG, an Osaka-based match-making service, 72 percent of single men aged from 25 to 34 said they would like to get married someday.

Despite their stated hope to tie the knot with somebody someday, increasing numbers of men remain single even after the age 30.

One frequently cited factor behind this tendency is changes in women's lives, such as the growth of their economic capabilities.

"Decision-making and communication skills may be deteriorating among those in their 30s compared with their elders," said Akihiko Nishiyama, a director at Tokyo Gas Urban Life Research Institute, who analyzes contemporary people in their 30s.

According to Nishiyama, when the thirtysomethings had to make decisions on schools and jobs, they had standardized tests and employment information services to guide them in making a final decision. But they are not used to making fully independent decisions regarding their own futures, he said, which suggests that both men and women are shying away from the momentous decision of marriage.

An increasing number of people cannot see anything that connects them with others and seem to have become resigned to being "single after all."

European nations and the United States have implemented social policies that serve couples who are not officially married. France, for instance, gives unmarried households tax and social welfare treatment equivalent to those of married couples.

As the "single after all" tendency becomes prevalent in Japan, the government may as well consider social support for a unit that does not follow the conventional form of marriage.

Thursday, January 3, 2002

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Divorce on the rise in Japan

A story published today by the Asahi Shimbun reports that according to Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, more people died and fewer babies were born in 2001. More couples tied the knot, but  an increasing number untied it as well.

Divorce is getting increasingly common in Japan. According to the 2001 population demographics compiled by the ministry, a record 289,000 couples split during the year, translating to one divorce every 1 minute, 49 seconds.

That is an increase of 25,000 divorces from 2000, and represents twice the divorce rate recorded in 1980.

But marriages were also up, to 803,000 newlywed couples, a gain of 5,000 from the preceding year. The figures were based on extrapolation of actual statistics for January through October, extended to cover the full year.

Separately, the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications said the number of 20-year-olds, or those reaching legally defined adulthood, stood at 1.52 million, representing the eighth straight year of decrease. Of the total, representing 1.19 percent of the nation's population, 780,000 were men and 740,000 were women.

Those coming of age from the postwar baby boom, from 1968 to 1970, totaled about 2.4 million in each year.

During 1993 to 1995, the second wave of baby boomers turned 20, and the totals again rose to the 2 million mark. But the numbers of those turning 20 have continued to decline each year since then.

By 2005, the number of people who turn 20 years of age is expected to drop to about 1.5 million, and will fall to about 1.2 million in 2010 and thereafter, statisticians predict.

Wednesday, January 2, 2002

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British lawyers call for legislation on ‘no fault’ divorces

A story published today by the Independent reports that a series of acrimonious celebrity divorces has prompted calls in Britain for an end to the requirement for one spouse to admit fault if couples want to end their marriage of less than two years.

Yesterday, the head of the Solicitors' Family Law Association, which represents 5,000 family lawyers in England and Wales, said it was time that the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine of Lairg, implemented legislation permitting "no-fault" divorces.

The association's chairman, Jane Craig, said: "It really is ridiculous that where neither person has committed adultery, the law forces people into making unpleasant allegations about the behavior of their spouse in order to obtain a divorce right away.

"This process almost invariably raises the temperature because, even where the couple agree the behavior allegations between them, one person feels that he or she is having to 'take the blame' for the marriage breakdown in the eyes of the court. The reality is more likely to be that neither the husband nor the wife has behaved perfectly."

Last year, 70 percent of the 150,000 divorces were granted on the basis of unreasonable behavior or adultery.

Although the British Government has restated that it is committed to the aims of "no-fault" divorce –– to allow a marriage that has broken down to be ended with minimum distress and conflict –– it has not yet made any proposals to replace the abandoned legislation.

The association said the Government's announcement of extra funding for relationship support services and the promotion of mediation could only be used in a "fault-based legal framework".

In July, Lord Irvine was warned by his own advisers that the divorce system caused couples "distress and anger" as well as harm to children. A committee of lawyers, judges and marriage experts, which guides Lord Irvine on family law matters, described the switch in government policy as "deeply disappointing" because couples would be forced to continue to find acrimonious grounds if they wanted to obtain a divorce in less than two years.

The chairman of the Advisory Board on Family Law, Sir Thomas Boyd-Carpenter, said that while the no-fault proposals were not perfect, they were "good enough to put into effect and subsequently refine".

The board, however, said: "Given the difficulties inherent in introducing new legislation on a topic of this sensitivity, we firmly believed that this course was preferable to an indefinite continuance of the status quo."

Of grave concern to the board, which includes the family law judge Mr. Justice Wall, is the effect the policy has on children whose parents want to divorce quickly.


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