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|Australian women working longer but wish they weren't
* January 17, 2011 4:19PM
Older Australian women are working much more than they were 30 years ago, but they're still working less than their male counterparts and women in other developed countries. Source: Herald Sun
* Women over 45 working more than in past
* Half of full-time over 45s want less work
* Don't work as much as women overseas
OLDER Australian women are working longer hours but many of them aren't happy about it, a new report has revealed.
The Productivity Commission's working paper on the labour force participation of women over 45 was released today.
It found the contribution of women aged between 45 and 64 to total hours worked in the economy had risen from six per cent to 15 per cent during the past three decades.
Nearly every industry had more older women on staff in 2009 compared with 1979.
About seven per cent more mature-aged women could be enticed into working, if it wasn't for the participation barriers that the commission identified as significant and hard to overcome.
Almost one quarter of older women working part-time want to do more hours, however, half of the group working full-time want to work less.
"If all mature-aged women were to work the hours they preferred, the net effect would be a fall in total hours worked of nearly 11 per cent," the commission stated.
Proportionately, older Australian women work less than their local male counterparts and their female peers in similar OECD countries.
However, these participation gaps which have already narrowed considerably are expected to close even further.
The commission estimates that over the next couple of decades, the contribution of mature-aged women to total hours worked will rise steadily, on account of women being better educated and more likely to join the workforce young.
The Productivity Commission is the federal government's independent research and advisory body on a range of economic, social and environmental issues.
|Woman raped another woman, court told
AAP - November 29, 2010 - 1:14PM
A woman digitally raped another woman in a toilet cubicle at an inner Brisbane hotel, a jury has been told.
Anne-Marie O'Loughlin, 25, pleaded not guilty to two counts of rape, deprivation of liberty and sexual assault in the Brisbane District Court on Monday.
Prosecutor Chris Minnery told the court in his opening statement the victim, who cannot be named, was at the Caxton Street Hotel with her partner and friends when she went alone to the bathroom and was raped by O'Loughlin on November 29, 2008.
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Mr Minnery said O'Loughlin first kissed the victim, who kissed her back in a bid to escape.
But when she tried to leave, the accused grabbed her by the hair, slammed her head into a wall and pulled her into a toilet cubicle, he said.
O'Loughlin then allegedly digitally raped the victim, Mr Minnery said.
"(The victim) heard someone in the cubicle next door and started to say something and bang on the wall," he said.
"She was told by the accused to shut up and stay quiet. The person next door came and knocked on the door of the cubicle and said something like, 'I'm getting security.'"
He said O'Loughlin left before security came but she had forgotten to take her purse containing identification, which was picked up by the victim.
O'Loughlin was detained outside the hotel and later told police she had only kissed the woman in the toilets.
Mr Minnery said police had taken samples of skin found under her fingernails and found it matched the victim's DNA.
The trial continues.
© 2010 AAP
A quarter of all violent assaults are now carried out by women, figures have revealed.
|Sex assault victims get more power
Sex assault victims get more power
* Angela Kamper
* From: The Daily Telegraph
* November 15, 2010 12:00AM
VICTIMS of sexual assault are to get the power to prevent their attackers from accessing their personal records which could be used against them
Private information held by doctors, counsellors, health professionals and workplaces will be more difficult for defence lawyers to access with new laws increasing victims' rights and allowing them to call on a free independent specialist unit of lawyers to represent them.
NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos said yesterday the state Government was providing $4.4 million over four years to the unique legal unit and assist victims.
"We need to ensure we have laws in place that encourage victims of sexual assault to come forward," Mr Hatzistergos said.
"These new laws are designed to shield victims from intimidation."
Under the changes, sexual assault victims will be given the automatic right to argue that their counselling records are privileged.
Until now, it has been the responsibility of the record-holder such as a doctor to decide whether to oppose releasing information.
The changes come after a 12-month pilot program organised by Women's Legal Services NSW which finished in February.
It found that out of 26 sexual assault cases in Downing Centre Local and District courts there were 80 subpoenas from defence lawyers which raised privilege issues. Among those there were only 32 objections from counselling services to the production of documents.
Women's Legal Services made objections to all 80 subpoenas in the pilot program and had a 90 per cent success rate.
WLS principal solicitor Janet Loughman said recoverery after a sexual assault could be greatly helped by talking to a counsellor.
"Some have refused to continue with the counselling when they learn the counsellor's notes could be disclosed to the defence," she said.
|Hero snorkeller grabs shark to save attack victim
* Nicole Cox, Anthoy Deceglie, Ashlee Mullany and Chris Robinson
* From: PerthNow
* October 31, 2010 12:39PM
A COURAGEOUS man has been hailed a hero after he pulled the tail of a shark as it savaged a young tour guide on a snorkelling expedition near Rockingham in Western Australia.
Rescuers praised the man's brave actions, saying he saved the woman from further injury from the jaws of the ocean predator, believed to be a 3m great white shark.
Nineteen-year-old Elyse Frankcom had been hosting a swim-with-the-dolphins tour for Rockingham Wild Encounters when the shark attacked - biting into her hip and left buttock at 12.30pm.
Last night, Miss Frankcom was in a stable condition in Royal Perth Hospital following surgery to repair the damage.
The attack happened off Garden Island Naval Base, at the northern end.
It came just 10 weeks after Busselton surfer Nick Edwards was killed by a monster great white off Gracetown in the South-West.
And it took place just 35km north of Port Kennedy, where father-of-three Brian Guest was mauled to death by a big great white while snorkelling with his son in December 2008.
The unnamed hero calmly walked off the tour boat when it returned to shore and was too modest to stop for a media interview.
"All I want is the girl to be OK,'' he said.
Recovering in Royal Perth Hospital
Concerned family and friends of Ms Frankcom kept vigil at Royal Perth Hospital.
Her older sister, Samantha, said Ms Frankcom was in good hands and would not likely be deterred from returning to the water.
"Elyse is in high spirits. She should be okay to leave hospital tomorrow,'' she said.
Samantha said her younger sister would definitely return to the water, despite the brush with death.
"She loves the water. You can't tear her away from it,'' she told Perth's Sunday Times.
"This won't scare her away. She will definitely go back. It's been a passion for her since she was a child.''
The 19-year-old diver recently commented on shark attacks on her Facebook page.
"If I get attacked or die, at least I die happy and doin (sic) the thing I love,'' she said.
Her parents formerly operated a scuba diving business in Mandurah.
"My sister was training to become a `dolphin girl' for the dive tours,'' Samantha Frankcom said.
"Her job would be to find the dolphins and bring them to the surface for people to swim with.''
Rescuer praised 'hero' who grabbed shark's tail
Fremantle Sea Rescue senior skipper Frank Pisani, one of the first rescuers on scene, said Ms Frankcom would not likely have survived the vicious attack had one of the passengers not bravely intervened.
"As the shark bit her, it brushed aside a fairly large male who grabbed hold of the tail of the shark, which then made it let go,'' Mr Pisani said.
"The girl then started to sink to the bottom and he grabbed her and brought her to the surface and got her back on board the boat. He certainly was instrumental in making this a good outcome.''
Mr Pisani said there was a paramedic on the boat, but no first-aid equipment, so sea rescue volunteers worked to stabilise the badly bleeding victim.
"We used all our first-aid equipment and did all we could to stem the bleeding before the RAC rescue helicopter arrived,'' he said.
"There were very deep puncture wounds, quite wide but there was no actual loss of flesh.''
Ms Frankcom was taken to HMAS Stirling base, where she was treated by naval medics before being airlifted to RPH.
Rescuers said Ms Frankcom, who remained conscious after the attack, told dive boat operators and first-aiders that she believed the shark was a great white.
It is understood Ms Frankcom is a videographer and tour guide with Rockingham Wild Encounters, which operates the Apollo 3 charter.
Rockingham Wild Encounters operations director Aaron Heath said Ms Frankcom was one of two crew members who were wearing shark shields, which are designed to repel attacks using electronic impulses.
She had recently praised the shields on her Facebook page, saying: "The ocean is a beautiful place and you feel so much safer knowing one genius was able to invent an incredible piece of technology to help enjoy it with more peace.''
Mr Heath said the actions of the guest in distracting the shark were nothing short of amazing.
"They've been swimming in quite shallow water about 7m of water. They had two dolphins right by Elyse's side and we believe this shark has come in from the bottom and grabbed hold of her,'' he said.
Mr Heath said that Elyse was more worried about a child in the diving group than her own safety.
"Apparently, she was also bragging that she punched the shark in the nose,'' he said.
Thirty-three people, including three children, were on board at the time.
As the group disembarked, one of the passengers said: ``It was a bit scary at the time but we're just glad everyone is OK''. Other passengers were too distressed to comment.
Children boating at the nearby Cruising Yacht Club of WA were evacuated from the water and news of the shark attack spread. Water police warned swimmers and boaties that a shark had been lurking.
Water Police operations supervisor Lou Hynd said two water police boats had been working the area one dealing with the victim and another warning people around Garden and Carnac islands about the attack.
Mr Hynd said it appeared Ms Frankcom had just duck-dived down and a shark, about 3m long, bit into her left buttock. She was conscious the whole time, he said.
Department of Fisheries regional manager Tony Cappelluti said aerial searches would be conducted to find the shark and fisheries vessels would remain on standby today.
"As we know these animals can move fairly large distances in a short amount of time so unless we re-sight them from the air, running around in boats may not be too productive,'' Mr Cappelluti said.
"We know that from experience, even though they are up close, they're very hard to see because of the angle and the sun and the glare.''
"In an hour they could be quite a distance away, a few kilometres or even tens of kilometres - 2km or 3km an hour so they could be over 70km away in a 24-hour period.''
RELUCTANT HERO: A man, believed to have heroically grabbed the attacking shark by the tail, leaves the jetty at Rockingham. Picture: Daniel Wilkins Source: PerthNow
|Ugly feud fought on Facebook
* Janet Fife-Yeomans
* From: The Daily Telegraph
* October 23, 2010 12:00AM
A MOTHER in the middle of a custody dispute has been caught boasting on her Facebook page how she thought about ripping her husband off for another $20,000.
"Felt like being a smart arse," she wrote, signing off "Bwahahaha lol."
Lawyers are now advising their clients locked in Family Court fights to take down their Facebook pages as the networking site has become both the latest weapon and target for warring spouses.
In one case a woman discovered her husband was a bigamist when she was tipped off to look at wedding photographs of him with another bride on the other woman's Facebook page.
In another case a husband discovered he had been set up by his wife with a woman he thought he met on an internet site. He discovered the woman was a "friend" on his wife's Facebook page.
"I tell my clients just don't bloody do it, don't be silly" family law expert Michael Taussig QC said.
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The woman who boasted she had thought about dragging out the Family Court case to cost her ex-husband an extra $20,000 in legal bills found it backfired on her.
Justice James Barry granted custody of the two children, aged nine and eight, to their father with the mother getting visiting rights.
He then ordered the mother to pay $15,000 of her ex-husband's estimated $35,000 legal bill, saying the mother's behaviour had been the "stuff of nightmares".
She had already strung the case out by falsely claiming her ex-husband had been sexually assaulting their children after one judgment went against her. Then she falsely claimed the father's new wife had been assaulting them.
"The mother has over the years attempted to manipulate the court system," Justice Barry said.
|IVF clinics facing sperm donation shortfall
* By Lucie van den Berg
* From: Herald Sun
* January 27, 2010 1:49AM
Some Australian women might find it harder to get pregnant due to shortage of sperm donors
WOMEN may find it harder to start a family because IVF clinics are facing a sperm donation shortfall.
In Victoria, new laws giving more women access to IVF are expected to increase the number of people seeking the service.
Clinics are already running low on sperm donor supplies.
Melbourne IVF has only about 20 donors.
Under old laws, Victorian women have been forced to shop for donations in NSW, Queensland, Tasmania and Canberra.
"They have been travelling to places where it hasn't been an offence to have IVF if you do not have a male partner or are not medically infertile," Melbourne IVF's Dr John McBain said.
The Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act has reversed this rule. More women will try to conceive locally.
"I am anticipating a shortage," Dr McBain said. "That's nowhere near enough (donors) to keep up with demand that we have and that we anticipate."
Supplies are already so low that Indian, African and Asian families struggle to find suitable donors.
"We have small numbers and some times no donors for ethic communities," Dr McBain said.
"There are many couples from the Middle East that are unable to get a sperm donor."
He said becoming a donor required time.
"It's not a simple thing of walking into a clinic with a bottle and magazine," he said.
Each applicant needed a medical examination, screening for infectious diseases and some genetic conditions, and counselling.
One factor, which can be a disincentive for some donors, is that their offspring can contact them when they turn 18 years old.
Jocelyn Posted at 3:40 AM 27th January 2010
Men run risks donating their genetic material, if one looks at where family law has gone in the last ten years, who knows what direction it might head in next. If men can be held responsible for children that are not theirs and men have no say in fertility or abortion decisions, who is to say that in the future sperm donors might be held responsible by a mother who wants financial support. Obviously the available law is more interested in making men responsible without giving them rights. To my male friends and future sons I would say be a sperm donor at your peril - at least until men win some rights, which seems a long way off. Your genetic material is identifiably yours, a hell of a lot of information is stored on computers and who knows if and when the 'rights' of the mother or child might be regarded as important enough to over-rule present 'guarantees' of confidentiality? Amazing how things can come back to bite you if you become well-known, or a person with large income or assets.
|Sex abuse accused father fights back
* LAURIE NOWELL
* From: Sunday Herald Sun
* January 24, 2010 12:14AM
The man was acquitted of sexual assault claims but lost his home and job fighting his name
* Case sets a controversial precedent
* Claims wife lied about sex abuse
* Man acquitted but loses job and home
A DAD cleared of claims he sexually abused his kids is now hitting back at his ex wife.
The man is accusing his ex-wife of perjury, assault and threatening to kill.
The legal action, believed to be a first for Victoria, will set a controversial precedent and could open the floodgates to similar cases.
"Bill", whose identity cannot be revealed for legal reasons, is alleging his wife deliberately lied when she made allegations that he had sexually abused their children.
His affidavit was accepted by the Melbourne Magistrates' Court last week, a hearing date has been set for next month and a summons was due to be served on Friday.
The case stems from a criminal trial during which Bill spent two years fighting charges based on his wife's allegations.
He was eventually acquitted, but the ordeal cost him his job, his home and about $450,000 in lost income and legal costs. The case is also based on similar accusations of sexual abuse of their children made by the ex-wife during a bitter Family Court battle.
The Family Court judge found Bill's ex-wife to be violent, untruthful, lacking moral values and responsible for the psychological and emotional abuse of her children - but still gave her custody of the two girls, now aged 9 and 11, because they had become estranged from their father.
By contrast, Bill was found to have shown "laudable forbearance in the face of the most challenging circumstances".
Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show about 2.5 million Australians are denied access to family because of family law proceedings, and about 680,000 fathers see their children as little as once a year.
ABS figures also show 700,000 children have no meaningful contact with one of their non-custodial parents - mostly fathers.
Bill said yesterday he was bringing the case because he felt betrayed by the justice system.
"The Family Court have cut me off from my children effectively because of false evidence brought by my wife," Bill said.
"In 2005, she went to the police and made the allegations and then prepared the children on what they should say. The result was my kids were taken away from me.
"I proved my own innocence and that she had lied on both occasions - in the criminal trial and in the Family Court matter.
"My life with my kids was destroyed. If people can lie in court and hurt others by their utterances and statements, what is the point of the law?"
The case will intensify the current national debate over the operation of the Family Court and the principle of shared parenting, which is under attack by women's groups and is being reviewed by the Rudd Government.
Bill's ex-wife is facing charges of perjury, assault and making a threat to kill.
The charges allege that she knowingly and wilfully made 10 pages of false statements to police in September 2005 and perjured herself by repeating the allegations in a sworn affidavit during a Family Court hearing in 2008.
She is also accused of threatening to kill Bill in 2004 and of assaulting him with chopsticks and fingernails in 2000.
Law Institute of Victoria chief executive Michael Brett Young said private criminal prosecutions were rare, but not unheard of.
"This man will have to prove his case, like anyone else, in the criminal courts," Mr Young said.
Related Link: 'Good' dad, 'bad' mum, who gets kids?
|Secret women's business exposed
Article from: The Advertiser
June 30, 2008 07:30pm
JANETTE had her drink spiked and three men raped her. Sophie is in the midst of an affair and says she has never felt so sexy and Queensland 50-something Margie says her husband is "an awful f..." and she desperately needs decent loving.
The women's stories reflect the underbelly of Australian women's sex lives revealed in a new book, Sex Lives Of Australian Women, written by Joan Sauers and released tomorrow.
Women are rewriting their sex lives, throwing off taboos and experimenting wildly according to findings of an internet survey revealed in the book.
Aussie women embrace homemade porn
Married women complain of boredom and dissatisfaction and many stray in search of sexual thrills.
Collectively they show that women have rejected the notion of monogamy, with older married women far less likely to feel guilty taking a lover.
Findings climb from an average of 10 lovers for women aged 20-29 to 15 for women aged 40-49.
The book reveals an amazing array of sexual experiences from the good to the bad and ugly to very painful abuse from which women don't recover.
Their stories show that sex is very much a bitter-sweet human experience for many women.
"Marcie" married young, had an affair and had left her violent husband by the time she was 28. By 30, she had had "about 30 different lovers".
Now 40, she discriminates and has had six relationships in the past decade, but has suffered betrayal and heartache.
"Now I am dating, but looking for a life partner, but along the way you meet men who aren't ready.
"I do need short-term satisfaction, to feel that you are attractive, that some man desires you and it does boost your self-esteem."
A high one in three Australian women have been forced to have sex - almost always by men they know.
Many carry the emotional scars of sexual attack - secrecy, reluctance to have sex, disgust and fear well into their adult sex lives.
Findings shocked Ms Sauers: "As prepared as I was for the figures, I was still shocked at how high the frequency of sexual assault is - one in three women who have had some kind of sexual assault. They have been forced to have sex and that is shocking."
Women were asked, "Have you ever been forced to have sex?"
"A lot of women thought rape was unwanted sexual intercourse, but being forced to have oral sex and other sexual manhandling are all forms of sexual assault; but it is rape."
More women are watching pornography to spice up their sex lives.
But the downside is that porn, while titillating, has added a whole new body-image level of anxiety to their performances.
The book reveals how most women compare themselves to porn stars and feel pressured to "do things". They also want more pornography made by women for women, with more attractive men.
"Porn has always been around but it used to be much less accessible. But because of the internet and other digital technologies such as DVDs, porn is everywhere. Women are beginning to look at it, as men always have, but it adds a whole new level of anxiety, not just about the body but about performance," Sauers said.
Porn does carry risks because a small percentage of men become addicted, admits Sauers, but adds: "To dismiss porn out of hand as an enemy of sexuality and an enemy of relationships is a mistake."
Gaylene, for instance, got sick of simply watching other women, so she starred in her own porn movie.
One in every two women said they could take or leave sex and most wanted more intimacy and more meaningful sex.
Many women complained their partners were selfish to achieve orgasm and did not bother with foreplay or bring them to orgasm.
A 54-year-old SA administration manager was among those who admitted her interest in sex was waning: "Sex is not as necessary to me now as it once was - my husband wonders where is gone the hot little piece he married. I prefer to curl up with a good book, although I enjoy it once we get started."
Ms Sauers says television series such as Sex in the City could have influenced women's desire for more excitement and variety.
"The effects of celebrity cults, the internet, reality television and culture have contributed to a deeply corrupted sense of who we are as women," she says.
"Sex is so intense, so loaded, so many things that could go wrong or right that most of us in a whole lifetime can have horrible sexual experiences and wonderful sexual experiences and there is a huge variety in our lives.
"There were so many sad stories and sometimes the sadness that was coming from these women just dripped off the page."
She was amazed at women's ignorance over rape in marriage. "All those women who had been forced by husbands who simply did not know that it was illegal," she says.
"One woman's response was typical: `Well, I guess it wasn't rape because it is my husband.' A lot of women thought it was what they legally owed them."
|Police called in to hunt for 'baby pact' dads
By Melissa Trujillo in Boston
June 22, 2008 03:57am
Article from: The Sunday Mail (Qld)
Related post Pregnancy Boom at MA highschool by FP
POLICE have been called in to identify the men or boys who have fathered the babies of 17 girls from the same school who are pregnant at the same time.
The pregnancies, believed to be the result of a baby pact among the girls aged 16 and under has sent the US into shock after reports the girls reacted to positive pregnancy tests at the school's health clinic with high-fives and long faces if they weren't having a baby.
School officials in the hard-luck New England fishing town of Gloucester, Massachusetts, say police have now become involved after an alarming 17 girls, four times the usual number, became pregnant this year.
And even more disturbing: some of the girls may have made a pact to have babies and raise them together.
As the gravity of the bizarre agreement by the girls aged 16 and under started to sink in across America, experts began pointing fingers at the television and movie world.
Sarah Brown, chief executive of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, suggested some of the blame lies with the nation's Hollywood-obsessed culture, in which stories about pregnant celebrities abound.
Just last week, 17-year-old TV-star Jamie Lynn Spears, the unmarried sister of Britney Spears, gave birth.
Juno, a wry comedy about a 16-year-old girl who gets pregnant, was one of the most acclaimed movies of the year.
"Baby bumps get written about the same way designer handbags do. It's just one more lifestyle choice, just another personal expression: these shoes, this bump and that handbag," Ms Brown said. "It's not surprising that teenage girls can get confused or even seduced by the allure of celebrity pregnancy."
Gloucester Public Schools superintendent Christopher Farmer was aghast.
"A typical girl you would think would say, 'Oh my God! What am I going to do now? How am I going to support this baby? How am I going to finish school?'
"These young women clearly have not seen that."
The superintendent said he had no independent confirmation of a pact. But he added: "What we do know is there was a group of students being tested for pregnancy on a regular basis, which would suggest they were not taking steps to avoid becoming pregnant."
Mr Farmer said the paternity investigation would be handled by police.
"Some girls are very reluctant to talk about who the men are, and those who work in these health centres are concerned that if we are overactive in trying to identify and prosecute, the girls will stop using the centre," he said.
The story exploded after Joseph Sullivan, the principal of Gloucester High School, was quoted by Time magazine as saying the girls confessed to making such a pact. Mr Sullivan was on leave yesterday and did not return calls.
None of the girls or their families have confirmed any type of pact, and school and health officials have not identified any of the youngsters.
The girls are all 16 or under and they have been reluctant to identify the fathers, many of whom are older. But one of them "is a 24-year-old homeless guy", the principal was quoted as telling Time.
|Young, female and leading a crime wave
By Liam Houlihan
June 22, 2008 03:06am
Article from: Sunday Herald Sun
A crime explosion among young girls - among whom alleged offences have soared by 14 per cent in 12 months - has prompted police calls for an inquiry.
Girls younger than 18 were the alleged perpetrators of 6489 offences - including rapes, robberies and violent attacks - in Victoria last financial year.
The number of females alleged to have committed arsons, home break-ins and car thefts has soared. But the number of juvenile males involved in such crimes has dropped.
An army of teen and pre-teen girls allegedly committed 895 assaults.
Young girls were allegedly behind 450 burglaries, 2380 shoplifting offences and 558 attacks on property.
Youth workers, teachers and police have been shocked by the rise of the lawless "ladettes". The trend has prompted police calls for an inquiry into youth crime.
Outreach experts say girls are increasingly dressing in male streetwear, brawling, swearing and boasting about their sexual exploits.
The Police Association has joined calls by former deputy commissioner Bob Falconer for an inquiry into youth offending.
Open Family's Jim Markovski said: "They big-note themselves and to fit in with their friends they go out on these gang-mentality rampages to gang bash individuals."
There was a growing trend for girls to join mixed gender school-based gangs, he said.
"Before you know it, the girls can be worse than the guys," he said.
"They don't arm themselves as much as the guys. Most would be fights with fists or whatever they can get their hands on, whether it's a plank of wood or something."
Assistant Commissioner Bob Hastings admitted authorities were worried.
"The trend's there, yes. It's disappointing and is of concern to us in terms of a policing perspective," he said.
Victoria Police data obtained by the Sunday Herald Sun reveals under-18 girls were allegedly behind 558 incidents of property damage, 299 car thefts and 69 robberies.
The figures show:
A SPREE of burglaries, including 191 residential burglaries, 217 other burglaries and 42 aggravated burglaries.
139 drug offences and 69 weapons and explosives offences.
21 SEX assaults, two rapes, and eight abductions.
895 assaults, 450 burglaries, 2380 shoplifting offences and 558 property attacks.
THERE were 3617 girls aged from under 10 to 17 arrested, summonsed, cautioned or subject to a warrant in relation to the 6489 offences last financial year.
FEMALES accounted for 27 per cent of all under-18 distinct alleged offenders.
THERE was a 14 per cent jump in alleged offences by juvenile females on the year before and a 32 per cent increase on reports from two years earlier.
Education experts say young women with a criminal bent are increasingly common.
The Victorian Association of State Secondary Principals said fights and aggression among girls were more prevalent.
"Certainly we're seeing more of the behaviours that only boys used to exhibit," president Brian Burgess said.
Stacey, 17, said she and her girlfriends often stole up to $500 worth of goods from Highpoint.
"It's wrong, really wrong, but I do it because I don't get caught," she said.
|No country for old men
Wednesday June 11 2008
The number of men over 60 living alone in Britain has topped one million for the first time - and this Father's Day, many will have no contact at all with their families. But how did older men come to be so neglected? And why do women fare much better in retirement? Stuart Jeffries investigates
|Looking for Mr Right or Mr Impossible-to-Find
June 8, 2008
"I'VE thought about shaving my head and moving to Thailand and becoming a Buddhist nun. And I've tried the lesbian thing, and that hasn't worked. None of those things is what I really want. I don't want to compromise, or become a crusty old spinster who never has sex. What I want is to find a heterosexual man."
So says Tabitha Hobbins, a 34-year-old private investor and investment writer who has been single - bar a few going-nowhere affairs - for eight years.
Gemma King has also had her share of flings - but the 30-year-old student says she's basically been single for five years. "I've almost given up on finding the complete package - of finding someone who I'm passionately in love with and who I respect and who respects me," she says.
Suzanne Monroe, 32, a teacher, has also been man-less for years - as have many of her friends. "Most of my friends are well-educated, articulate, attractive women in their 30s, and they're in the same situation as I am. We're all a bit disillusioned."
Disillusionment comes through forcefully when you talk to Melbourne's single 30-something women. In a culture where paramount importance is placed on finding "the one", and in which popular culture revolves eternally around the promise of true love, it can feel pretty cold to be alone night after night.
Of course, it's fine if you're single by choice - as some women happily are. But for many women in their 30s - that decade of life in which we hope everything falls into place - being single feels nothing at all like choice. And it frustrates and angers them when it is suggested they are too picky to get a bloke. They say the truth is rather the reverse, and are likely to launch into tales of how the rare single men they meet are quick to bolt for the exit when things get within coo-ee of commitment.
Many 30-something women feel there's more than a little truth to the throwaway line that "all the good men are married or gay". They believe there is a "man drought", and it shows no signs of breaking.
So are they right? And if so, what's going on? Where are all the eligible men? Are there really city offices full of desperate and dateless women? Or is this just a fancy of TV scriptwriters, journalists, and men who like the idea they're wanted by hordes of insatiable women?
The picture is a complex one that gets to the heart of the profound social and cultural changes of the past few decades, and how they have impacted on the partnering - and non-partnering - of a generation. It's also a picture that contains its fair share of midnight angst, loneliness and heartache.
But first the good, or at least better, news: the situation isn't as dire as the most grim reports would have us believe. About 20 years ago, Newsweek famously stated that a 40-year-old woman was "more likely to be killed by a terrorist than to get married". The magazine admitted in 2006 that this was bunkum, a hastily written funny aside that somehow made it into print and became accepted as fact.
But, of course, just because a woman in her fourth decade has more chance of getting a bloke than being obliterated by a maniac with a dynamite vest isn't in itself cause for wild jubilation. And in truth, there are real factors stacked against the woman in her 30s and beyond who is looking for a fella.
According to Bureau of Statistics figures, nationally there are more women than men in their 30s. So if we imagine Australia as one giant dance hall and everyone is hetero, were there to be a magic pairing up of people in their 30s, about 15,000 women, including 7000 Melburnians, would be left on the side of the dance floor when the music started.
Dating services are forced to reckon with this imbalance, and often struggle to sign up men. "Men are in demand," says Isabella Depetro, director of Dinner at Eight. "It doesn't matter what the organisation is, whether it's dinner clubs, whether it's speed dating, whatever it is, the women far outnumber the guys. It's a constant challenge to get good quality men."
Online dating site RSVP.com.au is unusual in actually having more men than women among the 1.2 million people on its books. In Victoria, it's 54% male to 46% female. But RSVP's marketing director Lija Jarvis does think 30-something men and women are often seeking different things.
"Women who are 30 to 40 are often looking for a serious partner, perhaps looking to settle down, and are looking for guys who want the same things. But the guys in that age group might not actually be ready. So it's also a mismatch of life stages that is an issue," she says.
This mismatch means that men in their 30s are often seeking to hook up with women in their 20s, which adds to the man drought for women in their 30s. Sam de Brito, who writes the blog All Men Are Liars, calls this "the flip", when the sexual power women have over men when they're in their 20s flips over to men when they enter their 30s.
"Women have all the sexual power in their 20s - they can pick and choose. And they find it disconcerting when that power shift occurs in their 30s," he says. "As much as it sucks for women, it's an evolutionary thing. Guys are attracted to younger women, and women in their 30s who are single and are expecting men in their 30s to commit are playing a losing game, they really are."
Whatever you think of de Brito's theory, it is true that men raiding the stocks of younger women (and, indeed, younger women raiding the stocks of older men) does create imbalances in raw numbers that make things challenging for women over 35.
As demographer Bernard Salt has found, drawing on the 2006 census, there are more single men than single women in every year of life between the ages of 15 and 33, but from age 34 onwards there are more single women than men. When a woman is 25, there are 23% more single men than women. But when a woman is 40, were all singles her age to pair up, 3000 women would be left on the proverbial shelf.
This presupposes that the pairing up is only between men and women which, of course, isn't how things really are. But the theory that a major reason for man drought is that so many more men than women are gay isn't actually backed by the evidence.
It's true that statistics on sexual orientation can be unreliable and vary widely, but the largest survey done in Australia, from 2003, found that 1.6% of men identified as gay and 0.9% as bisexual, while 0.8% of women identified as lesbian and 1.4% as bisexual.
Still, the woman after a straight man will find there are better locations to look than Commercial Road, Prahran. There are rural areas, for instance, such as the shires of Wellington and Corangamite, where there is actually an over-supply of men. So it isn't a completely fanciful notion that a woman wanting a bloke might consider hopping on an outbound train, destination: the wide brown land. Men stay on the farm more than women; country girls often head to the city for work or study.
Men are also being drawn in greater numbers to mining towns. Yep, the mining boom is contributing to the bust in the number of young blokes in the city.
Writer Meg Mundell, whose upcoming book Braking Distance chronicles her experience travelling with truckers the length and breadth of Australia - 20,000 kilometres all up - recalls how attentive the men were in outback communities where women are a rarity.
"I was deliberately dressing down, looking drab, because I was travelling by myself and I didn't want to send out the wrong signals," she says. "But the kind of attention you got was quite striking, in contrast to what happens in the city. And it wasn't that the guys were sleazy or anything, but you got a sense that you were some rare kind of species that they didn't see very often. And so they were very keen to chat, and were on their best behaviour."
As well as men disappearing to mining areas of the country, many are disappearing from the country itself, lured to global financial centres by exciting and lucrative work. The brain-drain takes men and women but, according to Salt, men are more likely to stay overseas whereas women, who tend to have a stronger nesting instinct and more intricate ties to family, are more likely to return home.
GINA LUCAS, a 31-year-old graphic designer, worked overseas for a time, but now lives as a single woman in Elwood. She agreed to be interviewed about her long-term single status because, she says, "allowing myself to believe this (a man drought) is going on, makes me feel like less of a freak, and makes me think that it's not just the way I behave".
Lucas had a three-year relationship in her early 20s, but hasn't been in anything serious since. She finds plenty to enjoy in life - she has studied and travelled a lot, and loves going to gigs - but she finds being single tough.
"It really affects you," she says. "It affects everything in my life. Everyone that I've worked with or studied with has been, like, 'How come you're still single?' It affects your confidence, it affects how you do at work. I guess having someone in your life validates you a lot."
But if being single isn't easy, nor is it at all rare. About 25% of all households are lone-person dwellings. Unmarried women now outnumber married ones in Australia. Even taking into account the rise in de facto relationships, the Men and Women Apart study, led by Professor Bob Birrell, found that "partnering levels amongst young Australians in 2001 are well below those evident in 1986".
Reviewing 2006 census data, Genevieve Heard, a research fellow at Monash University's Centre for Population and Urban Research, found that a quarter of men aged 35 to 44 are single, as are 26% of women. For those aged 30 to 34, one-third of men and 29% of women are not in relationships.
It is impossible, of course, to break down who is single by choice and who isn't, but clearly there are many people who are happy being single. The term "freemales" has been coined to describe women who see plenty of positives in being without a man.
Some commentators have even wondered if all this talk of desperate, single women isn't actually a feminist backlash in disguise.
ANU academic Zora Simic, whose book (with Monica Dux) The Great Feminist Denial comes out in August, believes that while talk of a man drought does tap into genuine anxieties, it also reinforces the idea that coupling is somehow women's work. "Being single and desperate is always conflated with being female," she says. "(The man drought) should be talked about as something that affects both men and women, and not presented as 'women are suffering, and men have won the jackpot'."
Many men, indeed, have not won the jackpot. In fact, in the partnering game, men on low incomes are probably the biggest losers of all. According to Heard's analysis, the lower the income the less likely a man is to be partnered across all age groups. For a man to improve his chances, he really needs to earn more money.
Adding to the problem for men - and for well-educated women looking for similarly well-qualified partners - since the mid-1980s, women have been trouncing men in gaining university qualifications. According to recent figures, there were 40% more degree-qualified woman than men aged 25 to 29 - a total of nearly 47,000 more women than men with degrees.
Since women with tertiary educations are more likely to delay partnering than other women, there ends up being a large number of educated women in their 30s looking for a partner. But the number of men who match them in qualification levels is much smaller. So the competition for a man with a degree gets fierce.
Undoubtedly, more than a few men of good prospects exploit this situation to their advantage, and play the field, do the Peter Pan thing, all the while feeling confident they will still be in demand when they decide it's time to settle down.
Single 30-something women understandably feel some resentment toward these men, their contemporaries, for being freer to fool around longer, to hook up with younger women, and to ignore the ticking of biological clocks. It is this dynamic between white-collar men and women that is the most visible manifestation of the man drought. It is the picture we see presented in countless chick-lit novels, chick flicks and TV shows.
The women who spoke to The Sunday Age all appreciated that they had freedoms previous generations of women could only dream about. They were glad for the experiences they had in their 20s, a decade of freedom and autonomy where they could study, travel, launch careers, earn their own money, party with friends, and have sex without fear of pregnancy. None of them wished things were the old way, where a woman moved straight from the home of her father to that of her husband, or off to the nunnery.
But not wanting to go back is not the same as believing the path ahead is perfectly rosy. There are downsides for a generation that has delayed committed partnering, whose members have remained unhooked - and the major one is the real possibility of ending up alone. The profound social changes in how men and women partner are so much more powerful and sweeping than any one person's hopes and dreams of finding a soul mate.
Whether or not you'd say there's a man drought depends ultimately on how you define a drought. But many single women have good reason for believing, as they look to the horizon, that it's not exactly raining men.
Some names have been changed.
|Girls caught in an age of rudeness
By Lahra Carey
June 07, 2008 04:36am
A GIRL walks into a bar, and these days she's lucky if there isn't a punch line!
I think I'm pretty safe in assuming no woman gets on a train or arrives at work expecting to be verbally humiliated or abused as part of the experience.
How sad then that this has become the mindset of many young, single women preparing for a night out at a bar or a club with her friends.
It seems that while society still draws a pretty solid line at physical abuse, there is a growing tolerance for, and expectation of, rudeness, harassment and humiliation in the nightclub environment.
A brief chat with some of the young single women around my workplace revealed the depth of emotional scar tissue that has developed on their psyches.
Mostly, women go to nightclubs and bars hoping to have a good time with their friends.
If they meet a nice guy, that's a bonus.
But almost without exception, they have come to expect that the evening will include hearing comments from men that are insulting and often humiliating.
But given the biggest fear is date rape - or having your drink spiked - the verbal abuse somehow pales into insignificance.
Sadly, this has become part of the cultural norm, and learning to deal with it is a rite of passage for women.
One of the worst I heard is a game where men shout out a number ranking women's physical attributes between one and 10 as she walks past.
The only way she can cope with her ego intact is by ignoring the comments, the innuendos and the insults.
What causes nice, polite men to turn into loud-mouth rude-mannered louts when they are out on the town with their mates? Is it the alcohol? Drugs?
The group mentality?
Perhaps a combination of all of the above.
It certainly doesn't help to see a constant stream of high-profile sportsmen and celebrities staring glassy-eyed into the distance as they apologise for their behaviour.
Hardly genuine or heartfelt.
Perhaps it's an issue of rejection - that men would rather self-sabotage than make themselves vulnerable.
By calling us names and throwing around insults, they can understand why we would never say "yes" to anything they propose.
But why not try the gentle approach?
As one young bloke pointed out to me - women are pretty careful in not being rude when they turn down a polite expression of interest from a guy.
So why can't both genders show the same level of respect for each other's feelings?
Until this happens, women will have to continue developing a thick skin early to manage and deal with the regular stream of unwanted comments and abuse.
Unfortunately, this takes time.
And in the meantime there are real women with real feelings being hurt.
Lahra Carey is principal of Lahra Carey Media and Communications
|Equality move could hit white men
Gaby Hinsliff, political editor
Sunday March 16 2008
White men could be legally blocked from jobs or promotions under controversial government plans to help women and black employees achieve equality.
Employers would be allowed to give jobs to qualified minority candidates in preference to other candidates under a change in discrimination law being drawn up by the Equalities Minister, Harriet Harman. The 'positive action' tactic, already used in the United States, has been a legal minefield in the UK and Harman's plans are likely to upset MPs who believe that merit alone should determine who is hired.
However, she believes radical changes are needed to help talented black and female candidates break through barriers in business and public life. The positive discrimination plan would apply only in cases where two equally qualified candidates were after the same post, allowing the employer to tip the balance in favour of the minority candidate on grounds of race or gender.
The proposals could also let universities select more female students in traditionally male-dominated subjects, such as the sciences.
However, they are controversial even among some equal rights campaigners, who argue they will have a limited effect and that action on equal pay is more important. 'How you would really hold that up in a court of law is not clear and, if it isn't, employers may be reluctant to use it. You are probably talking about a handful of cases,' said Katherine Rake of the Fawcett Society, which campaigns on equal pay.
Employers can currently specify that they welcome applications from minority candidates, and promote themselves to specific groups. However, Avon Fire Service, whose firefighters are 97 per cent white and male, triggered a storm of protest this year when it barred white applicants from an open day.
The equalities bill would give new rights to mothers to breastfeed in public places such as cafes and trains and require golf clubs to give women players equal access. She is also pushing for powers to force companies to conduct so-called pay audits, reviewing staff salaries to ensure they are not underpaying women, but this has met stiff resistance within the cabinet.
Ministers are worried about a backlash from business over any changes on equal pay, but Harman is under pressure to match commitments from the Tories to introduce compulsory pay audits for employers that have been successfully sued by female employees.
Harman, who addressed the TUC women's conference in Eastbourne last week, told delegates she was still thinking about the issue of pay audits. A review by Labour peer Baroness Prosser two years ago concluded that the main cause of unfair pay was not outright sexism but problems such as women opting for lower-paid professions or mothers choosing to go part-time.
|Congresswoman assaults host on live TV
A Venezuelan Congresswoman has invaded a morning chat show and verbally and physically abused its host on live TV.
Journalist Gustavo Azocar was conducting his show when Congresswoman Iris Varela stormed onto the set, broke his glasses, overturned furniture and slapped him repeatedly.
For a finale, she hit him with his microphone and walked off the set.
The incident is seen as a reflection of the bad relations between the Venezuelan Government and its critics.
Ms Varela said she was angry at Mr Azocar for writing in a recent book about the death of her young son and for denouncing several members of President Hugo Chavez's administration for corruption.
The Congresswoman, who is a close ally of Mr Chavez, said she was demanding a right of reply from the journalist, who she branded a "scoundrel".
"He's offended me and he meddled with the most sacred thing, my dead son," said the politician, who was at the television studio to appear on another program.
But Mr Azocar said he had invited Ms Varela to defend herself on his show.
"When we presented the book in Caracas - and there are videos - I said that if Iris Valera wanted to exercise her right to defend herself, that she do it," he said after the attack.
"I think it's a right we all have to defend ourselves."
Also in Venezuela, tens of thousands of students have marched down the streets of Caracas, some against and some for the December 2 referendum on constitutional reforms that would expand Mr Chavez's power.
Tens of thousands of young people walked five kilometres to the presidential office, where the President greeted them with a speech.
More numerous were those chanting "Yes, yes for Chavez," in favour of the reforms.
Mr Chavez is planning to use the constitutional reforms to consolidate his socialist revolution in Venezuela and to keep himself in power through unlimited re-elections.
|Women fight for topless rights
By staff writers
November 20, 2007 11:40am
SWEDISH women have launched a campaign to fight for the right to go topless on beaches and in swimming pools, saying they have just as much right to go without clothes as men.
Scandinavian feminists were outraged when two women were asked to cover up their breasts by a lifeguard at a public pool near Stockholm, the Daily Mail's Metro.co.uk website reported.
"If women are forced to wear a top, shouldn't men also have to?" said one of the women, 22-year-old Ragnhild Karlsson.
Now women in southern Sweden have set up the Bara Bradiost network, which translates as Just Breasts.
"We want our breasts to be as normal and desexualised as men's, so that we too can pull off our shirts at football matches," said a spokeswoman for the group.
The campaign's strategy has reportedly been a raging success, with members of Just Breasts jumping into swimming pools across the country wearing nothing more than bikini bottoms.
The country's equal opportunities ombudsman will decide whether or not to take up the case on behalf of the women later this month.
|Daddy dearest: Many men are finding out they are not the father after all
An awful realisation ... Steven Gillespie had his daughter's name tattooed on his chest, only to find out he wasn't her biological father. Photo: Eddie Safarik
MEN'S groups are calling for mandatory paternity testing of all newborns as it emerges a record number of men are finding they are not the fathers of children they believed to be theirs.
Almost a quarter of paternity tests conducted by one of Australia's largest DNA laboratory companies show the man submitting a sample is not the father, compared to an estimated one in 10 "exclusions" 10 years ago.
The number of tests taken in Australia has doubled from 3000 in 2003 to more than 6000 last year.
Thousands of men are turning to DIY testing kits - available online - to discover whether they are the biological father while they are still in a relationship and without telling their partners about their suspicions.
Some have brought up children to adulthood or paid tens of thousands of dollars in maintenance to the Child Support Agency (CSA) before finding out they have no genetic link.
Men's Rights Agency co-director Sue Price said: "People's lives are being ruined by this. It is not just the men, it's the children who grow up thinking one person is their father and then find out it's someone else.
"In the future, more and more health treatments are going to be based on genetic technology, so it is going to be even more important to know who your biological father is.
"Mandatory testing would get rid of all these problems."
The DNA Bio Services lab conducts more than 2000 such tests a year from the sale of its DIY kits.
New 2007 figures compiled by the company show that one in 4.5 paternity tests exclude the man as the biological father - a record high since DNA testing began 10 years ago. Managing director Gary Miller said: "The increase is across all social classes and ages - it affects everyone.
"Before, a lot of the work was for men who had been contacted by a woman or the CSA for maintenance and wanted a test to prove they weren't the father.
"Now we see a lot of men in a relationship or just out of one who are just looking for reassurance that they are the father and then find out they're not and are completely devastated."
Under Australian law, the family courts will only order a paternity test if there are reasonable grounds to doubt that the estranged partner is not the biological father.
The CSA does not require proof of paternity beyond a birth certificate or acceptance by a man that he is the father. This means some men pay tens of thousands of dollars through the CSA before finding out they are not the father.
Even if they have brought the children up for years as their own, they are then denied any legal rights of access to them.
Some experts say the proportion of negative paternity tests reflects the fact that the men coming forward already have reasonable doubts, and that of the entire population, only 1 per cent of fathers are not the "real" parent.
Professor Margaret Otlowski, deputy director of the University of Tasmania's Centre for Law and Genetics, said: "I don't think mandatory testing is a good idea.
"I can see the argument from the point of view of creating certainty about parentage, but it would stem from a very suspicious premise and there would be huge implications in terms of relationships."
Source: The Sun-Herald
Another story about Steven
Men are losing their families
|Law 'turns boys into rapists'
By Janet Fife-Yeomans
November 09, 2007 01:39pm
TOUGH new rape laws which make it clear being drunk does not constitute consent have been condemned by barristers, who insist: "It will turn our sons into criminals."
The NSW Bar Associations reckons the "No means no" law goes too far and will lobby Upper House members to vote against it when it is up for debate next week.
The law will define the meaning of consent for the first time, making it clear that being drunk or under the influence of drugs does not mean consent has been given.
It will also introduce an "objective fault test", meaning a man can no longer use the defence that he thought he had consent if the circumstances appear unreasonable.
"It will turn our sons into criminals," new Bar Association president Anna Katzmann SC said yesterday.
"For years women have been insisting 'No' means 'No'. What troubles us about this new legislation is that it introduces a new regime where 'Yes' may mean 'No'."
Ms Katzmann gave the example of a woman on a first date who might not want to have sex but after both she and the man had drunk too much said "Yes".
The next day she feels guilty and tells her mother, who goes to the police.
"That would be rape under the new laws," Ms Katzmann said. "The fact that he was drunk cannot be taken into account. The fact that she was drunk is no excuse for him.
Chair of the Bar Association's criminal law committee Stephen Odgers SC said the law made sexual assault a crime of negligence.
"The stupid, the negligent, the intoxicated, the crazy will be treated as if they are the same as the true rapist, who knows there is no consent to sexual intercourse," Mr Odgers said.
Opposition attorney general, former Crown prosecutor Greg Smith, said the Attorney-General John Hatzistergos needed to spell out the law better.
Mr Hatzistergos said the introduction of an objective fault test was canvassed during the State Government's exhaustive consultation process and had wide support, including police and the Rape Crisis Centre.
"Although Mr Odgers might like to draw a distinction between the stupid or drunk rapist and normal rapists, for rape victims they're categories that don't matter," he said.
"If a person is drunk it does not automatically mean that consent can't be given. What it means is that the onus is on the other person, usually a man, to show he had reasonable grounds to believe the woman had consented.
"It's difficult to take the Bar Association seriously on this matter when, in their own submission, they concluded that just because a woman was asleep or unconscious (it) doesn't negate consent."
Earlier this year The Daily Telegraph launched the Justice For Women Now campaign to give sexual assault victims equal justice and to encourage more women to report assaults.
|There's no shame in going solo, says mum
Career women with eyes on their biological clocks now have a 'how to' guide to single parenting, but the topic is provoking a backlash in America
Amelia Hill, social affairs correspondent
Sunday November 4, 2007
Louise Sloan knew she was tackling a controversial subject when she wrote Knock Yourself Up, a 'how to' guide for aspiring single mothers. She even admits she was being deliberately provocative when she gave it the subtitle No Man? No Problem and put a supportive quote from actress Cynthia Nixon, who plays the character Miranda in hit TV show Sex And The City, on the cover.
And controversial it has been. Sloan's work - a 'girlfriend's guide', part-handbook, part-celebration of women who become single mothers by choice - was greeted by a wave of fury in America.
'Independent women today are not prepared to sit dolefully on a shelf as their fertility runs out. Nor are they willing to settle for Mr You'll Have To Do or "accidentally" get pregnant by a lover reluctant to commit,' said Sloan, a single 44-year-old who gave birth to her son, Scott, 15 months ago through artificial insemination. 'That's a good thing. That is something we should celebrate.'
Nixon praised Sloan's book as 'a thoroughly engaging and informative book about the decision to become a single mother'. But not everyone has been so accepting of the unorthodox version of motherhood being propounded by the former editor-in-chief of the American Express custom publishing group. Knock Yourself Up will be published in Britain next month but in discussions already raging on websites, radio stations and magazine pages across America, including last week's Newsweek, Sloan has been called 'the epitome of selfishness' and an 'upper-middle-class white woman pursuing her pregnancy fantasies by making consummately selfish choices'.
'Sloan's take on this provocative subject is already spurring controversy, caustic feedback and plenty of criticism,' wrote Lorraine Ali in Newsweek, pointing to responses including that of Glen Sacks from Fathers And Families.
Sacks has said Sloan's approach to motherhood is a 'disturbing' phenomenon and is 'bad news for America's children'. His concerns were repeated by others on the website Salon.com, which attracted hundreds of responses after publishing an interview with Sloan, one of which accused her of being 'a woman screeching about women's rights while violating the human rights of her own child, whom she is deliberately handicapping by condemning him to a fatherless life'.
Despite being shocked by the vehemence of the backlash, Sloan says she believes it has justified her decision to write the book. 'I think that if you have reservations or shame about having become a single mother and having chosen to be an alternative family in that way, that shame is going to be transmitted to the people you speak to about it. And it's also going to come through to your child,' she said.
She added: 'I think that it's really important to make sure that your child feels that the way he or she came into this world was a positive and happy thing. And so you need to have that attitude yourself. Also, in speaking about it to other people, if you present it as a weird, questionable thing, you're more likely to get a negative response.'
But Sacks, a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and a radio commentator, said: 'To openly advocate single motherhood as a lifestyle choice is to fail to understand how powerfully children hunger for their fathers and the immense benefits reaped by the children who do have fathers in their lives. This misunderstanding is very destructive. At the core of this work is a "you go, girl" belief that mothers can do it alone and always know best. Unfortunately, many women are choosing this lifestyle and it's our children who are suffering for it.'
The number of British women becoming single mothers is increasing. About 82,000 single British women aged over 30 had babies last year, almost double the number of a decade ago. While not all of these women will have actively chosen to be single mothers, many of them will have done. A recent YouGov survey said that two-thirds of women questioned found it acceptable for a financially secure, single woman to have a child by herself. Jane Mattes, a psychotherapist, single mother and founder of Single Mothers by Choice, said: 'We now have 3,000 members across the world, two-thirds of whom have conceived through donor insemination.' She said attitudes had changed significantly since she founded her group in 1981.
'The word "choice" in our title has two implications: we have made a serious and thoughtful decision to take on the responsibility of raising a child by ourselves, and we have chosen not to be in a relationship rather than be in one that does not seem satisfactory,' she added. 'In general, our members feel that it is preferable to raise a child with two loving parents. However, in the absence of a good partnership, and with the rate of divorce as high as it is, we feel that being raised by a caring and competent single parent is definitely a viable option.'
According to the Donor Conception Network, single mothers and would-be single mothers represent a quarter of their membership. 'Five years ago, hardly any fertility clinics were providing donor insemination for single women,' said a spokeswoman for the network. 'Today, around a third do. In the past two years, especially, it has become more common.'
Despite the rise in numbers of single mothers, she said, most are reluctant to talk openly about their choice. 'Half our inquiries are from single, middle-class 33- to 40-year-olds who are working and financially independent. They would prefer to be in a relationship but haven't found the right person and feel the clock is ticking. They're not ashamed of what they have done, but usually don't want to reveal their circumstances.'
Sloan believes this fear of censure is well-based: 'It's easy to find celebrities who say they're considering becoming single mothers - Jennifer Aniston and [Nixon's Sex And The City co-star] Kristin Davis to name just two - but the only non-celebrity, single mothers in the public eye are those whose children have failed. That is the basis for a great deal of the criticism fired at mothers like me but it is not an accurate picture.'
Studies showing that children raised in one-parent households don't fare as well as peers who grow up raised by two parents do not, said Sloan, differentiate between those children who are brought up by teenage mothers, low-income mothers in their twenties, and financially independent older women who have become single mothers by their own choice.
Bringing up baby
· About 82,000 single women over 30 had a baby in Britain last year.
· Nearly 2,000 children are born every year in the UK using donated eggs, sperm or embryos.
· More than a quarter of families in Britain are classed as single-parent. Teenage mothers make up 3 per cent of lone parents at any one time, while three in five single mothers have previously been married to their children's fathers.
· The number of women in England and Wales not registering the father's name on the birth certificate has risen from 28,000 in 1988 to nearly 50,000 in 2006. Last year, one in seven left the box under 'Father' blank.
|Best ideas come from work teams mixing men and women
Lucy Ward and John Carvel
Thursday November 1, 2007
Teams of workers come up with the most innovative ideas if they are made up of even proportions of men and women, according to researchers. A study published yesterday by the London Business School found that professional teams with an equal gender split were much more likely to experiment, share knowledge and fulfil tasks, regardless of whether the team leader was a man or a woman.
An even mix allowed "a psychological safe communication climate" and self-confidence among members, which in turn provided fertile ground for innovation, says the report from the school's Lehman Brothers Centre for Women in Business.
More than 100 teams of "knowledge workers" at 21 companies across 17 countries were surveyed. The report concludes that teams work best with an even mix because individuals tend to contribute less fully and confidently if they are in a minority. This applies to men as much as women, according to Lynda Gratton, professor at the centre and lead author of the study. She said: "It is not about gender, it is about minorities. Our data shows that whenever anybody is in a minority they suffer, and as a consequence the team suffers."
However, the research also found that gender differences could have an influence on team performance because male and female workers may have very different lives outside work. What the report calls "spillover" from home influences an individual's performance, which in turn affects their team, says the study. Team members generally experience "positive spillover" in which positive feelings about home life also enrich their work.
But men in particular find stress at home carrying into work and vice versa. Professor Gratton said: "Team leaders who are women have already often made the decision to make their home life easier by having one child early, or not having children at all. Men have not made that choice and it is men who are trying to have it all - work and home - and they can't because they suffer.
"This idea that women think they can have it all is nonsense - they know exactly what sacrifices they have to make."
Women team leaders are also six times more likely to carry the domestic burden than their male peers, according to the research. The study recommends that organisations should "encourage shared domestic labour" by reinforcing family friendly policies and should "actively manage spillover" by reducing the pressure on workers to work long hours.
Meanwhile, a report from the Chartered Management Institute, which represents 73,000 managers, found 54% of the 1,175 senior managers and directors surveyed "often find it hard to get home on time and only one in 10 strongly agree they can relax in their spare time".