Legal bodies’ new partnership to aid victims of sexual assault

The new service, Counselling Notes Protect, provides free legal assistance to sexual assault victims with the promise to protect their private counselling sessions from becoming public in court proceedings.
Under the laws introduced last year, sexual assault victims’ counselling records are protected from being available during a court case unless they or the court give permission for records to be produced, noted a statement from Ms D’Ath’s office. The court’s permission is also needed before a subpoena to access counselling notes can be issued, it added.
“Before we stepped in, private counselling sessions could be called as evidence by an accused person, which often caused further harm to the victim and may have prevented people from getting the help they need to recover from the trauma of a sexual assault.

Gender inequality continues as incomes stagnate: HILDA report

More Australian women hold a university degree than men, but on the whole earn less than their male counterparts and carry the lion’s share of housework and childcare, new figures reveal.
The latest installment of the Melbourne Institute’s study of Household Income and Labour Dynamics (HILDA) shows women dominate the massive increase in university attendance over the 15 years from 2001 and 2016.
However, the jump in tertiary educated women has done little to close the gender pay gap.
Between 2001 and 2016 the average weekly earnings of full-time employees increased 23 per cent for males and 22 per cent for females, leaving the pay gap virtually unchanged.
And while Australians believe they are more progressive in their views about traditional gender roles at home and work, the reality is very different.
Dr Lass said there was a significant discrepancy between men and women’s perceptions of a fair share of work.
“HILDA shows most women feel overburdened by household chores, while most men think they do their fair share.”
Men spend an extra hour a week on housework compared to 2002, but their 13.3 hours is short of women’s 20.4 hours.
Both sexes increased their time devoted to caring for children and disabled or elderly relatives, but there was again a gap between men (5.4 hours) and women (11.3 hours).
The HILDA study also showed men spent more time on employment (on average 35.9 hours a week in 2016) than women (24.9 hours).
Among married couples with children, women did 29 per cent of the paid work but about 65 per cent of both housework and care.

Cricket Australia sacks worker over series of tweets about abortion

Ms Williamson said it was her experience of being forced to travel to the mainland and spend thousands of dollars for an abortion galvanised her into action.
“The doors were closed to me. There was no pathway for me to access a surgical termination in Tasmania,’’ she said.
“The only option was to go to Melbourne and take time off work. At the time, it made me feel alone and scared.
“On my way home on the plane I was upset. But I decided I wasn’t going to allow anyone to go through this again.”
Ms Williamson first used her Twitter account to argue for abortion rights in January 2018, declaring the situation a “disgrace”.
What happened next shocked her. She was cyber-trolled by a government staffer who sent an email to Cricket Australia in Melbourne with a screenshot of the tweet that said “FYI”.
The staffer subsequently resigned from the office after it was revealed she was using a fake account to target government critics in a scandal that was reported at the time by Tasmanian media.
But at that stage, Cricket Australia did not raise any concerns with Ms Williamson about her social media accounts. Cricket Tasmania was not aware of the issue.
Less than a week before she was sacked, Ms Williamson met a senior member of government on June 7, to argue for the restoration of services in Tasmania.
Just nine days later, Cricket Australia first raised complaints about Ms Williamson’s social media accounts. She was told to report to a meeting on July 19.
The concerns related to her tweets after the Tasmanian Parliament rejected a motion to re-establish services by providing abortions in public hospitals on June 13. She had tweeted “most irresponsible … gutless and reckless”.
In her termination letter, Cricket Australia wrote on June 29 that the feedback from the Cricket Tasmania board was that they no longer had confidence in her ability to work as a government relations manager.

Beatrix Potter, Mycologist: The Beloved Children’s Book Author’s Little-Known Scientific Studies and Illustrations of Mushrooms – Brain Pickings

At a time when women had no right to vote and virtually no access to higher education, very rarely owned property and were themselves considered the property of their husbands, Potter became a commercially successful writer and artist, using the royalties from her books to purchase her famed Hill Top Farm, where she lived simply and with great love for the land for the remaining four decades of her life.
But no aspect of Potter’s kaleidoscopic genius is more fascinating than her vastly underappreciated contribution to science and natural history, which comes to life in Linda Lear’s altogether magnificent Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature (public library).
The pervasive Victorian enthusiasm for natural history produced quite a few female amateur scientists, including ornithologist Genevieve Jones, lepidopterist Maria Merian, and fossil-hunter Mary Anning — “amateur” being not a reflection of their scientific rigor and dedication, which were formidable, but of the fact that a formal scientific education was virtually inaccessible to women, except for the rare Ada Lovelace or Maria Mitchell, and membership in scientific societies was strictly reserved for men. But Potter’s scientific work was exceptional in that she deliberately tried to penetrate the very institutions that dismissed women’s scientific labor solely on the basis of gender.
By her early twenties, Potter had developed a keen interest in mycology and began producing incredibly beautiful drawings of fungi, collecting mushroom specimens herself and mounting them for careful observation under the microscope.
But her interest went far beyond the mere aesthetics or symbolism of mushrooms — she was studious about their taxonomy, taught herself the proper technique for accurate botanical illustration, and worked tirelessly to get an introduction to the eminent mycologist Charles McIntosh.
Potter soon began conducting her own experiments with spores she had germinated herself. She was particularly captivated by lichens, considered at the time the “poor peasants of the plant world,” in the words of the great botanist Linnaeus — a statement itself belying the dearth of scientific understanding at the time, for lichens are not plants but a hybrid of fungi and algae.
This hybrid nature, first proposed by the Swiss botanist Simon Schwendener in 1869 and believed by no one else for decades, seemed so laughable a concept that “Schwendenerist” became a term of derision. But young Beatrix’s experiments convinced her that Schwendener was on to something with his “dual hypothesis.” She set down her theories and empirical findings in a paper titled “On the Germination of the Spores of Agaricineae,” accompanied by her breathtakingly detailed illustrations.
But between her and the acceptance of the truth stood formidable sociocultural forces: London’s Linnean Society, the bastion of Victorian botany, was exclusively male and barred women from membership, denied them access to the research library, and wouldn’t even allow them to attend the presentations of scientific papers.
A century later, the Linnean Society issued an apology of sorts for its historic sexism — its executive secretary formally acknowledged that Potter’s research had been “treated scurvily.” And yet to this day, Potter’s remarkable fungi illustrations are studied for their scientific accuracy and consulted by mycologists all over the world in identifying mushroom species. And, who knows, perhaps one day a kindly mycologist will discover a new species and name it after Potter.

Are aid programs aimed at empowering women doing more harm than good?

Type the words “sewing machine” and “empowerment” into a search engine and you’ll yield hundreds of thousands of results.
That’s because non-profit organisations and aid programs have led us to believe that small-scale business ventures — via sewing machines, microloans and even goats — empower women in developing nations, known collectively as the Global South.
In 2008, New York Times bestseller Half the Sky argued that women in the Global South can turn oppression into opportunity by entering the labour market and becoming “engines of economic growth”.
But American-based academic Serene J Khader, who is this year’s Alan Saunders lecturer, says such logic is deeply flawed.
“Calling policies like giving goats and sewing machines ’empowerment’ makes them seem not just like they reduce poverty, but like they reduce injustice,” she told audiences at the Australasian Association of Philosophy conference this week.
For more than a generation, New Zealand economist and feminist Marilyn Waring has argued that the definition of work, in most countries, excludes the responsibilities traditionally assigned to women — child rearing, cooking, cleaning and so on.
So, the notion that women in the Global South should start a business or enter the labour market — and therefore engage in “real work” — ignores the time-intensive, physically exhaustive reality of domestic duties, and impels women to do more.
According to Dr Khader, men have traditionally been enabled to work because their wives take care of children, the house and the garden.
“Many of the women would ostensibly be empowered through work are women who already get up at 4:00am to fetch 20 kilos of water from a well that is miles away; who spend hours cooking, shopping for food, and tending to fields, children in tow, and can only go to sleep after an evening meal is cleaned up after at 10:00 or 11:00pm,” Dr Khader said.
But rather than acknowledging the existing load women carry, numerous aid organisations are keen to burden them with an even larger responsibility.

Almost half of female healthcare workers have experienced domestic violence

A landmark study, conducted by Elizabeth McLindon from the University of Melbourne, has revealed 45 per cent of female healthcare workers – from allied health to nurses and doctors – have experienced domestic violence.
One in nine, by a partner, over the past 12 months.
It’s a huge surprise and it’s concerning, these are people at the forefront of responding to family violence in our community.”
Victorian Health Workers Union secretary, Diana Asmar, said the impacts of domestic violence could affect not only a victim’s personal life but their work prospects too.
She wants provisions, like 20 days of domestic violence leave, available to staff across the country.

Alberta man changes gender on government IDs for cheaper car insurance | CBC News

According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, men under 25 are generally at higher risk of collision than women of the same age, which means their premiums are often higher.
David, who was 23 at the time, says he learned he first had to change his gender on his birth certificate and driver’s licence before he could have it reflected on his insurance policy, to get the cheaper rate.
After doing some research, he realized he needed a doctor’s note to show the government he identifies as a woman, even though he doesn’t.
“It was pretty simple,” he said. “I just basically asked for it and told them that I identify as a woman, or I’d like to identify as a woman, and he wrote me the letter I wanted.”
Under the rules in place at the time, Albertans needed to produce a doctor’s note to switch the gender marker on their personal documents. In June, the government scrapped the doctor’s note requirement for adults, allowing them to declare their marker as M, F or X, for those who don’t fit into a strictly male or female binary.
“I’m a man, 100 per cent. Legally, I’m a woman,” he said.
“I did it for cheaper car insurance.”
David says he’s aware the methods he used to become a woman on paper are designed for Albertans who need to correct the gender marker on their identification to reflect who they really are. But he says his target was the insurance industry, not the gender diverse community.
Steve Kee, spokesman for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, says he’s heard anecdotal reports of people changing their gender for cheaper insurance, though he doesn’t know how often it happens.

“Young men should be furious”: inside the world’s largest gathering of men’s rights activi sts

Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) from North America, Europe, Australia and Asia gathered in London last weekend for the fourth International Conference on Men’s Issues, organised by Mike Buchanan, the founder of a fringe, anti-feminist British political party called ‘Justice for Men and Boys’.
Two hundred delegates attended the three-day event from a record 24 different countries, making it one of the movement’s biggest yet. “It’s the largest gathering of the men’s rights movement in the world, certainly, in terms of a men’s issue conference that is very clearly anti-feminist, there’s nothing like us in the world,” Buchanan told 50.50.
Several women attended and spoke at the event, but in a smaller breakout room ahead of the keynote speech by Karen Straughan – a Canadian YouTuber (with almost 200,000 subscribers) and, in Buchanan’s words, “the most important anti-feminist in the world” – I was, briefly, the only woman in a room of entirely white men.
Paul Elam, founder of the website A Voice For Men in the USA, joined via video link. After a speech in which he described women as “opportunistic parasites in the lives of men”, he was greeted to rapturous applause.
The de facto leader of the MRA movement, Elam is listed as a purveyor of “male supremacy” by the Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC), “a hateful ideology advocating for the subjugation of women.” He is perhaps best known for declaring October “Bash a Violent Bitch Month”,
“Young men should be furious,” Buchanan told me. “When you actually understand how the world is stacked against you, anger is a really reasonable response. Frankly there should be a lot more anger. Men should be marching on parliament in their millions.”

Unhappy marriage not grounds for divorce, supreme court rules

A woman who wants to divorce her husband of 40 years because she says their marriage is unhappy has lost her case. Supreme court judges “reluctantly” told her she must remain his wife, because a joyless marriage is not adequate grounds for a divorce if one spouse refuses to agree.
Five judges at the UK’s highest court unanimously upheld rulings by a family court and the court of appeal that Tini Owens, 68, must stay married to Hugh Owens, 80, despite her complaint that the marriage was loveless and had broken down.
Tini’s case has thrust the country’s lack of provision for no-fault divorce into the spotlight. Even spouses mutually seeking to end a marriage must, unless they have been living apart, assign blame and make often damaging allegations that lawyers say inflame potentially amicable proceedings.
Tini petitioned for divorce, alleging that her husband had prioritised his work over their home life, his treatment of her lacked love and affection, he was often moody and argumentative, he had disparaged her in front of others, and that she had grown apart from him.
In an initial hearing in October 2015, a judge allowed Tini to expand her grounds for divorce to 27 examples. But he nevertheless dismissed her petition, ruling that her case was flimsy and exaggerated. The judge said that while Hugh was “somewhat old-school”, Tini was more sensitive than most wives.

Violent deaths in Australia: Powerful image reveals dark reality

AN interactive map that puts violent deaths into stunning perspective has gone live in a first of its kind for Australia.
The Red Heart Campaign has commemorated more than 1000 lives of women and children lost to violence in an online interactive memorial which its creators have called the ‘Australian Femicide Map’.
“All of the hearts you see represent women and children lost to violence in Australia,” according to a Red Heart statement released today.
“Simple tap on a (heart) and the victim’s story and photo will pop up as will the location of their death.”
Figures by the Red Heart Campaign also show that 69 men have been murdered so far in 2018. It is alleged most of these deaths were caused by another man. Of those 69 men who have died, 11 of them were allegedly related to family violence. It is alleged that out of those 10 deaths, five men were killed by another male, and six were killed by a female.
Red Heart Campaign researcher Katherine Benson said the statistics showed “we are not at risk of terrorism, we are at risk of each other”.
“Growing up in the ’80s I was taught about stranger danger,” she said. “Nobody taught me to be cautious of the people that I loved.”
“Men are killing men. Men’s Rights Activists (MRA’s) are lying about male violence. Men are lying about statistics around male suicide, and we should all be outraged by that.”