National inquiry to target sexual harassment at work

The Australian Human Rights Commission yesterday launched what it is heralding as a world-first national inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace, in the wake of the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements.

AHRC is currently conducting the fourth national survey into workplace sexual harassment, with results expected to be released in August.

Early indications from that survey, Ms Jenkins said, show that rates of sexual harassment have significantly increased since the last survey in 2012.

For Australia’s legal profession, the news follows the recent dismissal from Herbert Smith Freehills of partner Peter Paradise, who has since set up shop with a boutique firm, and the lawsuit against global firm Dentons and one of its senior managers.

It also comes after similar research was conducted in the New Zealand legal profession, in which “shocking” rates of sexual harassment were discovered in the nation’s legal workplaces.


The Queen’s endorsement of the exploitation of women is devastating

In making Catherine Healy, a founding member of the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective — a group that lobbied New Zealand to decriminalize pimping, brothel-ownership, and buying sex in 2003 — a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, and making Julie Bates — a founding member of the Sex Workers Outreach Project in New South Wales — an officer of the Order of Australia, the Queen gives a cloak of legitimacy to the brutally exploitative sex trade.

I have first-hand experience in prostitution and am now part of SPACE International, a global group of sex trade survivors. We know that when New Zealand and New South Wales in Australia decriminalized not only those selling sex, but also pimps, brothel-owners, and buyers, they threw all women in prostitution under the bus.

These are two of only a few countries or states wherein all aspects of the system of prostitution have been decriminalized. Women who have lived prostitution before and after the law changed say they went from fearing the police to fearing the pimps. Under the previous law it was illegal for women to be in prostitution in public places and they were frequently targeted by the police. After 2003, women were no longer criminalized for selling sex, but the power of pimps was drastically increased.

Why must trans activists smear those who put forth inconvenient narratives about ‘gender identity’?

Jesse Singal’s piece about “detransitioners” was both well-reported and empathetic — so why is he being attacked?

Singal speaks with Laura Edwards-Leeper, a psychologist who runs Pacific University and Oregon’s Transgender Clinic and trains clinical-psychology doctoral students to conduct “readiness assessments” for young people who want to transition, but who has been challenged simply for doing assessments at all, which trans activists and families of so-called trans kids claim is “traumatizing.” Edwards-Leeper facilitates transitioning for kids, including putting them on puberty blockers when deemed appropriate, but still worries that the field is moving to a place where “we’re maybe not looking as critically at the issues as we should be.”

Singal also interviews clinicians who support the “affirming care” model (including the medical director of the Center for Transyouth Health and Development, who rejects mental health assessments when determining whether kids should begin transition, saying, “I don’t send someone to a therapist when I’m going to start them on insulin”), as well as trans activists who believe the “detransitioners” narrative makes it more difficult for trans-identified people to access the services they want.

Though well-reported, the piece itself was not particularly hard-hitting. The idea that kids might change their mind about a trend that is very clearly rooted in the existence of rigid notions about differences in boys’ and girls’ personalities and preferences, as well as the challenges girls face when they go through puberty in a world wherein they are objectified, is common sense. Nonetheless, Singal has been attacked viciously online as “dangerous” and “transphobic.”

These Are the Women Saudi Arabia Doesn’t Want to Talk About – Bloomberg

The night the Saudi government declared an end to its ban on women driving, Aziza Alyousef was elated. The retired professor was inundated with celebratory calls and messages after years of fighting for the freedom. She couldn’t wait to get in line for a license.

“I want to be No. 1,” Alyousef told a reporter after the government’s announcement in September.

Alyousef now awaits the milestone behind bars. She was detained last month, along with some of the most outspoken women’s rights advocates in the ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom. With days to go before the ban is lifted, nine of the 17 people arrested remain in prison, accused of aiding enemies of the state.

Indeed, the women targeted have been fighting for more basic freedoms than the right to drive, including the end to guardianship, the Saudi legal system that requires women to have the approval of a male relative to travel outside the country or get married.

After the announcement that the driving ban would be lifted, Alyousef and other activists celebrated their breakthrough. Then the mood changed. One by one, they started receiving calls from authorities warning them to stay silent.

The arrests have sent a chill through Saudi Arabia’s intellectual elite. People who once talked freely with foreign journalists are now canceling meetings, saying they’re worried about the risk.

Women are unlikely to push for change in public now, observers say. The future is “state feminism” led by the government, said Al-Dosari, the researcher.

The 4 Former First Ladies Condemn Trump’s Border Policy

In the weeks since the Trump administration instituted a zero tolerance policy that seeks to criminally prosecute anyone who crosses the border unlawfully and effectively causes children to be separated from their families, criticism has poured in from advocacy groups, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and a host of political luminaries who are no longer in office.

Now, in the span of about 24 hours, all four living former first ladies have added their voices to the chorus of public critique, calling the practice “immoral,” “disgraceful” and a “humanitarian crisis.”

Even the current first lady, Melania Trump, took the somewhat unusual step of issuing a statement that appeared to align somewhat with her predecessors, while also avoiding assigning partisan blame.

#CampaignForFemaleRights on film!, a Community Crowdfunding Project in UK on Crowdfunder

If our political class will not defend women’s rights, it falls on us to lead the way. Fair Play for Women is now raising a fighting-fund as quickly as we can so that we can launch a major campaign to take our debate to the country and stop sex self-ID before it’s too late.

Fair Play for Women is a group of ordinary people from all walks of life who have come together to fight for women’s and girls’ rights. We are deeply concerned that, in the rush to amend the Gender Recognition Act, our entire political class is failing to defend female sex-based rights.

This issue is now urgent. The government is launching a consultation on the Act in the coming weeks that will consider whether to enable people legally to self-declare their sex (“sex self-ID”). If sex self-ID becomes law, it will allow any man, whether transgender or not, to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) by a simple on-demand process and subsequently change the marker on his birth certificate to Female. He may swear on oath that he intends to live as his chosen sex: but, with no checks or safeguards and no requirement to make any surgical, physical, behavioural or other change, there will be no objective way of disproving his word.

Sex self-ID will in practice lead to the obliteration of all female-only space and activities, as the law governing single-sex protections will become practically unenforceable on the ground. Supporters of self-ID tell us our sex-based rights will be unaffected, but this is untrue. When any man can opt into the female sex, while protected by strict privacy rules that hide his transgender status, no one can challenge his right to enter a space lawfully reserved for natal females. When any man has the right to be female, single-sex protections lose all meaning.

Like all decent people in this country, we want transgender men and women to be able to live in peace and dignity, to flourish and prosper as human beings in their chosen presentation, and to get access to the services they need. But this must not come at the expense of women’s and girls’ rights.

Women’s single-sex spaces are needed. As long as men are responsible for 98% of sexually motivated crimes, as long as 85,000 of women are raped in England and Wales every year, and 510,000 women are assaulted, as long as males are bigger, stronger and more prone to violence than females, we will need single-sex showers, toilets, changing-rooms, refuges, prisons and sports.

Women have been subjected to vicious personal attacks simply for asking rational questions about this assault on our rights.

But we see what is happening. We, more than anyone, understand erasure. We understand belittlement. We understand colonisation. We understand how it feels when males want to muscle in on our space.

And we are not taking it.

Distressing audio released of children separated at Mexico border

Heartbreaking audio of wailing children desperately calling out for their parents at the Mexico-US border has been released, highlighting the human toll of Donald Trump’s harsh immigration stand-off.

Democrats, and some in Mr Trump’s own Republican Party, have blasted the administration for separating nearly 2000 children from their parents at the border between mid-April and the end of May.

Former first lady Laura Bush called the separation policy cruel and immoral, while Republican Senator Susan Collins expressed her concern.

Even First Lady Melania Trump appeared to question her husband’s policy on Sunday, while medical professionals have argued the practice could cause lasting trauma to children.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has also weighed in, saying refugee and migrant “children must not be traumatised by being separated from their parents”.

In Geneva, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, called for the Trump administration to halt the practice, saying it was unconscionable that any country would seek to deter parents from migrating “by inflicting such abuse on children”.

To design safer parks for women, city planners must listen to their stories

The rape and murder of aspiring comedian Eurydice Dixon in an inner-city Melbourne park – while deeply shocking – is part of an avalanche of gendered violence perpetrated against women in cities every day.

Nothing can protect women from the random acts of violence committed by some men but engaging with the stories of women and girls is crucial for making cities safer. Planners, architects, the police and politicians need to put aside the traditional expert perspective to learn from – and design for – women’s experiences.

In the case of city parks, two thirds of all women engaging with the Free to Be Sydney survey who had stated they had an unsafe experience in a park said they would never go back alone. And 13% said they would never go back an all.

Urban spaces reflect our shared social values and the crisis of sexual violence against women in public spaces must propel the transformation of our cities.

Melania Trump speaks out against migrant children detention

US first lady Melania Trump has spoken out against the detention of thousands of migrant children separated from their parents by American authorities at the US-Mexico border.

US officials said on Friday that nearly 2000 children were separated from adults at the border between mid-April and the end of May.

In a rare comment, Mrs Trump spoke against the Trump administration’s harsh policy, saying the US needs to be “a country that governs with heart”.

“Mrs Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform,” Mrs Trump’s communications director Stephanie Grisham said in a statement to CNN.

The policy has drawn condemnation from medical professionals, religious leaders and immigration activists, who warn that some children could suffer lasting psychological trauma.

“This is inhumane,” Mr O’Rourke told CNN. “I’d like to say it’s un-American, but it’s happening right now in America.”

The cost of work remains too high for women (& tax cuts don’t help)

Need convincing about the value of a women’s budget statement? It’s hard to go past new evidence presented to the Senate examining the combined impact of the government’s proposed tax cuts, the new childcare subsidy and family payments on women.

The effective marginal tax rate for women with children would remain as high as 95 per cent after all three stages of the tax cuts and the changes to child care benefits due to begin on July 1 set in.

In news that will surprise no one familiar with the cost of childcare, Stewart told Fairfax Media that families lose income when mothers move from working part time to full time.

By way of contrast the proposed tax cuts will reportedly benefit 1.894 million men compared to 767,000 women.

Men earn far more than women do. Yes, more men work full-time than women do but that does not explain the income differential. A substantial pay gap still exists even when men and women work the same hours, in the same fields, in the same roles.

Many women aren’t able to work as much as they would like because of issues including the cost of childcare and the expectation that they will fill the gap at home, not to mention pregnancy discrimination which impacts one in two women. The fact women can’t access full-time employment to the same extent men do is not always a choice.

Women still undertake the lion’s share of the caring and the duties on the home-front. Women are the ones who take extended breaks from work to care for young children and men aren’t encouraged or supported to do the same, even when they want to.

“It was extraordinary that second earners went back to work full time at all,” Professor Miranda Stewart told Fairfax Media of her analysis. “The reality has been that a proportion of women do go back to work, and the family is essentially bearing the net cost, unless they can use grandparents or friends for care or a cheaper option such as family day care.”

Making childcare more universal by removing the means-testing or using the mother’s income as the determinate, would be one place to start.

Eurydice Dixon’s death & the inadequate police response that ensued

Overnight, the body of 22-year-old Eurydice Dixon was found in a park in Melbourne’s inner-north.

The aspiring comedienne had just performed at the Highlander Bar before heading home about 10:30pm on Tuesday, something she’d probably done countless times before.

What was this immediate reaction to this tragic, terrifying discovery? Police immediately urged people to take responsibility for their safety when walking alone in Carlton North.

Police may have said ‘people’ in their statement, but the subtext is clear: Women won’t get murdered if they don’t walk home late at night.

We know Australian women are being killed at horrific rates, and still preventing domestic violence didn’t make Malcolm Turnbull’s five-point plan for the 2018-19 Budget. One of the five commitments made by the government was “keeping Australians safe”. This ostensibly manifested as increased counter-terrorism and international security measures rather than tackling Australia’s more deadly national security issue.

With the Turnbull government focussing heavily on counter-terrorism, would rebranding domestic violence as a form of terrorism result in more funding?

“If we said this amount of women had died from of terrorism, we’d have the army on the street, curfews would be enforced, and we’d have 24 hour news saturation,” CEO of Melbourne’s Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC), Kon Karapanagiotidis told Now To Love.

“But on a systemic and structural level, it is terrorism, that’s what I don’t understand. Women are controlled by men who inflict a state of constant terror.

“Women are also paralysed by the knowledge they’re in the most danger when they try to leave these abusive, controlling situations. Sound like a kind of domestic terrorism to me,” he added

South Korean women rise up: An interview with Nayoung Kim

When I read Andrea Dworkin’s work for the first time, my life changed forever. Her writing taught me the politics of sexual abuse. It made clear to me that sexual abuse is the heart of male dominance. I learned that I was not alone in my experience, that others like me had fought back, and that the system of male dominance must be destroyed in order for every woman to live with dignity.

In every sector of South Korean society, women are assigned second-class citizenship and deprived of equal opportunity. South Korea has the highest gender pay gap among OECD countries, with women earning 63 per cent of what men earn in 2017. Only 56.2 per cent of women are employed. Women are grossly underrepresented in positions of power, holding only 17 per cent of seats in the National Assembly and 10.5 per cent of management positions in the private sector.

In South Korea, women are treated as sex objects, reproductive vessels, servants, and prey for men. Men subject women to sexual harassment and rape everywhere — at home, at school, at work, at the market, in religious communities, in political parties, in progressive activist circles, and out on the street. Prostitution flourishes.

Abortion is illegal and the government regards women as reproductive vessels who exist to supply the nation with a new generation of subjects. Concerned by the country’s low birth rate, in 2016 the Ministry of the Interior decided to create and publish a national “birth map” showing the number of women aged between 15 and 45 and where they were located. Government officials thought pointing men towards women and girls of childbearing age would address the low birth rate in the country.

At home, women are expected to act as servants for male family members. In their family of origin, daughters receive less material and emotional support than sons. In many families, girls are assigned the task of cooking for and cleaning up after their brothers, regardless of birth order or ability. Countless women from working class families have had to give up their own education and begin work at an early age to pay for their brothers’ education.

Women are under immense pressure to marry men. However, in a culture prioritizing the patriarchal family over the individual, heterosexual marriage functions more as a system that keeps women in indentured servitude to her husband and his family than as a partnership between two equal individuals. Many South Korean men use the mail order bride industry to lure young women from poorer countries into abusive situations — this is called “multicultural marriage.” Considering this, resisting marriage is an important struggle for feminists in South Korea.

In previous years, feminism had mostly been shared among a select group of activist and academic women. Nowadays, feminism is finally sweeping every corner of the nation and reaching ordinary women.

I think misogyny is becoming more aggressive and lethal across the globe — not just in South Korea. As more women are developing a feminist consciousness and working together to effect change, male dominance is striking back. Men are using violence to maintain their power and control over women.

Culturally, victim-blaming and a negative view of divorce are stronger in South Korea than in many parts of the world. Divorced women face severe discrimination, stigma, and lack of opportunities, and the situation is worse for divorced women with children. There are also very few spaces where women can find good feminist support. Hopefully the new women’s movement will change this reality.

I would say that Korean men have not responded well to feminism at all. I am tempted to say that the status quo itself is a gigantic Men’s Rights Movement.

The ‘best surgeons’ don’t all look the same

A major UK news publication has published a long list of the best knee replacement surgeons, made up entirely of white men.
Would a similar list be published in Australia?

According to the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Workforce Data, there were only 768 female surgeons in 2017. These women represented in very similar proportions to the UK – 12.1% of all surgeons, 27% of paediatric surgeons and 4% of orthopaedic surgeons. The reasons for low female representation in surgery are varied and still being studied, but the reality is that the demographics of the surgical workforce is changing very slowly.

Women are capable surgeons. Although it is galling that this is questioned, female competency in surgery was comprehensively demonstrated in a paper published in the British Medical Journal last year.

To summarise, this study found that the female surgeons had potentially better outcomes than men, with their patients less likely to die in the month following surgery, and no difference in the rate of complications or readmissions to hospital.

So if women are at least as good at performing surgery than men, if not better, why has a survey of doctors found that their idea of the ‘best’ surgeons is universally male, and a white male at that?

Unconscious bias plays a large role in this. Affinity bias is a tendency to warm to people like yourself, and largely forms the basis of corporate hiring practices that prioritise making sure than an individual is a ‘good fit’.

NZPC slammed in open letter to Ministers from “sex workers” | Scoop News

On Saturday, an open letter was sent to Government Ministers from several self-described “sex workers”. The letter, penned by well known Auckland stripper Lisa Lewis, challenges the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective (NZPC), its use of funding, and its monopolising of conversation on prostitution. The letter “rejects NZPC as our representative”, and requests that government investigate NZPC spending and “stop funding an organisation that doesn’t represent grass roots”.

“NZPC claims it is run by sex workers for sex workers. How many sex workers work at NZPC?” Lewis asked. International feminists Janice Raymond and Julie Bindel have addressed similar questions about NZPC recently, in an

published by Spinifex Press in 2017.

NZPC receives over one million dollars per annum in funding from the Ministry of Health. “An inquest into the million dollar per annum financial records and spending from NZPC needs to be done,” writes Lewis, “on behalf of all tax payers and sex workers.”

According to Lewis, since NZPC’s claim that it is a “grassroots, not for profit organisation” is not tenable, “This raises serious concerns in terms of what and where this money is going.”

Lewis also questions NZPC’s positions on prostituted persons with illegal immigration status, suggesting that NZPC is currently attempting to decriminalise sex trafficking for its own purposes. This claim has much to back it up, since NZPC is a branch of a global organisation – the Global Network of Sex Work Projects – that has been run by a convicted sex trafficker.

Why I Resigned from the South African “Sex Work” Movement •

Like many women in South Africa with first-hand experience of the sex trade, when I initially joined the Sisonke Movement of Sex Workers I was under the false impression that it was there to represent me in advocating for my rights as a woman who was selling sex. I have since found that this is not what the movement stands for at all.

Prostitution is never a free “choice”. The majority of women who enter it here are poor black women from disadvantaged backgrounds. They did so primarily because of a lack of choice. The vast majority of women in prostitution do not view it as “work”, but rather as a tortured means of survival. Pretty much everyone wants to get out as quickly as possible.

Instead of acknowledging this harsh reality Sisonke promotes, advocates and calls for the total decriminalisation of the sex trade and its recognition as work. This means decriminalising not only people selling sex but also those who buy and exploit us and those who sell us for their financial benefit. This model has failed in New Zealand where trafficking continues to prosper, and where violence against girls and women in prostitution is concealed as it is considered to be “a job like any other”.

This ignores the mounting evidence that women in prostitution experience vast human rights violations including rape, physical violence, dehumanisation and murder by the men who buy us. We are further victimised by the pimps and brothel-owners who sell us for their financial benefit – and by the police as people who are sold for sex are still considered criminals under South African law.

The movement for total decriminalisation of the sex trade does not recognise the growing global trend in a different direction. Despite the mounting evidence that it is the only approach that has been shown to reduce violence and bring us closer to gender equality Sisonke does not support the Swedish or “Equality” Model, which decriminalises, supports and provides exiting services to those who sell sex, but simultaneously criminalises the exploitative elements – brothel-owners, pimps and buyers.

One of the biggest lies of the “sex work” movement of which Sisonke is part of is that they do not represent the best interests of women in prostitution at all. “Sex work” is a misnomer that people in prostitution do not use. It is also a very broad term and includes not only those selling or sold for sex but also every single person with any connection to the sex trade – including those who pimp and run brothels. The fact that Sisonke proposes full decriminalisation shows that it prioritises the desires of these perpetrators of abuse over those who are directly affected.

This worrying trend is not just South African. It has reared its ugly head in various places. Groups which pretend to advocate for women in prostitution – but in reality support pimps, brothel-owners and buyers – have increased their presence throughout the world. They have linked themselves with official reports from UNAIDS and the World Health Organisation, and have directly influenced the policies of non-women’s-rights advocacy organizations such as Amnesty International.

Teenage girl dies of snake bite in Chhaupadi hut

Eighteen-year-old Parbati Budha, who had been staying in a Chhaupadi hut during her period, died after she was bitten by a poisonous snake on Saturday night. The incident happened while the victim was asleep with her friend Radhika Budha in the hut.

Chhaupadi is a deeply rooted tradition existing in the western parts of the country, wherein menstruating women and those in the postpartum period are kept in a secluded place away from the house as they are deemed impure and untouchable.

The social evil was declared a criminal offence in August, 2017. The government had introduced a law that stipulated a three-month jail sentence and or Rs 3,000 fine against those convicted of Chhaupadi crime. Despite the anti-Chhaupadi law and campaigns, the tradition is still practiced in remote parts of Achham.

Priest who confessed to abuse 1500 times ‘proves need for change’

A paedophile priest who admitted to child abuse on more than 1500 occasions but was just told to “pray more” should be a “prime example” for the Catholic Church to allow breaking the seal of confession, advocates have told The New Daily.

Father Michael McArdle made an affidavit in 2004 stating he had confessed 1500 times to molesting children to 30 different priests over a 25-year period.

After being forgiven 1500 times in face-to-face confessions with his fellow priests, the Queenslander was told merely to “go home and pray”.

“Every single priest that listened to McArdle’s confession gave him absolution and allowed him to walk out that door and sexually abuse another child.

After each confession, he said: “it was like a magic wand had been waved over me”.

McArdle was jailed for six years in 2004 after pleading guilty to indecently dealing with two girls and 14 boys, aged eight to 13, between January 1965 and June 1987.

He molested altar boys and girls in the confessional, presbytery, vestry and on church and school camps.

Former Melbourne Catholic priest Eugene Ahern, 73, a close friend and supporter of Cardinal George Pell, told The New Daily, he felt strongly “all Catholic priests” should go to jail rather than break the sacred seal.

“It’s a monstrous attack on religious practice and belief and as a Catholic I can’t accept it,” he said.

He said he had never heard a priest confessing to abuse, which he believes is no longer occurring.

“I think abuse is now thankfully a thing of the past, which is something we all want,” he said.

In the final report of the Royal Commission the commissioners stated the risk remains across religious institutions that deal with children in schools, churches and recreational settings.

They said new cases continue to come forward.

ARGENTINA – WE WON – Safe Abortion : Women’s Right

Throughout the day and late into the evening, as many as 9,000–12,500 people were listening to the debate live on YouTube, at any one moment. At 4am Argentina time on the morning of the 14th, the debate was still going on, and 40 deputies were waiting to speak. Some 3,000 people were still watching it live on YouTube.

The debate has lasted 23 hours.

The vote has just been taken. Yes for law reform, abortion on request up to 14 weeks, 131 in favour, opposed 123. WE’VE WON!!!

Congratulations!! Venceremos!!!

High Court judge reflects on hard-fought battle for women in law – Lawyers Weekly

It has been 100 years since NSW passed the Women’s Status Act, which gave women the right to practise as solicitors and barristers in the state among other forms of political participation, and the struggle to be considered legally equal to men is one that Justice Virginal Bell AC does not want us to forget.

Speaking in Sydney last week, High Court of Australia (HCA) Justice Virginia Bell AC gave a short history lesson on the long battle for equality that women in the common law world have fought.

By 1912, vocal advocates like the pioneering feminist Rose Scott — who was financially independent and “famously considered life too short to waste it in the service of one man” — were speaking out about the notable absence of women in power. It was from positions of power that women could help shift attitudes and accommodate a more equitable state of affairs, Ms Scott reasoned.

Noting a speech that Ms Scott delivered to the National Council of Women, Justice Bell said that the vocal feminist made a clear-eyed riposte that women often gave up unequal pay for no pay when they married.

“[Rose Scott] argued that women should receive payment for bearing children and that mothers should have equal guardianship of their children. She urged the need for testator’s family maintenance legislation so that men could be prevented from disinheriting their wives and children,” Justice Bell said.

“Importantly she pointed out that the disadvantaged position of wives and mothers, the majority of women, was maintained through the exclusion of women from the practice of law and from positions of authority and dignity in the state.

“She called for women to be eligible for appoint as magistrates, justices of the peace, jurors, judges, members of parliament and local councils.”

Outrage at Church response to historic day for abuse victims

In a historic move, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull provided the government’s official response to the child abuse royal commission on Wednesday by accepting 104 of the inquiry’s 122 recommendations – and promising to deliver a national apology to victims and survivors on October 22.

Mr Turnbull called on churches to prioritise the safety of children, even if child abuse was revealed in the confession box.

But his government is still reviewing 18 of the recommendations, including the creation of criminal offences that would penalise priests if they did not break the seal of confession to report abuse.

A leading church figure, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, head of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, immediately offered a bristling response by saying the church did not view the sacramental seal as incompatible with maintaining child safety.

However, Chrissie Foster, who has campaigned for more than 20 years for the safety of children after two of her three daughters were repeatedly raped by a school Catholic priest, told The New Daily the “priority” must be children and not canon law.

“Why should society be beholden to rules they have made up to suit themselves?” she said.

The ACT Legislative Assembly last week passed legislation requiring priests to break the seal of confession to report abusers.

Australia’s Catholic leaders maintain the seal of confession cannot be broken, even if priests face criminal charges for failing to reveal child abuse, as recommended by the final report of the $500 million Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The final report stated the commissioners were “satisfied” the practice of the “sacrament of reconciliation” (confession) contributed to the occurrence of sexual abuse and to “inadequate institutional responses to abuse”.

Venezuelan women are resorting to desperate measures in the face of the country’s economic crisis

In a new report, The Intercept found deteriorating economic conditions were driving women to extreme birth control measures, including irreversible sterilization and risky illegal abortions. With birth control pills and prophylactics prohibitively expensive for most Venezuelans, women are left with little means to prepare for what comes next.

The majority Catholic country outlaws abortions, often leaving women to seek clandestine abortions that could lead to further complications or death. It is uncommon for a man to consent to sterilization, even though it is a less dangerous and less invasive surgery.

The stories they shared were ones of desperation, survival and anger. A 21-year-old woman named Darling opted to be permanently sterilized to avoid bringing any more children into Venezuela’s harsh realities.

Her sister, Jennifer, found she could not feed her baby because her breast could not produce milk, and she could not afford formula.

Another woman, her face hidden from the reporters’ camera, completes an illegal abortion just offscreen.

One mother, Natalie, recalls losing her young son because she couldn’t afford his medicine. She cries during much of her interview.

Venezuela’s collapsing economy extends to the teenage girls who are asking to be sterilized, the women risking their lives to terminate pregnancies and the parents who are watching their children die before they do.

Transgender track stars win state championship, ignites debate over rules

Miller, a sophomore at Bulkeley High School took first place in the 100 and 200 meter dash. Andraya, a sophomore at Cromwell High School took second in the 100 meter dash. The wins are not sitting well with everyone. Miller and Yearwood are both transgender, and some say it’s an unfair advantage and uneven playing field.

Some parents and student-athletes have started petitions to change the policy that athletes in Connecticut high schools can play for gender specific sport they identify with. One petition is circulating in Plainville, the other in Glastonbury.

The CIAC, Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, says their policy is directly in alignment with state law and for their policy to change, state law would also have to change. They say they empathize and are listening to all athletes, but this is a very complex legal issue with multiple layers. Those we talked to agree, it’s a very complicated topic.

Secret NSW Government report says out-of-home care fails to help vulnerable children

A long-awaited report into child protection services in New South Wales that labels the system “ineffective and unsustainable” has prompted calls for the resignation of Family and Community Services Minister Pru Goward.

The independent review, authored by David Tune, was commissioned in November 2015 in response to the growing number of children in out-of-home care, rising system costs and futile past reforms.

The report was handed to then Premier Mike Baird in 2016 and has remained secret ever since.

The review found government spending was allocated to an “ad hoc” variety of programs that were delivered in “agency silos” which made it difficult for clients to navigate.

“Interventions are not adequately evidence based or tailored to meet the multiple and diverse needs of vulnerable children,” the report argued.

It recommends the Government establish a new statutory authority to provide “personalised support packages” to vulnerable children and families and bridge gaps between agencies.

The report also highlighted the increasing cost of out-of-home care partly due to the transfer of services from Family and Community Services (FACS) to the NGO sector.

The Government spends $41,000 for a child in NGO foster care compared to $27,000 per child in the care of FACS.

Greens MP David Shoebridge said by withholding the report for months the Government was “playing politics” with the lives of vulnerable children.

Mr Shoebridge said the minister had “failed utterly” to respond to the call for self-determination and ignored the complex needs of Aboriginal children and communities.

Women in parliament – still marginal

There has been a lot of discussion recently about the lack of representation of women in the Liberal Party, and it got me thinking about what sort of seats tend to be represented by women. Do they tend to hold safer seats, or more marginal seats? I recently noticed that most coalition women hold marginal seats, in the context of Jane Prentice and Ann Sudmalis facing preselection threats.

So both parties are usually happy to run women in seats where the election will be hotly contested, but are more likely to run men in safer seats.

So this suggests that the lack of women in parliament is not a symptom of voters preferring male candidates (otherwise we’d expect the opposite trend), but I reckon there’s better evidence out there.

Overall I can conclude that Labor’s gender imbalance is entirely due to its longer-standing MPs, who tend to be in safer seats. Half of current sitting Labor MPs who were first elected in 2010 or later are women, while less than a third of those elected up to 2007 are women. This is a legacy that should work its way out of the system as they are succeeded, but may take some time since it can take a long time for incumbents in safe seats to move on.

The Liberal/National coalition does not have this excuse. Their newer MPs, elected in 2010 or more recently, are more balanced, but not by much (20% of 2010-2016 MPs are women, compared to 15% of the longer-serving MPs), and evidence from 2016 suggests that most safe seats, even when they are vacant, go to men.

‘I could have ended up dead’: why UK women’s refuges face a fatal new threat

A proposed change to funding means vulnerable women would not be able to pay for refuge placements with their housing benefit. It is the single biggest threat these shelters have ever faced.

Sandra Horley, who is now the chief executive of Refuge, currently the largest single provider of domestic abuse refuge services in the country, worked there from 1983. “Nothing had existed like it before,” she says. “Women and children just flocked to our doors in their hundreds.” It was, she says, chaotic. “Very distressed women, women with black eyes, broken bones … they were all very traumatised and had been emotionally abused, controlled, blamed by their families and friends, because it was a taboo subject then.”

While Horley stresses that not all women want to go to a refuge – they have community-based services for those cases – many do. Yet refuges are facing unprecedented cuts: “There aren’t enough spaces to meet demand. Finding one is like finding gold dust, sometimes,” she says. Local authorities across England have cut their spending on refuges by nearly a quarter since 2010, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. In March of this year, 65% of councils responding to freedom of information requests by the Guardian confirmed they had cut funding in real terms over the past seven years. Since 2011, Refuge has seen funding for its safe-houses slashed, on average, by a third.

All of this is against the background of what Refuge calls the “single biggest threat to the future of refuges”: government proposals, published last October, to remove refuges from the welfare system, meaning vulnerable women will not be able to pay for placements using housing benefits. Currently, more than 50% of refuge funding comes from those benefits.

If the proposals, due to come into force in 2020, go ahead, Refuge is warning that four out of 10 refuges will have to close. According to Women’s Aid, 60% of all referrals to refuges were declined in 2016/17, usually owing to a lack of space, with figures suggesting that rate is even higher for BME women. The upshot is women are being left without the support they need at what can be the most fraught part of their journey – the time they try to flee.

Female Historians Try to End the I-Didn’t-Know-Any-Women Excuse for Men-Only Panels

It got a little bit harder this week to include only white men on syllabi, panels, or in articles.

Following in the footsteps of other disciplines, a group of female historians unveiled a searchable online database on Tuesday listing their peers’ areas of expertise and contact information. The site — called Women Also Know History — is meant to make it abundantly easy to find female historians to invite to speak at conferences, quote in articles, or add to a syllabus.

The question of who gets called on to be an expert has been in the news recently. Several reporters have analyzed their articles and found that only about a quarter of the people they quoted were women, even though they knew about representation issues. In March, the issue boiled over when an invitation-only history conference hosted by Niall Ferguson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, was publicized on social media. The conference included 30 panelists, all of whom were white and male — a stark example of what’s become known as a manel.

Who Are the Rich, White Men Institutionalizing Transgender Ideology?

I have watched as all-women’s safe spaces, universities, and sports opened their doors to any man who chose to identify as a woman.

I was astonished that such a huge cultural change as the opening of sex-protected spaces was happening at such a meteoric pace and without consideration for women and girls’ safety, deliberation, or public debate.

Concurrent with these rapid changes, I witnessed an overhaul in the English language with new pronouns and a near-tyrannical assault on those who did not use them.

These elements, along with media saturation of the issue, had me wondering: Is this really a civil rights issue for a tiny part of the population with body dysphoria, or is there a bigger agenda with moneyed interests that we are not seeing?

I found exceedingly rich, white men with enormous cultural influence are funding the transgender lobby and various transgender organizations. These include but are not limited to Jennifer Pritzker (a male who identifies as transgender); George Soros; Martine Rothblatt (a male who identifies as transgender and transhumanist); Tim Gill (a gay man); Drummond Pike; Warren and Peter Buffett; Jon Stryker (a gay man); Mark Bonham (a gay man); and Ric Weiland (a deceased gay man whose philanthropy is still LGBT-oriented). Most of these billionaires fund the transgender lobby and organizations through their own organizations, including corporations.

These men and others, including pharmaceutical companies and the U.S. government, are sending millions of dollars to LGBT causes. Overall reported global spending on LGBT is now estimated at $424 million.

It seems obvious now to look at the money behind transgenderism. Many new markets have opened because of it.

Over the past decade, there has been an explosion in transgender medical infrastructure across the United States and world to “treat” transgender people.

Transgenderism sits square in the middle of the medical industrial complex, which is by some estimates even bigger than the military industrial complex.

Much more important than funds going directly to the LGBT lobby and organizations, only a fraction of which trickles down to assist people who identify as transgender, is the money invested by the men mentioned above, governments, and technology and pharmaceutical corporations to institutionalize and normalize transgenderism as a lifestyle choice. They are shaping the narrative about transgenderism and normalizing it within the culture using their funding methods.

Bodily diversity appears to be the core issue, not gender dysphoria; that and unmooring people from their biology via language distortions, to normalize altering human biology. Institutionalizing transgender ideology does just this. This ideology is being promoted as a civil rights issue by wealthy, white, men with enormous influence who stand to personally benefit from their political activities.

‘Shocking’ rates of sexual harassment in NZ law uncovered

NZ Law Society president Kathryn Beck said she was aware of sexual harassment in the profession but was “shocked” at the scale of the problem, as detailed in a survey of its members.

The survey found that 31 per cent of female lawyers have been sexually harassed in law, and 17 per cent of women have suffered such harassment in the past five years.

Almost half of victims (49 per cent) do not speak up for fear of career consequences, and 38 per cent stay silent because they are worried reporting will make the situation worse.

Victorian Women Lawyers executive member Julianna Marshall said the stats from New Zealand were “depressingly unsurprising” and reflect what is understood to be “routine” within the Australian profession.

Women Lawyers Association of NSW deputy president Larissa Andelman supported this, saying it is imperative that we continue to evaluate the work being done to reduce and ultimately eliminate sexual harassment.

“Women in the vast majority of cases will not make complaints because there is a lack of trust in the employer, the law societies and the legal regulatory bodies to protect them and to create an environment where they continue to be productive in their workplaces.”

A “no tolerance culture” must be cultivated, she said.

Further to this, Ms Andelman said there needs to be significant law reform, at federal and state levels, to anti-discrimination laws.

“At the social/cultural level, the system should not rely on a complainant. Policies and procedures need to incorporate ‘by-stander provisions’ where all persons, particularly senior employees, have a responsibility to report sexual harassment conduct.”

Open letter: Freedom of speech at the University of Bristol

University professors oppose the slanderous allegations against A Woman’s Place UK and support upholding the principles of freedom of speech and assembly in relation to the right of A Woman’s Place UK to hold meetings without participants being intimidated.

A Woman’s Place UK does not provide a platform for hate speech against any group. Its meetings are open to all, and speakers at its events have included trans people. It has never campaigned against the current Gender Recognition Act or the Equality Act. In fact, it is concerned to ensure that the existing rights enshrined in these Acts are protected. The group was set up to discuss the potential impact of proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act on existing protections, particularly the effect on women’s sex-based protections under the Equality Act 2010.

Feminists’ attempts to discuss the proposed legislative changes have been met with attempts to shut meetings down by some trans activists, who characterize debate about how legislative change might be established in ways which could uphold both the sex-based rights of women and the rights of trans people as illegitimate, and inherently “transphobic.” We support the right of peaceful protest, but do not support any group which uses physical intimidation to try to silence those with whom it disagrees.

Women’s rights in Russia’s North Caucasus: between “national traditions” and “ordinary” m urders

In February 2018, the European Court of Human Rights awarded €20,000 in compensation to Khava Bopkhoyeva from the village of Galashki in Ingushetia. Her daughter Zaira was 19 when she was taken to hospital and diagnosed as having been poisoned by “unknown substances”. The girl fell into a coma as a result of impaired oxygen flow to the brain.

A couple of months previously, Zaira had been bride-kidnapped on her way home from college. Though bride-kidnapping is banned – at least on paper – in Chechnya, it is still practised in Ingushetia and North Ossetia.

Honour killings are not a ubiquitous phenomenon, of course. But they do exist, and they’re justified on the basis of tradition, which renders any discussion around women’s rights absurd. Furthermore, there has been a recent tendency to make allowances for “national traditions” even in court, especially when it comes to post-divorce custody decisions. We’ve witnessed many cases of Ingush and Chechen women being forcibly separated from their children. So many, in fact, that one is tempted simply to focus on those where everything ended happily.

Having reviewed Elita Magomadova’s appeal, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in April 2018 that her right to family life had been violated and awarded her €15,000 in compensation for moral damages. This marks the first time that a case concerning familial relations in Chechnya has been resolved in such a senior court.

Elita’s son was returned to her only in 2016, three years after the boy was kidnapped and relocated from Moscow to Chechnya by her ex-husband.

Elita did her best to put up a fight. But the Russian court ruled again and again that the child would remain with his father. Even after the latter was killed in a road accident, his relatives still refused to give the child back to her mother. Though Elita managed to win the case following numerous legal proceedings, the court bailiffs spread their arms in a gesture of helplessness: we cannot find the child! Desperate now, Elita appealed to the ECHR, which sent an inquiry to Russia. As was to be expected, however, our country failed to recognise that any rights violation had taken place. The court’s decision not to return the kidnapped child to her mother and leave him in the care of his father’s family was explained with reference to “the national idiosyncrasies of child-rearing in Chechen families”.