Wednesday, May 20, 2009

BBC ~ Domestic violence ~ A frequently-cited statistic says domestic violence is the leading cause of death or injury for women aged 15-44.

Domestic violence

Home Office report - taken from the Home Office website
More or Less
Friday, 15 May 2009
BBC Radio 4, 1330 BST

A frequently-cited statistic says domestic violence is the leading cause of death or injury for women aged 15-44.

It has been widely reported and appears in government reports.

We explain why it is completely wrong.

And we ask how we can get better data on domestic violence.

Tim Harford takes apart a rogue statistic on domestic violence which has been circulating since the 1990s, questions news reports which suggest that the recession is hitting white collar workers hardest and reveals a new mathematical riddle - the Kate Bush conjecture.

An Open University co production for BBC Radio 4.
Broadcast on:
BBC Radio 4, 8:00pm Sunday 17th May 2009
30 minutes
Available until:
12:00am Thursday 1st January 2099

Tyne Bridge protest man vows to keep fighting

Simon Anderton, from Heaton, stayed on top of the Tyne Bridge for more than two days in a protest for Real Fathers for Justice

A FATHERS’ rights activist cleared of causing danger during a Tyne Bridge protest has vowed to carry on campaigning.

Simon Anderton, from Real Fathers For Justice, suspended a life-size, fully-clothed dummy from the girders during his one-man demonstration high above the river.

Prosecutors claimed the 50-year-old wanted to cause massive disruption by closing the bridge and that his suicide stunt with the mannequin risked the lives of motorists driving underneath.

But a Newcastle Crown Court jury took only 20 minutes to find Mr Anderton, from Heaton, Newcastle not guilty of attempting to cause a public nuisance.

They also cleared him on judge’s direction of causing a danger to road users by hanging the 12kg dummy on a rope.

After the verdicts Mr Anderton spoke both of his relief and determination to keep going as an activist against the family court system.

“I’m over the moon,” he said. “It is a fantastic outcome. Both myself and the group feel very vindicated.

“My only aim was to highlight our cause in a peaceful way not to create disruption or upset anyone.

“Obviously we want the public behind us not against us and the support I received from people while I was on the bridge actually kept me up there longer.

“They were tooting their horns and even shouting my name. I can’t thank them – or the jury – enough.”

Mr Anderton, a grandad and father-of-five, began his protest at dawn on Father’s Day last year. He defied a serious heart condition to climb to the top of the bridge carrying the dummy he had made himself with metal and rubber tubing.

Mr Anderton hung the mannequin firstly from the centre of the bridge before agreeing to let a firefighter to move it to another spot over the footpath – closed by police who had taken a decision to allow traffic to keep flowing.

Hunger and tiredness finally drove him down more than 48 hours after starting his protest.

He then spent three days in police cells before being bailed on strict conditions, including a nightly curfew.

But after his two-day court hearing, Mr Anderton said: “I will definitely carry on campaigning.

“That is without a shadow of a doubt because the issues involved are too important.”

A spokesman for Real Fathers For Justice also welcomed the verdict.

Mike Kelly, who helped negotiate with police during the protest, said: “We feel Simon has been really supported by the people of the North East and a jury of 12 men and women have shown that this protest was acceptable.

“We would like to thank them and the public for the support they have shown.”

The jury had asked to be allowed to make a statement of their own when they returned their verdicts – an almost unprecedented move.

But Judge Christopher Prince said no statement was allowed and that it formed no part of the jury’s function.

Globe & Mail Editorial ~ Success, in contempt (Parental Alienation & Abduction)

My observations some of which are published on the Globe & Mail comments section:

I think your editorial is a break through in helping to uncover the dysfunction and bias that occurs in Family Law (FLAW). Those of us who walk in this man's shoes know exactly how he feels. The isolation, the desperation at the loss of love of your child, the loss of all light in the tunnel, which is so very long and so very dark. You ponder life and wonder if you can ever, ever see the light again. A parent, and there are females in the same boat, alienated from their child goes through a constant and never ending state of grieving.

Unlike the grief you suffer by a death in the family, which diminishes over time, an alienated parent's grief is palpable day in and day out. You know your child is out there but you have lost him/her often physically and emotionally. An alienated child does not want to see you or talk to you. The judge shows his great inexperience in these matters by allowing a phone call. It will be traumatic for both dad and the child as long as the mother has custody. Her life and view of men will be forever diminished.

What drives many men who walk in these same tattered and worn shoes is love of their children. The loss first comes out as anger but then you know that form of energy is unproductive and negative. You then re-channel the anger into passion. Passion that you know will someday bring about change from the current gender bias, very evident in Justice Leonard Ricchetti's decision, and all too common in our court system.

Almost 90% of physical custody is granted to females with dads getting 14% visitation if they are lucky. Many vindictive moms do exactly what happened in this case and withhold access or kidnap the children.
A dad in this situation will often just give up and walk away. He will be deemed a deadbeat if he does not pay child support. He will be thrown in jail if he does not. Nothing will happen to the mom for her actions and as we see she may even be rewarded.MJM

Globe editorial

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

Family courts are not supposed to reward abusive parents, and punish parents who play by the rules. They are not supposed to allow an abusive parent to nullify the responsible parent's role in a child's life. But that is exactly what an Ontario court has done in a case of parental alienation. It has, in effect, disposed of the child's father, perhaps permanently.

Tasnim Elwan has been given permission to take her nine-year-old girl from Canada to Saudi Arabia, where she will have "a seven-bedroom home with two nannies," thanks to Ms. Elwan's wealthy new spouse. The nine-year-old hates her father because he abandoned her - or so she thinks. When he managed, with the RCMP's help, to trace her to Saudi Arabia after her mother in effect kidnapped her, and made his way to that country for 10 days, he was permitted just 15 minutes with her. Some abandonment. And now he is to be allowed one telephone call a month, which the judge doesn't expect Ms. Elwan will allow, anyway.

Ms. Elwan makes no secret of her disgust with her former spouse, Ayman Al-Taher, a chaplain at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. She calls him a mentally disturbed supporter of Hamas and al-Qaeda. If those accusations were true, asked Mr. Justice Leonard Ricchetti, why then did she agree, in a formal, court- approved settlement, to allow him any access to their daughter? And why, he asked, make that settlement if she never intended to comply with its terms? (She was found in contempt of court for taking her child to Saudi Arabia.)

Even so, Judge Ricchetti rejected Mr. al-Taher's attempt to wrest custody from his ex-spouse when she temporarily returned to Canada. To take the child from her loving relationship with her mother and turn her over to a father she is unprepared to love would be traumatic, he said. Also, "the father's income is not substantial and cannot compare with what can be offered to meet [the child's] needs in Saudi Arabia." The father is dismissed for lack of funds.

Children are entitled to have as much contact as possible with both their parents. But that principle of law was knocked easily aside by an abusive parent. (Denying a child contact with another parent is deemed abuse in Ontario child-protection law.) Is it more important for a girl to have "a seven-bedroom home with two nannies" or a father, even if he is a hospital chaplain of limited means? One wonders whether a court, if the situation were reversed, would dispose so readily of a responsible mother of limited means.

The judge is saying, in effect, "Sorry, that's the best we can do in the circumstances." But that's not nearly good enough. The first step should be to strengthen the presumption that a child is entitled to both parents. Abusers should not be rewarded for their abuse. A child should not lose her father, and a father his daughter, to spare her the short-term trauma of a reunion.

Feminism is still assaulting academia

National Post

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Presented by

Barbara Kay, National Post

Constance Backhouse received the Order of Canada on May 15. Julie Oliver, Canwest News Service

If I were writing a novel illustrating the sad decline of academic integrity on campus, here's the scenario I would concoct:

My protagonist would be a female opinion journalist of a certain age. Call her "Barbara."

I'd open with Barbara at, say, the University of Western Ontario (UWO), attending the annual general meeting of a hardy remnant of scholars from academia's golden age: accomplished, disinterested, ruthlessly honest academics united in visceral contempt for those of their peers who are willing to bend and manipulate the truth to serve their ideological ends -- ends like, say, the pursuit of gender equity at the expense of intellectual merit and academic professionalism.

Now, this group of honest academics -- let's call it the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship (SAFS) -- would be so dedicated to the principle of free intellectual exchange that it would have invited a feminist from the university's Women's Caucus to make her case that women in academia still haven't achieved real equity on campus.

You've doubtless realized this putative novel is a roman a clef. For this exact scenario happened in real life last Saturday. Professor Jane Toswell of the UWO's English department spoke at SAFS's annual general meeting, presenting "evidence" that women still draw the short straw in academia.

Some of it was comical: eye-rolling trivia, like freeze-frames of "sexualized" acrobatic student cheerleaders spread-eagled in mid-air. But the more disturbing heart of her presentation was her take on what happened to the four UWO female authors of the 1989 Chilly Climate Report.

Do you remember the Chilly Climate Report? On the basis of 35 interviews with female grad students and faculty, the report, written by four militant feminists, concluded 10% of female faculty "had experiences at Western that diminished them as women and academics, making for a chilly work climate."

Chilly Climate was conceived as a pilot project, with annual studies to follow, proving that the sexism they'd uncovered was systemic throughout academia everywhere.

But the report was a travesty of real scholarship and a terrible distortion of UWO's progressive reality. Its 35 women subjects (no male faculty or grad students were interviewed) were granted total anonymity, so their accusations, almost entirely grounded in subjectivity -- feelings and perception rather than precisely described facts or incidents -- could not be verified.

Professor Toswell had the naivete or temerity, in this roomful of UWO academics who knew the history of the report better than anyone else in Canada, to argue that the negative fallout from the report had prevented all four authors -- Alison Wylie, Constance Backhouse, Roma Harris and Gillian Michell -- from continuing on a "normal career path." Her implication was that all four had suffered professional disaster as a direct result of their courage in speaking truth to power. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, here is what really happened: There was a short squall of intra-campus blowback and negative media reaction. That ended abruptly with the timely shock of the entirely unrelated Montreal Massacre, which the women parlayed into professional gold with unseemly rapacity.

The "gang of four" were then invited to speak before many learned societies and professional associations, as well as at symposia and conferences in the U. S., Australia, the U. K. and Norway, where their grievance spiel was warmly received. Thus, far from being marginalized from academic life, the report's writers were now elevated beyond their intellectual achievement niche.

Gillian Michell, who according to Toswell "disappeared" from academic life (implying, with no supporting evidence, she was run out of town), now lives, as a cursory Google search would have informed Professor Toswell, in Albuquerque, N. M., where she holds an apparently secure position in library administration.

Constance Backhouse left UWO in 2000, 11 years after the report's publication, and is currently distinguished university professor and university research chair in the University of Ottawa's law faculty. A fellow of the Royal Society with an Order of Canada, she won the $100,000 Killam Prize in 2008, setting her amongst the most honoured of Canadian academics.

Alison Wylie was promoted to full professorship in 1993, then left for top-ranked universities in the U. S., bagging a fellowship at Stanford and visiting appointments at Paris, Berkeley and Cambridge. She is currently a professor of philosophy at Washington University.

Roma Harris was named acting dean of UWO's School of Library and Information Studies in 1993 and then vice-provost (academic programs and students) in 1995. Her salary in 2008 was $172,000, placing her amongst the highest-paid 2% to 3% of Ontario academics.

If Toswell were honest, she'd admit that feminist scholarship -- bad scholarship -- propelled three of the four women to major victories in contemporary academic life's stiff competition for scarce rewards. The fourth is gainfully and securely employed in her field, which is more than a slew of highly qualified male academics, who are passed over for jobs in the name of a needless gender equity tyranny, can say.

Somebody really should write a novel illuminating the still-proliferating negative effects of feminism on academic life. I wonder, though, under what category it would be stocked at bookstores. Unsolved Mysteries, perhaps?