Saturday, November 04, 2006

The right to say 'no'

The Feminist Majority reports, 11/1/2006 - A three-judge panel of the Maryland Special Court of Appeals reinforced the provision of Maryland's rape law that says a woman who gives consent prior to intercourse cannot withdraw her legal consent during the act. The decision came on Monday when the Court overturned a rape conviction. During deliberation in the original trial, the jury had asked, "If a female consents to sex initially and, during the course of the sex act to which she consented, for whatever reason, she changes her mind and the... man continues until climax, does the result constitute rape?" The trial judge said that Maryland’s law was unclear and would not provide a definite answer. The Special Court of Appeals, however, disagreed with the trial judge's interpretation of the law. Current Maryland rape law is "not ambiguous," said the ruling; if a woman consents prior to sex, she may not withdraw her consent during the act and accuse her partner of rape if he continues the act.

Women's rights groups are outraged by the ruling. "You should have the right to say no at anytime and that should mean no and if sexual acts continue after you've withdrawn your consent, they should be considered a crime," said Jennifer Pollitt Hill, a member of the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, to WJZ, a local television station. According to WJZ, several decision-makers have already said they wish to address the issue in the upcoming legislative session, though legislation that would have given women the right to withdraw consent at anytime has failed in both 2004 and 2005.

Maryland is one of two states that have ruled that women do not have the right to withdraw consent. Seven other states have ruled that women may withdraw consent at anytime.

Reading this immediately brought to mind a scene from Alan Duff's book, "In Jake's Long Shadow" where a particularly vulnerable young Maori woman spends the evening with a young Pacific Islander who she brings home. She wants to have sex with him but he isn't interested and goes to sleep on the couch. Later in the night he violently, brutally rapes her, the only way, it seems, he can get his kicks. He punishes her for having made a play for him. Girls shouldn't initiate sex. Sure, this is fiction but one can imagine the scenario being real. The guy has committed a horrible crime even if she gave him consent initially.

Does anybody know where New Zealand courts stand on this issue?

Nice surprises

In a roundabout way blogging can be quite fruitful. Sometimes I turn a post into a letter-to-the-editor and sometimes there are prizes for the best letter. The week before last I won some Paco Rabanne (?) (don't know how to spell it because it hasn't turned up yet) from the Listener and I just arrived home from cricket to find a very nice Cross pen in the letterbox. It's from the Herald on Sunday for last week's best letter based on this post.

I notice that there is a further comment from "anonymous" which I had missed;

Anonymous said...

Lindsay, you are counting the number of maintenance orders made in a single year, and comparing them to a number that is an accumulation of orders made in each of many years. That greatly exaggerates the change over time.

Also, part of the reason for the large number of defaulters today is that the current child support regime is less coercive than the old court-ordered maintenance system, under which a maintenance defaulter's wages could be docked by court order, or he could be imprisoned for not paying. You are so determined to blame everything on the DPB that you are missing the full picture.

Well, not everything. I don't blame global warming on the DPB. Anon's complaint is, I compared the number of maintenance orders made in 1971 (1,233) to the number of liable parents paying child support today (at least 140,000).

I cannot establish how many maintenance orders had accumulated in 1971 so let's go at it a different way. Each year around 15-16,000 NEW applications are lodged for the DPB. Most of these would require the applicant to apply for child support. Given there were more births and marriages in 1971 than today, the contrast in the number of fathers (and sometimes mothers) not living with and directly supporting their children is striking.

Not so private

A study has ranked NZ in the bottom three for work-place privacy. But the veracity of the report is under fire.

Dr Roth last night stood by his report, but acknowledged unease at Privacy International's use of US law students to supplement its information by simply searching for news items through the internet.

Perhaps they read about Don Brash's pinched e-mails and moved on to the next country.

Another question

What does this group of people have in common?
Annette King
Clayton Cosgrove
Dover Samuels
Winnie Laban
Dianne Yates
Winston Peters
Peter Brown
Brian Donnelly
Ron Mark
Doug Woolerton
Barbara Stewart
Pita Paraone
Gordon Copeland
Jim Anderton
Tony Ryall
John Carter
Craig Foss
John Hayes
Martin Gallagher
Ashraf Choudhary

Friday, November 03, 2006

Yeah right 3

Child abuse...the crime that disgusts. The government in tackling the problem has set up a system to deal with child abusers and has established an advisory committee to provide answers. The advisory committee holds its first meeting in about two months time. There is no deadline for its report but Dr Geddis said the committee will be working as fast as possible to come up with answers.

And they still haven't found what they're looking for. What year was that?

Yeah right 2

Mr Rowling repeated Labour's promises that young New Zealanders would be guaranteed either worthwhile employment or supplementary training in work skills for the first five years of their working lives. The dole system would be scrapped. No one would be paid to do nothing or learn nothing.

What year was that?

Yeah right

Peter Gresham has announced that from September, beneficiaries will be given regular medical check-ups (paid for by the State), in an effort to reduce the numbers on the long-term benefits and encourage them back to work. Social Welfare says that applicants for the sickness benefit would have their initial test done by their GP. A second check would be required four weeks after the benefit was granted, then after three months the beneficiary would be required to be examined by an accredited doctor. The checks would be carried out yearly from then on. On Budget night, the Government estimated that tougher screening would save 5% of the current cost, or $60m, over the next three years by moving people from the sickness and invalid benefits on to the dole.

Then; 73,000 sickness and invalid beneficiaries

Now; 123,000

What year was it?

Salvos say 'no'

This headline made no sense to me, Salvos pull out of Welfare to Work program.

NZ translation, Sallies pull out of Welfare to Work Programme.

Over the years the Salvation Army has become increasingly socialist which I don't understand. It appears they no longer want to do the work they have traditionally undertaken even if the government pays them to. They would rather shunt people back onto state welfare.

Maybe I am being unfair. Any organisation which takes government money has to jump through hoops. Could be they simply do not want to jump. But that doesn't help the individual who needs their assistance.

More likely they are giving up on a group of people who are beyond help and putting the responsibility for them back on government.

Pregnant woman screened positive for HIV

Here is the answer to a question which has been lurking in the recesses of my mind for a while. If it's been on mine, chances are you will have wondered about it too. Where are we with testing pregnant women for HIV?

Only expectant females in the Waikato are routinely screened. A positive case has just been discovered sparking calls for urgent nationwide testing. Fortunately the baby can be prevented from contracting the virus.

The woman would not have been identified under the district health board's previous policy of testing only "high-risk" women, he said.

Waikato is the only district health board in the country routinely testing pregnant women for HIV.

Nine district health boards are preparing to screen but only a handful are likely to begin in the next six months.

Dr Mills said New Zealand had the opportunity to act now so it didn't repeat some of the disasters around the world.

A report by Aids charity Avert on South Africa showed that because authorities didn't act fast enough there, percentages of pregnant women with HIV rose from 0.8 per cent to 30.2 per cent in 15 years to 2005.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Making condoms 'sexy'... not an easy thing to do. But if Hell's Pizza can get more young people using them with its marketing of the Lust Pizza then all power to them. I won't be joining the Family First campaign to inundate them with complaints. In fact I will register my approval. Let's work with human nature instead of against it.

Baby boom in Iraq

According to the Washington Post Iraq is experiencing a baby boom. The birth rate has jumped to 37 per 1,000 people. To put this rate into context the US, at 14 per 1,000, has one of the highest birthrates in the developed world.

It's gonna be a good day

It's my birthday and what better way to kick it off than watch Rodney Hide deal to Mark Burton on the Breakfast show. Everybody knows this rates inquiry is a snow-job and to add insult to injury, it's going to cost us $1.5 million. Rodney had a great line;
It took him 10 weeks to come up with the terms of reference for the rates inquiry and 10 minutes to decide to validate election misspending with legislation.

How stupid can TVNZ be?

A couple of weeks back we learned that TVNZ was dropping their head programmer who had decided that less reliance on UK product was required. There are two letters to the DomPost today disagreeing with this approach (and both bemoaning the awful Ellen) .

Today Jane Clifton glowingly reviews the new British sitcom, In The Thick Of It, writing, "at last, a worthy successor to Yes, Minister." Praise indeed. So what does TVNZ do with it?

Puts it on air at a quarter to midnight!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Good for him

Judge Flatley deserves more than just a mention but I can at least give him that, as did the Taranaki Daily News;

Judge Dominic Flatley this week convicted three Wanaka shop owners for trading during last Easter – as this curious law dictated that he must – but levied no fine. He could have demanded $1000 from each on the admitted charges, but Judge Flatley would also have been aware that the fine, which has not been altered since 1980, is slowly fading into insignificance by inflation. One thousand dollars is still enough to give a nettle-sting, but the real significance of his waiver is that the courts – because others will surely follow the judge's precedent – have taken the lead in ridding the statute books of an unfair, complicated and pointless relic.

Guilty until proven innocent and even then.....

I had been vaguely listening to a news report about a woman who falsely accused a man of rape because she was too embarrassed to admit to her boyfriend the sex had been consensual. So he was accused but not convicted. I wonder what will now happen to someone in that position in Ohio?

Unfair workload

I don't know what's so difficult about the question this article poses. Obviously, some women are doing more than their fair share.

Knives out for Brash

What do you make out this two-pronged attack? Not that I am saying it was premeditated but two ex (yet still influential) MPs have both stuck knives in Don Brash this week.

First Richard Prebble in his Letter, National MPs have decided that they can't fight another election with Don Brash. Don is in trouble not because of the recent publicity about his private life but rather his judgment or his lack of it. Putting out a press statement saying he was returning to Auckland because his wife was sick and then withdrawing it and admitting he was going to save his marriage, showed a leader panicking under pressure.

The professional way to handle the Independent front page story would have been to ignore it. To have stayed in parliament and fronted up instead of legitimising the story by issuing a press statement and then bringing all the media to your home by going there.

Back bench MPs are asking if this is how he handles his own crisis, how will he handle a crisis that affects them? Even if they win with Don, how would they survive as a government? The new MPs, who the media say are all grateful to Don, are the most shocked with his performance. Jonathan Coleman, MP for Birkenhead, is said to be gathering the votes for John Key.

Well, maybe not a knife, just a firm boot up the backside (I would have thought advice on how to politically handle marriage problems from Prebble best avoided - I guess it depends which you put first - party or partner).

This is a knife, from Mike Moore, who's becoming a touch sanctimonious of late; Don Brash, whose "Aw shucks, I'm not a politician' - his James Stewart act - will no longer wash. He looks suspiciously like an Invercargill barber from the 1950s, who you discover later sold condoms under the table. Still, I'm told, he inspired another thumb-sucking caucus meeting saying,"Not to worry, we will weather this storm of approval and get back to being hated well before election day."

Talking about 'being hated', it seems those who have been in and around the Labour Party a long time can't let go of their understandable but dated National-loathing, regardless of the personalities involved. Not something I relate to having presently little regard for either bunch, (although I had fleetingly held out faint but now forlorn hope National might make something of themselves under Brash.)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Greens in cahoots with 'big business'

Classically Liberal explains how big corporations have the Greens doing their bidding.

Enforced inactivity not the solution

Cutting the working week to 35 hours did not improve French unemployment. It still sits at 9 percent. The NCPA summarises the Investor's Business Daily suggestions as to what the French government might do, including cutting unemployment benefits.

As I understand it the 35 hour week is being phased out.

High Maori prison population

Fresh US research about the cost of teenage births shows;

Most of the costs in 2004 — $8.6 billion — were incurred by mothers 17 and younger. Compared with women who have a first child at 20 or 21, those girls are more than twice as likely to have a child placed in foster care, to be reported for child abuse or neglect, and to have a son sent to prison. Their kids are far more likely to drop out of high school and their daughters to become teen mothers themselves, the report states.

Just looking at one aspect of that, the greater likelihood of a son going to prison, consider the Maori rate of teenage births for under-eighteens in 2000 (the last year I have to hand);

There were 670 births to Maori compared to 505 to non-Maori giving a birthrate per 1,000 of 22.7 to Maori and 4.9 to non-Maori.

This goes some way to explaining why Maori make up around half of our prison population.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Methadone programme assessment

The Scotsman reports, A key government drugs policy has been exposed as a shocking failure after it emerged that giving methadone to heroin addicts has a 97% failure rate

Here they are assessing the success of the programme in respect of getting people off, which isn't the major objective.

In NZ the methadone programme was established in 1977 to, "reduce the destructive side effects of opioid use - such as crime and spread of infectious disease - rather than get addicts off drugs all together."

So does the Scottish research, comparing those who went cold turkey through rehab with the methadone patients, look at this aspect. You bet;

The biggest difference, however, was on crime. Only 13% of those who were drug-free admitted to committing any crime. The figure for those who were on drugs was a staggering 91%.

But let's not forget this is Scotland.

A decent appraisal of the NZ scheme would be more than useful. Anything I can find usually says something like "the literature shows benefits" meaning overseas literature. Not all.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Nine to Noon

On tomorrow after 9am talking about the growth in the sickness and invalid's benefts.

Update; Here's the link. Also joining the discussion was Masterton GP, Richard McGrath.

Adoption - good or bad?

Much has been said about Madonna's adoption of a boy from Malawi. Deborah Coddington has written a column in today's Herald on Sunday entitled, Celebrity adoptions are acts of vain peacocks. Having no access to the column I will have to assume she is at least partially negative towards this event.

But here is a defence from James Bartholomew. Obviously the arguments about inter-country adoptions may differ from domestic adoptions but I agree with most of what he says except I was under the impression adopted children, based on social outcomes and achievement, generally form an intermediate group ie they fall between those raised by single parents and those raised by two biological parents.

Bartholomew says adopted children do even better than children from 2 biological parent families. My reading tells me they form an intermediate group between those raised in two biological parent families and those raised in single parent families because they tend to experience a more difficult adolescence. But there is research to back his claim and there is research, produced in NZ, to back mine. There is no research that says, in general, children from single parents homes do best.

Throw in extreme poverty, risk of disease and an orphanage-upbringing, in the case of David Banda I would have thought it abundantly apparent that his interests would be better served by this adoption. Watching TV yesterday it appears his father also believes that.
Couldn't resist pinching this photo from Rodney's blog. Clearly one of these MPs hasn't just swum over a kilometre in freezing ocean water.