Academia finally takes on Feminism; Police don't prosecute women for Domestic Violence, from Peter Myers

(1) Academia finally takes on Feminism
(2) Safe Campuses for Women, but a Travesty of Justice for Men
(3) Accusations of Student Harassment Leave Professors Feeling Vulnerable
(4) U of Michigan faculty object to admin’s sex harassment procedures
(5) The White House War on Men - National Association of Scholars
(6) Rolling Stone and the myth of a rape epidemic
(7) Single women in China "are still not permitted to have a child
outside of wedlock"
(8) Israel changes Child Custody in divorce cases, from Mother to Joint
(9) Police don't prosecute women for Domestic Violence they commit -
Australian Senator
(10) Domestic violence an equal opportunity killer - Senator Bill O'Chee
(11) Australia holds national summit to curb “endemic” domestic violence
(12) National Summit on Domestic Violence
(13) Midwife is denied access to her bank accounts, while lawyers charge
her £400 an hour
(14) Family Court disaster: Social Workers represent the 'interests of
the child'
(15) Mum's boyfriend: the worst sexual risk to children - Bettina Arndt
(16) The Child-Free Life
(17) Doctors call for ban on Smacking
(18) Scientists create False Memories in Mice
(19) How to create False Memories

(1) Academia finally takes on Feminism - Peter Myers, April 3, 2015

The Chronicle of Education is a newspaper covering US Campus News and
Analysis. I sometimes used to see it at the Australian National
University when I lived in Canberra during the 1990s.

In those days, the Chronicle was very politically correct - taking the
Feminist/Gay/Minority line on all issues.

Now, it's carrying articles about the excesses of Feminism - the
injustice of campus inquisitions, the threat to free speech, etc. See
items 2 to 4.

An organization called the National Association of Scholars is also
opposing the New Left's thought police and kangaroo courts  (item 5).

Spiked Online has debunked the hysteria about an epidemic of rape on
campus (item 6).

That single women in China "are still not permitted to have a child
outside of wedlock" (item 7) shows that the current Culture War is
confined to the Post-Christian West; it has not made much headway
elsewhere. Single Motherdom was, however, common in the Soviet Union -
right up until its collapse.

Israel's changes to its Child Custody practice in divorce cases, from
Mother to Joint (item 8) is also relevant. In recent decades, Feminists
in the West, with substantial Jewish leadership, got Divorce/Family
courts to award custody of children to the mother by default, and to
force the father to pay maintenance even if deprived of any role in the
upbringing of the children. The mother also got the house; this was
deemed "in the best interests of the child".

The idea that children are best looked after by the mother is based on
the pre-Feminist culture where married women were full-time wives and
mothers, and men were breadwinners. Once Feminism persuaded women to
ditch marriage, and pursue career, childcare, and male lifestyles, that
assumption was invalidated, but the Feminists wanted to have their cake
and eat it too.

During the 1990s there was a craze to uncover Repressed Memories of
Sexual Abuse - by men. Now, scientists report that they have been able
to create False Memories in Mice; and in people too (items 18-19).

(2) Safe Campuses for Women, but a Travesty of Justice for Men

In Making Campuses Safe for Women, a Travesty of Justice for Men

By Christina Hoff Sommers

The Chronicle of Higher Educaton

June 5, 2011

American courts take exacting precautions to avoid convicting an
innocent person of a crime. It was therefore startling to read the April
4, 2011, directive on sexual violence sent by the U.S. Department of
Education's assistant secretary for civil rights, Russlynn H. Ali, to
college officials across the country. In an effort to make campuses safe
and equitable for women, Ali, with the full support of her department,
advocates procedures that are unjust to men.

She begins by describing the "deeply troubling" state of the American
campus, where "one in five women are victims of completed or attempted
sexual assault." The Title IX equity statute, she says, guarantees
students a right to an education free of discrimination on the basis of
sex. Sexual assault and harassment violate this right; therefore,
colleges that fail to pursue offenders aggressively can be found in
violation of Title IX and lose federal government funds. No matter what
the local police choose to do, says Ali, colleges are obligated to carry
out their own investigation of all complaints.

"We will use all of the tools at our disposal including ... withholding
federal funds ... to ensure that women are free from sexual violence,"
Ali told NPR last year. One such tool is the standard of proof that
college disciplinary committees use when determining guilt. Many
colleges employ a "beyond a reasonable doubt" or a "clear and
convincing" standard. (Roughly speaking, "beyond a reasonable doubt"
requires a 98-percent certainty of guilt; clear and convincing, an
80-percent certainty.) Ali, however, orders all colleges to adopt the
far-less-demanding standard of "preponderance of the evidence." Using
that standard, a defendant can be found guilty if members of a
disciplinary committee believe there is slightly more than a 50/50
chance that he committed the crime. That standard will make it far
easier for disciplinary committees to try, convict, and punish an
accused student (almost always a male).

Marching under the banner of Title IX and freed of high standards of
proof, campus disciplinary committees, once relatively weak and
feckless, will be transformed into powerful instruments of gender
justice. At least, that is the fantasy. But here is the reality: Campus
disciplinary committees--often a casual mix of professors, students, and
an assistant dean or two--are well suited to resolving cases involving
purported plagiarism and cheating, and violations of college rules on
drugs and alcohol. But no one considers them prepared to adjudicate
murder, arson, or kidnapping cases, or criminal assault. They lack the
training and the resources to investigate and adjudicate felonies. So
why are they expected to determine guilt or innocence in cases of rape?

As with murder and arson, serious charges of sexual assault should be
left to the police and the courts. The Department of Education should
not pressure universities to enact a system whereby a student can be
found guilty of a major crime by a mere preponderance of evidence.

How did Ali and her fellow lawyers in the Department of Education manage
to find in the Title IX gender-equity statute grounds for demanding
colleges to adopt a "preponderance of evidence" standard? That is a
mystery. Hans Bader, a former Education Department lawyer, says that
nothing in Title IX justifies taking away an accused person's right to a
firm presumption of innocence, requiring clear and convincing evidence.
Ali and her colleagues, he suggests, are "legislating through
administrative fiat, in a way that is arbitrary and capricious." And
dangerous, one might add.

In 2006 three Duke University lacrosse players were falsely accused of
gang rape. They endured a nightmarish, yearlong ordeal in which abundant
evidence of their innocence seemed not to matter at all--not to the
police, not to the prosecutor, not to Duke's faculty or president.
Protesters gathered outside the lacrosse house carrying a banner with
the word CASTRATE, banging pots and pans, and chanting "Confess,
confess!" Student vigilantes plastered the campus with "Wanted" posters
bearing the players' photographs. Duke professors took out an ad in a
local newspaper in support of the pot bangers and poster wielders. After
living under suspicion for months, the players were ultimately
exonerated by prosecutors, who dropped all charges: The athletes had
been wrongly accused, and the North Carolina district attorney who had
flamboyantly pressed and publicized the charges later recused himself
and resigned, and was investigated and disbarred for unethical conduct
in his prosecution of the case.

Now imagine that Ali's proposed sexual-safety regime had been in place
when the district attorney's charges were pending, and the innocent
young men had been put on trial before a committee of Duke professors,
administrators, and students.

Ali's job as assistant secretary for civil rights is to protect the
civil rights of all students, both alleged victims and the accused. Her
letter provides detailed guidelines on the steps colleges should take to
"minimize the burden on the complainant." Not a word about the burden on
the accused or his rights. And it goes to remarkable lengths to
discourage colleges from trying to diffuse and ameliorate volatile "he
said, she said" confrontations. "In cases involving sexual assault," she
instructs, "mediation is not appropriate even on a voluntary basis." The
letter is suffused with the notion that college authorities must not use
their judgment and discretion but rather become enforcers of legal
procedure and harsh justice.

Being a victim of rape is uniquely horrific, but being accused of rape
is not far behind. If the person is guilty, then the suffering is
deserved. But what if he is innocent? To be found guilty of rape by a
campus tribunal can mean both expulsion and a career-destroying black
mark on your permanent record. Such occurrences could become routine
under the Ali dispensation.

So why is Ali taking such draconian measures? Because she asserts that
rape on campuses has reached epidemic levels, citing a study that states
that 19 percent, or almost one in five women, will be a victim of
assault or attempted assault during their college years.

But is that figure accurate or even plausible? Research on sexual
assault is notoriously hard to conduct, and the studies are wildly
inconsistent. A 2003 Bureau of Justice Statistics special report,
"Violent Victimization of College Students, 1995-2002," found that among
the nation's nearly four million female college students, there were six
rapes or sexual assaults per thousand per year during the years
surveyed. That comes to one victim in 40 students during four years of
college--too many, of course, but vastly fewer than Ali's one in five.

The study cited by Ali used an online survey, conducted under a grant
from the Justice Department, in which college women were asked about
their sexual experiences, on campus and off, and the researchers--not
the women themselves--decided whether they had been assaulted. The
researchers employed an expansive definition of sexual assault that
included "forced kissing" and even "attempted" forced kissing. The
survey also asked subjects if they had sexual contact with someone when
they were unable to give consent because they were drunk. A "yes" answer
was automatically counted as a rape or assault. According to the
authors, "an intoxicated person cannot legally consent to sexual contact."

Surely, reasonable people can disagree on that: If sexual intimacy under
the influence of alcohol is by definition assault, then a significant
percentage of sexual intercourse throughout the world and down the ages
qualifies as crime.

The Justice Department stamped a disclaimer on every page of the survey
report, advising that it is not a publication of the Justice Department
and does not necessarily reflect its positions or policies. Ali,
however, treats it as an official government finding and ignores the
controversies and ambiguities surrounding her "one in five" figure.

Deans at institutions including Yale, Stanford, and Brandeis
Universities and the Universities of Georgia and of Oklahoma are already
rushing to change their disciplinary procedures to meet the Education
Department's decree. Now, on campuses throughout the country, we face
the prospect of academic committees--armed with vague definitions of
sexual assault, low standards of proof, and official sanction for the
notion that sex under the influence is, ipso facto assault or
rape--deciding the fate of students accused of a serious crime.

The new regulations should be seen for what they really are. They are
not enlightened new procedures for protecting students from crime. They
are a declaration of martial law against men, justified by an imaginary
emergency, and a betrayal of the Title IX equity law.

Christina Hoff Sommers is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise
Institute. She is the author of Who Stole Feminism? and is working on a
new edition of her 2000 book The War Against Boys.

(3) Accusations of Student Harassment Leave Professors Feeling Vulnerable

April 2, 2015

UC Berkeley

{photo} Scott Masten, chairman of a U. of Michigan faculty panel and a
business professor at Ann Arbor, asked {end}

By Peter Schmidt

The former assistant professor at the University of Michigan at Ann
Arbor says he had no idea what he was walking into when two
administrators there summoned him to a meeting.

An email from the two mentioned only concerns about his "alleged
interaction with university students." At the meeting, he says, their
casual tone and his own belief that he had done nothing wrong prompted
him to candidly discuss having dated an undergraduate after she finished
taking a course from him.

The 2012 meeting turned out to be "a setup," recalls the former Michigan
faculty member, who spoke to The Chronicle on the condition that it not
identify him because he and the woman he had dated already have been
harassed online.

The administrators, he says, soon used statements against him as part of
a sexual-misconduct investigation. Months later, officials there
declared that he had violated “the spirit of” a university rule barring
romantic relationships between instructors and their students.

He faced sanctions that included a salary freeze and a three-year
postponement of his eligibility for tenure, which he had been on the
verge of receiving. Told he could appeal his punishment but not the
administration’s finding of guilt, he chose to resign. …

(4) U of Michigan faculty object to admin’s sex harassment procedures


A report by Peter Schmidt in the Chronicle, here:

The former assistant professor at the University of Michigan at Ann
Arbor says he had no idea what he was walking into when two
administrators there summoned him to a meeting.

An email from the two mentioned only concerns about his “alleged
interaction with university students.” At the meeting, he says, their
casual tone and his own belief that he had done nothing wrong prompted
him to candidly discuss having dated an undergraduate after she finished
taking a course from him.

The 2012 meeting turned out to be “a setup,” recalls the former Michigan
faculty member, who spoke to The Chronicle on the condition that it not
identify him because he and the woman he had dated already have been
harassed online.

The administrators, he says, soon used statements against him as part of
a sexual-misconduct investigation. Months later, officials there
declared that he had violated “the spirit of” a university rule barring
romantic relationships between instructors and their students.

He faced sanctions that included a salary freeze and a three-year
postponement of his eligibility for tenure, which he had been on the
verge of receiving. Told he could appeal his punishment but not the
administration’s finding of guilt, he chose to resign. …

The report from the UM faculty committee is here.

On review of the FHC’s report and other materials, SACUA concurs with
the conclusions of the FHC that the procedures for handling allegations
against faculty lack the most basic elements of fairness and due process
and that, in “each of the three cases investigated,…the process was
deeply flawed” (Report of the SACUA Faculty Hearing Committee, Dec. 8,
2014 (hereafter FHC), p. 17). More specifically, we conclude, based on
the available record, that

1. The procedures of the Office of Institutional Equity currently in
effect, as presented in their policy documents, lack adequate due
process protections for faculty subject to OIE investigations, including
fair and adequate notice, fair investigation processes, and the ability
to appeal OIE findings and decisions based on such findings.

2. In carrying out its inquiries, OIE sometimes fails to follow its
stated procedures or exploits discretion in its procedures to deviate
from “typical” practices, without justification and to the detriment of

3. Both OIE and AHR are staffed by employees who lack the academic
backgrounds necessary to evaluate matters of an academic nature and
whose status as employees subordinate and reporting to the executive
officers of the University creates a conflict of interest inconsistent
with their professed neutrality.

(5) The White House War on Men - National Association of Scholars

National Association of Scholars

Take a stand in defending the true purposes of higher education and
unite with thousands of like-minded others.

The White House War on Men

May 14, 2014 |

Peter Wood

This article originally appeared in The National Review on May 14, 2014.

Sexual harassment has been a fraught political issue in the United
States for decades. It goes in and out of focus. Right now it is very
much in focus, largely as the result of a new report from the White
House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. The report,
Not Alone, was produced at breakneck speed after President Obama
established the Task Force on January 22. That suggests, among other
things, that the Task Force members didn't waste much time on research:
They knew what they wanted to say before they convened.

Not Alone is causing some controversy, mainly because of some very broad
and surely misleading declarations. But before taking those up, let's
glance back at an idea that has had several previous moments of celebrity.

In the beginning was Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which
brought forward the idea that some work environments could be "abusive."
While the law lists sex -- along with race, color, national origin, and
religion -- as a category on the basis of which employers are forbidden
to discriminate, no one at the time seemed to be thinking that much
about bosses saying sexual things to workers or coming on to them. The
Supreme Court first gave legal life to that idea in 1986, when it held
that sexual harassment was a form of workplace discrimination.

In 1992, the Court extended this to schools. And in 1993, it said
employers could be sued for sexual harassment even by workers who had
suffered no "psychological injury."

The Court also entered the story in another important way. The September
1991 confirmation hearing on nominee Clarence Thomas was dominated by
the testimony of Anita Hill, who claimed that Thomas had harassed her on
the job at the Department of Education and later at the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission. Thomas was, of course, approved by the Senate
anyway, but the hearings prompted Congress to amend the law to allow
punitive damages in sexual-harassment cases.

Higher education was no stranger to the topic. Even before sexual
harassment started evolving as a legal doctrine off campus, it was
aggressively taking shape as a set of speech codes at the nation's
colleges and universities. My organization, the National Association of
Scholars, weighed in with a warning in 1993 that the sexual-harassment
doctrine appeared to be, in some key respects, at odds with academic
freedom. Even back then, college administrators were making expansive
claims, including, "Sexual harassment can be as blatant as a rape or as
subtle as a look. Harassment . . . often consists of a callous
insensitivity to the experience of women."

Definitions this broad lent themselves to being used as bludgeons.
Careers were ruined on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations.

The sexual-harassment doctrine has had two major public airings since
Anita Hill. Senator Bob Packwood, a Republican from Oregon, resigned in
1995 after allegations surfaced that he had harassed and abused female
staffers and lobbyists. Then, of course, came the cascade of President
Bill Clinton's scandals, which resulted in the advocates of strict
sexual-harassment codes beating an ignominious retreat. They favored
President Clinton for many of his policies and couldn't bring themselves
to demand that he be held to account for his personal behavior.

The next big chapter in sexual-harassment rules came last year, when the
Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice and the Office of
Civil Rights at the Department of Education began issuing rules that
dramatically lowered the standard of evidence needed in adjudicating
campus allegations of sexual harassment. Under the new rules, a
"preponderance of evidence" was sufficient to find someone guilty. That
meant that in cases where the evidence split nearly down the middle as
to who was telling the truth, with just a slight edge for the accuser,
the college could and should assume the accused is guilty.

Technically, the balance could be the merest fraction in favor of the
accuser: 50.00001 percent would do the trick. But, of course, in
practice the approximations meant nothing. The rules are effectively a
mandate to assume guilt absent overwhelming evidence of innocence, and
as the rules get applied, we've seen cases where even dramatic
exculpatory evidence has been ignored.

The new White House report, Not Alone, follows the earlier lowering of
standards of evidence with a demand for -- what else? -- further
lowering. The report begins with the dramatic and much-disputed
declaration that "one in five women is sexually assaulted in college."
This factoid derives from an extrapolation of a survey that asked women,
among other things, whether anyone had ever "attempted" to force a kiss
on them, or whether they had ever had a sexual experience while drunk.
Researchers retrofitted the "yes" answers to the category of "sexual
assault." That doesn't mean the number is necessarily wrong or off the
scale, but it deserves to be approached with skeptical care. The FBI's
Uniform Crime Statistics, which no doubt undercounts the instances of
assault, puts the figure at one in 40.

We hear a lot of complaints on campus these days about "slut shaming,"
which is the now-discountenanced practice of looking with disfavor on
promiscuity. We are in apparent need of a category of "humbug shaming,"
which is the rude practice of pointing out that the premise isn't true.

At the center of the White House report is praise for "New Investigative
and Adjudicative Protocols," including something called the "single
investigator" model, which would empower a single campus official to:
"interview the complainant and alleged perpetrator, gather any physical
evidence, interview available witnesses -- and then either render a
finding, present a recommendation, or even work out an
acceptance-of-responsibility agreement with the offender." Critics are
rightly alarmed. One calls it the White House "War on Men."

It took our civilization a few thousand years to achieve a separation of
powers that unmixed the authority of the police to investigate from the
authority of prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, and jurors and to
put the presumption of innocence and the right to face one's accusers at
the center of the proceedings. It has taken the higher-education
establishment and the White House Task Force just a few months to figure
out that all that fuss was unnecessary. One enlightened administrator
can do the whole job.

(6) Rolling Stone and the myth of a rape epidemic - Spiked Online

Rolling Stone and the myth of a rape epidemic

Sean Collins
US correspondent

Rolling Stone's rape hoax speaks to a new hysteria on US campuses.

8 December 2014

For years now, academics and activists, backed by university
administrators and government officials, have promoted the idea that
there is a rape epidemic on US campuses, enabled by a 'rape culture'
that pervades social life. This notion has created a frenzied and highly
emotional atmosphere in colleges, with accusations flying and campus
tribunals handing down sentences for what are essentially criminal acts.
The stunning news that Rolling Stone now disowns its story that claimed
a female student was gang-raped at a University of Virginia (UVA)
fraternity shows that the drive to root out 'rape culture' is spinning
out of control. We're living through a full-blown panic, akin to the
daycare sexual abuse scandals of the 1980s and early 1990s, with bad
consequences for both women and men.

The Rolling Stone article, written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, described in
graphic terms how a young woman, 'Jackie', was lured by her date to a
room in a fraternity, where she was allegedly raped by seven men, as
part of a premeditated initiation ceremony. The terrible details
included: smashing Jackie through a plate-glass table, cutting her
badly; the men laughing in response to her cries, and saying things like
'grab its motherfucking leg'; the men calling each other names like
Armpit and Blanket. Appearing after a three-hour ordeal, three friends
discourage Jackie from reporting this to the police or the university,
or from going to a hospital, because they fear they will be banned from
future parties at this fraternity.

After some began to raise questions, an investigation by the Washington
Post unearthed details that contradicted the story: the fraternity
didn't hold a party on the date cited by Jackie; the man named as the
alleged attacker belonged to a different fraternity, and he says he
never met Jackie; no member of the fraternity worked as a lifeguard, as
Jackie claimed her attacker did; the fraternity doesn't have a pledging
or initiation process in Autumn, when the alleged attack was said to
have occurred; a male friend of Jackie says she was not found in a
bloody dress that night, nor did he or others try to dissuade her from
reporting an assault. In the face of such revelations, Rolling Stone
backtracked and apologised to its readers.

The unravelling of the Rolling Stone article is not an isolated event,
nor simply the case of one journalist's lapse in ethics. The New York
Times has highlighted cases at colleges such as Columbia and Hobart and
William Smith, among others, in a similar way to Rolling Stone's latest,
focusing on the accuser's allegations at the expense of the full picture
(an enterprising journalist might revisit these stories, too). But more
importantly, the UVA story is the product of a fevered atmosphere
whipped up by 'rape culture' campaigners, an atmosphere where advocacy
and emotion override fact.

Central to the myth of a rape epidemic is a statistic: that one in five
women are sexually assaulted on US campuses over four years. The survey
from which this statistic derives has been thoroughly debunked by
Christina Hoff Sommers and others, who note, in particular, that the
survey was based on a small sample (two schools) and a definition of
assault so broad as to include uninvited touching and kissing, which
even most respondents did not think rose to the level of an attack. In
fact, according to more reliable Department of Justice data, sexual
assault has fallen by more than 50 per cent in recent years, to a rate
of 1.1 per 1,000 women, with similar rates on and off campus.

(7) Single women in China "are still not permitted to have a child
outside of wedlock"

China's Hidden Children

The country's one-child policy has created an astonishing number of
unregistered children.

By Stephanie Gordon for The Diplomat

March 12, 2015

It might seem impossible that 13 million children could escape the
notice of the central Chinese government, but this is exactly what was
revealed in the 2010 census. A population the size of a small country
has been denied birth registration and the corresponding proof of
identity known as the hukou (household registration) by local Chinese
governments. This document is usually necessary for children to access

Most of these children were born to parents that had broken the
"one-child policy," a policy enforcing birthing restriction for all
Chinese citizens. Defiance of the policy, in itself, will not necessary
lead to a child being undocumented. Usually, children denied birth
registrations are those whose parents have yet pay a "social
compensation fee" - a fine for having their child without permission.
Although this is an illegal action by local police bureaus, not only is
denial of birth registration prevalent, many state officials see it as a
key component of enforcing restrictions on reproduction.

The fines parents receive depend on the disposition of their local
officers and the parent's income. Localities show considerable
variations in how its calculate fines. Some charge fines parents are
unable to afford. Parents unable to pay their fines may face the risk of
repeated short-term detention, while others are taken to court or have
their assets seized. Parents report daily harassment by local thugs or
local government officials. In other locations, parents might receive
sympathy from their local cadre, or pull in favours to reduce their
fines. Luck, connections and money effectively play a part in
determining when a child can become recognized.

Only when the 2010 census was conducted did the scale of the problem
emerge. The central Chinese government makes it a priority to collect
accurate demographic data, so around the time of the census parents are
encouraged to admit if their children were undocumented. Parents were
promised that the information would not be shared with the local police
bureau or the population and family planning department. Consequently,
it was revealed that 13 million children were undocumented.

Of course, not all parents would have confessed the existence of their
illicit children. Assurances notwithstanding, some would have worried
that it would lead to demands for money from their local government. In
previous censuses similar promises to parents of anonymity were broken.
So the true population of hidden children could be significantly larger.

Five years on from that 2010 census and things are slowly changing. The
one-child policy was significantly modified in 2013, and couples now can
have two children if one parent is an only child. So, in theory, the
number of undocumented children should decline as more parents than ever
before can legally have two children.

But the political landscape of childbirth is not as transformed as one
might imagine. By law, prior to 2013 rural citizens were already able to
have a second child if their first was a girl; so most rural couples are
under the same regulations as before. Besides, restrictions on
childbirth are still in place for third children and beyond, and single
women are still not permitted to have a child outside of wedlock.

Moreover, the relaxation allowing second children is rarely
retrospectively applied by local governments, so parents who breached
the policy prior to 2013 still face fines. The result has been that many
parents who should be allowed second children under current law are
still fighting to register their child's birth.

Being an undocumented child implies facing daily difficulties. Take Ms.
Li*, for example, a Beijing resident interviewed last September. Her son
is already 8 years old, and has no birth registration and thus no legal
documentation. He has been denied the hukou because not only is he a
second child born without permission; he was also born outside wedlock.
Consequently Li has been fined particularly harshly - $50,300. Until
this is paid, her son will continue to live without documentation.

Given that Li earns $300 a month she has little hope of her ever paying
the fine. For now, her child attends an illegal private school, but
there are no secondary schools he can attend without legal documentation.

Li is not alone: Countless other parents are in similar circumstances,
while stories continue to surface in the media. Last year, the story of
a father of four from Guizhou province, Mr. Wang made it into Western
media. Wang committed suicide when his children were denied the hukou
and education until he paid a fine of $3,500. As an improvised farmer he
could not afford the amount. Only upon his death did the local
government register the births of his children, and now they can have an

Given that the hukou is vital for a child's survival, parents of
unregistered children must quickly find the money to ensure their
children can gain an identity. Most try to ensure they can do so before
the child's sixth birthday, the age at which children enter school. Some
parents take out loans from loan sharks or borrow from family and
friends. Others sell off assets to raise cash.

Those who cannot pay their fine can attempt to fight back. Li, for
example, tried to sue her local government several times. With the help
of a grassroots NGO she found legal representation. But in a state with
no independent judiciary, her case was dismissed.

The case of China's missing children says something revealing about the
Chinese state. It seems counterintuitive for so many children to be
denied legal documentation: China's civil documentation system - the
hukou system - is a cornerstone of Chinese governance. When a birth is
registered, a child is put onto a family or work unit's hukou booklet
and onto a digital database. This registration gives a person access to
an ID card, which is necessary for all facets of modern life, such as
employment, travel, marriage, and state welfare. The hukou is also
needed for children to access state education. Within the hukou system a
person's life is documented. So all citizens should be - and indeed,
want to be - registered in the system because they need civil documentation.

The hukou system has also allowed the Chinese government to control
migration; because citizens are allowed only to work and access
education and welfare in the location they are registered. The documents
citizens hold dictate their citizenship rights. In some circumstances
citizens can temporarily register their residence in another location,
or even move their registration to another city. But the central and
provincial governments attempt to control that process. Of course, there
is some illegal migration, but this does not allow citizens any rights
in the cities they reside. Consequently, the central government places
great emphasize on maintaining the hukou system.

So denial of the hukou, despite its importance for central government,
points to deeper cracks within the Chinese state. Local governments hold
children's identity documents to ransom until the fines are paid for the
parent's transgression, even though that undermines the central
government's system of migratory control.

Local governments do this because they continue to benefit from the
revenue gained from the childbirth policies, and they have no need to
declare how this revenue is allocated. The central government can do
little but turn a blind eye to this if they want their policies
enforced. But in the long run, the central government knows that a
complete civil documentation system is essential to becoming a developed
country, as is a system of governance whereby local, provincial and the
central government work in unison.

Stephanie Gordon is a social researcher across the Chinese legal,
political and anthropological fields, with a focus on human rights.

*Her name has been changed to protect her identity.

(8) Israel changes Child Custody in divorce cases, from Mother to Joint

Child support a revolution!

15:16 ,04.11.14 | Adv. Eymi Bechor-Bouni

Joint custody is now the default option and child support is calculated

The revolution in Israeli family law is no longer a dream or imaginary
but a reality that is alive and kicking. The change is socio-legal and
undoubtedly influences all of Israeli society.

There is no dispute that the outcome of any divorce or separation
proceeding in which children are involved can always be examined by two
questions: the question of child custody and their upkeep, and the
question of their financial support. In the not so distant past, just
some years ago, and in fact until the publication of two main reports on
the subject the Shifman Report and the Shnit Report - there was a real
legal certainty, and somebody coming to court could easily prepare for
the findings of the debate. It was clear that the custody of minors
would go to the mother and financial support for the children would be
paid for by the father. The amounts would also be ruled upon and fell in
a known and clear range, more or less.

As said, until not very long ago, there was a possible scenario in which
the mother earned three or four times that of the father but still did
not pay even one shekel towards the child support, and the father bore
the sole obligation to support the children. The situation was
undoubtedly unequal and reflected a dismal reality for one of the
parties. However, this situation has changed, not through legislation,
but through a socio-legal revolution implemented by the family court judges.

Consequently, every divorce or separation proceeding in which children
are involved is examined by two questions, the question of child custody
and their upkeep, and the question of their financial support. Due to
the revolutionary and dramatic developments on the issue of the custody
of minors, which impacts directly on the financial support of minors, it
is not possible to review the latter question without first
understanding the former question.

I will mention here that I argue that there is no other legal question
since the establishment of the State of Israel that has undergone such a
dramatic change, in effect a change of 180 degrees, like the issue of
child custody in family matters and in such a short time. And what are
we talking about. Until the publication of the Shnit Committee
conclusions "joint custody" was the rarest of terms in the family
courts. In fact, if you wanted a judge to approve an agreement in which
it was written that the parents had agreed on joint custody, the judge
would refuse. It was really like that. In order to get an agreement like
that approved the lawyer representing the case had to bring approval
from a social worker or psychologist that it was indeed for the good of
the child. Today joint custody is the default option for the family
court. In the past the belief was that the parents had to be in optimal
and constant contact in order to be joint parents, not arguing, living
close by and conducting a dialogue about the child on a daily basis.
Today if there is no contact, the family court will immediately set
joint custody almost as a preventative act or "treatment" for the lack
of contact.

About one year after the appointment of the Shnit Committee on 5.6.06,
another committee was appointed. The committee's aim was to examine the
subject of child support in the State of Israel. The committee headed by
Prof. Pinhas Shifman formulated the Right of the Child to Economic
Support Bill 2012 5773. Its finding were submitted on 21.11.12 to the
then Minister of Justice Yaakov Neeman. This date constitutes a dramatic
turning point in the debate on child support.

The starting point on which the committee recommended was that the
obligation falls upon both parents to financially support their children
according to their economic abilities and in relation to the amount of
time that the children live with each one of them. The amount of the
child support will be set according to mathematical formulae based on
these two parameters. And in practice a calculator has been published on
many Internet sites that makes it possible to "calculate" using it, the
amount of financial support that will be set. I repeat and reiterate
that the law has not been changed, the support of young children must
still be practiced and maintained and the ruling by individual law
setting absolute support by the father until aged 15. Here is an example
of such a ruling that proves my point that we are talking about a
revolution: a ruling that was handed down by Judge Vilner in the Haifa
District Court began a "snowball" of a revolutionary policy, which is a
policy of reducing child support through to cancelling joint custody.
And these are her words: "The obligation of the father to pay child
support stands in my opinion only in those cases where the minors are
found in the custody of the mother, and that it is she who directly
bears the necessary expenses of the children out of an obligation to
support them" ...... "It seems to me right to set a reduction in the
rate of the father's support in cases of joint custody at about 25% of
the amount of support that the father would be obligated to pay if the
children were in the sole custody of the mother."

As Judge Yaakov Cohen ruled in a judgment handed down in December 2013,
which set that parents with joint custody spending an equal amount of
time with the children and having an equal salary need no child support
at all! In February 2014, the honorable Judge Tamar Snonit Forer ruled
that when parents hold joint custody with similar salaries (if not
equal) and equal division in the burden of raising the children and thus
the expenses of the children, there is no need for child support.
However, the allowance for the disabled child would actually go to the
father because that child spent more time with the father. The honorable
judge also asks: "Why should one parent carry the burden of child
support alone and why in the circumstances of this case should one of
the parents pay the second one child support?"

A number of additional examples that have taken place recently: The
honorable Judge Yehoram Shaked has joined the revolution and published a
judgment that ruled that under personal law it is not necessary to pay
child and housing support. In a similar vein, the honorable Judge Iris
Arbel has also ruled under personal law from her seminary that joint
custody does not require child support. These judges have been joined by
Shiri Hyman in a ruling that was not published that sets child support
at just NIS 600 per child per night for three children.

These are just a few small examples from dozens of rulings which
represent a dramatic change in child support judgments. The future is
already here and it is not clear if the Supreme Court will also join, or
perhaps it will speak out strongly against the new ruling. Only time
will tell.

The author is the Founding Partner of the Eymi Bechor-Bouni Law Firm

(9) Police don't prosecute women for Domestic Violence they commit -
Australian Senator

Women given 'free pass' on domestic violence, says former Nationals senator

Bill O'Chee says women 'just as capable of killing as men' and should be
prosecuted by police

Bill O'Chee says police are failing to prosecute women for acts of
domestic violence. Photograph: Roje Adaimy/AAP {end}

Bridie Jabour

Wednesday 7 January 2015 16.04 AEST

The former National party senator Bill O'Chee says women are being given
a "free pass" by police on domestic violence and are just as capable as
men of killing, "especially when children are involved".

O'Chee, a columnist for Fairfax Media's Brisbane Times, wrote that equal
opportunity for women meant equal responsibility for their actions,
especially criminal ones, but police were failing to prosecute them for
acts of domestic violence.

Citing the stabbing murder of eight children in Cairns by the mother of
seven of them, the woman who allegedly dumped her baby in a drain and a
woman who was charged with attempted murder of two children after
allegedly setting a house on fire, O'Chee said it proved "domestic
violence is an equal opportunity killer".

"Women are just as capable of killing in domestic circumstances as men,
especially when children are involved," he said.

O'Chee said he had a solicitor friend who "ruefully" did not charge one
woman with domestic violence when he was a police prosecutor.

"Upon reflection, he agreed there was an inherent bias in the way police
treated female perpetrators of domestic violence. They usually get a
free pass," he wrote.

"The problem with this is that we know people who commit acts of
domestic violence are likely to escalate their crimes over time, unless
they are brought in check. It follows that every time Queensland police
give a woman a free pass on domestic violence, because she is a woman,
they may be creating a future domestic killer."

O'Chee cited statistics from the Australian Institute of Criminology
that show more than 45% of family-related murders of children between
2008 and 2010 were committed by the mother.

Data from various sources shows that on average one woman is killed
every week in a domestic violence situation. Four out of five
intimate-partner homicides involve a man killing his female partner,
data from White Ribbon Australia shows.

Data from the Department of Families, Housing and Community Affairs show
64% of women who experienced physical assault and 81.1% of women who
experienced sexual assault did not report it to police.

The chairwoman of the Women's Electoral Lobby, Melanie Fernandez, called
O'Chee's comments irresponsible.

"Statistics clearly show the victims are mainly woman," she said. "One
woman a week is killed by a partner or ex partner - it's not the same
for male victims."

Fernandez singled out O'Chee's comment that women were just as capable
as killing in a domestic situation as "just not accurate".

"It's pretty disappointing to see something like this published without
a balanced or accurate view; it's quite problematic. We've got such a
big problem of violence against women. To put something forward like
this decreases the serious nature of that," she said.

O'Chee, a Queensland senator between 1990 and 1999, was especially
critical of police, who he claimed repeatedly were failing to prosecute
women over domestic violence.

"They have no right to effectively condone domestic violence against men
and children by refusing to charge offenders if they are women," he wrote.

"If the police are happy to charge women with armed robbery, drug
trafficking or extortion, why are they not equally willing to charge
them with domestic and interpersonal violence?"

A bill was introduced into Queensland parliament last year to strengthen
domestic violence laws. The parliamentary committee heard evidence of
police telling victims to leave the house until the perpetrator had
"calmed down".

(10) Domestic violence an equal opportunity killer - Senator Bill O'Chee

Domestic violence an equal opportunity killer

   January 7, 2015 - 6:11AM

Bill O'Chee

Women are just as capable of killing in domestic circumstances as men,
especially when children are involved.

For me the most tragic image of 2014 was watching a father break down
crying "My babies, my babies" at a memorial service for his children,
two of eight child victims of a Cairns domestic house of horrors. The
alleged killer was mother to seven of the children, and the aunt of another.

In Brisbane, another woman was charged in December over the deaths of
two children, and the attempted murder of two others.

And we must not forget the mother who attempted to kill her newborn baby
in Sydney just weeks before by dumping him down a stormwater drain.
Fortunately he survived for six days before being discovered and rescued.

If something is to be learned from all of these incredibly sad cases, it
is that domestic violence is an equal opportunity killer. Women are just
as capable of killing in domestic circumstances as men, especially when
children are involved.

This is borne out by the latest statistics from the Australian Institute
of Criminology. These show that between 2008 and 2010, in family related
murders of children, more than 45 per cent of the killers were the mother.

Last year, when I wrote about domestic violence against men, I was
contacted by a solicitor friend who was keen to discuss the matter. He
had been a police prosecutor for 10 years before going into practice for
himself. He ruefully admitted that in those ten years he had never
charged a woman with domestic violence, notwithstanding the fact over
one third of domestic violence victims are men.

Upon reflection, he agreed there was an inherent bias in the way police
treated female perpetrators of domestic violence. They usually get a
free pass.

The problem with this is that we know people who commit acts of domestic
violence are likely to escalate their crimes over time, unless they are
brought in check. It follows that every time Queensland Police give a
woman a free pass on domestic violence, because she is a woman, they may
be creating a future domestic killer.

Unfortunately, while our enlightenment about the dangers of domestic
violence is growing, it is not matched by an equal enlightenment about
who might actually commit that domestic violence.

Dr Elizabeth Celi, a psychologist and author on men's health, has some
interesting insights into the issue. She says public awareness of
domestic violence often falls short of portraying the whole story.

"Decades of rightly raising public awareness for female victims of
domestic violence, have simultaneously lacked in accurate public
education that women can also be abusive and violent, toward other
women, men and children," she says.

She also points out that turning a blind eye to women who commit
domestic violence puts children at risk.

"Children are affected by abusive and violent behaviour regardless of
the perpetrator's gender. Our children don't deserve to be put at risk
by overlooking women's abuse and violence."

It is time to admit that all domestic violence is to be deplored,
irrespective of who commits it, or who is the victim.

It is also time for Queensland Police to change their ways. They have no
right to effectively condone domestic violence against men and children
by refusing to charge offenders if they are women. If the police are
happy to charge women with armed robbery, drug trafficking or extortion,
why are they not equally willing to charge them with domestic and
interpersonal violence?

Equal opportunity for women must also mean equal responsibility for
their actions, including their crimes.

Domestic violence is not a gender battleground, or at least it shouldn't
be. It is about keeping people safe, especially children.

How many more children must suffer or die before we learn this lesson?

(11) Australia holds national summit to curb “endemic” domestic violence

From: Iskandar Masih <>
Subject: RE: National Summit on Domestic Violence
Date: Wed, 7 Jan 2015 04:33:28 +0500

10 Dec, 2014

Canberra, 8 December 2014 – The Minister Assisting the Prime Minister
for Women, Senator Michaelia Cash today delivered the opening address
for the inaugural National Domestic Violence Summit, emphasising that
all Australians have a role to play in changing the attitudes that
create and sustain the endemic culture of violence in Australia.

“Ensuring the whole community works together – from the grassroots level
to the highest echelons – is vital if we are to see a decrease in
domestic violence incidents in Australia,” Minister Cash said.

“The National Domestic Violence Summit is a leading example of
governments and the community sector working together to deliver a
whole-of-community approach to addressing violence. The summit is an
opportunity for governments, academia, service delivery agencies, and
the not-for-profit sector to share best practice approaches to
preventing and reducing violence against women and children and
strengthen domestic violence strategies in Australia.”

On 27 June 2014, Prime Minister Tony Abbott MP launched the Second
Action Plan under the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and
their Children 2010-2022. The Coalition Government is making a
significant investment to reduce – and ultimately eliminate – violence
against women and children, providing more than $100 million over the
next four years to support the Second Action Plan.

“The Second Action Plan has a strong focus on delivering tangible
benefits for women and communities that have diverse experiences of
violence – this includes a concerted focus on Indigenous, culturally and
linguistically diverse women and women with disability,” Minister Cash said.

“It is intolerable that in Australia one in three women will experience
physical violence and one in five will experience sexual assault in
their lifetime. Whilst Australia has been heralded internationally as a
leader on dealing with violence against women, it is also recognised
that the level of domestic violence in our society is endemic.

“That is why a national and coordinated approach is fundamental to
making sustained and meaningful progress. Only by working together with
government, media, community and civil society organisations can we
change community attitudes about gender equality and promote a
nation-wide change in the culture, behaviour and attitudes that underpin
violence against women.

“Together, we can make a real change and eliminate family violence, once
and for all.” ==

(12) National Summit on Domestic Violence

   Iskandar Masih<> 7 January 2015 at 09:33
To: Iskandar Masih <>

Is there really an upsurge in domestic violence in recent times? Of
course there has always been some of this going on, but has it actually
increased in recent years?

If so, why? Is it simply a result of economic uncertainties? the
insecurities of the post-modern conditions?

Or does it bear any relation to the changed understandings of gender
roles? Do men feel 'unempowered' or 'disenfranchised' by the growing
assertiveness and independency displayed by their women, leading to them
feeling insecure, and thus resorting to violence or 'psychological
control' as a means to compensate, to recover some sense of their
'manhood'???? Have we actually found here that the new liberal mores
just don't mix with the basic fundamentals of our humanity? Or is it
simply that we haven't yet shrugged off our evolutionary 'cave man'
instincts like we should (according to modern liberal expectations)?

Can relationships really work on the basis of 'equality'? Or is this
merely a liberal pipe-dream?

Or is it just that those who resort to, or succumb to using violence are
more sinful than the rest of us?

But it has often been said (in N.Z.) anyway, that violence usually
results from ongoing unresolved tensions in the relationship. But what
is the underlying cause of these tensions? Is the man experiencing
frustration because he can't find the right way to 'be a man,' to be
satisfied and fulfilled in his male role, because he has been induced to
give-way to the new assertiveness and independency of today's women?

I would be interested to learn your thoughts on this.


(13) Midwife is denied access to her bank accounts, while lawyers charge
her £400 an hour

'Miss G', 94, falls into the clutches of the mysterious Court of Protection

A former midwife is denied access to her bank accounts, while lawyers
charge her £400 an hour

By Christopher Booker

4:38PM BST 05 Apr 2014

There have been further bizarre twists to the unhappy story I reported
two months ago, of how "Miss G", a frail 94-year-old former midwife
living in her own £350,000 house in east London, has fallen into the
clutches of the weird system that operates under that mysterious body,
the Court of Protection.

Since 2012, Miss G has been capably looked after by a couple who live
with her and whom she regards as "family". But the social workers of her
local council, Redbridge, became so cross when she dispensed with the
inadequate services of "carers" they had nominated for her, and so
concerned that she might leave her property to her new carers, that they
applied to the Court of Protection to have her declared as lacking the
"mental capacity" needed to take decisions over her own life.

All control over her affairs and finances was handed to the council and
to the Official Solicitor, paid for from her savings. Apart from an
allowance of £100 a week, she was denied access to her bank accounts or
statements. The court ruled that she must allow the social workers to
enter her house, unannounced, at any time, in a way that she resents as

Her plight has aroused such press interest that, at the latest court
hearing, Redbridge applied for an injunction banning her from having any
further contact with journalists. Even more oddly, I gather from people
also in court in a professional capacity, the barrister acting on behalf
of the Official Solicitor as her "Litigation Friend" (although he agreed
with everything the council asked for) announced midway through the
hearing that, because the funds in her account were running out, he
could no longer continue to act for her.

These observers tell me that "her" lawyers' fees amounted to some £400
an hour, and that a bank statement showed that since November her
account has diminished by £25,000. So this frightened, still articulate
old lady is only permitted £100 a week to live on, while her lawyers
have been able to charge four times as much an hour, to the point where
her barrister says she has so little money left that he can no longer
afford to represent her.

(14) Family Court disaster: Social Workers represent the 'interests of
the child'

Family court reform: a disaster for parents

In the name of efficiency, the Children and Families Act will make it
easier to take children away from their parents. T

24 April 2014

This week, the Lib-Con coalition government enacted what it has called
the 'largest family-justice reform for a generation'. The Children and
Families Act 2014, which came into effect on 22 April, allows for
wide-reaching changes to the way that the family courts operate,
including an extendable 26-week limit to care proceedings and limits on
the use of expert-witness evidence. The family justice minister, Simon
Hughes, said that the reforms 'focus on the children's needs rather than
what parents see as their own rights'.

While the act makes provision for a number of sensible administrative
changes to the family courts, such as ensuring that the same judge hears
the same case throughout all the relevant hearings, the central point of
the act is to make family justice more 'efficient'. The act follows the
independent Family Justice Review undertaken by David Norgrove in 2011,
which concluded that the system is often subject to 'unconscionable
delay' which was 'fuelled' by a judicial 'distrust of local authorities'.

He continued: 'It is of course right that we endeavour to keep families
safely together, but we must also be quicker to recognise when this is
not possible'. Peeling back the flowery language, the philosophy behind
the reforms is clear: judges must be more willing to put children into
the care of local authorities quickly.

This focus on 'efficiency' is symptomatic of a system which is drifting
towards the Kafkaesque. Consider what Hughes means when he talks about
'the children's needs' in the context of care proceedings. In 2001, the
Labour government established the Children and Family Court Advisory and
Support Service (CAFCASS). CAFCASS became the largest employer of social
workers in England and Wales following the introduction of the role of
the family court adviser (FCA). FCAs represented a new presence in the
family courts, in the form of social workers who are instructed to
represent the 'interests of the child' in care proceedings.

FCAs are instructed by the court to attend to families, interview
parents and their children (often separately) and make 'representations
and recommendations to judges' as to what is in the interests of the child.

I spoke to a family-law solicitor recently who had experience
representing parents in care proceedings. She told me that because FCAs
purport to represent the 'interests of the child', their findings can
often be determinate in family-court proceedings. She said: 'If you get
a bad report, the case is more or less over for the parents.' Another
lawyer I spoke to said that, because of judges' increasingly limited
involvement, cases often 'turn on a barrister's ability to undermine the
credibility of a social worker'. Lawyers can even instruct a private
social worker in an attempt to undermine the findings of the CAFCASS

The view from lawyers appears to be that the judge's role in such cases
is little more than as a rubber stamp for the views of government social
workers, who function under the powerful mantle of 'acting in the
interests of the child'. The efficiency agenda embodied in the Children
and Family Act is not only a snub to the rights of parents, but also an
indication of the lack of trust that parliament has in judges to resolve
cases fairly. When Hughes talks about advancing the interests of the
child, what he is really talking about is advancing the gospel of the
government social worker.

This is particularly worrying when you consider that CAFCASS states on
its website that it 'works within the strategic objectives agreed by
[its] sponsor department and contributes to wider government objectives
relating to children'. So when Hughes talks about the 'needs of the
child', in a roundabout way he is in fact talking about the needs of
CAFCASS's 'sponsor department' within government. It is not difficult to
see how this could become dangerous when UK education secretary Michael
Gove has been responsible for appointing personnel to the CAFCASS board.
Gove has previously boasted of 'working hard to make it quicker to get
children into care'.

Consider also the influence of children's charities in the government's
approach to family intervention. Sir Martin Narey, the former chief
executive of Barnado's, undertook a review on behalf of Gove's
department into social-work training. It was Barnado's who called for a
30-week limit to care proceedings, bemoaning how the 'evident lack of
credence given to social workers' today is one of the causes of
'significant delays'. In the end, the government opted for a time limit
of 26 weeks. The words of Barnado's are almost exactly replicated in the
recommendations of Norgrove's purportedly independent review.

The Children and Families Act might be the most significant reform of a
generation, but it is also a development of a trend which was already
well underway: the reorientation of the family courts around the
efficient removal of children from their homes. As part of this
reorientation, social workers are now playing an ever-greater role under
the auspices of representing the interests of the child; the
recommendations of openly interventionist children's charities like
Barnado's are now being adopted almost word for word into a purportedly
independent review and then on to the statute book; and mistrust of the
judiciary's ability to judge cases fairly has flourished. But most
worryingly, the reorientation of the family courts has transformed the
rights of parents in the courtroom into inconveniences to be overcome,
as nothing more than 'what they see' as their rights. Rights, that is,
which have no real meaning or substance whatsoever.

Luke Gittos is law editor at spiked, a solicitor practicing criminal law
and convenor of the London Legal Salon.

(15) Mum's boyfriend: the worst sexual risk to children - Bettina Arndt

Mum's boyfriend - the worst sexual risk to children

February 14, 2014

Bettina Arndt

Public attention is riveted on the tragic stories emerging from the
royal commission into child sexual abuse, but this is not the main game
when it comes to the risks to children. The most likely perpetrator of
sexual abuse on children lurks not in public institutions, but in the
family home.

The villains are sometimes fathers or other relatives, but the rapid
increase in the proportion of children who do not live with their two
biological parents - now more than one in every four (27 per cent) - has
opened the door to dangerous strangers, to mum's new boyfriend.

We are regularly exposed to sad news stories of children battered by men
passing through the lives of sole mothers. What we rarely hear about is
the increased risk of sexual abuse by men who lack the constraints that
protect most children from incest. That risk is spelt out in great
detail in a new research report by the Centre for Independent Studies.
Research fellow Jeremy Sammut cites reviews of more than 70 research
reports providing overwhelming evidence that girls living in
non-traditional families are sexually abused by "stepfathers" - partners
of their single, remarried or repartnered mothers - at many times the
rate of abuse by biological fathers.

One such study, the 2010 US Fourth National Incidence Study of Abuse and
Neglect, found that children whose single parent had a partner in the
home were 20 times more likely to be sexually abused than those in a
two-biological-parent family.

Step and single-parent families accounted for only one-third of all
children in the US, but more than two-thirds of all children who
experienced child sexual abuse. There is research from Britain and many
other countries showing similar results. Sammut is rightly critical of
the fact that in Australia we are denied the statistics likely to show
comparable patterns.

Data on child abuse published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and
the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare fail to distinguish
between fathers and "stepfathers".

Sammut argues this reluctance to publish relevant statistics is because
of politically correct attitudes towards family diversity - "namely the
fiction that the traditional family is just one amongst many equally
worthy family forms".

The increased risk of child sexual abuse is simply one illustration of
the fact that a child's life prospects are greatly influenced by the
type of family they live with. Yet that is an unpalatable truth many
people are determined to deny.

A Perth researcher working on a major longitudinal study on the mental
health of children once told me he shuddered when he heard I had called
to inquire about their latest findings.

They had found that a key variable was family structure, with children
in single-parent families most at risk, followed by step-families, and
those with traditional two-biological parents least at risk. The
researcher had been hoping the findings would slip under the media radar.

The silence on these issues is driven by nervousness about offending the
many people in these non-traditional families who are doing a great job
raising their children. But given the widespread public concern about
child sexual abuse, it makes no sense to allow such sensitivities to
prevent public discussion on a risk that far outweighs the chances of a
child being groped by a Scout leader or molested in YMCA after-school care.

So many children now live with single mothers who regularly invite
strangers into their homes. Working as a dating coach, I've been
astonished to hear from male clients who report often being allowed to
stay in the homes of mothers while children of all ages sleep in nearby
bedrooms. The excitement of a new lover encourages reckless behaviour.

That's hardly surprising. The early "in love" phase of a relationship
can bring with it profound emotional and physiological changes, known
for impairing good judgment. The lovesick lack insight or proper
evaluative assessment of the true characteristics of the object of their
attention - they see only the good and ignore the bad in their lovers.
It's a mighty dangerous state for someone caring for children.

Perhaps the saddest aspect of this risky state of affairs concerns the
biological father - the divorced dad who fears his child might be at
risk from new men in his former partner's life.

I've heard so often from men in this situation who desperately report
their concerns to the government departments supposedly protecting
children, only to be dismissed as jealous nutcases.

And yet fathers still are regularly accused of child sexual abuse in
Family Court battles, while dangerous strangers are allowed unlimited,
unmonitored access to their children.

Sammut calls for a public education campaign to end the silence on this
issue. Let's bring it on.

Bettina Arndt is a social commentator.

(16) The Child-Free Life,9171,2148636,00.html

Having It All Without Having Children

The American birthrate is at a record low. What happens when having it
all means not having children?

By Lauren Sandler Monday, Aug. 12, 2013

One evening when she was 14 years old, Laura Scott was washing dishes in
the kitchen with her mother when she decided she didn't want to have a
child. At 26, Scott got married and waited for her mind to change. "It
never happened," she says. "And I realized I was going to be fine." Now
50, Scott is more than fine: she's fulfilled. And she's not alone. The
birthrate in the U.S. is the lowest in recorded American history. From
2007 to 2011, the most recent year for which there's data, the fertility
rate declined 9%. A 2010 Pew Research report showed that childlessness
has risen across all racial and ethnic groups, adding up to about 1 in 5
American women who end their childbearing years maternity-free, compared
with 1 in 10 in the 1970s.

The decision to have a child or not is a private one, but it takes
place, in America, in a culture that often equates womanhood with
motherhood. Any national discussion about the struggle to reconcile
womanhood with modernity tends to begin and end with one subject:
parenting. If you're a woman who's not in the mommy trenches, more often
than not you're excluded from the discussion. But being sidelined
doesn't exempt childless women from being scolded. The Weekly Standard's
Jonathan V. Last has made the case in his controversial book What to
Expect When No One's Expecting that the selfishness of the childless
American endangers our economic future by reducing the number of
consumers and taxpayers. With fertility treatment widely available, not
to mention adoption, even clinically infertile women have more options
than ever to become mothers, which increases the possibility that any
woman who doesn't will be judged for her choice.

Even so, women who choose not to become mothers are finding new paths of
acceptance. As their ranks rise, so do positive attitudes about leading
a life in which having it all doesn't mean having a baby.

(17) Doctors call for ban on Smacking

Hands off: doctors take debate over smacking to legal lengths

July 26, 2013

A leading group of doctors from Australia and New Zealand is pushing to
make it a criminal offence for parents to smack their children.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians will call for a legal
amendment to give children the same protection from assault as others in
the community.

The president of the college's paediatrics and child health division,
Susan Moloney, said physical punishment could escalate to abuse. "We
know that a significant number of child homicides are a result of
physical punishment which went wrong," she said.

Research shows it can lead to depression, anxiety, aggression,
antisocial behaviour and substance abuse. In Australia it is legal for
parents to use corporal punishment on children as long as it is

Yvette Andronicus from St Ives, who has two children, says a firm voice
is the most effective discipline. "I don't think smacking works because
it doesn't teach the child anything about why the behaviour is wrong,"
she said. "The naughty corner doesn't really work either.

"You're much better off sitting them down and talking to them about what
they did, explaining why it's wrong."

But Associate Professor Moloney said: "If you hit your dog you could be
arrested - but it's legal to hit your child.

"We protect children with legislation around pool fences and not smoking
in cars, for example. This is legislation which would protect children
from physical punishment." The college, which represents 14,000
physicians, will run a campaign to educate parents about alternatives to
smacking. It will discuss the proposal with the National Association for
Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect and seek advice from legal experts.

Child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg does not advocate smacking but
believes legislation would be unworkable. "How could you reasonably
monitor and enforce such a law? What are we going to do? Have the
smacking police?" he said.

Family therapist Michael Hawton said many good parents smacked simply
because they did not know the alternatives.

"The problem is many parents simply don't know what to do or what the
alternatives are so they become frustrated and they smack or they yell,"
he said.

Justin Coulson, a father of five children aged three to 13 and an author
on parenting, said education would be vital to any reform.

"I am in favour of legislation but I don't think it's enforceable … I
would rather see resources going into education," he said.

Dr Coulson's research shows a high degree of acceptance for smacking in
Australia, though bans in 33 countries have lowered child abuse rates
and crime in general.

Roslyn Phillips, research officer with the Christian group FamilyVoice
Australia, rejected claims that smacking was harmful, saying it was
instructive for small children.

"Reasonable discipline teaches very young children who have no
understanding of logic where the boundaries are," she said. "A short
physical action indicates 'no'. An abusive action by parents is a crime
but a smack … I think most people know the difference."

(18) Scientists create False Memores in Mice

How to Make Memories of Things That Never Were


Published: July 25, 2013

The vagaries of human memory are notorious. A friend insists you were at
your 15th class reunion when you know it was your 10th. You distinctly
remember that another friend was at your wedding, until she reminds you
that you didn’t invite her. Or, more seriously, an eyewitness
misidentifies the perpetrator of a terrible crime.

Not only are false, or mistaken, memories common in normal life,
researchers have found it relatively easy to generate false memories of
words and images in human subjects. But exactly what goes on in the
brain when mistaken memories are formed has remained mysterious.

Now scientists at the Riken–M.I.T. Center for Neural Circuit Genetics at
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, say they have created a false
memory in a mouse, providing detailed clues to how such memories may
form in human brains.

Steve Ramirez, Xu Liu and other scientists, led by Susumu Tonegawa,
report Thursday in the journal Science that they caused mice to remember
being shocked in one location, when in reality the electric shock was
delivered in a completely different location.

The finding, said Dr. Tonegawa, a Nobel laureate for his work in
immunology, and founder of the Picower Institute for Learning and
Memory, of which the center is a part, is yet another cautionary
reminder of how unreliable memory can be in mice and humans, and adds to
evidence he and others first presented a year ago in the journal Nature
that the physical trace of a specific memory can be identified in a
group of brain cells as it forms, and activated later by stimulating
those same cells.

Although mice are not people, the basic mechanisms of memory formation
in mammals are evolutionarily ancient, said Edvard I. Moser, a
neuroscientist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology,
who studies spatial memory and navigation and was not part of Dr.
Tonegawa's team.

At this level of brain activity, he said, “the difference between a
mouse and a human is quite small.” The part of the brain in which the
memories formed is an area of the hippocampus called the dentate gyrus,
which is similar in mice and humans.

“What I find fascinating about this,” Dr. Moser said, “is that you
actually can point to a physical substrate to memory,” what the
researchers call an engram. Neuroscientists have long talked about
engrams, but Dr. Moser said the research this year and last is the
closest they have gotten to pointing to a spot in the brain and saying,
“That is the memory.”

In the research reported Thursday, Dr. Tonegawa's team first put mice in
one environment and let them get used to it and remember it. They
identified and chemically labeled the cells in the animals’ brains where
that memory was being formed. The mice were not shocked in that environment.

A day later, in a completely different environment, the researchers
delivered an electric shock to the mice at the same time that they
stimulated the previously identified brain cells to trigger the earlier

On the third day, the mice were reintroduced to the first environment.
They froze in fear, a typical and well studied mouse behavior,
indicating they remembered being shocked in the first environment,
something that in reality never happened. The researchers ran numerous
variations of the experiment to confirm that they were in fact seeing
the mice acting on a false memory.

The tools of optogenetics, which are transforming neuroscience, were
used to locateand chemically label neurons as well as make them
susceptible to activation by blue light transmitted by a fiber optic
cable in the mouse brain. With these techniques the researchers were
able to identify and chemically label which neurons were involved in
forming the initial memory of the first environment, and to reactivate
the labeled cells a day later with light.

Dr. Tonegawa said that because the mechanisms of memory formation are
almost certainly similar in mice and humans, part of the importance of
the research is “to make people realize even more than before how
unreliable human memory is,” particularly in criminal cases when so much
is at stake.

That unreliability, he said, prompts a question about evolution: "Why is
our brain made in such a way that we form false memories?"

No one knows, he said, but he wonders if it has to do with the
creativity that allows humans to envision possible events and
combinations of real and imagined events in great detail. That rich
internal experience fuels work in the arts and sciences and other
creative activities, he said. “Unless you have that kind of ability,
there is no civilization,” he said.

But it could also provide a lot of raw material for false memories.
Perhaps he said, our faulty memories represent “a tradeoff for this
tremendous benefit.”

(19) How to  create False Memories

25 July 2013

Scientists can implant false memories into mice

By Melissa Hogenboom Science reporter, BBC News

False memories have been implanted into mice, scientists say.

A team was able to make the mice wrongly associate a benign environment
with a previous unpleasant experience from different surroundings.

The researchers conditioned a network of neurons to respond to light,
making the mice recall the unpleasant environment.

Reporting in Science, they say it could one day shed light into how
false memories occur in humans.

The brains of genetically engineered mice were implanted with optic
fibres in order to deliver pulses of light to their brain. Known as
optogenetics, this technique is able to make individual neurons respond
to light.

{inset} "Our memory changes every single time it's being recorded.
That's why we can incorporate new information into old memories and this
is how a false memory can form...” Dr Xu Liu Massachusetts Institute of
{end inset}

Just like in mice, our memories are stored in collections of cells, and
when events are recalled we reconstruct parts of these cells - almost
like re-assembling small pieces of a puzzle.

It has been well documented that human memory is highly unreliable,
first highlighted by a study on eyewitness testimonies in the 70s.
Simple changes in how a question was asked could influence the memory a
witness had of an event such as a car crash.

When this was brought to public attention, eyewitness testimonies alone
were no longer used as evidence in court. Many people wrongly convicted
on memory statements were later exonerated by DNA evidence.

Xu Liu of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and one the lead
authors of the study, said that when mice recalled a false memory, it
was indistinguishable from the real memory in the way it drove a fear
response in the memory forming cells of a mouse's brain.

{inset} How a memory was implanted in a mouse
A mouse was put in one environment (blue box) and the brain cells
encoding memory were labelled in this environment (white circles) These
cells were then made responsive to light The animal was placed in a
different environment (the red box) and light was delivered into the
brain to activate these labelled cells This induced the recall of the
first environment - the blue box. While the animal was recalling the
first environment, they also received mild foot shocks Later when the
mouse was put back into the first environment, it showed behavioural
signs of fear, indicating it had formed a false fear memory for the
first environment, where it was never shocked in reality
{end inset}

The mouse is the closest animal scientists can easily use to analyse the
brain, as though simpler, its structure and basic circuitry is very
similar to the human brain.

Studying neurons in a mouse's brain could therefore help scientists
further understand how similar structures in the human brain work.

"In the English language there are only 26 letters, but the combinations
of letters make unlimited words and sentences, this is also true for
memories," Dr Liu told BBC News.

Evolving memories "There are so many brain cells and for each individual
memory, different combinations of small populations of cells are activated."

These differing combinations of cells could partly explain why memories
are not static like a photograph, but constantly evolving, he added.

Susumu Tonegawa of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said his
teams' work provided the first animal model in which false and genuine
memories could be investigated in the cells which store memories, called
engram-bearing cells.

"Humans are highly imaginative animals. Just like our mice, an aversive
or appetitive event could be associated with a past experience one may
happen to have in mind at that moment, hence a false memory is formed."

Silencing fear

Neil Burgess from University College London, who was not involved with
the work, told BBC News the study was an "impressive example" of
creating a fearful response in an environment where nothing fearful

"One day this type of knowledge may help scientists to understand how to
remove or reduce the fearful associations experienced by people with
conditions like post traumatic stress disorder."

But he added that it's only an advance in "basic neuroscience" and that
these methods could not be directly applied to humans for many years.

"But basic science always helps in the end, and it may be possible, one
day, to use similar techniques to silence neurons causing the
association to fear."

'Diseases of thought' Mark Mayford of the Scripps Research Institute in
San Diego, US, said: "The question is, how does the brain change with
experience? That's the heart of everything the brain does.

He explained that work like this could one day further help us to
understand the structure of our thoughts and the cells involved.

"Then one can begin to look at those brain circuits, see how they
change, and hopefully find the areas or mechanisms that change with

"The implications are potentially interventions for diseases of thought
such as schizophrenia. You cannot approach schizophrenia unless you know
how a perception is put together."

Peter Myers