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Waltham Forest Community

When men and women fail to form stable marriages, the result is a vast expansion of government attempts to cope with the terrible social needs that result. - Maggie Gallagher

Gender and Society

The UK has one of the highest rates of family breakdown in the Western world with just two thirds of children living with both parents, according to research by a global development organisation.

When men and women fail to form stable marriages, the result is a vast expansion of government attempts to cope with the terrible social needs that result. - Maggie Gallagher

wfcwHungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban bans gender studies programmes
25 October 2018
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Hungary‘s far-right prime minister has banned gender studiesprogrammes at universities – with his deputy arguing the area of study is an ideology rather than a science.
Viktor Orban, who has rejected the EU’s vision of liberal democracy, issued a decree to revoke accreditation and funding for gender studies programmes at the two universities that provide them in the central European country earlier in October.
The government’s standpoint is that people are born either male or female, and we do not consider it acceptable for us to talk about socially constructed genders rather than biological sexes,” a spokesman for the prime minister said.
wfcwFeminist’s poster removed after complaint from transgender activist
26 September  2018
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The poster featured only six words: “Woman, women, noun, adult human female.” Yet they were still deemed too dangerous by one transgender activist who has branded the poster, which carries the dictionary definition of woman, as hate speech in an “absurd” and “Orwellian” row.
The giant poster in Liverpool quoted the definition of woman, according to the Google dictionary.
It survived for about a week before it was removed under pressure from Adrian Harrop, a Twitter activist and NHS doctor, who complained that it made transgender people feel unsafe.
The poster was taken down by the billboard company, which offered an apology after a complaint from Adrian Harrop, a Twitter activist
He successfully demanded its removal after lobbying the chief executive and senior directors of the billboard company, Primesight, on social media, accusing them of being complicit “in the spread of transphobic hate speech”.
wfcwMumsnet is driving fear of childbirth, expert warns
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Mothers who post graphic accounts of the birthing process on websites such as Mumsnet are contributing to a rise in phobia of childbirth, a senior academic has said.
Sharing such descriptions might be therapeutic for the mother who had gone through the experience, but pregnant women could be traumatised by reading “horror stories” about birth, Catriona Jones, of the University of Hull, said.
“All you have to do is google ‘my experience of childbirth’, and you are met with a tsunami of stories,” said Mrs Jones, who researches tocophobia, the extreme fear of labour. “If you go into Mumsnet forums, women are telling stories about childbirth — ‘it’s terrible, it’s a bloodbath’. I think that can be difficult to deal with.”
wfcwMichael Fallon resigned after allegedly telling Andrea Leadsom: ‘Cold hands? I know where you can put them’
3 November 2017 
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Sir Michael Fallon was forced to quit as defence secretary after a Cabinet colleague accused him of making lewd remarks, it emerged last night.
He is said to have told Andrea Leadsom, who had complained of having cold hands, "I know where you can put them to warm them up".
A source familiar with the controversy alleged that Sir Michael had been "tactile" and had also put his arm around Mrs Leadsom.
The Leader of the Commons subsequently reported the remarks to Number 10 two days ago and insisted he must be sacked over a string of offensive comments, according to reports.
wfcw It would be "sensible" not to appoint men
Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom: Men should not be nannies because they may be paedophiles
14 July 2016
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Andrea Leadsom has suggested men should not be hired to look after young children because they may be paedophiles.
During a discussion on the challenges faced by parents, the newly-appointed Environment Secretary said it would be "sensible" not to appoint males for childcare duties


 
TopMany parents “feel helpless about their children being exploited and drawn into criminality."
wfcwDo more to stop ethnic minority young people falling into crime, says David Lammy report
15 September 2017
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CHURCHES should rise to the challenge of preventing young people from entering the criminal justice system.
Labour MP for Tottenham, David Lammy: Despite making up just 14 per cent of the population, BAME men and women make up 25 per cent of prisoners. His “biggest concern” is with the youth justice system. He notes that, over the last five years 22,000 BAME children have had their names added to the Police National Database, including for minor offences, imperiling their future job prospects.
“Behind many young offenders are adults who either neglect or exploit them,” he writes. “The youth justice systems appear to have given up on parenting.” Last year, just 189 parenting orders were issued. Many parents “feel helpless about their children being exploited and drawn into criminality.”
“The factors behind BAME over-representation begin long before a guilty plea, court appearance, or prison sentence,” Mr Lammy said last week. “Communities must take greater responsibility for the care and development of their people — failing to do so only damages society as a whole
 
TopCan we all "have it all"?
wfcwPeople to be allowed to pick their own gender without doctor's diagnosis, under Government plans
23 July 2017
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Under plans being considered by ministers, adults will be able to change their birth certificates at will without a doctor’s diagnosis, while non-binary gender people will be able to record their gender as “X”.
Changes to the law will be consulted on and will ultimately be included in a planned Gender Recognition Bill, set to be published in the autumn.
wfcwSexual offences in Waltham Forest up 152% since 2008
21 July 2017
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SEXUAL offences in the borough continue to be at their highest point since a national standard for logging crimes was rolled out 14 years ago.
New crime figures released yesterday (June 20) by the Office for National Statistics have shown a steady rise in sexual offences in the borough since 2003.
wfcwWhy Women Still Can’t Have It All
It’s time to stop fooling ourselves, says a woman who left a position of power: the women who have managed to be both mothers and top professionals are superhuman, rich, or selfemployed.
If we truly believe in equal opportunity for all women, here’s what has to change.
read pdf
By Anne-Marie Slaughter

Perhaps, leaders who invested time in their own families, would be more keenly aware of the toll that their public choices may take on private lives.

 
TopThe Crisis of Masculinity
Passchendaele,1917. London, 2017
wfcw wfcw It would be "sensible" not to appoint men
Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom: Men should not be nannies because they may be paedophiles
14 July 2016
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Andrea Leadsom has suggested men should not be hired to look after young children because they may be paedophiles.
During a discussion on the challenges faced by parents, the newly-appointed Environment Secretary said it would be "sensible" not to appoint males for childcare duties


wfcwLaw that will brand all men rapists:
22 March 2017
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SARAH VINE says new plans to allow victims to testify via video are deeply worrying
The proposal, announced earlier this week by the Ministry of Justice, to allow alleged victims of rape to have their cross examination recorded before a trial, is deeply worrying. 
In English law, you are innocent until proven guilty. By allowing video testimony, you are introducing the presumption of guilt and placing the onus on the defence to prove innocence.
If these proposals become reality, it will be open season. Worse still, they will enshrine in English law that old ultra-feminist line: that all men are rapists until proven otherwise.

wfcwMale suicide: a growing crisis
10 September 2016
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The biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK is suicide. Despite all the horrible diseases we could contract, accidents we could be in or potential ways we could kill each other, we’re still killing ourselves more frequently than any of those things. Of the 6,000+ British lives lost to suicide each year, nearly 75 per cent of those are male.
LammyBlack and minority ethnic women face "catastrophic" levels of unemployment
December 2012:
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They are discriminated against at "every stage" of the recruitment process, a group of MPs has warned.
Labour MP David Lammy, the committee's chairman, says the situation is "deeply worrying".
wfcwMuslim job-seekers ARE disadvantaged, Government admits
13 January 2017
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Muslims are held back in the jobs market, the Government admits — saying universities and job centres could play a big role in tackling inequality.
Britain’s 2.7 million Muslims were found to have the highest levels of disadvantage in finding work and face significant pay gaps compared with those who identify as Christian.
Report: Government Response to the Employment Opportunities for Muslims in the UK - December 2016
Diane Abbott There is a "crisis of masculinity in Britain"
May 2013
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In a speech shadow health minister Diane Abbott warns a generation of men are in transit and unclear of their social role.  There is a "crisis of masculinity in Britain" because of the pressures rapid economic and social change have placed on masculine identity.
wfcw The denigration of men: Ridiculed, abused, exploited - the triumph of feminism has made today's men second class citizens
18 April 2015
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Why is it that, today, there has there never been a worse time to be a man? Rubbishing the male of the species and everything he stands for is a disturbing — and growing — 21st century phenomenon. It is the fashionable fascism of millions of women — and many, many men, too.
wfcwMoyes 'deeply regrets' making slap remark to BBC reporter
3 Apr 2017
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Sunderland manager David Moyes says he "deeply regrets" telling BBC reporter Vicki Sparks she might "get a slap", after he was asked by Sparks if the presence of owner Ellis Short put extra pressure on him following his side's 0-0 draw with Burnley on 18 March.
wfcwBarrister seeks public apology for 'sexist message'
16 September 2015
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Barrister Charlotte Proudman has told the BBC she wants a public apology from lawyer Alexander Carter-Silk, who said her LinkedIn profile picture was ''stunning''.
Speaking to Newsnight's Evan Davis, she said the remark was ''sexist and inappropriate''.
She said she was not on the professional networking site "to be objectified, demeaned or trivialised''.
Alexander Carter-Silk said his comments had been misconstrued and that he was commenting on the professional quality of the photograph.
wfcwCharlotte Rachael Proudman, Barrister and feminist legal activist
charlotteproudman.com ...
Charlotte is a barrister in human rights law at The Chambers of Michael Mansfield QC. She specialises in violence against women and girls including sexual violence, trafficking, forced marriage, FGM, and honour-based violence.
The old boys club, ruling cliques, bullies and cabals
wfcwSumption encapsulates the law’s sexism: only quotas can challenge male privilege
“If the supreme court judge thinks women are opting to shun senior judicial posts, he doesn’t understand power.”  Charlotte Proudman
24 September 2015
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‘It must be pure luck that, after securing pupillage through his father, Sumption just happened to be the best candidate for the supreme court.
Institutional sexism in the legal profession is under scrutiny again following remarks about gender equality in the judiciary by one of the country’s most senior judges. Jonathan Sumption’s views exemplify perfectly what is wrong with the way women in the legal profession are viewed by those in the highest echelons of power. Meaningful change will only occur when lawyers confront the living reality of sexism. But the truth is that female lawyers are rarely in a position to challenge it without fear of backlash and recrimination.
Not only did the supreme court judge forecast in an interview that it would take 50 years to achieve gender equality in the judiciary, he cautioned against doing anything that might make male candidates feel “the cards are stacked against them”.
wfcwFemale surgeons face 'hostile environment''
1 October 2015
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Operating theatres are a "hostile environment for women", one of the country's leading female surgeons has told the BBC.
Jyoti Shah said women in her field faced sexism every day because it was engrained in surgery. She has called for a cultural change.
Meanwhile, the first female president of the Royal College of Surgeons, Clare Marx, said there needed to be a focus on developing women's careers in surgery.
Ms Shah, a consultant urological surgeon at Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Surgery still remains very male dominated, and it does still appear as an old boys' club and you're very much an outsider as a woman. "You're trying to break into their gang almost, and that culture is quite engrained in surgery."
>> more on Equality <<  
 
wfcwMarch of the feminist bullies! Nobel professor hounded from his job for 'sexist' remarks.
11 June 2015
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Sarah Vine says it's part of a deeply disturbing trend. Sir Tim Hunt has resigned from his post after sexist 'joke' backfired. John Inverdale and astrophysicist Matt Taylor have also suffered backlash
nutshell more on The Crisis of Masculinity
wfcwMarch of the feminist bullies! Nobel professor hounded from his job for 'sexist' remarks.
11 June 2015
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Sarah Vine says it's part of a deeply disturbing trend. Sir Tim Hunt has resigned from his post after sexist 'joke' backfired. John Inverdale and astrophysicist Matt Taylor have also suffered backlash
wfcwLecturer who revealed Sir Tim Hunt's 'sexist' comments says she has no regrets about costing the Nobel Prize winner his job
26 June 2015
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Connie St Louis, a lecturer, asked yesterday if she regretted Sir Tim losing his job, the lecturer in science journalism replied: ‘I’ve no regrets about breaking a journalistic story. This is about journalism. Secondly it’s about women in science. My intention was not for him to lose anything. But he didn’t lose anything. He resigned.’
wfcwConnie St Louis, the woman who brought down Sir Tim Hunt, faces questions over her CV.
28 June 2015
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Connie St Louis, director of City University’s Science Journalism MA, is the woman who brought Sir Tim Hunt’s career crashing down in flames by tweeting out allegedly sexist remarks that the Nobel Prize winner made at a conference in Seoul.
There’s been one hell of a row about what he actually said, but now fresh questions have arisen – and they involve Ms St Louis, not Sir Tim.
Investigative reporter Guy Adams, writing in yesterday’s Mail, has taken a long, hard look at her CV – and is puzzled by claims he found on City’s website that ‘she presents and produces a range of programmes for BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service . . . She writes for numerous outlets, including The Independent, Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, BBC On Air magazine and BBC Online’.
wfcw More boys aged 15 have a smartphone than live with their father
13 July 2014
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Centre for Social Justice report highlights impact of 'disposable dads.'   Almost half of poorest under-5s are from broken homes, research shows.  By next year there will be two million single-parent families, according to the Centre for Social Justice.

 
TopAdv. Thuli Madonsela, S.A.Public Protector On Sexism
wfcwAdv. Thuli Madonsela, S.A.Public Protector, at KwaZulu Natal University
26 Aug 2015
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Asked if South Africa was ready for a woman President, she said "It always has been ready for a woman president. '
But she said this did not mean that "come hell or high water, there must be a woman president". I don`t want a woman president or a man president. I want a president who will expand the frontiers of freedom, justice and constitutionalism in this country."
nutshellmore on Thuli Madonsela, S.A.Public Protector
wfcwThuli: I fight to defend Gogo (Gogo is the  respectful address for any elderly person)
26 August, 2015
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Public Protector Thuli Madonsela was responding to questions during a Women's Month event at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, in Durban, at which she was the guest of honour
Asked yesterday, she responded: "Am I ready to be president? No. I am not even ready to be a politician. I am happy to do what I can.

"In our society there is space for civil society. But it is a question of consolidating those little things that are happening in civil society to make sure that those that we entrust with public power are accountable, and that's where I want to be."

Madonsela was responding to questions during a Women's Month event at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, in Durban, at which she was the guest of honour.

Asked if South Africa were ready for a woman president, she said: "It always has been ready for a woman president."

But she said this did not mean that "come hell or high water, there must be a woman president".

"I don't want a woman president or a man president. I want a president who will expand the frontiers of freedom, justice and constitutionalism in this country ."

Madonsela said Women's Month was not only about the brave women of 1956 who marched to the Union Buildings in protest against pass laws. She said it was also about today's women and their efforts to protect civil rights.

Madonsela was hailed by many as a defender of democracy when her Secure in Comfort report stated that President Jacob Zuma had unduly benefited from " security upgradings" to his Nkandla homestead. "I am happy to say that most of our cases are about 'Gogo Dlamini'. "Gogo Dlamini is our typical grandmother, or a single person who believes that he has been wronged by the state but does not have the means to face the state head on.''

 
TopStella Creasy 'Why I Refuse To Be Silent On Sexism'
wfcw'Is this what the Walthamstow Labour Party 'hard left' has come to?
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4 August 2015

Stella Creasy and Jeremy Corbyn are very unlikely bedfellows.
She's standing to be deputy leader of the Labour Party but, in a personal and provocative piece, Stella Creasy says that it's time women stopped fighting sexism politely - and stepped up to run the world
wfcw Lord Sugar quits Labour Party
11 May 2015
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Lord Sugar said he is quitting the Labour Party after 18 years over its "negative" stance on business. He said: "In the past year I found myself losing confidence in the party due to their negative business policies and general anti-enterprise concepts they were considering if they were elected. I expressed this to the most senior figures in the party several times.


Lammy Black and minority ethnic women face "catastrophic" levels of unemployment
2 December 2012
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They are discriminated against at "every stage" of the recruitment process, a group of MPs has warned. Labour MP David Lammy, the committee's chairman, says the situation is "deeply worrying".

wfcwEquality, Waltham Forest Style,
April 2014
In spite of WCLP’s equalities policy, it seems two Labour controlled wards and three Conservative wards have no BAME representation on council: 
Wood Street (L), Leytonstone (L), Hatch Lane (C), Chingford Green (C) and Endlebury (C).
wfcwStella Creasy: Labour urgently needs more women members to avoid 'all male meetings'
10 Aug 2015
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For many in my party it is a given we are THE party of equality. Nowhere is this clearer than when it comes to gender; as instigators of the Equal Pay Act we have always championed the true value of women.
As more and more women turn to non political activism and alternative political parties- including a new Women’s Equality party - without a concerted effort Labour could face the possibility of all male meetings up and down the UK.
As Keir Hardie argued in his famous ‘Sunshine of Socialism’ speech more than 100 years ago: “Woman, even more than the working class, is the great unknown quantity of the race.” But this is not 1914, it's 2015. Let’s not risk women being the great unknown to the Labour Party any longer and instead encourage them in with open arms.
From Reluctant Gangsters, John Pitts 2007, read .
"As far as they are concerned we don’t exist, and even if we do, we are just some kind of problem that won’t go away.
I sometimes think the best thing we could do would be to go out and vote and demand that our politicians listen to what’s happening to us."
nutshell more on why I Refuse To Be Silent On Sexism
wfcw Labour leadership: Party needs 'real democracy', says Corbyn
20 August 2015
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Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to use the backing of party members to force Labour MPs to support his agenda if he is elected leader.
Calling for "real democracy", he said MPs should not "stand in the way" of "empowering party members".
wfcwWomen will have to 'breed for Britain' if immigration is restricted
6 June 2014
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Without a steady supply of cheap foreign workers, the Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy insists, ‘our ability to sustain the economy would collapse’.
Stella has a point. Low reproductivity among women of her generation — Creasy is 37 and childless — could mean there are too few wage-earners in future to support our ageing population.
wfcwExclusive: Stella Creasy 'Why I Refuse To Be Silent On Sexism'
By Grazia staff - 4 August 2015
She's standing to be deputy leader of the Labour Party but, in a personal and provocative piece, Stella Creasy says that it's time women stopped fighting sexism politely - and stepped up to run the world

Well-behaved women may rarely change history, but it seems however good our manners are, we are still too often the unwanted guests in public life. Outnumbered, patronised and more scrutinised for our make-up than whether we make a difference, politics is not just a mug’s game but a man’s too. So, why bother? Because I believe, for the good of all, it’s time we took Beyoncé at her word and made sure women run the world.

To do that it’s not just the open sexism and harassment of female representatives that needs to stop – the ‘Calm down dear’ comments, rape and death threats both off and online. It is the everyday clichés that make it feel like you may as well be speaking Klingon when you campaign on inequality. And as a proud feminist MP, I’ve lost count of the times people have told me that describing myself as one is ‘careersuicide’, or how often I’ve been asked
‘if what I wear influences whether people take me seriously’.

The challenge is not just about how we talk to or about women, but also how we talk about leadership – that it takes ‘balls’ not guts, that it’s about ‘statesmanlike’ behaviour. When the media marvel at Nicola Sturgeon or Harriet Harman doing the top jobs, it only reinforces the notion that this is a disruption of the natural order.

"We champion equality but have to get our own house in order to lead change in the country."

On all sides of the political spectrum, stereotypes filter into how we are perceived. Right now, the Labour party is choosing a new leader and deputy leader. As a candidate for deputy, I have experienced how gender is used to dismiss us first-hand from men and women inside and outside my party. Allegations are flying. Some think women aren’t ‘up to’ the role or that we need ‘balance’ in our leadership team – having one woman may be acceptable, choosing two would be going beyond the pale. Indeed, some ask if we have ‘ladyballs’ – as though women in senior positions are OK as long as they mimic men. We champion equality but have to get our own house in order to lead change in the country.

This doesn’t just affect politics. There are more men in Parliament than there have ever been women MPs. However, electing almost 30% of the Commons as female at the 2015 election put us slightly ahead of the FTSE 100, which has scrambled to get close to 25% of company board members to be women. Sadly, most of these appointments are non-executives, there to make up numbers, not make decisions. In 2015 the glass ceiling may be cracking, but it is harder to shift than hoped.

Companies with gender diversity are much more likely to be prosperous, helping create more jobs and growth. When we do better everyone benefits, but there’s a risk Britain will get left behind. Germany will have a 30% quota for women in business by 2016. Many others have long had similar measures – Austria, France and Norway.

Such glacial progress shows how diversity – not just in gender, but ethnicity, sexuality and social class – is still considered marginal to Britain’s future. It is fiscally irresponsible not to use the full talents of our women citizens. But the latest Government budget cuts will hit them hardest.

Addressing inequality isn’t just about our economic prospects. Despite evidence that a third of girls experience sexual harassment in schools, we don’t teach consent as part of the relationship and sex education in the National Curriculum. It’s great to see some progress tackling female genital mutilation and forced marriage, but we must not stop there.

Some say that women should succeed to positions of leadership on the basis of ‘merit’ and if they don’t take part it’s their decision. Others would point out how women are putting their energy into non-party political activism. In whatever way, women are not giving up but trying to change the world on their own terms. I’m passionate about how politics can change lives, so we need women of all backgrounds and ages to be part of our decision making. We need to make politics the vehicle for change alongside such activism. We should use our democracy to demand action. And expect men to join this fight for social justice, too.

The problem isn’t with women, but the world we ask them to take on. Feminism isn’t about women. It is about power and how this is unequally distributed in our society. The insult is to think that because some women have managed to get ahead, it’s up to them to keep going – as though previous generations couldn’t have run the country or a successful business, but held back rather than face discrimination.

My mother taught me to put my money where my mouth is and not to expect to do it alone. So, I’m standing for a leadership role myself, not because we need just one more woman, but many. It is not my ambition to speak for them, but to find new ways to get more women from a wider range of backgrounds into public life because we will all benefit from the contribution they will make. To do that, politics has to stop being about a machine that turns up at election time, and become a movement where everyone feels welcome and able to participate. That especially means those currently locked out.
http://www.graziadaily.co.uk/2015/08/stella-creasy-sexism-in-politics

>> more on Crisis of Masculinity <<  
 
Top The Judiciary and Society
wfcwSenior magistrate resigns in disgust after he was suspended by judiciary when trying to pay penniless asylum seeker's court fine
30 September 2015
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Nigel Allcoat, a senior magistrate, of Burbage, Leicestershire, offered money toward the £180 in penalties the man in his 20s was being ordered to pay.   But when the judiciary found out about his good deed, the 65-year-old musician was suspended and investigated.
The respected JP responded by quitting in disgust at the way both he and the refugee have been treated by the law.
Legislation drawn up by former justice secretary Chris Grayling can see defendants face punitive charges of up to £1,200. It was brought in as a means of ensuring adult offenders paid toward court costs.
Since April, dozens of magistrates across the country have resigned in protest at the charges which came into effect in April.
Mr Allcoat found himself in trouble after dealing with the case of the asylum seeker at Leicester Magistrates’ Court who had no means of paying the growing fines.
lbwfCllr Marie Pye, Waltham Forest’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing
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“Getting into the Stonewall Top 100 is great news for Waltham Forest and a real testament to our commitment towards making the organisation as open and inclusive as possible, especially considering the qualifying criteria were far stricter this year and the competition is fiercer now than it has ever been.
“Waltham Forest wants to attract and retain the best talent regardless of background or sexual orientation, and it’s achievements like this that put us on the map as a prospective employer
Cllr Pye, appointments
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Bar Standards Board Equality & Diversity Advisory Group
National Autistic Society
Transport for London Independent Disability Advisory Group
Defra Diversity & Equality Scrutiny Advisory Group
London Councils Lead Member for Equality.
Bar StandardsBar Standards Board Equality & Diversity Committee
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Regulates barristers called to the Bar in England and Wales in the public interest.
Marie Pye, Lay Member
Marie is Chair of the Defra Disability Equality Scrutiny Advisory Group and advises a range of national public bodies on equality issues.  She is a local councillor and an accredited local government peer specialising in community cohesion.  She was Head of Public Sector Delivery at the Disability Rights Commission until 2007.
Marie worked for the Disability Rights Commission for seven years, initially leading on the services section of the DDA and then on all the work with the public sector including the Disability Equality Duty.
She is a Local councillor in East London and Cabinet lead for a whole variety of things including equality but also including housing and community cohesion.
wfcwWhat does it say about our values when a judge is rebuked for speaking up for marriage?
18 December 2013
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Sir Paul Coleridge has been reprimanded by the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice, and found guilty of 'judicial misconduct'
MunbywfcwThe new head of the High Court’s Family Division, Lord Justice (James) Munby, is a strong supporter of equality for gay people.
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Sir James is to take over as the President of the High Court Family Division after the sudden retirement retirement of the current head Sir Nicholas Wall. On 11 January 2013, he succeeded Sir Nicholas Wall as President of the Family Division
Mr Justice ColeridgeSir Paul Coleridge, family court judge:
December 2013
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The lack of support from colleagues on his views around marriage was partly to blame for his decision to step down from the judiciary. He  criticised selfish parents for being more concerned with their own ‘rights’ than the welfare of their children.  He said: ‘In the courts people talk about their rights – you have no right where children are  concerned. What you have are responsibilities and duties to do right by them.’
nutshellmore on the Judiciary and Society
Mr Justice ColeridgeWhat does it say about our values when a judge is rebuked for speaking up for marriage?
18 December 2013
Sir Paul Coleridge has been reprimanded by the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice, and found guilty of 'judicial misconduct'

wfcwI can't just sit and watch the misery of divorce, says judge as he quits
Sir Paul Coleridge retired from the High Court’s Family Division on Thursday after he was formally warned over campaigning for marriage. He said he could not ‘sit here day after day’ seeing the effect of family breakdown without speaking out against it. In December he was reprimanded by heads of the judiciary after setting up the Marriage Foundation think tank and airing views in a newspaper article.
wfcwRush for gender equality with top judges 'could have appalling consequences for justice'
21 September 2015
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One of the country’s most senior judges today warned that rushing to achieve equal representation for women at the top of the legal profession could inflict “appalling consequences” on the quality of British justice

MunbyThe new head of the High Court’s Family Division, Lord Justice (James) Munby, is a strong supporter of equality for gay people.
Sir James is to take over as the President of the High Court Family Division after the sudden retirement retirement of the current head Sir Nicholas Wall due to poor health.
He was the presiding judge at a landmark case that ruled that a anti-gay Christian couple should be banned from fostering children because of their views on homosexuality.”
wfcw'Secret' trials as part of scheme to speed up justice
12 July 2015
Secret fast-track money-saving scheme ends centuries of open justice.
Cases not being read out in open court, with no access to press or public, in which a  single lay judge reads papers and passes sentence with a legal adviser.  There is no bench made up of magistrates, no lawyers, no defendant and no access for the press or public.
 

 
Top Marriage and Society
wfcwIt's time to stand up for marriage, writes Steve Hilton, the PM's close friend and former guru
21 May 2015
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Since the late Sixties, increasingly vocal liberal thinking has held that families come in all shapes and sizes, so the state should avoid promoting any one model as the best structure for bringing up children.
wfcwCost of relationship breakdowns to taxpayer surges to £47.31 billion in five years
14 February 2015
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The cost of family breakdown to the country has shot up by more than £10 billion a year since 2009 a study found.
It put the price to taxpayers in 2015 of clearing up the damage after families fail and looking after the separated adults and children at £47.31 billion.  
nutshell more on Marriage and Society
wfcwSenior judge says couples who stay married should get tax break
11 Jan 2015
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Senior judge says married couples who stay married should get a tax break - and those who divorce should be penalised
Family breakdown was recently estimated by the independent Relationships Foundation organisation to cost the State more than £40 billion a year – a figure including more than £18 billion in additional welfare benefits, £1.8 billion spent treating mental health problems and a social services bill of almost £5.5 billion.
Married couples should get ‘milestone’ tax breaks which would mean that the longer they stay together the less tax they pay, a senior judge suggested yesterday.
Sir Paul Coleridge said the allowances would reward families that remain stable and encourage couples facing a break-up to try to stick it out.
The system would also mean that couples who split up – often at high cost to the taxpayer – would be penalised.
wfcwIt's time to stand up for marriage, writes Steve Hilton, the PM's close friend and former guru
21 May 2015
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Since the late Sixties, increasingly vocal liberal thinking has held that families come in all shapes and sizes, so the state should avoid promoting any one model as the best structure for bringing up children.

"Any belief in the virtue of traditional, stable family life has come to be seen not only as an outdated prejudice, but even a form of stigmatisation against single or unmarried parents."

This approach has been reflected in measures such as the accelerating abolition of any fiscal support for married couples in the tax system to the extent that many parents can actually be better off by remaining unmarried.
Our modern social security system provides perverse incentives for lone parenthood through extra benefits and allowances, as well as priority on waiting lists for social housing.
The downgrading of marriage is also reflected in other parts of our civic life, such as the replacement of the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ with ‘partner’ on official forms, the promotion of legal rights for unmarried couples or the comparative ease of divorce, highlighting the modern belief that marriage is really nothing more than a bit of paper.   Partly this is because the ruling elite too often accepts fashion-able orthodoxy as a means to an easier life, even if that received wisdom is causing profound damage to our society.
wfcwCost of relationship breakdowns to taxpayer surges to £47.31 billion in five years
14 February 2015
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The cost of family breakdown to the country has shot up by more than £10 billion a year since 2009 a study found.  
It put the price to taxpayers in 2015 of clearing up the damage after families fail and looking after the separated adults and children at £47.31 billion.  
The bill takes in the cost of benefits, health and social care, housing, policing and the courts, and the price of failure in the education system of children hurt by divorce or the parting of their parents.
The Relationships Foundation think tank said that the money spent because of family breakdown amounts to three per cent of the economic product of the country and each taxpayer will have to contribute £1,546.
wfcwRelationships Foundation
February 2015
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The Relationships Foundation’s annual “Cost of Family Failure Index” is now widely quoted both in the UK and internationally.
The 2014 update shows that the breakdown of relationships continues to be a huge charge on the public purse. 
Back in 2010 we began work on a robust survey of the Relationships State of the Nation, to be completed by 2015.
We hold up a mirror to our society and ask: Do you like what you see? Do you like the direction we are travelling?
wfcwThe real gay marriage bigots are its intolerant supporters
29 March 2014
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The saddest legacy of the gay marriage debate is how it has brought about the most appalling bigotry — from politicians cynically trampling over the beliefs of many Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and others opposed to gay marriage.  That’s not social progress, it’s a form of intolerance every bit as ugly as homophobia.
wfcwChurch of England split fear as African bishops speak out over clergy flouting a ban on same-sex weddings
26 April 2014
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African Archbishops are 'deeply troubled' by new attitudes towards gays. It's concerned that ban on gay clergy marrying was being disregarded. Comes after hospital chaplain wed his gay partner this month. African Archbishops represent 35million Anglicans - half the global total
wfcwNew generation of motherless families will mainly benefit those who want children without relationship with a woman
11 November 2014 
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Three surrogates all having babies for a gay couple, at the same time This is a commercial transaction for the gratification of five adults.
What we’re dealing with here is children as commodities. This is about what's good for the adults, not for the children
The women insist they are in it for purely altruistic reasons, but they do ask that they receive modest expenses of between £8,000 and £15,000 a time. Comment ... (Richard Littlejohn)
wfcwNew generation of fatherless families will mainly benefit those who want children without relationship with a man
2 August 2014
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NHS to fund sperm bank for lesbians: Britain is to get its first NHS-funded national sperm bank to make it easier for lesbian couples and single women to have children.
For as little as £300 – less than half the cost of the service at a private clinic – they will be able to search an online database and choose an anonymous donor on the basis of his ethnicity, height, profession and even hobbies.
The bank, which is due to open in October, will then send out that donor’s sperm to a clinic of the client’s choice for use in trying for a baby.
wfcw ‘Disposable dads’ cost Britain £50bn a year
13 July 2014
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The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), an independent think tank founded by Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, predicts that almost half of the children sitting their GCSE exams in 2020 will come from a broken home.
The report warns that a culture of “disposable dads” has developed across many of the poorer parts of the country and says more than 1m children have lost contact with their grandparents as a result of separation or divorce.
Tory MP Andrew Selous told the Sunday Times: 'It's a very alarming and shocking statistic and a call to action to put strengthening family stability much higher up the political agenda.'
wfcw 'Disposable dads' causing crisis in families as more boys aged 15 have a smartphone than live with their father
13 July 2014
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Centre for Social Justice report highlights impact of 'disposable dads.'   Almost half of poorest under-5s are from broken homes, research shows.  By next year there will be two million single-parent families, according to the Centre for Social Justice.
The CSJ was set up by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who has repeatedly argued for greater recognition of the importance of marriage in ensuring stable family relationships.
Christian Guy, the Centre for Social Justice's director, said: 'For too long family breakdown has gone unchallenged despite the devastating impact it has on adults, children and communities.'
It warns that a ‘crisis’ of family breakdown is costing the taxpayer almost £50billion-a-year.
Dr Samantha Callan, a former family policy adviser to David Cameron, has co-written the report. She argues that children must be taught the value of marriage to break the cycle of generations of family breakdown.
hfeaUK facing 'major' sperm shortage
28 June 2014
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Figures from the fertility regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), show nearly one in four donated sperm samples are from abroad.   The figure was one in 10 in 2005.
British Fertility Society chairman, Dr Allan Pacey warns: “some woman may be subjected to more invasive and expensive techniques if poor-quality sperm were used.”
There are thought to have been fewer sperm donors after the right to anonymity was removed in 2005.
The demand for donors has been falling as advances in fertility treatment let more men father their own children.
wfcwWomen will have to 'breed for Britain' if immigration is restricted
6 June 2014
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Without a steady supply of cheap foreign workers, the Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy insists, ‘our ability to sustain the economy would collapse’.
Stella has a point. Low reproductivity among women of her generation — Creasy is 37 and childless — could mean there are too few wage-earners in future to support our ageing population.
Nutshell Breeding for Benefits and Britain
wfcw6 June 2014
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Warning: Labour MP Stella Creasy says women will have to 'breed for Britain' if immigration is restricted
Labour MP Stella Creasy says women will have to ‘breed for Britain’ if immigration is restricted.
Without a steady supply of cheap foreign workers, she insists, ‘our ability to sustain the economy would collapse’.
Stella has a point. Low reproductivity among women of her generation — Creasy is 37 and childless — could mean there are too few wage-earners in future to support our ageing population.
It is only among immigrant families that the birth rate is rising significantly.
But, encouragingly, some home-grown mums are doing their bit for Britain and breeding like rabbits on fertility drugs.
Consider the shining example of Cheryl Prudham, a mother of nine with two more on the way. It’s an impressive achievement. Cheryl is still only 32 and her husband Rob a mere stripling of 29. 
They’re already heading into double figures and are currently churning out children at the rate of approximately one every 18 months. Give them another 15 years and they could well produce a family large enough to staff a decent-sized old people’s home.
Rob and Cheryl work part-time, but earn nothing like enough to clothe, feed and put a roof over all their heads — let alone splash out on little luxuries like family holidays in the Mediterranean.
But, hey, no problem. They receive a generous range of benefits. And this week, Cheryl and the kids were photographed soaking up the sun on the beach in Menorca, where they were enjoying a break courtesy of the good old British taxpayer.
Their fortnight-long stay at the three-star Victoria Playa hotel in Santo Thomas, plus air fares, is said to have cost the rest of us £7,000. They’re already planning another one next year.
Do they harbour even the teensiest bit of guilt about the fact that their vacation is being funded by working people who may not be able to afford a holiday of their own this year? Not a bit of it.
‘I don’t feel bad about using taxpayers’ money,’ Cheryl told Closer magazine. ‘We’re entitled to a holiday. People criticise me for getting lots of benefits, but it’s the Government’s fault. You’re not going to say “No” to money when it’s offered to you.’
'Impressive achievement' Despite being only 32, Cheryl Prudham is a mother of nine with two more on the way
Sounds familiar? That could have been White Dee talking. The ‘star’ of Channel 4’s Benefits Street similarly has no qualms about milking the system to the max. Nor do countless others of our fellow citizens.
As a Mail investigation revealed recently, the beaches and night-spots of the Costa del Dole are thronged with British benefit claimants.
The one thing they all have in common is an inflated, inbred sense of entitlement. Rob and Cheryl even say that, one day, they would like to buy a villa in Menorca.  
If they keep on having babies, they may well be able to afford a second home. After all, they don’t pay for their first home. 
Last October, Swale council moved them into a five-bedroom house in Gravesend, Kent. Cheryl had found the property on Facebook and arranged a house-swap, with the council picking up the cost.
Now she is eagerly awaiting the arrival of her twins in September, which will ‘earn’ her another £1,400 a year in child benefit, taking the annual amount the family receives from the taxpayer to just shy  of £35,000.
Not that you can accuse Cheryl of being profligate. They thoughtfully took the kids out of school to keep the costs of their holiday down by taking advantage of off-season air fares and hotel rates.
That, though, could mean a fine of £800 for truancy. ‘I asked the school head if we could get time off, but he said “No”. So we decided to go anyway. If we get fined, we’ll have to deal with it.’
When she says ‘we’, what she means is ‘us’. Any fine will ultimately be paid by taxpayers.
Let me emphasise that the Prudhams’ children are entirely blameless. They didn’t choose their parents. But, worryingly, they are growing up in a household learning first hand that there is nothing wrong in doing as you please and expecting the state to pick up the bill. 
It isn’t clear how the family manage to claim the thick end of 35 grand in benefits. I thought the Government had capped welfare payments at £26,000 a year.
Perhaps the DWP will now investigate and, while they’re at it, inquire how much, if anything, the Prudhams were paid by Closer for their ‘exclusive’ interview and photo-shoot.
Far from any stigma attaching to living on the dole these days, benefits claimants are being turned  into ‘celebrities’.
White Dee became a reality TV ‘star’ and Cheryl Prudham — a modern version of the Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe — is treated like Hollywood royalty by a  glossy magazine.
And just as I don’t blame the children, nor do I blame immigrants for coming here to fill jobs which British nationals have been paid by the Government not to do.
We wouldn’t need to import foreign workers if Gordon Brown hadn’t cynically created a complex, no-questions-asked dependency culture which rewarded millions for being idle.
This Government’s attempts to cap benefits payments and encourage claimants into work have been  bitterly opposed by Labour at  every turn.
If Ed Miliband ever gets into Downing Street, all meaningful reform of the welfare system will  be aborted.
No wonder Cheryl Prudham says ‘it’s nobody’s business’ if she goes on to have another ten children. Although, somehow, I don’t think that’s exactly what Stella Creasy has in mind.
Not so much breeding for Britain, as breeding for benefits.

 
Top The motherhood trap
wfcwThe motherhood trap
Helen Lewis
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It seems like a great time to be a woman in politics - but the fact that childless women are vilified as selfish, while so few mothers make it to the top, reveals an uncomfortable truth about how far we still have to go to achieve equality.
nutshellmore on The motherhood trap
wfcwThe motherhood trap
Helen Lewis

It seems like a great time to be a woman in politics - but the fact that childless women are vilified as selfish, while so few mothers make it to the top, reveals an uncomfortable truth about how far we still have to go to achieve equality.

Look around the top of politics and it seems like a wonderful time to be a woman. Two of the four candidates for the Labour leadership are female – Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall – as are three of the five in the race for deputy: Stella Creasy, Caroline Flint and Angela Eagle. One of the three likely contenders for the next Tory leadership is a woman, Theresa May. The next leader of Scottish Labour is likely to be Kezia Dugdale, and she will find herself debating two other female leaders, Nicola Sturgeon of the SNP and the Tories’ Ruth Davidson. Half of the shadow cabinet is female, and there are seven women in the cabinet. The most powerful politician in the European Union and perhaps the world is Angela Merkel.

But these eye-catching facts conceal an uncomfortable truth: remarkably high proportions of the most successful women in politics are childless. (All the named politicians above are, except Cooper and Flint.)

For much of the last parliament, the only mother in the cabinet was Maria Miller, and New Statesman research shows that while the 14 men in the shadow cabinet have 31 children between them, the 13 women have only 16. Seven of the women are childless, against three of the men.

This disparity is evident throughout parliament, according to wider research carried out by the academics Sarah Childs and Rosie Campbell in 2013. They found that 45 per cent of female MPs were childless, compared to 28 per cent of men. “On average men MPs have 1.9 children compared to 1.2 for women MPs,” they wrote. “There is also a sex difference in the age of MPs’ children: the average age of MPs’ eldest child when they first entered parliament is 12 years old for men and 16 years old for women . . . All of this would suggest that mothers – and not just women – are significantly descriptively under-represented in British politics.”

Why does that matter? It matters not only because a parliamentary democracy should strive to reflect the populace it serves, but because the barriers stopping the ascent of MPs who are mothers reflect the structural discrimination throughout society.

The “motherhood trap” exposes one of capitalism’s most uncomfortable secrets – the way it relies on so much unpaid labour, often from women, to sustain itself. This labour comes at the expense of career opportunities, and their lifetime earning power: the pay gap between men and women in their twenties is all but eradicated, but a “maternity gap” still exists, and women’s wages never recover from the time devoted to childbearing.

Despite this, and despite the huge energy generated by the feminist movement in the past decade, questions of care have not gained as much attention as they did during the “Second Wave” in the 1970s. In 2014, the New Republic’s Judith Shulevitz suggested that the F-word itself should be replaced with “caregiverism”, to stress that challenging the exploitation of unpaid labour was critical to achieving equality. Without a structural analysis of the problem, Shulevitz argued, it was too easy to see these debates as “personal dilemmas – opting out, opting in – rather than as Hobson’s choices imposed on us”. She added: “Limiting work hours used to be one of the great causes of the labour movement.”

That brings us back to parliament. Over the past month, I have spoken to more than a dozen women and men, many of them involved in politics at the highest levels. There was universal agreement across the ideological spectrum that it is difficult to balance caring responsibilities with a political career. At the same time, selectors, voters and the media often expect a politician to have a family as a way of signalling that they are “normal”. So women face an impossible situation. If they have children, people disparage them as not dedicated enough to the job. If they don’t, people disparage them for having nothing else in their lives but the job.

Indeed, a 2014 study found that when it came to workers having children, there was a “fatherhood bonus” but a “motherhood penalty”. As the author of the study, the sociology professor Michelle Budig of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, told the New York Times: “Employers read fathers as more stable and committed to their work; they have a family to provide for, so they’re less likely to be flaky. That is the opposite of how parenthood by women is interpreted by employers. The conventional story is they work less and they’re more distractible when on the job.”

Rosie Campbell and Sarah Childs think the same is true of MPs. “It’s a no-win for women,” Campbell told me. “For men, having a wife and children is a political resource, whereas for women, not having children was the thing that gave them the time to do politics.”

The downside to this added time, however, is being open to accusations of selfishness, and the suggestion that the women have made a calculated career decision that somehow alienates them from “ordinary people”. (Roughly 20 per cent of women in the UK aged 45 do not have any children, according to the Office for National Statistics, up from one in nine of their mothers’ generation: not having children is far from rare.)

On 6 July in a column for the Huffington Post, the former Labour minister Helen Goodman wrote that she supported Yvette Cooper for leader because, “As a working mum, she understands the pressures on modern family life. We need a leader who knows what challenges ordinary people face day to day, and who is committed to helping them.” The implicit contrast here was with Liz Kendall, who is both childless and single, her last relationship having ended just before the general election.

But as Isabel Hardman wrote in a blog for the Spectator, “Being a parent does not automatically mean you will understand even other parents. You will still need empathy in order to put yourself in the shoes of a single mother living on benefits if you are married and running a house on two salaries.” In other words, Cooper and Kendall have more in common with each other, uterine usage aside, than either does with a constituent struggling on the minimum wage.

Yet speaking “as a mother” is presumed to be a short cut to authenticity and normality. When Maria Miller wanted to bring in controls on web access to hardcore pornography in 2013, she told the press: “As a mother, I am determined to protect my children from the depravity of internet porn.”

Male politicians, by contrast, get the best of both worlds. They have a family that can be marshalled as photogenic props or used as fodder for personal anecdotes in speeches, and their home life grounds them and makes them appear “normal”. (The coverage of the Cooper/Kendall spat largely failed to mention that Andy Burnham and Jeremy Corbyn have children. And most commentators presumed Miller’s comments to be a coded gibe at Theresa May, Theresa Villiers and Justine Greening but not Eric Pickles or William Hague.)

So, what can be done to make life easier for both sets of women – those caught in the motherhood trap, and their childless sisters, portrayed as selfish and single-minded? Just as importantly, what can be done to bridge the gap so that a woman’s family status is no longer seen to define her quite so acutely? Let’s look at each in turn.

 

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In May 1997 a record 101 female Labour MPs entered the Commons. It was parliament’s own version of the Big Bang, driving up the percentage of women in the House from less than 10 to more than 15 per cent. There was strength in numbers, allowing policy areas that had been marginalised – or dismissed as merely “women’s issues” – to be heard. The macho, public school-cum-gentleman’s club culture of Westminster also took a knock. But there was a problem. “Lots of us who were newly elected in 1997 came in assuming it was fine – we were ­going to sort out the hours of the House of Commons,” the former Labour minister Patricia Hewitt told me. “And we assumed that all female MPs would have the same view on this.”

They didn’t. Politicians who lived within commuting distance of London, or whose family home was in the capital, wanted parliament to operate to normal working hours so that they could get home in the evenings to see their children during the week. But Hewitt and her colleagues discovered that MPs in farther-flung seats were away from their family during the week anyway, and so didn’t mind the long sitting hours. They wanted a late start on Monday and an early finish on Thursday to maximise the time they could spend with their family.

They also discovered that many male MPs liked the late sittings and the “collegiality” of the Commons. Hewitt recalls: “Many of them would make the argument: ‘No, no, no, it’s absolutely vital that we’re voting in the evening, we’re having dinner together. That’s when back benches can talk to ministers.’ And there was a lot of truth in that; it was just you also pay a high price for it. So that was quite a rude awakening.”

The current standard sitting hours run from 2.30pm to 10pm on Monday, 7pm on Tuesday and Wednesday, and 5pm on a Thursday. At these times, MPs are expected to stay near Westminster in case they need to vote. This part of the job, coupled with the need for most MPs to maintain two homes, is the great barrier for those with caring responsibilities.

Many believe that discussions over sitting hours operate as a veiled rebuke to women who don’t seem to want to be part of the (male) clique. “It’s interesting that very often the criticism of women is that they’re not ‘clubbable’,” says Emily Thornberry, the Labour MP for Islington South. “Theresa May ‘doesn’t have a following’; Yvette Cooper is ‘too reserved’.” Another MP, who is also a mother, echoed this: “If we had an early finish, my priority would be to get back and spend time with my family. Even before I had a child – it’s just a question of personal choice – sometimes I’d just rather read for a couple of hours.”

Labour’s women’s minister, Gloria De Piero, says she does not believe it is possible to “tinker” with the hours any more to make them more family-friendly. But she added, “You’d have to say: ‘If you invented it now, is this what it would look like?’”

However, other aspects of Commons life are improving. There is now a crèche on Parliament Street, used by MPs, civil servants and staff, which takes children from three months upwards. It was created by Speaker John Bercow in 2010 amid a campaign of low-level resistance, because its establishment led to the closure of Bellamy’s, one of the many bars in the Commons.

Bercow has taken reform seriously as Speaker, and he told me by email: “A good number of the old, outdated assumptions about women’s ability to be effective Members of Parliament and hold high office have been consigned, rightly, to the dustbin. However, as with other highly mobile careers, it is a fact that an MP’s job, often splitting time between his or her constituency and Westminster, places a particular strain on family life.” Besides the crèche, he says, “the decision to introduce earlier sitting hours in the last parliament was undertaken partly as a result of colleagues arguing that a modern Commons should take a more family-friendly approach”.

The current sitting hours are, however, in danger, as they were introduced for a ­limited period and some MPs will want them back to their old length. “I don’t think reverting to those hours would send a good signal about modern working practices,” one female MP tells me.

Still, at least you can now take a baby through the division lobby, making it easier for those with small children to attend crucial votes. This milestone was first reached by the Liberal Democrat MP Duncan Hames in 2014 when his wife, Jo Swinson, was the party’s equalities minister. She told me that her family provided a perfect test case for people’s differing responses to mothers and fathers juggling work and childcare.

“Duncan and I had the same job as MPs, and I had ministerial responsibilities, but people still responded differently in terms of expectations of what childcare responsibilities we would have. People just took it for granted that with a small child, there would be times when I, as a woman, couldn’t do something. But they didn’t respond in that automatic way to Duncan at all.”

Swinson argued that childcare affects working fathers in a way that doesn’t get addressed “because they’re not physically going through that change”. She added: “I think fatherhood is much more invisible in politics. The media is part of it – the woman will be introduced with what age they are, ‘mother of X’; or, indeed, if they don’t have children, then it will be remarked upon in a way that it isn’t with men, generally.”

She also highlighted the difficulty of ­taking maternity leave as an MP: her office covered her constituency caseload while her Lib Dem colleague Jenny Willott took on the equalities brief in addition to her own. Swinson believes that Britain should move towards the Scandinavian model, under which a portion of paid parental leave is available only if taken by the father (or same-sex partner). “Because of maternity leave, and the cultural expectation that it’s mums that take the lion’s share of that time,” she said, “it ends up being the women who are taking more of the responsibility once they return to work.” Why is that? “Because they’ve developed the expertise. Parenting is about practice – you don’t innately know how to calm a crying baby.”

****

One of the hazards of my job is being invited to summits on “powerful women”, which usually leave me feeling extremely unpowerful, and frankly a bit of a failure at being a woman. Recently at one such occasion, held in the ballroom of a London hotel, the star guest was the former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard. She talked frankly about what has become known as the “misogyny speech” – when she took her main opponent Tony Abbott to task in parliament for 15 searing minutes, opening with the declaration: “I will not be lectured on sexism and misogyny by this man; I will not.”

The denunciation, in October 2012, had been a long time coming. Even judging by the everyday tone in the notoriously brutal arena of Australian politics – its bluntness often makes Prime Minister’s Questions look like a Quaker meeting – the rhetoric used to describe Gillard was exceptionally vicious. “Ditch the witch”, read one set of election placards. After her speech, the sexist abuse did not abate: in 2013 a Liberal Party fundraising dinner promised “Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail – Small Breasts, Huge Thighs & A Big Red Box”. (Abbott said the menu was “tacky and scatological” but he did not suspend the candidate involved.)

Through this river of low-grade sexism ran one very strong current: repeated criticism of Gillard for being childless. In 2007, the conservative senator Bill Heffernan called her “deliberately barren”. Another Liberal politician, George Brandis, now attorney general, once criticised her in parliament, asserting that she was a “one-dimensional” person who had “chosen not to be a parent”. Her own party has not spared her: the former Labor leader Mark Latham opined in 2011, “Anyone who chooses a life without children, as Gillard has, cannot have much love in them.” Her fierce rival Kevin Rudd, the former prime minister, is alleged to have described her pejoratively, also in 2011, as a “childless, atheist ex-communist”. In February the following year, the Sydney Morning Herald fretted in its leader column that voters had “largely closed their minds to Gillard. Her media persona does not fit the expectations of some voters: a single woman, childless, whose life is dedicated to her career.”

As often seems to be the case, it was implied that given Gillard’s childlessness, she could not have an opinion on family policy – as if defence ministers always have a military background, or all agriculture ministers can reliably tell one end of a haddock from the other before taking on the brief.

A fortnight after the misogyny speech, Tony Abbott made a pointed remark about Gillard’s government restricting the “baby bonus” for new parents on the assumption that a second child could reuse many items purchased for the first. “Often one child is still in the cot when the second one comes along. One child is still in the pram when the second one comes along,” said the father-of-three. “I think if the government was a bit more experienced in this area they wouldn’t come out with glib lines like that.”

The Conservative children’s minister Tim Loughton took a similar line when criticising his Lib Dem coalition colleague Sarah Teather at the Tory party conference in 2013, claiming that she “didn’t believe in family. She certainly didn’t produce one of her own.” This made the Education Department a “family-free zone”, which he found “disappointing”. (Loughton has three children, although it would be indelicate of me to note that his contribution to “producing” them involved less physical hardship than endured by his wife.)

Perhaps the most startling aspect of Julia Gillard’s experience is that the criticism of her was so explicit and came from such senior political figures. In less plain-spoken cultures, the fear of childless women is usually better camouflaged, disguised as concerns over “life experience” and whether a woman has a “well-rounded personality”. But not always: in June last year, a 35-year-old Tokyo City assembly member called Ayaka Shiomura was heckled during a debate on support for working mothers with cries of “Go and get married” and “Can’t you give birth?”. In 2005, when Angela Merkel first seemed to have a chance of leading Germany’s ruling coalition, the wife of her main rival, Gerhard Schröder, commented acidly that she “does not embody with her biography the experiences of most women”, going on to mention childbirth and school admissions. That Doris Schröder-Köpf’s own husband has no biological children – the couple have adopted two children, and she brought a daughter to the relationship – did not seem to trouble her.

The childless British politicians to whom I spoke confirmed that their status was often used against them by their opponents, by other women as much as men. One pointed me to the leaflet issued by Stella Creasy’s Tory rival for the Walthamstow seat in this year’s general election, Molly Samuel-Leport. Under the headline “The Contenders Head to Head”, it listed Samuel-Leport’s virtues: “Cleaner Mother Shop Assistant Wife Athlete Teacher Champion Understands YOU”. When it came to Creasy, the list was shorter: “Career Politician Understands Ed Miliband”. The implication was clear – Creasy’s childlessness showed that she was not an “ordinary” person, as did her a PhD in social psychology and her background in think tanks.

Similar criticisms were levelled against Theresa May by a Downing Street insider in the Daily Mirror in August 2014 just as she became the front-runner to succeed David Cameron. May has always been reluctant to talk about not having children; the most she has ever said is that it “just didn’t happen” for her and her husband, Philip.

The source said that May’s lack of a family would make her look abnormal and unappealing to the electorate. “Being interested in politics is not normal. It’s not something most people do,” the source told the paper. “There are lots of ways you can look like you are obsessed with politics and not having children is one of them.” (Let’s draw a veil over what her rival Boris Johnson’s ­fertility track record makes it look like he is obsessed with . . .)

Do male politicians feel such criticisms as strongly? Ben Bradshaw, who is also in the race for the Labour deputy leadership, told me he had never been aware of his childlessness being used as a political attack line.

“It’s never been raised with me – that idea that because you don’t have children you don’t understand people’s lives,” the 54-year-old MP said. “We all have families even if we don’t have children. Me and the man I’ve been with for 20 years have an extended family. We have scores of nephews and nieces.”

Nicola Sturgeon has said that she believes there is a double standard. Asked on ITV’s Tonight during the general election campaign about whether she had chosen not to have children, she said: “Alex Salmond doesn’t have children. He might tell you differently, but I’m not aware of reading an interview or seeing an interview with Alex Salmond asking that question.”

Gloria De Piero, who is married but does not have children, says this reflects her experience. “It is mentioned in a lot of interviews with me in a way that it just simply isn’t with my male colleagues who are similar ages,” the 42-year-old told me. “It’s an issue for women who are not mothers in a way that it’s not an issue for men who are not fathers.”

 

****

The motherhood trap affects us all, and although some of these issues are specific to MPs, many are not, particularly the scourge of “presenteeism” – rewarding attendance, whether productive work is being done or not – and the valorisation of “unencumbered” workers, who are available to their employers at any time of day or night.

Yet the politicians I interviewed were keen to stress that there are still grounds for optimism. “I don’t want to be too miserable about this,” said De Piero, laughing. “I always worry that people say, ‘It’s so bloody awful in parliament,’ and women go, ‘Oh my God, I don’t want to do that job.’”

Several parliamentarians also had ideas for how working practices could be improved. Emily Thornberry questioned why there was a need for the House to return to sit before the autumn party conferences, even though at this time, little useful work is done on legislation. Instead, she advocates a longer summer recess, during which MPs can have time off with their family, followed by a “constituency month” to catch up on casework. “They talk about ‘MPs have packed their buckets and spades and are off and we won’t see them’. We don’t stand up for ourselves and say: ‘I get 1,000 letters and emails a week.’ I have a lot of work to do in my constituency.”

The president of the Liberal Democrats, Sal Brinton, thinks it is time to talk seriously about job shares for MPs. “[It] frightens parliamentarians, but we think it’s something that would bear looking at. It used to frighten big companies, the idea that you could have a senior manager job-sharing, but it does work. You just have to think out the difficult issues – how do you vote? – but everything else would work.”

Jo Swinson also believes that the lack of maternity cover could be resolved with electoral reform. “It’s difficult with first-past-the-post, but in countries with list systems, people can do cover for certain amounts of time.”

Perhaps as a first step it would be easier to let ministers job-share. Patricia Hewitt says she suggested this in 2001, when Tony Blair appointed her to the cabinet, in a push to get the junior minister she wanted.“The one I had my eye on was doing a fabulous job in a different department. It was very funny, because Tony said, ‘Er, what’s that?’ Jonathan Powell [Blair’s chief of staff] was standing there saying, ‘Two people sharing one job.’ Tony said: ‘Are we allowed to do that?’ and Jonathan said: ‘Well, I don’t know. I’d have to check.’”

Unfortunately, the minister involved got another job and the point was never settled. Hewitt acknowledges that the sharers would have to be compatible – “the nightmare would be . . . a woman with some children and an ambitious man” – but she points out that job-sharing is now common in the public sector and charities.

The final, and most contentious, point is money. During my conversations, the name “Caroline Spelman” frequently crept into the discussion: an example of someone whose childcare arrangements attracted criticism and unwelcome press attention.

In 2009 the former Conservative chair had to repay £9,600 in expenses after Commons authorities ruled that she had been paying her nanny from public funds by employing her as a secretary. Three years later, Spelman lost an attempt to stop the Daily Star Sunday reporting that her 17-year-old son, who played rugby for England under-16s, had taken banned substances after suffering a sports injury. “It’s hard to know you’re putting your children in the public eye like that,” one woman told me. “There’s something about a mother’s hormones.”

Although very few MPs are willing to go on the record, many believe that the reforms to expenses – necessitated by wide-scale fraud and the overclaiming endemic in parliament before 2009 – have made it much harder for those who are not already wealthy to juggle the demands of work with family. The current system makes it far easier for the rich and unencumbered. “You hear that MPs should be treated as ordinary people,” one told me. “That’s nonsense. It’s a unique set of challenges. Ninety per cent of us work in two places. There’s an extraordinary rate of failed marriages.”

The wife of another MPs talks about “eating crisps and crying at home” in the early days of her partner’s career because he was so rarely around to help with the children. Several mentioned that it was a huge advantage to have a seat in London, which allows the MP to get home every night.

By way of a solution, the Conservative backbencher Charles Walker has proposed that MPs’ expenses be abolished and a fixed annual stipend introduced. Their claims for tax-deductible items would then be regulated by HM Revenue & Customs, just like for any other self-employed worker. “You can change the hours but it’s not going to help someone get home to Cumberland,” he added. “And there’s a ridiculous belief that MPs only work when the House is sitting.”

On the other side of the fence, most agree that the big battle for childless MPs is perception – often in the media, rather than among voters. Ben Bradshaw says he believes his constituents “don’t give a hoot” about whether or not he has children. Some worry whether selection panels – which are not allowed to ask directly about candidates’ children – kibosh women for fear that voters won’t like them, or that they won’t have time to do the job properly. “I was asked in 1998 by a woman councillor when I went for selection how my children were going to cope, and could my husband cook the dinner when I was out canvassing?” says Sal Brinton. “Where do people get these ideas from? That’s the bigger problem: perception, rather than the reality.”

Childless women, on the other hand, face greater problems later on in their career when going for leadership roles, as they are deemed to lack the “complete package” that voters want. Several of the women I interviewed said they thought that starting a parliamentary career in your twenties or early thirties made having a family harder. “I think what happens is that women find it difficult to establish themselves in those careers. And to get promoted. So they put off marriage and children and whatever, and often end up running out of time,” says the Labour MEP Mary Honeyball. Another source told me that single women who entered parliament often found it hard to meet a partner prepared to join “the Denis club” – a reference to the sacrifices Denis Thatcher made to support his wife’s ambitions.

In the end, what both mothers and non-mothers need is broader social change. First, there must be an end to a culture that sees childlessness in women as selfish, and their lives as inevitably emotionally stunted and unfulfilling. We need to reset our relationship with work – to resist the pressure of presenteeism and expectations of unpaid overtime, and to fight for better labour rights, as well as employment protection for those with caring responsibilities. As Ben Bradshaw, who looked after his mother in his teens when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, puts it: “The more insecure people are in work, the more difficult it is for them to make choices around caring.”

Our parliamentarians’ job insecurity is rather different from that of someone on a zero-hours contract, but both would benefit from a reappraisal of what it is reasonable for employers to ask of their employees. Until then, men enjoy a double advantage, whether they have children or not.


 
Top Gender and Society
wfcw Women merit more recognition
18 April 2015
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In her Sunday Telegraph column, Glenda Cooper writes about the nearly all-male Order of Merit
It’s known as the most exclusive club in the world. Only 24 people at one time are fortunate enough to be admitted to the Order of Merit.
wfcwOrder of Merit
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The Order of Merit is a special honour awarded to individuals of great achievement in the fields of the arts, learning, literature and science.
The Order was founded by King Edward VII at the time of his coronation in 1902, to be ‘given to such persons, subjects of Our Crown, as may have rendered exceptionally meritorious services in Our Crown Services
wfcwRecord number of prosecutions for violence against women
25 June 2015
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A Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) report showed more than 107,000 such prosecutions in the year to April, up 16,000 (18%) on the previous year.
The figures are for crimes "primarily" against women, but male victims are also included in the statistics.  They include cases of rape, domestic violence and "honour crimes".
nutshellmore on Gender and Society
wfcw Women merit more recognition
18 April 2015
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In her Sunday Telegraph column, Glenda Cooper writes about the nearly all-male Order of Merit
It’s known as the most exclusive club in the world. Only 24 people at one time are fortunate enough to be admitted to the Order of Merit – and they meet for lunch once every two years – the most recent occasion being last week at Windsor Castle.
But what jarred with me when looking at a photograph of the members was the sight of just one woman – the former Commons Speaker Baroness Boothroyd. Given that the OM tends to be awarded by the monarch at the end of an individual’s long career, the imbalance might reflect struggles in the past for women’s achievements to be recognised. But surely the Queen will know that in future more of the talented women this country has produced will have to sit around that table.
wfcwOrder of Merit
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The Order of Merit is a special honour awarded to individuals of great achievement in the fields of the arts, learning, literature and science.
The Order was founded by King Edward VII at the time of his coronation in 1902, to be ‘given to such persons, subjects of Our Crown, as may have rendered exceptionally meritorious services in Our Crown Services or towards the advancement of the Arts, Learning, Literature, and Science or such other exceptional service as We are fit to recognise’.
The Order of Merit is in the sole gift of the Sovereign and is restricted to 24 members as well as additional foreign recipients.
List of members
The badge is an eight-pointed cross of red and blue enamel surmounted by the imperial crown; in the centre, upon blue enamel and surrounded by a laurel wreath, are the words in gold lettering 'For Merit'.
wfcwLife expectancy falls for older UK women
 7 April 2015
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Campaigners point finger at austerity as Public Health England report shows first decline across all age groups in nearly two decades
 Caroline Abrahams of Age UK said the decline of state-funded social care was a possible cause of the fall in life expectancy.
Age campaigners warned the unexpected decrease in life expectancies was a “canary in the coal mine”, showing how five years of austerity was beginning to take its toll on elderly people.
wfcwBreakdown of the traditional family and longer life expectancy means two million over-40s will face their old age alone
24 April 2014
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As divorce among the middle-aged soars, the Institute of Public Policy Research warned of chronic loneliness. Study predicts one in ten over-60s will live solitary lives by 2033
Nutshell Elderly people advised to 'adopt' grandchildren
wfcw24 April 2014
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Two million over-40s will face ‘chronic loneliness’ in their old age because of the breakdown of traditional families, a report warns today.
Despite ‘significant falls’ in the number of pensioners living in poverty, many face a bleak retirement, according to the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).
The situation is so stark that the report suggests copying a German scheme where older people with no children, or whose families live far away, are encouraged to ‘adopt’ grandchildren raised in single parent families to help them in old age.
The study predicts that the number of over-60s will soar from five million to 20 million by the year 2033. Of these, around one in ten will be leading chronically lonely lives.
‘Longer life expectancy, the breakdown of extended families and the growing number of older people living alone is making it harder for older people to sustain strong relationships and connections to community life,’ the report says.
‘On current projections it can be expected that nearly two million people will be experiencing chronic loneliness by 2033.
‘This includes over 800,000 people in their 80s and 90s who typically have mobility problems that make it hard for them to stay active.
‘We are not doing enough in Britain to ensure that this rapidly growing group of people has the necessary opportunities to sustain their relationships and take part in activities that give meaning to their lives.’
The IPPR says the development will have major consequences for Britain’s social care bill unless action is taken. 
It warns that ever more older people will become dependent on the state for care as they lose touch with family members who might once have helped them lead more independent lives.
The study predicts the number of older people in need of care will outstrip the number of family members able to provide unpaid help for the first time in 2017.
By 2030, an estimated 230,000 older people in England who need more than 20 hours a week of care will be left without relatives to help.
The report stresses that older people are not just recipients of care – they are also among the main providers. The number of people providing significant care for an ageing spouse is forecast to rise by 90 per cent by 2030.
It suggests that Britain should follow the lead of countries such as Germany and Australia in building greater alternative care provision for the future.
Authorities in Berlin are encouraging the childless to ‘adopt’ grandchildren from single parent families in the hope they may look after them in old age.
Elderly people are being advised to 'adopt' grandchildren following schemes set up in Germany
The state-backed scheme helps people find suitable families who have children under ten. In many cases, children have lost contact with their own grandparents who may live far away.
Their new ‘grandparents’ socialise with the family and may help with things such as babysitting.
Some 480 matches have been made to date, with many of the youngsters keeping in touch with their adoptive grandparents into adulthood.
In Western Australia, each community has a dedicated ‘neighbourhood care co-ordinator’ who looks out for those living alone.
Clare McNeil, of the IPPR, urged the Government to take action to prevent  a care crisis, saying: ‘The supply of unpaid care to older people with support needs by their adult children will not keep pace with future demand.’

 

 
TopWhy do we say feminist not equalist?
wfcwPinterest is the world’s catalog of ideas. Find and save recipes, parenting hacks, style inspiration and other ideas to try.
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Judiciary and Society

Laws are spider webs through which the big flies pass and the little ones get caught.- Honore de Balzac

It is not wisdom but Authority that makes a law. Thomas Hobbes

wfcwFemale spies at GCHQ to blow sexists’ cover
October 1 2017
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GCHQ will have an ‘everyday sexism project’, which could be copied across Whitehall.
Their job is to keep Britain safe by scanning the airwaves and snooping on terrorists and foreign states.
Now female spies at GCHQ have a mission closer to home: to gather intelligence on the sexist language and inappropriate behaviour of their male colleagues.
Women at GCHQ’s headquarters in Cheltenham have created an “everyday sexism project” in an effort to “call out sexist incidents”at the agency. The Sunday Times understands similar initiatives could be launched across Whitehall. Alison Titchener, a civil servant at the Ministry of Defence, has applied for funding to launch an “everyday sexism project” at the department.
She acts as “mentor” to Stephen Lovegrove, the MoD’s most senior civil servant, to help him understand what it is like being a woman there.
wfcwThe case of Lavinia Woodward exposes the troubling inequality at the heart of our justice system
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We are supposed to be held equal before the law. But if we’re clever, white, and have great prospects, could it be (with apologies to George Orwell) that some of us are more equal than others?
Aspiring heart surgeon Lavinia Woodward, a student at Christ Church College, Oxford, was told that she is likely to be spared a jail sentence after stabbing her boyfriend in the leg before hurling a laptop, glass and jam jar at him in a drug-fuelled rage. She admitted to a charge of unlawful wounding at Oxford Crown Court.
wfcw Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse
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The Inquiry offers an unprecedented opportunity to examine the extent to which institutions and organisations in England and Wales have taken seriously their responsibility to protect children.
wfcwControlling behavior is abuse and it's time we criminalised it
20 August 2014
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Today, Theresa May announced a consultation to look at strengthening the law against psychological abuse. Polly Neate, chief executive of Women's Aid, welcomes the move - and says we need to help women get justice for mental, as well as physical, harm
The Home Secretary has announced moves to help victims of domestic abuse 
When people think about domestic violence they often reason, 'well if my partner hit me I'd leave'. Yet, the term rarely describes such isolated incidents of physical abuse. It mostly represents a pattern of ongoing controlling and threatening behaviour.
wfcwBeware Theresa May’s relationship police
22 December 2014
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If ‘controlling behaviour’ is made a criminal offence, no relationship is safe.
UK home secretary Theresa May announced that a new offence of ‘controlling and coercive behaviour’ is to be introduced to combat the threat of ‘extreme psychological and emotional abuse’ within relationships. Examples of this so-called abuse include: ‘preventing the victim from having friendships or hobbies; refusing them access to money; and determining many aspects of their everyday life.’ The new offence follows the government’s expansion of the official definition of domestic violence in 2013 to include emotional and psychological harm (under the new category of ‘domestic abuse’).
wfcwMarch of the feminist bullies! Nobel professor hounded from his job for 'sexist' remarks.
11 June 2015
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Sarah Vine says it's part of a deeply disturbing trend. Sir Tim Hunt has resigned from his post after sexist 'joke' backfired. John Inverdale and astrophysicist Matt Taylor have also suffered backlash
wfcwNobel laureate at centre of female scientists row to leave UK for Japan
17 December 2015
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Sir Tim Hunt, the Nobel laureate whose comments about women at an international conference caused a furore earlier this year, is leaving Britain for a life in Japan.
Hunt resigned from a biology awards committee at the Royal Society, led by Sir Paul Nurse, with whom Hunt shared the Nobel prize for his work on cell division.
wfcwwfcwBarrister hit with death threats in revenge for his war on corruption
21 December 2015
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A leading barrister told how he was targeted with death threats in revenge for his battle to expose corruption in the justice system.
The Society of Asian Lawyers’ president Jo Sidhu, 50, was subjected to a 12-month internet campaign to discredit his reputation through dozens of fake Twitter accounts, Facebook pages and websites.
Mr Sidhu has appeared in a number of  major criminal trials, including the £40 million Graff diamonds robbery and three terror cases.
He is a high-profile campaigner against a minority of lawyers and unqualified consultants milking the Legal Aid system. He thinks a corrupt legal practitioner hired Place in a bid to bully him out of the profession. He was so frightened by the abuse he stepped up security at his family’s west London home.
wfcwSenior magistrate resigns in disgust after he was suspended by judiciary when trying to pay penniless asylum seeker's court fine
30 September 2015
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Nigel Allcoat, a senior magistrate, of Burbage, Leicestershire, offered money toward the £180 in penalties the man in his 20s was being ordered to pay.   But when the judiciary found out about his good deed, the 65-year-old musician was suspended and investigated.
The respected JP responded by quitting in disgust at the way both he and the refugee have been treated by the law.
Legislation drawn up by former justice secretary Chris Grayling can see defendants face punitive charges of up to £1,200. It was brought in as a means of ensuring adult offenders paid toward court costs.
Since April, dozens of magistrates across the country have resigned in protest at the charges which came into effect in April.
Mr Allcoat found himself in trouble after dealing with the case of the asylum seeker at Leicester Magistrates’ Court who had no means of paying the growing fines.
 
TopBar Standards and Politics
lbwfCllr Marie Pye, Waltham Forest’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing
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“Getting into the Stonewall Top 100 is great news for Waltham Forest and a real testament to our commitment towards making the organisation as open and inclusive as possible, especially considering the qualifying criteria were far stricter this year and the competition is fiercer now than it has ever been.
“Waltham Forest wants to attract and retain the best talent regardless of background or sexual orientation, and it’s achievements like this that put us on the map as a prospective employer
Cllr Pye, appointments
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Bar Standards Board Equality & Diversity Advisory Group
National Autistic Society
Transport for London Independent Disability Advisory Group
Defra Diversity & Equality Scrutiny Advisory Group
London Councils Lead Member for Equality.
Bar StandardsBar Standards Board Equality & Diversity Committee
Members' Interests Professional Conduct Committee
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Professional Conduct Committee membership
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Marie Pye, Lay Member
Marie is Chair of the Defra Disability Equality Scrutiny Advisory Group and advises a range of national public bodies on equality issues.  She is a local councillor and an accredited local government peer specialising in community cohesion.  She was Head of Public Sector Delivery at the Disability Rights Commission until 2007.
Marie worked for the Disability Rights Commission for seven years, initially leading on the services section of the DDA and then on all the work with the public sector including the Disability Equality Duty.
She is a Local councillor in East London and Cabinet lead for a whole variety of things including equality but also including housing and community cohesion.

wfcwFemale Afghan barrister 'sacked in favour of white man'
9 November 2018
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The only female Afghan barrister in England and Wales says she has become numb to discrimination after a client sacked her to appoint a white man.
Rehana Popal said other clients have told her they wanted someone white "because the judge will believe them".
She said it suggested there was a "serious concern" with how the justice system was being perceived.
The Ministry of Justice said it was committed to increasing the diversity of the judiciary.

 
TopThe judiciary and equality
Mr Justice ColeridgeSir Paul Coleridge, family court judge:
December 2013
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The lack of support from colleagues on his views around marriage was partly to blame for his decision to step down from the judiciary. He  criticised selfish parents for being more concerned with their own ‘rights’ than the welfare of their children.  He said: ‘In the courts people talk about their rights – you have no right where children are  concerned. What you have are responsibilities and duties to do right by them.’
MunbywfcwThe new head of the High Court’s Family Division, Lord Justice (James) Munby, is a strong supporter of equality for gay people.
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Sir James is to take over as the President of the High Court Family Division after the sudden retirement retirement of the current head Sir Nicholas Wall. On 11 January 2013, he succeeded Sir Nicholas Wall as President of the Family Division
I can't just sit and watch the misery of divorce, says judge as he quits
Sir Paul Coleridge retired from the High Court’s Family Division on Thursday after he was formally warned over campaigning for marriage. He said he could not ‘sit here day after day’ seeing the effect of family breakdown without speaking out against it. In December he was reprimanded by heads of the judiciary after setting up the Marriage Foundation think tank and airing views in a newspaper article.
wfcwRush for gender equality with top judges 'could have appalling consequences for justice'
21 September 2015
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One of the country’s most senior judges today warned that rushing to achieve equal representation for women at the top of the legal profession could inflict “appalling consequences” on the quality of British justice

wfcw'Secret' trials as part of scheme to speed up justice
12 July 2015
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Secret fast-track money-saving scheme ends centuries of open justice.
Cases not being read out in open court, with no access to press or public, in which a  single lay judge reads papers and passes sentence with a legal adviser.  There is no bench made up of magistrates, no lawyers, no defendant and no access for the press or public.
 
wfcwA senior judge has called for action to ‘stem the tide’ of family breakdown
Apr 18th 2014
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17 April 2014
Sir Paul Coleridge has retired from the High Court's Family Division calling for action to 'stem the tide' of family breakdown in the UK
A senior judge has called for action to ‘stem the tide’ o
nutshell‘We should not be afraid to speak out ...'
wfcwApr 18th 2014
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17 April 2014
Sir Paul Coleridge has retired from the High Court's Family Division calling for action to 'stem the tide' of family breakdown in the UK
A senior judge has called for action to ‘stem the tide’ of family breakdown – as it was revealed Britain has more failed marriages than almost any other country.
Sir Paul Coleridge retired from the High Court’s Family Division on Thursday after he was formally warned over campaigning for marriage.
He said he could not ‘sit here day after day’ seeing the effect of family breakdown without speaking out against it.
In December he was reprimanded by heads of the judiciary after setting up the Marriage Foundation think tank and airing views in a newspaper article.
At a retirement ceremony yesterday, Sir Paul said: ‘I know how consoling and good a good marriage can be and how it gets better over the years and also how ghastly family breakdown can be. Something can and should be done to stem the tide of family breakdown.
‘Family judges have a unique experience of this and therefore a unique contribution to make.
‘We should not be afraid to speak out … I cannot sit here day after day watching misery and doing nothing.’
Sir Paul’s comments came as an international report found barely half of UK adults are married – and almost one in ten are divorced or separated. Only four countries in the West have a higher proportion of divorcees who have not remarried.
Last night Norman Wells, of campaigners Family and Youth Concern, said the rise in unmarried cohabitation, outlined in the report, was a ‘disaster for children’ as it meant their parents were more likely to separate.

Tory backbenchers blamed the high number of divorcees on the fact Britain does not recognise marriage in the tax system.
Sir Paul, writing in the Mail in December, also said tax breaks for married couples would send a ‘positive message’ and that marriage should be put ‘at the heart of our social structure’.
In January, the Marriage Foundation called for the Government to encourage marriage and persuade couples with young children to stay together.
The report, by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, found Britain’s marriage rate has halved since 1970, when it was one of the highest in the industrialised world.
It is one of the sharpest drops among Western nations – to 22nd out of 34 ranked by the OECD study.
A report, by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, has found Britain¿s marriage rate has halved since 1970, when it was one of the highest in the industrialised world
And the divorce rate has doubled over the same period. Just 50.6 per cent of adults in the UK are married and still living with their spouse – below the average for similar countries.
Last night, Tory MP David Burrowes said: ‘These figures are depressing and should be a wake-up call to get alongside the institution of marriage and do more to prevent the £45billion cost of family breakdown.’
He added: ‘Britain is out of step with the rest of the OECD in not recognising marriage in the tax system … We need to do more to support couples before, during and throughout their marriage – and the Church could take a lead in that.’
The OECD report shows 10.5 per cent of British adults live with a partner, and almost a quarter are single and have never married. A further 7.2 per cent are widowed.
The rest – 9.4 per cent – is made up of divorcees and those who have separated – the fifth highest proportion in the world, behind the Czech Republic, the US, Finland and Estonia.
While the OECD figures showed that Britain’s marriage rate fell from 8.47 per 1,000 people in 1970  to just 4.43 per 1,000 in 2010, there has been a small increase in recent years, according to the Office for National Statistics.


 
TopFamily breakdown
bbc'A million children growing up without fathers'
10 June 2013
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Independent UK in family breakdown 'epidemic'
The UK has one of the highest rates of family breakdown in the Western world with just two thirds of children living with both parents, according to research by a global development organisation.
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TimesSpeaking to The Times High Court judge Sir Paul Coleridge said that Gay marriage is 'wrong priority.' [1]
26 December 2012
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He criticised the Government for focusing on gay marriage plans rather than the "crisis of family breakdown." He said that the Gay marriage debate 'affects 0.1% of the population.' 
So much energy and time has been put into this debate for 0.1% of the population, when we have a crisis of family breakdown.
He says marriage breakdowns and their impact on society affects 99.9 per cent of the population, which is where more investment should be spent
marriage Foundation The Marriage Foundation
We want to see fewer relationships breaking down and more people forming healthy stable relationships.
This would mean fewer people being drawn into the family justice system – not the 500,000 each year as now.
Fewer children whose wellbeing and life chances are diminished.
Fewer people experiencing the emotional pain and financial costs of broken relationships.And less cost to society – not the current £44 bn each year.
We believe that marriage can help build more stable relationships, and that marriages can be strengthened and helped to survive difficult times.
Families and Households, 2012 - ONS
Mr Justice ColeridgeEpidemic of marriage breakdowns overwhelming courts says top judge
Mr Justice Coleridge, a family division judge said: with many children growing up scarred by parents' break-ups, it could no longer be seen as just a matter for the individuals involved.
He said the consequences of family break-up for society were so great that it could no longer be a purely private matter, and called for a national commission to consider the problem and its solution.
The same judge last year said there was a "meltdown" in family life which was "as big a threat to the future of our society as terrorism, street crime or drugs"
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Frost's Meditations - The breakdown of the traditional family was likened last Saturday by a High Court judge, Mr Justice Coleridge, to an out-of-control cancerous body, posing more of a threat to our futures than global warming. The family courts, he said, are witnessing "a never-ending carnival of human misery".
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Iain Duncan SmithThe 2011 riots across England forced the middle classes to acknowledge social problems faced by those living in poverty. Chingford MP Iain Duncan Smith.
15th September 2011
In an interview with The Times, the work and pensions secretary said the unrest was a wake-up call for those who “remained unaware of the true nature of life on some of our estates.”
Mr Duncan Smith, who was the first minister to connect the riots with the problems of drugs, gangs and welfare dependency, also said many were shocked “when the inner city finally came to call”.
He added: "This was because we had ghettoise many of these problems, keeping them out of sight of the middle-class majority.
"The distorted morality has permeated our whole society, right to the very top. Whether in the banking crisis, phone hacking or the MPs' expenses scandal, we have seen a failure of responsibility from the leaders of our society."
more ...
BBCArchbishop of Canterbury criticises 'paranoid' Britain
29 May 2012
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The Archbishop of Canterbury has said he is disappointed by the direction the UK has taken in recent years.
Speaking to the BBC's Newsnight, Dr Rowan Williams raised concerns about the gap between rich and poor and the lack of cultural cohesion in the UK.
"There have been moments in the last decade and more when, perhaps, we might have been able to take a different line," he said.
He was referring to the way the British think and feel as a society and told Newsnight's Stephen Smith that British society had "put up the shutters" and retreated into "corporate paranoia" in the wake of terrorist threats.
A culture has developed, he said, in which people are fearful of those above and below on the social ladder and are becoming "fist-clenching, anxious, not generous".
Dr Williams said a "sense of hopelessness" had developed at the bottom levels of society.
"The gulf between the top and the bottom of the economic ladder has grown and is growing, that's not something we really tackled."
Rowan WilliamsThe Archbishop of Canterbury has appealed for an end to damaging stereotypes of older people
Dr Rowan Williams in his last speech as Archbishop of Canterbury
15 December 2012
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In his final speech in the House of Lords, Dr Rowan Williams said attitudes of 'contempt and exasperation' towards the ageing population were contributing to a range of abuse, from patronising and impatient behaviour to physical mistreatment.
Mr Justice ColeridgeSir Paul Coleridge, family court judge: 'Get married if you want a family'
9 December 2013
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The lack of support from colleagues on his views around marriage was partly to blame for his decision to step down from the judiciary next year. He  criticised selfish parents for being more concerned with their own ‘rights’ than the welfare of their children.  He said: ‘In the courts people talk about their rights – you have no right where children are  concerned. What you have are responsibilities and duties to do right by them.’
wfcwWhat does it say about our values when a judge is rebuked for speaking up for marriage?
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18 December 2013
Sir Paul Coleridge has been reprimanded by the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice, and found guilty of 'judicial misconduct'
Sir Paul suggested during an interview with The Times that the Government had spent too much energy in championing gay marriage and too little energy in supporting married couples
Mr Justice Coleridge November 2012 - The Office for Judicial Complaints launched its investigation in May following a complaint that his neutrality as a judge could be compromised after he took part in a pro-marriage event. Mr Justice Coleridge has been cleared of judicial misconduct over his involvement with pro-marriage charity the Marriage Foundation, but said he would take a “lower profile” position.

The Marriage FoundationThe Marriage Foundation
marriagefoundation.org.uk
ChancellorDecember 2012 - First openly gay judge to be appointed Chancellor of the High Court. Lord Justice (Terrence) Etherton, the first senior judge to be in a civil partnership, has been appointed as Chancellor of the High Court, or head of the Chancery Division. The post is one of the most senior judicial roles in England and Wales.
Sir Terrence will take up his new role on 11 January 2013. He shares his start date with the new head of the High Court’s Family Division, Lord Justice (James) Munby a strong supporter of equality for gay people.
the lawyerMr Justice Coleridge cleared of misconduct on pro-marriage stance
30 November 2012
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Mr Justice Coleridge has been cleared of judicial misconduct over his involvement with pro-marriage charity the Marriage Foundation, but said he would take a “lower profile” position.
The Office for Judicial Complaints launched its investigation in May following a complaint that his neutrality as a judge could be compromised after he took part in a pro-marriage event.
At the launch of the Marriage Foundation in May the High Court judge said: “This is not going to be a cosy club for the smug and self-satisfied of middle England but, we hope, the start of a national movement with the aim of changing attitudes across the board from the very top to the bottom of society, and thus improve the lives of us all, especially children.”
The OJC today (30 November) said that it had concluded the investigation, adding: “Having considered all of the facts the Lord Chancellor and the president of the Queen’s Bench Division, on behalf of the Lord Chief Justice, do not consider Mr Justice Coleridge’s involvement with the Marriage Foundation to be incompatible with his judicial responsibilities and therefore does not amount to judicial misconduct.”
It continued: “Mr Justice Coleridge has agreed that a lower profile role within the organisation would be more appropriate for a serving judicial office holder.”
pink newsFirst openly gay judge to be appointed Chancellor of the High Court
21 December 2012
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Lord Justice (Terrence) Etherton, the first senior judge to be in a civil partnership, has been appointed as Chancellor of the High Court, or head of the Chancery Division. The post is one of the most senior judicial roles in England and Wales.
Having worked as a barrister since 1997, Sir Terrence has been in a civil partnership since 2006.
In 2008, Sir Terence became the first openly gay Lord Justice of Appeal. At the time he told PinkNews.co.uk: “My appointment also shows that diversity in sexuality is not a bar to preferment up to the highest levels of the judiciary.”
He spent two years as chairman of the Law Commission, the Government’s legal reform body. In that time the commission had been responsible for showing, what was described by campaigners as “enlightened thinking” on some very sensitive and important areas of the law particularly in regards to gender and sexuality.
Sir Terrence will take up his new role on 11 January 2013. He shares his start date with the new head of the High Court’s Family Division, Lord Justice (James) Munby a strong supporter of equality for gay people.
 
wfcwSlovak parents fail to block adoption by gay couple
24 May 2014
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Two Slovakian parents have failed to block the adoption of two of their sons by a same sex couple in Kent.
The Catholic couple, who are of Roma origin, argued their two young children would grow up alienated from their family and community.
Taking the case to the High Court, they accused the local authority of social engineering by attempting to turn the children white and middle class.
An earlier hearing heard evidence they had neglected their children.
Approved Judgment - Lord Justice Munby
 
TopIt's the end of the nuclear family
wfcwIt's the end of the nuclear family
20 February 2014
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Lord Wilson said the make-up of average British family has changed. Many families now consist of step-parents and 'half-blood' siblings. He said this might not be a bad thing, giving children a broader experience. But he still believes it's best to be raised by two married parents


wfcwRise of middle class posh swinger sex parties, VIP-style 
9 January 2015
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Guests must pass a strict vetting procedure and are largely, young, professional with impeccable grooming habits. 
Chris Reynolds Gordon runs Heaven Circle, which organises exclusive orgies where the guest list is as strict as any private members club.   They take place in expensive townhouses, sprawling West Country mansions or even on yachts or villas in Ibiza.
   
TopSame sex gay marriage
wfcwI married myself
4 October 2014
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Finding the right person to make a commitment to can take years, but it turned out that Grace Gelder had known her perfect partner all her life
"I’d been essentially single for almost six years and built up this brilliant relationship with myself. Nevertheless, I was aware of getting into a rut, where a relationship with someone else seemed like too much hard work. So I really wanted to pay tribute to this adventurous period of self-discovery but, at the same time, look forward to a new phase."
nhsGay health: having children. If you're a gay man or a lesbian, it doesn't mean you have to go through life without having a family of your own. The options available to potential gay and lesbian parents are wider now than ever before.
   
wfcwChristian couple ‘extremely distressed’ at fostering ban
A Christian couple who said they would not tell a child that being gay is okay have said they are “extremely distressed” at being banned from fostering.
Eunice and Owen Johns, of Derby, say they are considering an appeal over the High Court verdict. The Pentecostal Christians were barred from fostering by Derby county council in 2007 after they admitted they believe homosexuality is unacceptable.
wfcwBritish courts do not show enough respect to Christians, says one of the country's most senior judges
The current discrimination laws that have ruled against the rights of Christians in test cases are not ‘sustainable in the long run.’ 'It is fascinating that a country with an established Church can be less respectful of religious feelings than one without.'
nutshell Christian couple fostering ban
wfcw1st March 2011
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A Christian couple who said they would not tell a child that being gay is okay have said they are “extremely distressed” at being banned from fostering.
Eunice and Owen Johns, of Derby, say they are considering an appeal over the High Court verdict.
The Pentecostal Christians were barred from fostering by Derby county council in 2007 after they admitted they believe homosexuality is unacceptable.   They took their case to the High Court but Lord Justice Munby and Mr Justice Beeston ruled that their views could harm foster children.  “The equality provisions concerning sexual orientation should take precedence” over religious beliefs, the judges ruled.   They also dismissed the couple’s lawyer’s claims as “a travesty of reality”.
Speaking outside court, Mr and Mrs John said: “We are extremely distressed at what the judges have ruled today.   “All we wanted was to offer a loving home to a child in need. We have a good track record as foster parents.  “But because we are Christians, with mainstream Christian views on sexual ethics, we are apparently unsuitable as foster parents.  “We are unsure how we can continue the application process following the court’s ruling today.  “We have been excluded because we have moral opinions based on our faith and we feel sidelined because we are Christians with normal, mainstream, Christian views on sexual ethics.  “The judges have suggested that our views might harm children. We have been told by the Equality and Human Rights Commission that our moral views may ‘infect’ a child.   “We do not believe that this is so. We are prepared to love and accept any child. All we were not willing to do was to tell a small child that the practice of homosexuality was a good thing.   “Worst of all, a vulnerable child has now likely missed the chance of finding a safe and caring home at a time when there are so few people willing to foster or adopt.”
The couple added: “We have not received justice. We believe that an independent inquiry is needed to look into this.”  But gay and secular groups said the verdict was correct.
Naomi Phillips, of the British Humanist Association, said: “When we take on jobs of public service to others, particularly to vulnerable children, we need to understand that our own prejudices and preferences come second to the needs and rights of those we are helping.   “This judgment supports that principle and makes clear that this case has nothing to do with treating religious people unequally, or forcing anyone to go against their beliefs, or about religious discrimination, as was claimed in court.
Ben Summerskill, of gay rights charity Stonewall, said: ‘We’re delighted that the High Court’s landmark decision has favoured 21st-century decency above 19th-century prejudice. In any fostering case the interests of the 60,000 children in care should override the bias of any prospective parent.”   “Thankfully, Mr and Mrs Johns’s out-dated views aren’t just out of step with the majority of people in modern Britain, but those of many Christians too. If you wish to be involved in the delivery of a public service, you should be prepared to provide it fairly to anyone.”
The Johns are the latest in a series of Christian couples to unsuccessfully challenge equality legislation. 
Last month, a couple who own a hotel in Cornwall were ordered to pay £3,600 to a gay couple they refused a double room to.   Peter and Hazelmary Bull, the owners of the Chymorvah Private Hotel, argued that their Christian beliefs meant they could not allow two men to share a bed.

nutshell The law - respect for Christian beliefs
wfcw21 March 2014
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Lady Hale, Deputy President of the Supreme Court has called for the law to take a less hardline attitude to the right of Christians to live by their beliefs. She said they have lost out in the courts to other faiths with stricter codes.
Lady Hale said a new religious settlement should allow Christians to ignore gay rights and wear crosses to work - if they are polite about it.
The law does not show enough respect for the beliefs of Christians, one of the country’s most senior judges said yesterday.
They have lost out in the courts while other faiths with stricter codes of behaviour, dress and diet have been able to win, said Lady Hale, Deputy President of the Supreme Court.
Lady Hale called for the law to take a new and less hardline attitude to the right of Christians to live by their beliefs when, for example, they want to wear a cross at work, or turn away gay couples from their hotels.
The current discrimination laws that have ruled against the rights of Christians in test cases are not ‘sustainable in the long run’, she argued.
Lady Hale’s analysis, given in a lecture at Yale Law School and published yesterday, suggested a new religious settlement might be based on the idea that the law should show ‘reasonable accommodation’ for religious belief.
This would mean in effect that Christians could ignore gay rights laws or demand to wear crosses at work – as long as they were polite about it.
Failed court cases include that of hoteliers Peter and Hazelmary Bull, who refused to let a room to a gay couple because they only accepted married couples, and that of nurse Shirley Chaplin, who lost her claim to wear a cross on the wards.
Lady Hale herself was among the Supreme Court judges who rejected the arguments of the hotelkeepers, declaring that discrimination against gay people is an ‘affront to their dignity as human beings’.
But she said in her US speech that Christians lose in court because they cannot claim that their faith demands they follow strict rules.

‘It is not difficult to see why the Christians feel that their religious beliefs are not being sufficiently respected,' she said. ‘Other religions with stricter dress codes or dietary laws are demanding concessions which Christians feel that it is harder to claim because they cannot point to equivalent religious requirements.’

She added: ‘The Church of England is a very undemanding Church. It has no dietary laws, no dress codes for men and women, and very little that its members can say is actually required of them by way of observance.’
Citing cases in Europe and Canada, she said there were precedents to allow Christians more room to follow their beliefs.
‘Would it not be a great deal simpler if we required the providers of employment, goods and services to make reasonable accommodation for the religious beliefs of others?
'We can get this out of the European Court of Human Rights approach but not out of our anti-discrimination law.
‘I find it hard to believe that the hardline EU law approach to direct discrimination can be sustainable in the long run.’
In her speech she spoke of a Canadian case in which a couple who ran a bed and breakfast house and turned away gay guests lost in court only because of ‘the offensive manner of the cancellation’.

'It is fascinating that a country with an established Church can be less respectful of religious feelings than one without' - Lady Hale

‘This is not an approach which is permitted to us in the United Kingdom,’ she said.
‘But I am not sure how comfortable I would be with the sort of balancing exercise required by the Canadian approach.
‘It is fascinating that a country with an established Church can be less respectful of religious feelings than one without.’
Other senior judges, including appeal judge Lord Justice Laws and family judge Sir James Munby, have said Christians cannot expect special treatment in the courts.
Other high-profile cases involving Christians include registrar Lillian Ladele, who lost her job because she would not conduct civil partnership ceremonies and Relate counsellor Gary McFarlane, dismissed because he would not give sex advice to gay couples.

 
Marriage guidanceThe fact is the only way to have a happy relationship is to make yourself happy. All that money you waste on marriage counselling would be better spent on spas, a hobby or whatever else gives you a boost. My recommendation — that women leave the control they exert at work or with their children at the front door when it comes to their marriage
nutshell relationship expert has a warning
Marriage guidanceMarriage guidance destroys marriages: It's the time of year when couples split. But one relationship expert has a warning
20 December 2013
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Tills are ringing and Christmas is approaching, but there’s another industry, besides retail, eagerly rubbing its hands in glee. That’s marriage guidance.
It’s often said solicitors and relationship counsellors see a spike in business straight after Christmas, as enforced proximity, jollity, financial pressures — all mixed together with a potent slug of alcohol — push marriages to the brink.
And before they head to the solicitors, many couples will at least give counselling a go.
My advice to any couple is: don’t. This kind of ‘therapy’ causes rather than averts divorce.

Marriage counselling: Relationship expert Laura Doyle says that it can do more harm to a marriage than good
The only advice you should seek is that of women with long and successful marriages behind them. They’re the only ‘counsellors’ worth listening to.
If this sounds harsh, I do speak from personal as well as professional experience, as an intimacy coach and relationship expert. I level no accusations at women that I don’t see in myself, either.
Nagging, for one, will get you nowhere.
You might think telling your husband how to stack the dishwasher is harmless, but for ‘advice’ he reads ‘criticism’. He retreats into his shell and a wedge is created.
I harried my husband John into submission for years, then dragged him to marriage guidance when things started to fall apart, only for the counsellor to agree when I huffily said: ‘I’d be better off alone.’
Thankfully, I saw the light, ditched therapy and started listening to the advice of happily married women instead. John and I have now been married for 24 years and have never been happier.

We met when he moved in next door when I was studying journalism at college. I was 21; he was 32 and a videographer for a defence company.
John was so sweet, with an endearing, self-deprecating sense of humour. Things progressed quickly with declarations of love within a month; we moved in together after five months and were engaged within the year.
That was despite telling myself I would never marry. My parents had been through a brutal divorce when I was 17 so I thought the only way to avoid that myself was never to marry.
Then I fell madly in love with John and all that went out the window. As I suspected, though, I soon fell into the same trap as my parents.
We had the big meringue wedding in September 1989 with 80 guests in the garden of a historic house. It was a truly magical occasion.
The first few years were pretty magical, but looking back, I was unwittingly drilling little holes in the boat, but not yet enough to sink it.
‘Hang up the bath mat!’, ‘You’re wearing that to the party?’ More disparaging remarks continued.

A time of cheer... Relationship counsellors see a spike in business after Christmas, as enforced proximity, jollity, financial pressures - all mixed together with a potent slug of alcohol - push marriages to the brink
I was following in my mother’s footsteps. I’d grown up believing my father was a bad person because he had a temper. In fact that was because Mum had been undermining him the whole time.
Dad worked the graveyard shift as an X-ray technician, while Mum stayed at home with me and my two younger sisters and younger brother.
Not wanting to repeat the chaos and drama of my childhood home, I opted not to become a mother — and John agreed.
Meanwhile my dad has been with my stepmother for over 25 years and he’s a totally different person with her. He’s relaxed and happy, so we have a good relationship.
As for my mum, she still lives alone and seems more than a little lonely.
It was six years before John and I opted for marriage guidance. By then we rowed frequently and I was oblivious to the damage my constant belittling was doing. John spent so much time watching telly, he’d rather watch a repeat than make love.
We were in the car, bickering, when John suddenly turned and said: ‘All right, OK, we can go to counselling.’

'Change': Asking your husband to do this is the classic wife's mistake, according to relationship expert Laura Doyle
I’d been on at him to ‘change’ — the classic wife’s mistake — and mentioned therapy as a way to do it.
That’s the problem: so entrenched has this become in our society it’s like reaching for an umbrella if it rains.
For more than two years we traded weekly insults, with the counsellor often on my side.
She did nothing to disabuse me of my belief it was his job to make me happy, not mine. In front of her, I told John he had ‘no spine’ and that there was something wrong with him.
It was at her behest that I persuaded him to be tested for attention deficiency disorder — thinking there must be some medical reason for his shortcomings. Quite how John didn’t run for the hills I’ll never know.
Rather than encouraging me to see all the brilliant things about my husband — why I fell in love with him in the first place — the counsellor merely highlighted the bad.
Within months whenever we rowed, I used divorce as a threat and John began to assent — although, thankfully, neither of us had acted on it.
When I sighed: ‘I’d be better off alone’, the counsellor said: ‘It sounds like you’re ready for a change’.
In the end our marriage was saved by the fact that we sometimes performed songs in a local coffee shop. We used to duet from time to time — John on the guitar, both of us singing. One night our counsellor came along with her husband. We were aghast to witness her haranguing him into taking the stage. ‘Go on, play Landslide by Fleetwood Mac,’ she nagged him.
He kept saying ‘no’ but eventually crept on to the stage with great reluctance. He only got halfway through before saying: ‘Can I stop now?’
Talk about emasculation! How could she help us when her marriage was in a worse state than ours? John was only too pleased when I suggested giving up counselling. Even then I couldn’t admit to myself how damaging it had been — we’d spent more than £200 a month on it.
So instead I just started to listen to the advice of women who’d been married longer than me.
One said: ‘I never criticise my husband no matter how much it seems he deserves it.’  Another said: ‘I handed all the finances to my husband — it prevents all sorts of rows.’
I was willing to try anything to save my marriage so I started to bite my tongue. The next time John asked: ‘What shall I wear?’ I got a perverse pleasure from his confusion when I replied: ‘Whatever you think, darling, you have good taste.’
Gradually the dynamic began to change; friends said: ‘What’s happened to John? He looks different.’ I noticed that he stood straighter and when I came in from work he got up from the sofa and smiled: he was happy to see me.
Over time, I started to meet up with other wives who wanted to revitalise their flagging relationships and we traded advice. The result was not only happier marriages but my controversial book The Surrendered Wife — first published in 2001.
My recommendation — that women leave the control they exert at work or with their children at the front door when it comes to their marriage — was met by as much vitriol as praise. It was a bestseller, published in 16 languages and 27 countries — so it obviously struck a chord.

Feeling the strain: Rather than encouraging me to see all the brilliant things about my husband - why I fell in love with him in the first place - the counsellor merely highlighted the bad, writes Ms Doyle
Even then I failed to recognise the major contributing factor to my marital strife: marriage counselling. But as I spoke to more and more women who’d had similar experiences, there was no hiding from it.
One woman was told by her counsellor: ‘Don’t you see, your marriage is dead?’ Her husband wanted to work at it, but she listened to the ‘advice’ and sought a divorce — which she now deeply regrets.
In another case it was only when her husband accepted the therapist’s proddings and said they should part that the wife realised it wasn’t what she wanted. By then it was too late.
My work as an intimacy coach couldn’t be more different. First, I work only with women on a one-to-one basis, so you’re not criticising your husband in front of him.
Rather than delve into the past with Freudian psychoanalysis as favoured by marriage counsellors, I focus on practical approaches to deal with daily life.
Wives mostly swing between disrespecting their husband and playing the martyr. Marriage counselling re-enforces this, but I do the opposite by suggesting women rein in their negativity.
Essentially husbands just want to please their wives, but at times feel it’s hopeless.
The fact is the only way to have a happy relationship is to make yourself happy. All that money you waste on marriage counselling would be better spent on spas, a hobby or whatever else gives you a boost
Marriage guidance promotes ‘talking about your feelings’ but men pick up the message that they’re not good enough and need to change.
The fact is the only way to have a happy relationship is to make yourself happy. All that money you waste on marriage counselling would be better spent on spas, a hobby or whatever else gives you a boost.
These days I play volleyball three times a week, meet girlfriends for lunch and indulge in a cup of tea and a good book. And I don’t ask my husband to be someone he isn’t.
The result? I have the marriage I dreamed of when I stood at the altar and said ‘I do’. My husband is tender and playful, I find him as handsome as the day he first asked me out and our home is relaxed and peaceful.
I am now busy writing my fourth book — First, Kill All The Marriage Counsellors — about this topic.
I’m wary of tackling the subject after all the flak I got with my first book, but I feel it’s my duty to expose this fraudulent industry once and for all.
Personally, I am furious that had I followed our counsellor’s advice I would have lost the love of my life. Please don’t make the same mistake.

 
Gay marriage voteFor the sake of our children they should also strengthen conventional marriage”
Bob Woollard Conservative Grassroots
TopCivil Partnerships & Gay Marriage
Bradin TrubshawCivil Partnerships
Civil Partnership Dissolution - "Gay Divorce"
Unfortunately, some Civil Partnerships will fall apart. The Partnership will have to be formally dissolved through the Courts; this is legally referred to as “civil partnership dissolution” and not “divorce”. Civil Partnership dissolution cannot be undertaken within the first year of that Civil Partnership.  A question we are frequently asked is, is a civil partnership dissolution the same as a divorce?
The only ground for the dissolution of a civil partnership is the irretrievable breakdown of the relationship. This must be proven by citing one of the following facts:
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • 2 years separation and consent to a divorce
  • 2 years desertion
  • 5 years separation
The only difference to a heterosexual divorce is that the ground of Adultery cannot be relied upon for a "gay divorce". Adultery is a specific legal term relating to heterosexual sex and which cannot be used as grounds for a civil partnership dissolution. If one of the partners is unfaithful the grounds for dissolution may therefore be unreasonable behaviour.
Gay marriage voteGay marriage: MPs back bill despite Conservative backbench opposition
5 February 2013
MPs have approved same-sex marriage in England and Wales in a key Commons vote, despite the opposition of almost half the Conservative MPs.
CareyDavid Cameron is alienating Christians by promoting gay marriage, according to the former archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey.
30 March 2013
Carey was archbishop of Canterbury from 1991 to 2002.
In a strongly worded article, former archbishop of Canterbury George Carey said Cameron's plan to legalise gay unions hid an "aggressive secularist" approach that threatened the link between church and state.
TopParenting
mumThe UK has failed to rank among the top 20 places to be a mother, falling behind other European countries such as Germany and France. In a list of 176 countries, compiled by the charity Save the Children, the UK is ranked at number 23.

BBCNews, 7 May 2013
By Katherine Sellgren
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The UK has failed to rank among the top 20 places to be a mother, falling behind other European countries such as Germany and France.
In a list of 176 countries, compiled by the charity Save the Children, the UK is ranked at number 23.
Finland, Sweden and Norway take the top three slots respectively in the charity's Mother's Index.
Save the Children found the Democratic Republic of the Congo to be the world's toughest place to be a mother.
In the charity's report - The State of the World's Mothers - Ireland is ranked at number 20, the US 30, Germany nine, and France 16.
 
wfcwPalace of Westminster dubbed 'Palace of Sexminster' after a string of scandals
12 April 2014
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Calls for an urgent overhaul of Westminster’s late-night drinking culture to prevent more damaging sleaze
 
wfcwTories attack CPS over handling of Nigel Evans case
10 April 2014
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Call for a review of sex-related prosecutions, warning that men's lives are at risk of being ruined.
 
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