News roundup for April 2002

Rape conviction rate: 1 in 13

BBC Report

A report has shown that only 1 out of every 13 rapes in England and Wales reported to the police results in a conviction. The inquiry was done by the Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Inspectorate for the Crown Prosecution Service. Back in 1977 the conviction rate was 1 in 3: the drop in the number of convictions has been described as “shocking”. The report blamed the way police treat rape victims, bad-decision making by police officers and lawyers, and called for specialist rape prosecuters to be appointed. Frighteningly, it is now estimated that only 1 in 10 victims report the rape to the police, and even then, the odds of a rapist being brought to court are around 1 in a 100.

Court rules that BBC & ITV were wrong to censor abortion images… but SPUC fail to make sale of morning after pill illegal

The ProLife Alliance, an anti-abortion group, won a case in the Court of Appeal. During the 1997 election campaign, they had fielded enough candidates to allow them to have a political broadcast in Wales. However, their film featured graphic shots of abortion, including images of an aborted foetus, and the BBC and ITV refused to show them uncensored. The BBC had argued that it had a contractual duty not to show images which would cause offence, but the court ruled that this action was illegal. TV companies are now concerned that this ruling might mean they would be obliged to show such images in future. In other news, the SPUC’s attempt to make the sale of the morning after pill illegal in chemists was rejected by the High Court. Something to celebrate I think!

Nestle says Yorkie chocolate is “not for girls”

MediaGuardian report

Yorkie chocolate bar has been relaunched with a new advertising campaign which is based around the concept that it’s “not for girls.” Following on from their macho Yorkie trucker, who represented the brand from the 70s to the early 90s, Nestle have decided that its time men had something that was just for them. Nestle’s marketing director said: “…we felt we needed to take a stand for the British bloke and reclaim some things in his life, starting with his chocolate… Most men these days feel as if the world is changing around them and it has become less and less politically correct to have anything that is only for males. Yorkie feels that this is an important part of men’s happiness and is starting the reclaiming process of making a particular chocolate just for men.” TV ads are running with the phrase “It’s not for girls”, while posters and billboards tell us “don’t feed the birds”, “not available in pink” and “King size, not Queen size.” The “O” in YORKIE has been altered to show a round road sign with a line crossing through a symbol of a woman. Right. So… they’re actively disuading women from eating chocolate. Not the greatest marketing decision in the world, is it? You couldn’t make this up could you? Just another reason not to buy Nestle products I guess, apart from the powdered milk / third world babies fiasco…

Member of BMA says medical schools may have to favour men

BBC Report

A senior member of the GP Committee of the British Medical Association has said that the crisis in staffing in general practice could be solved by medical schools training more men – because male doctors tend to work for a longer period of time than female doctors, and so they’d give more years of service. Currently, 60% of medical students are female. “I’m all for equality, but if the nation decides it wants equality in this area, then it is going to have to accept that it will be a bit short of doctors in future.” said Dr Peter Holden. “This is a difficult issue, because it is not politically correct. But this is not about misogyny, it is about the medium to long-term future of the medical workforce.” Well then why not look at why it is that women tend to work less years than men? Could it be because of pressures of childcare and family that men do not have to the same degree? Could it have something to do with the fact that (see next paragraph…)

Mothers suffer from sleep deprivation

BBC Report

A survey by Mother and Baby magazine has shown that many mothers get just 5 hours sleep a night. 56% of mothers said weariness left them in a “state of despair”, 82% said they felt a lack of sleep affected their performance at work. All of this affects their relationships with partner and baby, and affects their working lives adversely. The poll showed that women got an average of 4 hours sleep during the first few months of the baby’s life. According to the survey, only 31% of fathers woke up if their baby cried. When reading the BBC report I noticed that the same findings had been reported in 2001 and 2000. Why isn’t anyone thinking about how to improve this? Surely something has to be done?

It’s official: a ship is not a woman!

Lloyds List is the London based daily shipping newspaper which has been around for some 268 years. But they’ve decided to break with tradition and stop referring to ships as ‘she’ – instead they will use ‘it.’ “It may be a tradition to call ships ‘she’, but… the world moves on” said a spokesperson. Obviously outrage ensued: a spokesperson for Cunard Line, one of Britain’s major fleet owners, said “ships have personalities and souls; we call them ‘she’ instinctively.” Say whatnow? “Lloyd’s List can do what it wants.” commented the Ministry of Defence, “The Royal Navy will continue to call it’s ships ‘she’ as we have always done. It is historic and tradition.” Ah yes, that old argument. Just because its tradition doesn’t make it right does it?

Support LadyFest Europe

Besides the Ladyfest London event taking place in August, there will be Ladyfest events happening all over Europe too. Ladyfests are non-profit events organised by women; they aim to showcase the talents of female artists and performers. The events will take place during the summer of 2002, and are organised by groups of women and girls from all over Europe (via e-groups and local contacts). They are focused mainly on encouraging the talent of women and girls, but are open to everyone. If you havent heard of Ladyfest before then a brief history can be found on the website: