News roundup for July 2002

Ladyfest London tickets on sale now!

Amy Lou, festival organiser, says: “We are very pleased to announce that tickets for Ladyfest London are now on sale! They are: £40 for a full 4 day pass, £15 per single day pass (except the single day pass for Thursday 1st August which is £10).

“You can buy these tickets from 020 7344 0044,,, Stargreen, WayAhead and for face value (with no booking fee) from The Ticket Shop in Camden and The Astoria Box Office. There is only a limited number of the full day passes, and of each of the single day passes, so book early to make sure you get the type of ticket you want. I will be posting the full list of events taking place at the festival soon and it will go up on our website . If you are not from London and need to book a place to stay, there are details of the special offer that we have at The Generator Hostel on our website. So, get booking your tickets!”

Where are the girls? BBC staff pull feminist stunt

Unidentified BBC staff pulled superb feminist guerilla action when they sneaked into Television Centre late one night and left their protest against a corridor full of photographs of the BBC’s most treasured stars. Who? John Humphreys, Jeremy Paxman, Andrew Marr… yes, you guessed it – all along the corridor it’s photos of men in suits – the first female face, way down the corridor, is Victoria Wood in a silly costume. The unknown graffit-ists stuck Dame Edna-style spectacles over the eyes of all the men, and stuck “where are the girls?” stickers up. “You never know where [we] will strike next” said a spokeswoman. “We might break into transmission and change the channel logos to BBC One Gender. We have agents in every department.. there may be one sitting next to you.” You go, possums!

RU-486 to be made available at family planning clinics – but anti-choice campaigners say it makes abortion “too easy”

Independent Report

The government has announced plans to make RU-486 ‘abortion pill’ more easily available through family planning clinics – until now it has only been available in Hospitals. The pill can be taken up to nine weeks into a pregnancy. Tablets are taken two days apart and induce a miscarriage, meaning that less women will need to go through a surgical procedure. Anti-abortion groups are protesting. The Pro-Life Alliance said it was “irresponsible.”

Navratilova accuses BBC of sexism over Kournikova – but how sexist is Wimbledon?

Guardian Report

During Wimbledon this year, Anna Kournikova threatened to walk out of a BBC interview. This was widely taken by the media to be a sign of stroppy tantrum-throwing, but Navratilova has sprung to her defence by claiming the interviewer, Garry Richardson, was being sexist. “he says to her, OK, well you lost your match today, how was your day? Would he ever say that to Pete Sampras after he just lost a match? Never, ever. You do not treat men the same as you treat women.” Meanwhile, the usual arguments about women and men getting different prize money were given their annual airing.

Free contraception for pupils

BBC Report

Plans were announced to give free condoms, contraceptive pills, and confidential sex advice to pupils, as part of a new strategy to reduce teenage pregancies. As we all know by now the UK has the higest teenage pregnancy rate in Western Europe and the second higest in the developed world. Under the plans, a nurse or doctor would need to be at the school to supervise the service. It will be left for individual schools to decide whether to offer the service. Iain Duncan Smith claimed this would “undermine parental authority.”

British legal system in time-warp

“Sometimes, in the heat of passion, when a woman says no she doesn’t necessarily mean no. You can say ‘no’ a thousand times, but if you show by your actions that you don’t mean it, it doesn’t necessarily mean that consent is withdrawn.” [my emphasis]

This statement was made by Sir Ivan Lawrence QC, defending snooker star Quinten Hann during his highly-publicised rape trial in early July. No, not July 1952 – July 2002! Excuse me? Did the second wave of feminism actually happen, or was I just imagining it? ARGH! Whatever the rights of wrongs of this particular case, it is still incredible that bollocks like this still gets put forward as a reasonable argument.

Quinten Hann was found not guilty. How did the Daily Mirror report this? They printed on their front page in huge letters: “RAPED. No, not her. HIM. By a system that lets ‘Miss S’ trot back to anonymity while his name is tarnished for ever.” Thus began a frantic debate about giving male rape defendents the same anonymity as the victims. And the rape issue was turned, yet again, away from the stark fact that the conviction rate for reported rapes has dropped from one in three in 1970 to one in thirteen in 2002. And they say we’re living in a post-feminist society. These days, it feels more like pre-feminist.

Domestic violence victims may be given anonymity

To encourage more victims of domestic violence to go to court, they could be offered the same anonymity as rape victims. Harriet Harman said the Law Commission should consider the change during a thorough review of the law. She called for a cultural change to ensure that domestic violence becomes completely socially unacceptable.

Just 44% of births are natural

Independent Report
BBC Report

Latest statistics show that the proportion of normal births – those without any induction, caesarian, assisted delivery or anaesthesia – has dropped to a record low of 44%. This is a record low. The statistics showed that Hospitals varied widely in their normal birth ratings. For example, in West London, Queen Charlotte’s has a normal birth rate of just 27%, whereas Kingston has 46%. Head of Policy at the National Childbirth Trust said there needs to be “a united effort to create a shift in culture.” Around the same time that this news came out, another report suggested that women who give birth by caesarian section take longer to conceive again.