News roundup for August 2003

Women who have been raped face a ‘postcode lottery’ of care

BBC report

A recent report from women’s equality group The Fawcett Society has found support for raped women is ‘patchy’ at best. It is calling for more specialist centres dealing with sexual assult to be set up. Presently there are just seven Sexual Assault Referral Centres nationwide and the society says at least a dozen more are needed. Chair Vera Baird said the alternative was that victims were forced to ring a bell in a police station and “say in an open waiting room, ‘I’ve been raped.'” She praised government attempts to make the prosecution process easier, but added that there needed to be more work done to help women get to court.

Mothers return to lower salaries

Observer report

Women face a stark choice: either stay in work or face lower wages if you take time out to have a child. Low part-time wages, coupled with higher salaries in typically ‘male’ jobs, help to sustain the gap, according to a major survey. Researchers found that women’s wages decrease by 2% for every year they are out of employment. ‘The importance of motherhood in women’s pay is nil. It is their labour market experience that counts,’ one researcher said. Men currently earn about 25% more than women, with men earning an average of £10.27 an hour compared to £7.50 an hour for women.

Housework ‘kept women fit’

BBC report

The Daily Mail had a field-day with this one: 1950s housewives burned up three times as many calories as their modern-day counterparts. Women of 1953 spent three hours a day doing the household chores, an hour walking to the shops and back, and ate healthy meals with lots of vegetables. In contract, women of 2003 rely far more on technology rather than elbow grease to get their housework done and have unhealthier diets of junk food. Levels of obesity and heart disease have soared over the last fifty years, with 32% of women classed as overweight, and 21% as obese. Ruth Tierney, who wrote the report, said: “We are not saying that we should go back to the mangle, but it may be that all our labour-saving devices have got a bit out of control.”

No more funding for women’s snooker

Guardian report

The failure to take women’s sport seriously and treat women equally continues: snooker’s governing body has announced it is no longer prepared to fund the women’s game. The recent ban on tobacco advertising has led to a loss in sponsorship income whose first casualty is British world champion Kelly Fisher, who is moving to the US to play eight-ball pool. Labour MP Claire Ward believes this reflects Britain’s attitude to women’s sport in general, such as the differing sums of prize money given to male and female Wimbledon winners, and the miniscule coverage of women’s football.

World’s poor pay for the west’s feminism, says author

Guardian article by Ehrenreich

Middle-class families who hire cleaners and nannies so women are free to go to work are contributing to a “servant economy”, according to American author Barbara Ehrenreich. Ehrenreich claims that the “servant culture” is bringing destruction to families in the developing world and racism to children in the west. No longer having to do your own household makes people complacent in their privilege, she believes, and claims that “In this way paid housework is more damaging in some respects than violence in films.” The poor and migrant women who do these household chores have been failed by feminism, she says: “We thought entirely in terms of reforming men, which hasn’t worked yet. Even in the west, feminism may have made great gains for middle-class women, but the other 70% who are still doing stereotypical female jobs have not seen much change.”

More news this month in brief…

  • High-fat diets linked to breast cancer
  • Mothers over 30 banned from YWCA playgroup
  • Women terrified of invasive, ‘medicalised’ labours giving birth alone and in secret
  • Church accused of covering up sexual abuse of women
  • Fertility clinic ‘egg sharing’ review launched
  • ‘Patchy’ maternity services criticised
  • Free IVF could be extended to all women under 40
  • Women still tiny minority on UK boards (and lower paidthan men, too)
  • Many women could face poverty as pensioners because they cannot afford to save
  • HRT ‘doubles breast cancer risk’
  • EU urges ban on ‘sexist’ insurance policies
  • Time for women to drink real ale, urges first female head of the Campaign for Real Ale
  • Tickets for Ladyfest Manchester now on sale: