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Iraqi women attend a conference about the constitution in central Baghdad. Women's rights activists in Iraq say rising extremism is restricting their freedom, even as the country prepares to vote on a constitution that is touted as one of the Arab world's most progressive regarding women.(AFP/Ali al-Saadi)
Iraqi women say freedoms are slipping away
Sat Sep 24, 5:08 PM ET - AFP
Women's rights activists in Iraq say rising extremism is restricting their freedom, even as the country prepares to vote on a constitution that is touted as one of the Arab world's most progressive regarding women.
"Women cannot walk freely out in the street," said activist Ban Jamil, who directs the Rasafa Branch of Assyrian Women Union, a local non-governmental organisation in Baghdad.
"Women face lack of respect when they walk uncovered," said Jamil, a Christian, who said women are insulted if they show too much skin or walk in public without wearing the Islamic veil, or hijab, to cover their hair.
She blamed "imported extremist doctrines, which were never experienced in the past" for the new restrictions.
The tide of Islamisation has risen in Iraq as fundamentalist Shiite parties have come to power following the ouster of former dictator Saddam Hussein.
Although not enforced by the newly established laws, which were written under US patronage, a conservative dress code is widely observed in much of the war-torn country.
But conservative dressing in Iraq is not as universally strict as in neighbouring Shiite Iran, or ultra-conservative Sunni Saudi Arabia, where women have to cover from head-to-toe when in public.
Dressing modestly in trousers and a long-sleeved shirt -- more likely with a colourful headscarf -- is common among Iraqi women.
Older or very conservative women often wear the traditional black abaya, a kind of loose-fitting, modest dress.
But short sleeves and skirts which were accepted in the past are hardly seen, even in the scorching heat of Baghdad's summer.
"We cover and change the way we dress unwillingly due to pressure," said Jinan Mubarak, a Muslim who heads the Iraqi Centre for Training and Employing Women in Baghdad.
She said some neighbourhoods are off-limits for women if unveiled, saying that women like herself are forced to change their behaviour in such environments.
Iraqi state television -- a shopwindow of the new regime -- allows some female presenters to appear unveiled, despite a clear Shiite influence in its programmes.
However, religious zealots who were curbed under Saddam's secular grip can operate freely now, as evidenced by one notice billboarded in a Baghdad street near a church, Jamil said.
"To all unveiled Muslim sisters and Christian sisters: You should wear a veil because Virgin Mary used to be veiled," it said.
Women are also concerned that the American influence in running post-Saddam Iraq plays a major role in protecting women rights, and that a future departure of US troops might result in further radicalisation.
"This might regrettably be the case, as much as we would like to see the Americans out of Iraq," said Mubarak.
US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad has called Iraq's draft constitution the most progressive document in the Muslim world, claiming it ensured women's rights.
"Women have the right to participate fully in public activities," he said in August, pointing out that 25 percent of parliament seats were reserved for women.
But activists say that the current female MPs do not represent women's advocates and were brought in by male-dominated political parties to fill the 25 percent quota.
"These were voted in to fill the quota... None of them serves in the politburo of any of their parties... They are mere mouthpieces," Jamil said.
"We fear the same might happen in the next elections," she added, claiming that independent women have very slim chance of making it into the national assembly.
Several vocal women MPs speak out during live-broadcast parliament sessions and criticise openly the performance of governmental departments, although they are all first-timers.
Eighty-seven women were elected to parliament in the January 30 elections. One has since been killed by insurgents.
中大・読売リレー講座 「家族の形」模索 シンポジウム意見活発 (読売・多摩版 2005/09/25朝刊)
September 24, 2005
Ban on Same-Sex Attraction and Sexual Activity Could Be a Crucial Issue for Catholics' Attitudes
By PETER STEINFELS - New York Times
News reports surrounding the review of Roman Catholic seminaries in the United States that the Vatican has organized have focused on the possibility that Rome plans to bar gay men from ordination to the priesthood, regardless of their readiness to remain faithful to their pledge of celibacy.
Such a ban would have serious consequences, of course. It would reverberate far beyond the gay candidates for ordination whom it might directly affect and even beyond the celibate gay priests who would inevitably take it as a judgment on their own calling and years of service.
In fact, the Catholic Church's moral stance on same-sex attraction and sexual activity may well prove to be a touchstone issue for the next generation of Catholics' attitudes toward church authority, just as the renewed papal condemnation of contraception proved to be for Catholics in the 1970's and 80's.
But important as that question may be, it is not the only matter at stake in the official scrutiny now beginning of Catholic seminary education. The Vatican instruction outlining the project contains 96 questions "as a guide" for the teams of visitors who will interview students and faculty members at approximately 200 seminaries and submit their findings to Rome.
The thrust of these questions is to assure that future priests are fully prepared to live celibate lives, as well as morally disciplined and prayerful ones, and that they are thoroughly committed to church teachings, especially as laid out in recent official documents from the pope and Vatican offices.
There are no explicit questions about the seminarians' capacities for initiative, creativity or imaginative and consultative leadership, although some of these qualities are undoubtedly taken up in the various church documents found in the footnotes.
There is no explicit question about concern for social justice, unless that could be assumed under a single reference to "apostolic zeal." By comparison, there are numerous questions specifically asking about recitation of the rosary, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, devotion to Mary and the saints and many other "exercises of piety."
A single question asks whether seminarians are being taught "a proper understanding of the role of women in ecclesial life" and "the proper models of clergy-lay cooperation." The next question makes clear that what is "proper" is to be found in statements by Pope John Paul II and his Vatican officials.
Of the 96 questions, just these two address the intellectual potential of future priests:
"Do the seminarians show an aptitude for and dedication to intellectual work?"
And "Are the seminarians capable of dialoguing, on the intellectual level, with contemporary society?"
This minimal attention to intellectual capacity is noteworthy in view of the opinions of faculty teams from 20 Catholic seminaries who met yearly from 1995 to 2001. They were searching for new ways to educate today's Catholic seminarians, who are typically older than their predecessors, less grounded in church teachings and much more diverse in ethnicity and in the religious journeys that have led them to the seminary.
Because solid statistics are not available - interesting in itself - these faculty teams could only pool their opinions on how qualified current seminarians were intellectually. Those estimates were reported in a book published this year, "Educating Leaders for Ministry" by Victor J. Klimoski, Kevin J. O'Neil and Katarina M. Schuth (Liturgical Press).
Only 10 percent of seminarians, it was estimated, were highly qualified for their educational work. Somewhat more than 50 percent were adequately qualified. One-third to 40 percent suffered from poor educational backgrounds, learning disabilities, lack of facility in English or unfamiliarity with American culture (among the growing number of seminarians from overseas) or atrophied study skills (among some older seminarians). Those deficiencies, it was reported, created "special challenges for faculty."
The determination of these faculty members to meet those challenges, to explore ways of teaching the students they had rather than whining about not having better ones, was admirable. This writer said as much in a brief comment, included with others at the end of the volume. But it was also impossible to overlook those ballpark figures on intellectual aptitude.
Certainly the 33 percent to 40 percent of seminarians with significant intellectual deficiencies include some whose handicaps might be easily remedied, like those for whom English is not a native language.
Canceling out that good news, however, is another finding. Even among the academically gifted, as well as among the academically deficient, the faculty teams reported seminarians who "regardless of native abilities and educational experiences" resist "the learning enterprise" because it threatens their "preconceived ideas about theology."
Shouldn't such impressions, which are in fact more widely shared among Catholic seminary educators than anything having to do with homosexuality, loom large in a review of the seminaries?
What if it were reported that only 10 percent of those studying for medical degrees were academically or intellectually "highly qualified"? Or that 40 percent of those accepted for law school or for graduate engineering degrees labored under one or more learning difficulties such as to create "special challenges for faculty"? Or that, whether or not they were well equipped for their studies, some significant percentage of students aspiring to positions in medicine, law, engineering, social work, education or, for that matter, the military, displayed an "unwillingness ...to engage in the learning enterprise" that they were undergoing?
Given Pope John Paul II's repeated pleas for the "evangelization of culture," it is surprising that only one question out of 96 explores whether seminarians are "capable of dialoguing, on the intellectual level, with contemporary society." Why not a few further questions like: "Do the seminarians follow current events? Do they read serious fiction and show an appreciation for the arts? Do they display an interest in contemporary science?"
In fact, that single question about dialoguing with contemporary society is followed by, "Do their studies help them to respond to contemporary subjectivism and, in particular, to moral relativism? (This question must be answered.)"
Contemporary subjectivism and moral relativism are not challenges to be dismissed. But what does this defensive tone, the dominant tone of the Vatican guidelines for examining American seminaries, promise by way of a dialogue with contemporary society? What does this defensive tone, which is, of course, the product of conservative and liberal agitation over the sexual abuse scandal in the church, promise for future generations of Catholic priests?
渡辺 浩／江頭憲治郎 編集代表
第1巻 個を支えるもの 岩村正彦／大村敦志 編
1 ペルーの人権NGO――その組織と活動 大串和雄（東京大学）
2 障害児の出生をめぐる法的言説 大村敦志（東京大学）
3 外国人雇用の現状と政策課題 末廣啓子（厚生労働省）
4 児童福祉における介入と援助の間 横田光平（筑波大学）
5 保育サービスの供給システムとサービス供給の実態 福田素生（岩手県立大学）
6 行政組織を通じた養育費の取立て 碓井光明（東京大学）
7 児童虐待への対応における裁判所の役割 久保野恵美子（東北大学）
8 パクスの教訓 大村敦志
9 社会保障における世帯と個人 岩村正彦（東京大学）
New Love Breaks Up a 6-Year Relationship at the Zoo
By JONATHAN MILLER
Published: September 24, 2005 New York Times
And Silo and Roy looked so happy together.
The two male chinstrap penguins had found each other in the big city. They had remained faithful. They had even raised a child. But then, not too long ago, they lost their home. Silo's eye began to wander, and last spring he forsook his partner of six years at the Central Park Zoo and took up with a female from California named Scrappy. Of late, Roy has been seen alone, in a corner, staring at a wall.
This tale of betrayal, sexual identity and penguin lust set in Manhattan has reverberated around the world. It has "rocked the gay scene," as the popular blogger Andrew Sullivan, who is gay, wrote in The Sunday Times of London this week.
Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
Silo, right, a male chinstrap penguin, nuzzling with Scrappy, a female. Silo has ended a long-term relationship with Roy, a male, not pictured.
No one was more disappointed than Rob Gramzay, the senior penguin keeper at the zoo, who said simply in an interview yesterday, "They seemed to be a good pair together."
The end actually came 16 months ago. It happened shortly after Silo and Roy gained fame from an article in The New York Times detailing their relationship. Some saw the tale of two male birds raising a child as a parable for our time.
Yet things began to fall apart in May 2004 after the two were kicked out of their nest by two aggressive penguins. They drifted apart, Mr. Gramzay said, and early in the mating season this year Silo found Scrappy, an import from SeaWorld who had been lounging around the aquarium since 2002.
Still, Mr. Gramzay said that humans should not divine too much from the split. "People read so much into the gay thing, and the gay thing is necessarily a human constraint that's put on top of them."
That has not stopped many from doing just that.
At the Web site for Focus on the Family, an influential organization run by radio host James C. Dobson, who has called homosexuality a disorder and advocates converting gays, a commentator, Warren Throckmorten, wrote: "For those who have pointed to Roy and Silo as models for us all, these developments must be disappointing. Some gay activists might actually be angry."
Well, maybe not angry. As Roberta Sklar, a spokeswoman for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, put it: "There's almost an obsession with questions such as, 'Is sexual orientation a birthright or a choice?' And looking at the behavior of two penguins in captivity is not a way to answer that question."
She said the furor over the penguins "is a little ridiculous. Or maybe a lot ridiculous."
Perhaps it is because penguins of all stripes have become hot political commodities of late. The surprise hit of the summer was "March of the Penguins," in part because it was embraced by Christians and conservatives, who see in the film pro-family and Christian imagery.
And in February, following protests by gay rights groups, a German zoo abandoned plans to force homosexual penguins there to pair with females. The male penguins never did take a shine to the imported Swedish females.
But no one should be surprised at Silo and Roy parting ways, said Frans de Waal, who has studied the mutable sexuality of bonobo apes and is the director of the Living Links Center at Emory University in Atlanta.
"Exclusive homosexuality is not very common in nature," he said. And, anyway, he said, "bisexual" would be a better term for animals, adding, "They're sometimes described as gay animals, but they really aren't."
As for whether keeping the penguin in captivity could be a factor, Mr. de Waal posited that it might be a matter of choice and availability: "I'm not sure that captivity per se plays a role, but partner choice does. Like women in a nunnery or men on a big Navy ship, there's homosexuality in those cases."
The Chicago Tribune reported the news of the breakup last week.
Silo and Roy, who are both 18, began their unusual relationship in 1998. Both were relatively mature at the time, and it is unusual for older penguins to bond with members of the same sex, Mr. Gramzay said.
Mr. Gramzay said that he never saw them complete a sex act but that the two did engage in mating rituals like entwining their necks and vocalizing to one another. They tried to incubate a rock together in 1999, so a year later the couple was given an extra egg from another pair. Tango, a female, hatched later that spring. For the last two seasons, Tango has paired up with another female named Tazuni.
There are four other same-sex pairs at the Central Park Zoo, Mr. Gramzay said, including Tango.
A children's book detailing the once-happy family, "And Tango Makes Three" (Simon & Schuster), was published this spring and is sold at the gift shop at the zoo.
One of the authors, Justin Richardson, said he was not at all forlorn over the breakup. He said that he and his co-author, Peter Parnell, have been devouring the news and opinion on the split, and are amused by conservative Web sites, which, he said, "seem to think that we must be terribly chagrined."
"This has not been our reaction," he said. "We wrote the book to help parents teach children about same-sex parent families. It's no more an argument in favor of human gay relationships than it is a call for children to swallow their fish whole or sleep on rocks."
Same-sex relationships: the law falls in line at last
Planning a December 'wedding'? Plan your joint finances too, advises Maria Scott
Sunday September 25, 2005
Christmas will not be the only excuse for parties in many homes throughout the country this year. Hundreds of gay couples are planning December 'weddings' as they rush to have their relationships recognised in law for the first time.
The Civil Partnerships Act, which gives same-sex couples the right to legal recognition virtually identical to that of marriage, will be introduced on 5 December, and registration ceremonies can be enacted from 21 December.
The government expects between 11,000 and 22,000 people to be in civil partnerships by 2010. It has launched a campaign to publicise the legislation and Stonewall, the gay rights group, last week launched a guide, Get Hitched, explaining the practical aspects of civil partnership.
Same-sex partners who register their relationships will gain a range of rights that previously were denied them even if they had lived together for decades in stable relationships: These include:
· recognition as relatives entitled to make decisions on a partner's medical care
· the right to receive payments from a dead partner's pension scheme; not all schemes recognise unmarried partners at present
· the right to pass assets to a registered partner on death free of inheritance tax
· rights under the rules of intestacy to receive a share of a partner's estate on death if he/she has made no will
· rights to certain state benefits on the death of a partner
· the ability to obtain parental responsibility rulings from the courts over the care of each other's children
· recognition by the courts after a relationship breakdown to maintenance for children of the relationship or a dependent partner
Before the partying starts, however, it may be worthwhile considering how civil partnership will affect the financial and legal arrangements you have with your partner. Solicitors are recommending that same-sex couples take action now to ensure they protect themselves in preparation for a December wedding. Anne Lewis, a partner with solicitor Cripps Harries Hall, says: ' There are a number of situations where civil partnership may affect you in ways you had not realised.'
Suzanne Kingston, a partner with London solicitor Dawsons, says it may be appropriate for couples to draw up contracts setting out how assets would be divided if the registered relationship breaks up.
As with pre-nuptial contracts for heterosexual couples, these agreements are not strictly binding under English law, but the courts may take them into account when a relationship breaks down.
Kingston says that pre-registration agreements may be appropriate if one partner has more money than the other and where a relationship is not longstanding. Other factors include: inherited assets that either party wishes to protect, or where one or both partners were born in other countries and this would affect the splitting of assets.
Ownership of property
This may be an appropriate time to decide whether property should be owned jointly, as joint tenants, which means that if one partner dies, the property passes automatically to the other, or as tenants in common. With the latter system each partner retains ownership of a share and although it may go to the registered partner if there is no will, this will not necessarily be the case.
A will may be necessary to ensure a partner is protected. Owning property as tenants in common can be useful when planning to avoid inheritance tax.
When you register a partnership, this will automatically invalidate previous wills. So partners planning registration should make new wills, which can be drafted 'in contemplation of registration', to come into effect as soon as the relationship is legally recognised. Registered partners will have the same rights as married spouses under the rules of intestacy.
In England and Wales, children or parents are entitled to a share of an estate over £125,000 (there are similar rules in Scotland but the entitlements differ).
It will not be safe to assume that registration of a relationship will protect a surviving partner fully where there is no will.
Registered partners will be able to pass on assets to each other on death free of inheritance tax, as married couples can. But couples with significant assets may wish to consider how to make the most of their new inheritance tax status.
Even though there will be no IHT to pay on the first death, that partner's personal IHT-free allowance, or nil-rate band - currently £275,000 - will be lost unless arrangements are made to use it. When the second partner dies, only one nil-rate band will be set against the value of the combined estate. Many husbands and wives write wills giving instructions for trusts to be set up on their deaths to receive assets up to the value of the nil-rate band.
Typically, assets in the trust will benefit children but money can be passed on to other survivors if there are no children. If a share of a couple's home is to be put into trust, ownership must be as tenants-in-common.
But specialist advice is needed; if these arrangements are not properly organised there could be tax charges.
If couples plan to give assets to each other or put property into joint names, it is best to delay this until after registering their partnership. Otherwise the transfer will be treated as a lifetime gift and the giver must survive seven years to be certain the money will escape IHT.
Capital gains tax
If a couple owns two properties, one will potentially become liable to capital gains tax when a partnership is registered as only one will be viewed by tax authorities as the main residence.
Anne Lewis at Cripps Harries Hall advises couples to nominate - and inform HM Revenue & Customs - which property is to be their principle residence; this will be the one that is free of CGT on sale. Normally this would be the property where the price has increased most.
Where partners have shares in a business together, the value of the shareholdings could be increased through registration.
As with married couples, the shareholding may now give the couple a controlling interest in a business, increasing the value of the investment. This will affect the value of the holding when assessing each partner's liability for inheritance tax.
If each partner owns a business, says Lewis, registration could result in the companies being viewed as associated, resulting in at least one of the companies losing its right to a lower rate of corporation tax.
Further information on civil partnerships, including information on how to become registered is available from Stonewall, telephone: 020 7881 9440 and website: www.stonewall.org.uk and also from the government's Women and Equality Unit, Tel: 020 7215 5000 www.womenandequalityunit.gov.uk
Last Updated: Saturday, 24 September 2005, 11:09 GMT 12:09 UK
Bishop defends transsexual curate - BBC
The Bishop says gender realignment brings wholeness
The Bishop of Hereford has defended the decision to ordain a transsexual woman as a priest.
Assistant curate Sarah Jones, 43, from Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire, was born as Colin Jones and spent the first 33 years of her life living as a man.
Evangelical group Evangelical Alliance said there was no "Christian acknowledgement" of gender realignment.
But the Right Reverend Anthony Priddis said Ms Jones - being ordained on Saturday - was "made and loved by God".
Ms Jones was a "superb candidate" who had the gender realignment surgery "many years ago - long before she explored the possibility of being ordained", Bishop Priddis said.
The issue of gender dysphoria was "understood a lot more clearly in this 21st century as we understand lots of things more clearly", he said.
"Gender realignment surgery helps address that issue and it's about bringing mind and body into wholeness.
"I see this as something restorative and healing.
"What's important is that she's a person made by God, loved by God and given gifts by God who feels that she's called to be a priest and that's a call that's been checked out by the church rigorously."
But Don Horrocks, of the Evangelical Alliance, said the Bible made it "absolutely clear that God created human beings as male and female".
"Therefore there is absolutely no Christian acknowledgement of the 21st century human idea that it's possible somehow for a person to take charge of their own destiny and to decide what their own sexuality is," he added.
"Someone who does that... is therefore actually perpetuating an illusion or masquerading and any Christian is clearly not going to be supportive of someone who purports to be what they're not."
Bishop Priddis said the condition of gender dysphoria was recognised in the NHS and in law.
"Those who suffer from it need help in order to be able to move to that wholeness which we, as Christians, want for everyone."
県立高一律共学化問題 別学維持求め街頭署名 保護者ら２０人が活動 (読売・宮城版 2005/09/24朝刊)
少子化対策要望が過去最高 内閣府の国民生活調査 (共同 2005/09/24)
憂楽帳 “小津”の魔法使い (毎日・東京版 2005/09/24夕刊)