Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Cherchez la femme, in Norway and New Zealand

Two news items this week that need to be noticed. First, an excellent piece in The Daily Beast by Michelle Goldberg analyses Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik's obsessive hatred of women and feminism. She points out how the "neat rhetorical trick" of coupling "an attack on feminism...with purported concern about Muslim fundamentalist misogyny" is "repeated again and again in Islamophobic literature." It comes up repeatedly in Breivik's manifesto: "Rarely has the connection between sexual anxiety and right-wing nationalism been made quite so clear...A terror of feminization haunts his bizarre document."

Second, UN Women has put out its report "In Pursuit of Justice: Progress of the World's Women". You can download a summary and the full report here. This week the New Zealand president of UN Women, Rae Julian, pointed out three remarkably bad rankings for New Zealand:

Maternal mortality: Among the 22 OECD countries, New Zealand ranks 20th - worse than 19 other countries. Only the USA and Luxembourg rank lower. We have 14 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, whcih doesn't sound like many - but it's considerably more than, for example, Canada, with 6, or Ireland, with only 2. We also rank 16th for length of paid maternity leave.

28 July - News just in: The Perinatal and Maternal Mortality Review Committee (PMMRC) has published its fifth annual report on the deaths of babies and their mothers in New Zealand. The maternal mortality rate in 2009 was 22 per 100,000 maternities. The 2009 rate was increased by four pandemic influenza A H1N1 maternal deaths in that year. But the most frequent causes of maternal death in New Zealand from 2006 to 2009 was suicide, followed by pre-existing medical conditions, and amniotic fluid embolism. Teenage mothers (aged under 20) were at higher risk of stillbirth and neonatal death than mothers aged 20 to 39. The Committee is recommending a number of practical measures which it believes will help reduce the number of deaths of babies and mothers.

Right to legal abortion: New Zealand is one of only three countries, alongside Ireland and Spain, which do not allow abortion for economic or social reasons. It is also one of the six which do not allow abortion on request.

Violence against women: Among the 14 countries which reported on the proportion of women who had experienced physical violence from intimate partners over the period 2000-2010, New Zealand ranked the worst, with 30 percent. Among the 12 counries reporting on violence occurring "during the last 12 months", we ranked 11th, with 5 percent. Only Finland was worse.  Sexual violence from intimate partners showed a similar trend. Twelve countries responded to this question. With 14%, New Zealand was again the worst for 2000-2010. The next worst was Norway, with 9%.


Psycho Milt said...

Norway and Finland are different countries. They do share a border, but only up in the Arctic circle.

stargazer said...

This was about sex even more than religion.

this is the only bit in your link on anders breivik's views on feminism that i object to. i think it was all too mixed up to say it was more one thing or the other.

having said that, here's another link i found, which quotes much more extensively from the manifesto, showing even more clearly his views about feminism.

it's all just so ugly.

Lucy said...

I'm fairly certain that NZ's ranking on domestic violence reflects reporting more than anything else - the highest-ranked countries are those where reporting is most encouraged, and which have the best social nets for women who leave abusive partners. Which doesn't make it *better*, but is worth taking into account. I'd also be very curious about the countries which didn't even bother collecting data.

Hugh said...

I think that's a pretty optimistic view, Lucy, and I wonder if it's more informed by national pride than a desire to confront the situation.

AnneE said...

My profound apologies for the error in my original post - I've now changed it to the correct "Norwegian". I obviously shouldn't be posting so late at night!

Anonymous said...

@Lucy, regardless of the actual statistics, there really should be no tolerance whatsoever of domestic violence, and a country/society/culture wide to reduce it.
That aside, this present government has made a number of decisions that negatively women pretty directly and clearly, such cutting funding to women's refuges, the virtual destruction of night classes, cuts to funding to increase qualified ECE teachers, abolition of the funding to the ECE "Centres of Innovation" that were doing some incredibly useful research,a proposal (by a govt hand-picked 'independent' committee) to cut Playcentre funding by almost 60%, their abandonment of pay equity,the miserable 50c increase in the minimum wage etc etc.
The easiest way for the women of this country to improve their lives is vote out the National party. After that, then the hard work resumes to clawback the losses and get ahead again. The feminists of the 70s must be completely dismayed at how much of what they fought for has been lost and never gained in the first place.