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%.