Thursday, January 27, 2011
Shout at your spouse and risk losing your home: It's just the same as domestic violence, warns British woman judge
Men and women who shout at their partners risk being thrown out of their homes under a sweeping ruling by judges yesterday. Raising your voice at a husband or wife, or a boyfriend or girlfriend, now counts as domestic violence under the landmark Supreme Court judgment. The decision also means that denying money to a partner or criticising them can count as violence and bring down draconian domestic violence penalties from the courts.
The Supreme Court made its decision in the case of a woman who left her husband’s council flat and then demanded a new council home. She said she left because she had suffered domestic violence – even though her husband had never harmed her.
Lady Hale, leading a bench of five justices, said the definition of violence must change so that a range of abusive behaviour now counts in law.
The decision will affect domestic violence and family law which has given the courts powers to throw someone out of their home if their partner accuses them of violent behaviour. Until now violence has always had to mean physical assault.
The judges were hearing the case of Mihret Yemshaw, 35, who said she had been subjected to domestic violence and was entitled to be rehoused under the 1996 Housing Act. Officials in Hounslow, West London, turned her down after hearing that her husband had never hit her nor threatened to do so.
Mrs Yemshaw told them he had shouted in front of their two children, failed to treat her like a human, had not given her housekeeping money, and she was scared he would take the children away from her.
Lady Hale said the meaning of the word ‘violence’ had moved on since Parliament passed the Housing Act. The word ‘is capable of bearing several meanings and applying to many different types of behaviour. These can change and develop over time’. The judge added that ‘it is not for Government and official bodies to interpret the meaning of the words which Parliament has used. That role lies with the courts.’
Lady Hale said that according to the dictionary, violence means physical attack, but can also apply to extreme fervour, passion or fury.
One judge, Lord Brown, said he had a ‘profound doubt’ as to whether the domestic violence provisions were ever intended ‘to extend beyond the limits of physical violence’.
The judgment means that Mrs Yemshaw will now have her case reconsidered by Hounslow. It will also apply to a wide field of legislation, including the 1996 Family Law Act which allows people to be ejected from their homes if their partners complain of domestic violence.
The decision comes at a time of growing concern over the powers of senior judges and their willingness to alter laws made by Parliament.
Family law expert Jill Kirby yesterday drew a comparison between the ruling and the Humpty Dumpty character in Lewis Carroll’s Through The Looking-Glass, who said words meant whatever he wanted them to mean. She said: ‘The judiciary are taking the Humpty Dumpty view, and it risks undermining confidence in the legal system.’
Mihret Yemshaw’s husband told the Daily Mail last night he had never been violent towards his wife who, like him, was born in Ethiopia. They married in London ten years ago. Samuel Estifanos, a 40-year-old bus driver, claimed she left the flat where he still lives because she was ‘unhappy’. He added: ‘I never hit her and I never even screamed or swore at her.’
Victory for Christianity: Health worker 'bullied' by British health service over abortion can go back to work
A Christian health worker who faced the sack after giving an NHS colleague a booklet about the potential dangers of abortion has been allowed to return to work. Margaret Forrester, 39, claimed to have been ‘bullied’ and ‘treated like a criminal’ for expressing her religious views, but said yesterday that she has now been offered a better job at the same NHS trust.
Christian campaigners yesterday hailed it as a ‘victory for freedom of conscience and freedom of speech’.
Miss Forrester, a Roman Catholic, claims she was suspended in November last year after she handed the £4 pro-life booklet called Forsaken – published by a charity – to her colleague. It detailed the physical and psychological trauma experienced by five women from Taunton, Somerset, who terminated their pregnancies.
She said she offered it to a family planning worker during a private conversation because she felt the NHS did not give enough information about the potential risks of abortion.
The mental health worker, who has been employed by the NHS for six years, said there was no sign her colleague, with whom she had discussed abortion, was offended by the booklet or by their conversation. But a few days later her manager told her she was being sent home on ‘special leave with full pay’. She was ordered not to see any patients and to stay away from all NHS sites while the trust investigated.
Later, she was told she had not been suspended and could return to work, but claimed she was not allowed to do her normal job. Instead she was put on other duties, which she found ‘bullying and offensive’, adding: ‘I felt physically sickened by their bullying.’ She was eventually signed off on sick leave and has not been back to the health centre since.
Miss Forrester, who worked at the Central and North West London Mental Health Trust, in Camden, attended an internal disciplinary hearing last month where she was accused of ‘distributing materials some people may find offensive’.
Last night a spokesman for the trust said Miss Forrester had been warned not to distribute the ‘offensive’ material or anything similar again, but confirmed she had been offered a new role within the trust.
Miss Forrester said: ‘My employers have not given me any warnings of any kind. They have offered me a new, better role with a wider scope. If at any point they do send me a warning, I will challenge it in court.
‘It was incredible that I was suspended in the first place, just because I expressed a personal opinion. I should be able to express my opinion privately without fear and act freely in good conscience. Today is a victory for freedom of speech. I want to thank all of those who have prayed for me and supported me.’
Andrea Minichiello Williams, a barrister who runs the Christian Legal Centre which supported Miss Forrester, said: ‘The level of intolerance in the public sphere, demonstrated increasingly in public sector employment, is deeply worrying. ‘We hope that today’s decision by the NHS will help to reverse the tide of intolerance. This is a victory for freedom of conscience and freedom of speech.’
Claire Murdoch, chief executive of Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, Miss Forrester’s employer, said: ‘It is clear that the booklet Miss Forrester distributed offers a seriously unbalanced and one-sided view of abortion and that it is offensive to NHS staff.
‘The booklet implies that abortion can lead to alcohol and drug abuse, suicidal thoughts and increased risk of cancer. This could be very worrying and deeply offensive for women who may need an abortion and want balanced, sensible advice. We simply cannot allow NHS staff to distribute material that we know to be seriously unbalanced.’ [So telling them nothing about the downside is "balanced"?]
Yet another false rape claim in Britain
A teenage girl has been convicted of falsely claiming she was raped after having sex with a 14-year-old boy in his bedroom. The teenager claimed she was attacked when she was 15 after the boy ‘nagged’ her to sleep with him during a game of ‘truth or dare’. He was arrested by police and held overnight but denied rape and was freed without charge.
Instead police charged the girl, now 16, with making a false allegation to pervert the course of justice – despite both children being under the age of consent.
The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, denied the charge, but has now been found guilty at Cheltenham Magistrates Court, where the judge branded her a ‘liar’, and remanded on unconditional bail for a pre-sentence report.
Technically, both youngsters were breaking the law by having intercourse under the age of 16 – where a child is 13 or older and consenting, the offence is classed as ‘unlawful sexual intercourse’ – but the boy has not been prosecuted.
Rape campaigners yesterday criticised the decision to charge the girl. Lisa Longstaff, from Women Against Rape, said: ‘It is awful that a girl so young has been prosecuted in this way.’
The case recalls controversial comments four years ago by then Dyfed-Powys chief constable Terry Grange, who said it would not be possible to prosecute all young boys who have sex with young girls. He said in 2006: ‘If you prosecute each and every time a boy has sex with a girl under 16 and above 12, then we’d be in the schools across Britain and in the youth clubs across Britain pretty regularly because, since I’ve been alive, it’s been pretty normal. It’s what teenagers do.’
The girl, from Gloucestershire, claimed that after a game of ‘truth or dare’, which at one point involved her and a female friend lifting their tops, the boy had ‘nagged’ her to have sex with him but she had repeatedly said she did not want to. Then when he asked her three or four times to lie down on the bed, she did so just to shut him up.
She claimed the boy covered them both with duvets, took off some of her clothes, and raped her. She said she ‘froze’ during the incident and though she told him quietly to stop, she did not call out to her friends for help. But the prosecution said the girl’s account of the alleged rape was ‘riddled with lies’.
Julian Kesner, prosecuting, said she had at first said just the two of them were in the bedroom but later admitted that two friends were also there. He added that the day after the alleged attack the girl was spotted holding hands with the boy. Mr Kesner said: ‘When she told her friend she had accused the boy of rape, the other girl, who had been in the room at the time, said, “Oh my God, it wasn’t rape. What have you got yourself into now?”’
On the third and final day of the trial, the girl admitted that she had told lies to police but continued to maintain that she had been raped.
District Judge Joti Bopa Rai concluded that the sex was consensual, saying it was possible the girl had lied because she feared she was pregnant or to ‘cover her tracks’. ‘That lie grew bigger and bigger and bigger,’ she added.
She said she appreciated the defendant was young but said: ‘She knew the consequences of telling lies and getting the boy concerned into trouble. The consequences for him have been horrendous and I believe she meant that to happen.’
Religious persecution by Muslims? Perish the thought!
Religious dialogue is worthwhile endeavor. In particular, Christians and Muslims should engage one another. While miracles are unlikely to result, greater familiarity may reduce unintended misunderstanding and insult. However, any dialogue must be based on truth. Including the pervasive Islamic persecution of Christians, Jews, and other religious minorities.
Unfortunately, truth apparently is not a concern of the Muslim side of one well-publicized engagement process with Catholics. The al-Azhar Islamic Research Council, Sunni Islam's highest seat of learning, held an emergency meeting and decided to suspend its bi-annual meetings with the Vatican. The reason: "repeatedly insulting remarks issued by the Vatican Pope towards Islam and his statement that Muslims are discriminating against others who live with them in the Middle East."
The Cairo-based Council also criticized Pope Benedict XVI's "unjustified claim that Copts are persecuted in Egypt and the Middle East." Indeed, added the Council, the Pope had "repeatedly addressed Islam negatively." Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of al-Azhar University, further denounced the Pope's "unacceptable interference in Egypt's affairs."
Even before the Council acted, the Egyptian government had attacked the Vatican's "unacceptable interference in its internal affairs" and recalled its ambassador from the Holy See. Ambassador Lamia Aly Mekhemar, who returned to Cairo for "consultation," explained that "We do not share the views that Christians are persecuted in our part of the world." Nor, he added, does his government agree that "some governments in the area have not provided protection for the Christians in the Middle East."
Moreover, Arab leaders gathered for an economic summit in Sharm al-Sheikh expressed "total rejection" of foreign interference regarding Christian minorities in the Middle East.
The Council, Egyptian government, and other Middle Eastern states are angry because the Pope denounced the murder of Christians in Egypt, Iraq, and Nigeria. He spoke of "the urgent need for the governments of the region" to protect religious minorities and urged Christian communities to maintain a nonviolent response to "a strategy of violence that has Christians as a target."
Apparently the al-Azhar Islamic Research Council believes in inter-faith dialogue, but only so long as it does not include the fact that members of one side of that dialogue are busy killing members of the other side. Indeed, pointing to ongoing attacks constitutes "insulting remarks." Moreover, America's Arab allies enjoy cashing big checks from Uncle Sam, but are outraged, simply outraged, that the latter has the temerity to mention the lack of religious liberty in those same nations.
Almost makes you wonder whether adherents of the "religion of peace" think it really is the "religion of peace." Or at least that being the "religion of peace" actually requires believing in, well, "peace."
The reaction of the Council and Arab governments is extraordinarily revealing because Islamic brutality, both discrimination and violence, against Christians is so pervasive. The Pope spoke out after a bombing in Alexandria outside a Coptic Church on New Year's Eve which killed 25 people and injured more than 90 others. Christians continue to be killed in Iraq and Nigeria.
Christian converts risk judicial murder in Afghanistan. Pakistan is threatening to execute a Christian "blasphemer" in Pakistan. Iran recently initiated a campaign against Christians. Even in relatively liberal Muslim states, like Kuwait, where Christians can worship openly, proselytism is forbidden.
Egypt is a particularly apt case since the number of Christians is relatively large, constituting as much as 15 percent of a population of more than 80 million. Violence is common. In mid-November an off-duty police officer boarded a train and opened fire, murdering a 71-year-old Copt and injuring five other Christians. Last November Muslim mobs destroyed a score of homes and shops in Qena Province. Earlier in the year six Copts along with a Muslim guard were killed and another nine Copts wounded in a drive-by shooting in the town of Nag Hammadi.
Kathryn Cameron Porter of the Council for Human Rights observed afterwards: "Copts in Egypt continuously face ongoing discrimination and outright persecution, either by the Egyptian government or through its tacit approval."
Although Cairo routinely discriminates against non-Muslims, it does not directly engage in what we typically think of as persecution. But it does little to prevent private violence. Unfortunately, the effect is basically the same.
There is much to criticize in the policies of Western governments, including of the U.S. But that has nothing to do with an inter-faith dialogue. It certainly has nothing to do with how Christians, Jews, Baha'is, and other religious minorities are, or at least should be, treated in majority Muslim nations.
Moreover, until Muslim governments treat all of their people, irrespective of faith, with respect and dignity, they have no credibility to complain about the treatment of Muslims elsewhere. As Jesus explained, we should take the plank out of our own eye before seeking to pull a speck out of someone else's eye (Matthew 7:3-5). His advice should be widely shared and, more importantly, heeded in Cairo and throughout the Muslim world.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.