Philobiblon: Women freed and women trapped

Friday, April 14, 2006

Women freed and women trapped

Given all the concern about mental health, some interesting figures are out indicating the UK suicide rate is the lowest since records began in 1910. Partly this is due to measures that have reduced the availability of methods of suicide, the experts say, but there is another factor:

One of the most dramatic falls in suicide rates is among 45- to 75-year-old women, which are down to a third of the level of the 1960s.

The Telegraph, given its ideology and audience, struggles to deal with this, saying:

Women aged 45 to 75 are also apparently happier these days despite - or perhaps because of - soaring divorce rates, leading to a reduction in suicides among older females.

I'd say it is definitely "because of". Something to think about when you next here a commentator thundering on about "family values". That was where "family values" got you.
And to point to the proponents of faith schools. Polly Tonybee has a lovely thundering piece about them this morning, wondering why the government is so in favour of them when 64 per cent of voters are opposed to them.

Ask most Labour MPs and they abhor the devious abuse of religious schools and the segregation they cause. It's not "choice", since most parents would never choose faith schools if they were not the flag for assembling the better pupils locally. Baroness Morgan, until last year a close Blair ally as No 10's director of government relations, spoke out boldly against religious schools in the Lords. (Note how everyone leaving No 10 suddenly speaks their mind - and it is rarely the mind of their leader.) ICM polling shows that 64% of voters think "the government should not be funding faith schools of any kind" - a surprisingly strong position. So what on earth is a Labour government up to - and why don't Labour MPs refuse to let this happen?

She's barred, of course, from the Guardian's pro-Labour position from answering that question - perhaps the fact that the Prime Minister and the Education Secretary are religious fanatics has something to do with it?
My mail box has been full lately of accounts of the latest "honour killing" horror, this time in Germany, involving a Kurdish family of Turkish background.

Forced to marry a cousin in Turkey as a young girl, Ms Surucu later broke with her Turkish-Kurdish family in Berlin and was living independently with her five-year-old son, to the intense disapproval of her relatives, prosecutors said.
Ayhan Surucu, 20, who confessed to pulling the trigger, was sentenced to nine years and three months, close to the 10-year maximum allowable as he was a minor, aged 18, at the time of the killing.

Such crimes seem to come around, all too sadly, in regular cycles, but I've been musing about how many cases there must be that don't get to this point - all of the girls and women who must be terrorised into submission, into submitting to rape by their "husbands", behind the cases that hit the headlines. And how many suicides there must be...


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