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Editors --- "'Sit down Girlie': Legal issues from a feminist perspective" [2002] AltLawJl 72; (2002) 27(4) Alternative Law Journal 191

Legal issues from a feminist perspective

'Grumpy Men'

Australian Doctor (5/7/2002) reports that a trial date has been set in what it describes as the 'grumpy men' case. A Western Australian man is suing the federal government claiming that the restricted subsidy of HRT for men is discriminatory. Dr Cam Ross (PhD) initiated two actions alleging sex discrimination because the government restricts PBS access to testosterone for men with hypogonadism while women can obtain subsidised HRT treatment for menopausal symptomology. Since August 1999 HRT has been restricted to men with pituitary or testicular disorders or to those with abnormally low testosterone levels. The second action is under the Administrative Decisions Judicial Review Act and claims blood tests to determine eligibility to PBS are unreliable and inaccurate.

A first?

The Australian (20/7/2002) reports that a Dublin court has convicted a 46-year-old man of raping his wife. This may be the first time such a finding has come from a court in the entire history of the Irish Republic but it sure isn't the first time rape in marriage has ever happened.

Repent ye sinners

What extraordinary statements bubble out of the mouths of some church leaders! Just as the Pope has implored young people who love Jesus to also love the Church, Archbishop Pell has said abortion is a greater sin than sexual abuse of children by priests. Arch­ bishop Pell says his statements have been taken out of context in the media and an explanation has been posted on his website. Girlie, after scrutinising the aforementioned website, is still of the opinion that the Archbishop said precisely that -abortion is a greater sin than priests abusing children. Some members of the Church just do not seem to understand how seriously the majority of the community views the actions of its recalcitrant priests. To equate such blatant breaches of trust with the difficult decision of whether or not to have an abortion shows appalling lack of judgment in Girlie's not so humble opinion.

Don't do it with our judges

Geri Halliwell has advised prospective contestants on the British Series Popstars, to 'Imagine that the judge is naked, that will take the nerves away. It's what I always do.' Ms Halliwell must have had a temporary memory lapse as she was herself one of the judges - or did she have another agenda? After considering whether Ms Halliwell's advice might be useful for women appearing before our judges as lawyers or litigants Girlie strongly warns women against making any such projections and issues a strong health warning. And, although this has nothing to do with the above, Girlie notes with interest the first all-female sitting of the Supreme Court of Victoria on 5 August 2002 with Justice Rosemary Balmford presiding, accompanied by Justice Marilyn Warren and Justice Julie Dodds-Streeton. Oh well, it's only taken 150 years! The sitting was for an admission ceremony for new barristers and solicitors and Justice Balmford encouraged the aspirants with these in­ spiring words: 'Despite what you have heard, be reassured that the world needs lawyers. And individuals need lawyers' (Age, 6/8/2002).

Pacific Brands

Girlie congratulates Pacific Brands, a company that has voluntarily granted its female employees paid maternity leave. Employees who have worked for the company continuously for two years will be granted 12 weeks full­ time paid maternity leave or 24 weeks at half pay. Pacific Brands controls brands such as Berlei, Bonds Holeproof and King Gee. This gesture is almost enough for Girlie to grant forgiveness to Berlie for its advertisements featuring women being sawn in half which led to the famous Berlei Five case be­ fore Magistrate Pat O'Shane.


Norway's strong reputation for promoting women's rights has been further enhanced as it becomes the first country to insist on female quotas for company boards (Australian, 2/8/2002)1. The Norwegian government has ordered companies to ensure that at least 40% of board • members are women. State-owned companies have been given 12 months to comply and private companies have three years. If compliance does not occur, legislation will be introduced. Currently Norway has only 7% of women on company boards and the European average is 2% (Andrew Osburn, Australian,2/8/2002). The usual arguments have been trotted out by opponents that there are not enough qualified women but the government has said, nonsense, they are there, get out and find them. Apparently there are 21% more women graduates in Norway than men.

Black shirts

In Victoria the Attorney-General has promised to come down heavily on a group of men who wear dark clothes and cover their faces while harassing women with whose views they disagree. It is alleged the group targets women who have appeared before the Family Court and hold values that differ from those of the group members. The Attorney-General has made it clear that harassment of women and children in such circumstances is totally unacceptable.

Marge Horrity

Marge is a Feminist Lawyer.

VOL. 27, NO 4, AUGUST • 2002


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