Saturday 18 December 2010

Reasons to Be Cheerful

Many like to moan that they are “terrified” that the country is on a slippery slope – we’re losing all our civil liberties and we’re going to end up in a police state. Sometimes it helps to remember the civil liberties and self-determination we’ve GAINED in my lifetime. For all those convinced the world is going to hell in a handcart, remember the following:

1950s women enter the professions in increasing numbers (some professions open their doors to women, others allow women to continue working after marriage)
1970/83 Equal Pay Acts
1975 Sex Discrimination Act
1979 first woman prime minister Margaret Thatcher, women admitted to All Souls College, Oxford
1970s Single women could get a mortgage (but it was very difficult)
1991 women admitted as members of the Magic Circle (they’d been barred because “women can’t keep a secret”). Rape within marriage made illegal.

The Judge who helped change the law on rape within marriage, Sir John Owen, died recently. This is from his obituary in The Times January 13, 2011: "Probably his most memorable achievement was as the Judge at First Instance in R v R in 1991 when his ruling helped to change the law on rape in marriage. Until then, according to Hale's Doctrine, wives were considered to give irrevocable consent to sex, no matter what the violence or humiliation to which they were subjected. The wife in R v R was separated from the husband and Owen said that, while it was not for him to make the law, he had a duty to state the law as it stood and he did not believe that the law would allow the husband to go unpunished in this case. The jury convicted and the conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeal which went further and ruled that Hale's Doctrine had always been a fiction. This reasoning was upheld by the House of Lords and the law was changed."

1961 Pill available to married women only
1967 Pill available to the unmarried (and soon free)
Late 60s Nicholas Saunders’ Alternative London gives useful addresses for young people to obtain contraception, medical advice, STD and drugs help in confidence.
1970s Better sex education in schools, easier access to facts and information, greater openness, Claire Rayner starts her career as a straight-talking agony aunt
1973 Our Bodies, Ourselves published – book giving women information about their bodies and sexuality
1986 The first advert for a sanitary towel on television in the UK

1923 Change to law makes it easier for women to petition for divorce for adultery
1937 Divorce allowed on other grounds including drunkenness, insanity and desertion.
1969 Divorce Reform Act allows couples to divorce after they’ve been separated for two years (or five years if only onBolde of them wanted a divorce). A marriage can be ended if it has irretrievably broken down, and neither partner has to prove "fault".
1996 White v White case makes distribution of assets more fair, and recognises contribution of “homemaker”.

By the 70s, unmarried mothers were no longer told (untruly) that they must give up their children for adoption because they’d get no help from the state
1976 The Adoption Act gives adoptees the right to see their original birth certificate and other information relating to their biological parents.

1976 Race Relations Act
1995 Disability Discrimination Act
1998 Human Rights Act

1964 Last executions in UK.
1969 Capital punishment for murder abolished.
1998 Capital punishment effectively ended.
1999 Formally ended.

1948 abolition in Britain of "birching" as a judicial penalty (retained until 1962 as a punishment for violent breaches of prison discipline).
1969 Jersey stops birching as judicial punishment
1976 last use of birch in Isle of Man
Trinidad may be the only country in the world still officially using the birch.” wiki
1987 corporal punishment outlawed in state schools
2003 in Scotland illegal to use any implements when disciplining a child, corporal punishment outlawed in all private schools

1968 Theatres Act ends theatrical censorship

1967 Sexual Offences Act decriminalises sexual acts between two consenting males over 21 in private.
1973 American Psychological Association decides that homosexuality is not a mental illness.
1980 Homosexuality decriminalised in Scotland.
1982 And in Northern Ireland.
1994 Age of consent for homosexual acts lowered to 18.
2000 Age of consent brought in line with heterosexuals (16).
Sexual acts between two women have never been illegal in the UK.

1889 The first act of parliament for the prevention of cruelty to children.
1989 Children Act gives every child the right to protection from abuse.
1926 Post-hoc legitimisation introduced under the Legitimacy Act.
1970s Something called "the stigma of illegitimacy" disappears.

2007 Smoking in public places made illegal.

1973 End of White Australia policy.
Mid-70s Australia stops removing aboriginal children from parents
1976 End of Swedish forced sterilisation programme (started in 20s).
1977 Last person guillotined in France.

More here.
More reasons to be cheerful here.

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