It Gives Me the Pip
Healthcare regulators in Europe and Australia have been under attack because of faulty breast implants made by Poly Implant Prothèse (‘PIP’). The products were approved by the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (‘MHRA’) and the TGA in Australia. Between 400 000 and half a million women around the world have received these implants. French regulators found they contained industrial rather than medical silicone. It is alleged PIP had advance notice of inspections by regulators. Jean-Claude Mas, the founder of PIP, was arrested and has been released on bail facing charges of causing bodily harm. In France, women have been advised to have the implants removed for fear of rupture and possible association with cancer. Australia and the United Kingdom have not followed suit but the UK government has launched an inquiry headed by Lord Howe, the Minister for Quality.
Don’t Call Us…
Two Victorian women are taking landmark legal action against debt collectors. Supported by the Consumer Action Law Centre the women are bringing an action in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal arguing that a law introduced in 2011 requires debt collectors to stop contacting a person once asked in writing to do so unless legal action is taken. It is alleged Australian Receivables Limited and Baycorp Collections contacted the women numerous times after being requested in writing to cease or to take legal action.
Radio host Kyle Sandilands is being investigated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority for describing a journalist on air as a ‘fat slag’ and threatening to ‘hunt her down’ after she wrote a critical review of his TV programme. Several sponsors withdrew support for the radio show but station owners Southern Cross Austereo say they will back him while ACMA investigates.
In Victoria the Marie Stopes Clinic has announced it will no longer be providing abortion services where the woman is more than 24 weeks pregnant. It was the only clinic supplying these services for other than congenital defects. The Royal Women’s Hospital will not perform late term abortions for ‘psycho-social’ reasons so women requiring these services will have nowhere to turn.
In the UK, the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice has allowed abortion services to advertise their services. The Committee ruled there was no justification for preventing private clinics offering post-pregnancy services including abortion, from advertising on television.
Writing in The Age (25 January 2012) Ben Doherty notes that when the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights visited the Maldives in late 2011 she urged the abolition of the practice of flogging women for having sex outside marriage. Navi Pillay said, ‘This practice constitutes one of the most inhumane and degrading forms of violence against women.’ Subsequently protesters rallied outside the UN building carrying placards urging flogging of Pillay and banning of the United Nations.
In the Maldives people are obliged to follow Islam and the conflict has divided the community between moderate and fundamentalist Muslims. Doherty reports anecdotal evidence of a resurgence in female circumcision, particularly in the outer islands. Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed said he was distressed about religious fundamentalism in the Islands, noting, ‘We were a matriarchal society, our inheritance, also in the past was from women. But with a new kind of radical Islam, the perceptions some of them have on women are not familiar to many Maldivians.’ A domestic violence bill is before the Maldivian Parliament but it has been there for more than 14 months.
Women Living Under Muslim Laws (‘WLUML’) has been named as a top non-profit working in the field of violence against women. They need your support so check out their website http://www.wluml.org.
ANNA LIST, LEXI COG-RAFFER and PAM FLATEER are feminist lawyers.