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Editors --- "'Sit down Girlie': Legal issues from a feminist perspective" [2000] AltLawJl 95; (2000) 25(5) Alternative Law Journal 251

Legal issues from a feminist perspective

Girlies are human too!

Girlie is sorry to have made an error in the last edition (August) of the Alternative Law Journal. Under the heading 'Tender Loving Care', Girlie mistakenly referred to the Top End Women's Legal Service (TEWLS) and the Central Australian Women's Legal Service (CAWLS) as 'Top End'. These are two entirely different services, which, at the time of the August edition item being written, were in different situations. TEWLS was not awarded the tender for the Domestic Violence Service; it went to a private firm. CAWLS was running the service from Alice Springs on a weekly basis.

Bits from overseas, or, 'Howard's excuse'

Girlie is worried to learn that over the past two years, a number of women have been inexplicably murdered in Accra, Ghana. Women's groups have been tracking the murders and believe the total to be 25-30. Women's organisations have strenuously protested the killings, but Girlie is informed that the police have not managed to arrest any­ one. Instead, they have managed to in­ stall road blocks and announce a curfew on ... urn ... women. Women found on the streets of Accra after 1am are arrested and detained in police cells until morning thus, Girlie can only assume, ensuring their safety. Its beauty is in its simplicity really, and is an example to all nations fighting the problem of endemic global violence against women. Everyone knows that violence is always perpetrated against women by complete strangers, in public, after midnight. Lock 'em up from dusk till dawn and the problem will be solved ...

• In a similar innovation, this time in the fight against HIVIAIDS and its devastating impact on the African continent, Zulu societies are turning to women to protect their society. Rather than encouraging responsible sex in their whole population, young Zulu women are being asked to undertake public virginity tests and are issued with virginity certificates. Just what every young woman wants for her CV.

Girlie is reliably informed that Barbara Walters, doyenne of perk, recently returned to Kuwait and noticed a significant change in gender roles. Rather than walking 10 feet behind their husbands as they had in Kuwait

some years before the Gulf War, they now walked several yards in front. Walters was eager to hear what had motivated this apparent gender revolution. "Landmines" came the explanation.

Keeping the flame alive

Well, the Olympics have come and gone. The tears, the laughter, the sadness, the joy. Will we ever forget our Dawnie clutching Juan's hand while his wife was dying in Spain? Will we ever forget our Cathy waiting anxiously for the cauldron to overcome its glitch while waiting anxiously for Howard to do the same?

Girlie was delighted to see the focus on women in the Opening Ceremony, as well as the genuinely extraordinary Ca­ thy Freeman honoured (especially given that her former partner, Nick Bideau, was reported as explaining that he was not really such a bad guy, be­ cause he had stayed with Cathy 'even when she got fat'. Girlie is pleased to report that Nick got himself nominated for an Ernie award for this little effort).

However, Girlie is not convinced that barracking for Cathy is all Australia needs to do to achieve reconciliation. Nor is she sure that women have really achieved equality in sport when the 'Fair Call' guidelines issued by the National Women's Media Centre were so studiously ignored by most Channel 7 commentators, who instead opted for the all time favourite reference 'girl'.

Nevertheless, a good time was reportedly had by all, (except, possibly, for Sydney's homeless), and it is deflating to have to return to the reality of our Johnnie's Australia and his government's decision to refuse to ratify the Optional Protocol for CEDAW on the devastating argument that 'other countries are worse than us (see above), so just leave us alone, OK?'. This move is particularly cheeky with a capital 'C', given that Australia helped develop the bloody Protocol, and is the final toll for women's justice by a government that has rolled back the Sex Discrimination Act and that completely ignores recommendations made by the Sex Discrimination Commissioner.

Girlie is not wildly surprised, of course, when the same government embraces documents like the McClure Re­ port, and apparently expects unemployed, single women to work for their pensions, but does not expect middle class women to work at all. Certainly, if Girlie believes all the latest research being devotedly reported, Working, University Educated Mothers are in fact expected to stay at home. Foolish Girlie had not realised that Working University Educated Mothers were supposed to get themselves a University Education just so they could be Mothers and dispense their accumulated wisdom to the uberrace. These wicked Working University Educated Mothers, are incredibly selfish-using their education to benefit themselves, their families and the community, rather than staying home and teaching trigonometry to their offspring. These WUEMs are being wasted. These WUEMs are being MISUSED. These WUEMs are NOT DOING WHAT THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO DO. Instead, they are out educating generations of youngsters, they are representing them in parliament, they are, heaven forfend, fighting unjust laws and seeking to end discrimination. They are, quite possibly, lobbying for the ratification of the Optional Protocol while simultaneously and successfully caring for their children.

This is quite unacceptable. Many Girlies out there will be Working, quite a few will be University Educated and a scurrilous, selfish few will be all these things and Mothers too. Well, it's time to face up to yourself. You are nothing but WUEMs and your duty is clear. Down tools, shoes off and educative smiles at the ready. Your country and its Prime Minister need an education, and you, dear Girlies, are the ones to provide it.

What are you waiting for?

Liv Tobreede

Liv is a .feminist lawyer.

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