New Internationalist

Briefly…

Issue 165

new internationalist
issue 165 - November 1986

BRIEFLY...

NUCLEAR POWER

Finnished
Over 4,000 Finnish women of childbearing age are refusing to have children unless the Government closes down its nuclear power stations (which produce 40 per cent of Finland's electricity). This initiative, which does not include a ban on sexual activity, comes from students at the University of Tampere in northern Finland. 'Nuclear power shall not waste our children's lives', say the protestors.

From Women's Peace Alliance Newslisting, No 25.

SEX

African AIDS
AIDS in Africa is found in the same proportion in men and women. One explanation for this may be the widespread practice of female genital mutilation. As a result of the scars and the obstruction created by them, sexual intercourse frequently involves tearing of the skin around the vagina - thus allowing the virus to be transmitted through the blood.

Bleeding may also be caused when the woman is very young. Many girls are married when barely in their teens, while their husbands might be very large. Every hospital in Africa has cases of child brides whose genital organs have been torn apart by the sexual attentions of their new husbands.

From WIN News, Vol 12, No 3.

TURKEY

[image, unknown] Closet control
Students in Turkey have most aspects of their daily lives tightly regulated - even down to how to lay out their wardrobes and behave in the bath. The 'Credits and Dormitories Law', which governs student behaviour runs to 169 pages.

President Evren's repressive regime is clearly aware of the role that young people played in the struggle for political change in the 1970s - and nervous that it could happen again. Every student dormitory has the following words of wisdom from him pinned up on the wall.

'Because there are insufficient dormitories and not enough mattresses. Because of bad food and high expenses. Because of the form of exams and unjustness of marking. With all these issues they (the agitators) will come to you with seemingly innocent demands and draw you into protests. This way they will try to distort your minds.'

For NI readers uncertain about how to lay out their own wardrobes we have reproduced a helpful diagram which is given to every Turkish student.

From Committee for the Defence of Human Rights in Turkey.

CENTRAL AMERICA

Bargain bullets
It's amazing how far a dollar can go these days. More gas at the pump. More produce at the market More Nicaraguans in their graves.

In the five and a half years since he took office, Ronald Reagan has garnered over $230 million in Congressionally approved covert and overt aid for his army of contras operating in and around Nicaragua. That amounts to roughly one dollar from every man, woman and child in America.

And what has that one dollar achieved? At least 10,000 dead Nicaraguans. The cost-per-kill ratio is around $23,000 per hit, a bargain compared with the Vietnam War in which each dead Vietnamese cost around $100,000.

From Mother Jones, No 6. 1986.

FOOD

Long live the veggies
Those who say that vegetarians are depriving themselves of essential nutrients may have to eat their words. A new study by the German Cancer Research Centre at Heidelberg shows that vegetarians have a much lower mortality rate than meat-eaters - especially when it comes to cardiac and circulatory complaints.

A sample of 1,904 vegetarians were monitored for five years. Statistically speaking, 219 of them should have died during the period under review, but only 82 did - they showed 37 per cent of the average mortality rate. Only half as many vegetarians died of cancer as would normally be expected.

But is it their diet or some other part of their lifestyle which makes vegetarians healthier? Very few die of lung cancer, but then very few smoke in comparison with the population as a whole. And about half of the sample didn't drink alcohol, tea or coffee.

From German Times, No 1,237.

POPULATION

Sterile solution
Older married couples in the UK now prefer sterilization as a family planning method. The pill has become significantly less popular in recent years. About 44 per cent of couples in their late thirties have opted for sterilization - and it is no longer just the women who are having the operation.

The British Government's General Household Survey for 1983, which has recently been published, reveals that overall 24 per cent of women who are or have been married, had been sterilized or had vasectomized partners. This is double the mid-1970s figure.

The pill has fallen from favour following publicity about links between its use and the incidence of cardiovascular disease and breast and cervical cancer.

From People, Volume 13, No 3.

AID

Canada the scrooge
The liberal image of the Maple Leaf overseas will be undercut by dramatic changes in the overseas aid budget. Ottawa has announced half of all future growth in the aid budget will be diverted into a proposed Trade and Development Facility designed to promote Canadian exports to the Third World. According to OECD figures, Canada is one of only three member countries whose aid is real terms fell between 1977 and 1983. In addition Canadian aid is highly tied - that is the money can only be spent on domestic products. In effect this is a subsidy to local industry. The OECD ranks Canada 16th out of 17 members in the proportion of aid that is tied, surpassed only by Austria.

From Review '85 Outlook '86, North-South Institute. Ottawa

TECHNOLOGY

Silicon scandal
The computer industry in California gives the impression of having pristine, clean, and high-paying factories. But a new coalition of community and labour activists in Silicon Valley has issued a report which paints quite a different picture. The group, which calls itself Integrated Circuit, points out, for example, that 60 drinking water wells had to be closed in Silicon Valley after a series of chemical leaks at electronics plants.

Working conditions and wages are also poor. The group quotes a 1981 study which showed a rate of occupational illness for California-based semiconductor manufacturers three times higher than for the manufacturing sector in general. They also claim that the average income for a semiconductor production worker is only 57 per cent of that of a steel worker.

From Computing, July 3 1986.

SOUTH AFRICA

Migrant miners
The sweated labour of well over half a million black mine workers has helped to fill the coffers of South African with gold and diamonds, says a new report from the International Labour Organization, but their contribution has gone largely unrewarded.

About 40 per cent of the 550,000 black workers engaged in the mining industry in South Africa come from neighbouring countries such as Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland. While there has been some improvement in wages, the ratio of white to black wages is still five to one.

'The meek may inherit the earth, but not its mineral rights.'

John Paul Getty

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