AceBreakingNews – A member of Russia’s State Duma has proposed reviving a tax on childlessness which existed during the Soviet era, citing the need to boost the population: Large families should be the norm – Putin
The original tax on childlessness was adopted during World War II and existed until the break-up of the Soviet Union. The levy applied to men aged 20-50 and married women aged 20-45.
“We must encourage the birth of children,” Evgeny Fyodorov from the ruling United Russia party told Moscow Speaks radio on Saturday. He added that the tax revenue could be used to fund existing and future welfare programs designed to help families with children.
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Should we introduce a tax for this cause? If we won’t have enough money for such projects, we should,” the lawmaker, who sits on the parliamentary budget and taxation committee, said. “It is not punishment, but a solution to the problem.”
Over the years, politicians and church officials have floated the idea of a similar tax. The proposed measure has its opponents, however. Nina Ostanina, chair of the Duma family affairs committee, said on Sunday that such a tax would only work under a socialist system. “We are living in an absolutely different society,” she said.
AceNewsDesk – It is estimated that one in five girls across the world is married by the age of 18. Even countries that have laws against child marriage sometimes fail to enforce them. But in Malawi some are seeing the first signs of change.
Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Nov.30: 2023: By Megha Mohan and Yousef Eldin: BBC 100 Women: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link https://t.me/+PuI36tlDsM7GpOJe
The third time we visited Tamara we were told she had left for the nearby fields early in the morning, to till the soil.
At nine months pregnant, there was no rest for the 13-year-old.
Tamara (not her real name) had been sleeping on the floor of her aunt’s small hut for several months after her husband, a man in his 20s, had run away.
He had heard that social services were coming to rescue Tamara from their illegal marriage and took off before they arrived, leaving her to walk to her aunt’s village.
A lot has changed in Tamara’s life in the past few years. Born into a rural farming community in southern Malawi’s Neno district, her family lived below the Malawian government’s poverty line, like 65% of others in the region. The war in Ukraine, a direct trade ally to Malawi, added pressure – halting wheat and fertiliser supplies and pushing up prices.
When Tamara’s parents fell ill and died, in quick succession, their only child was taken in by her grandmother.
But after a month, when Tamara returned from school one day, her grandmother had some news.
“She told me I had to get married,” Tamara says. “She had already received money from a man.”
A man whom Tamara had never met had paid 15,000 Malawian Kwacha for her – around $9, or £7.
Tamara’s grandmother had already spent the money on maize for the family and the man was now impatient. He wanted the girl he had paid for to leave school and live with him:
Child marriage has been illegal in Malawi since 2017, but it has long been culturally acceptable in the country, and still continues in rural communities like Tamara’s, where about 85% of Malawi’s population live. More than 40% of girls in the country are married under the age of 18, according to the NGO Girls Not Brides.
“Life was difficult because the man was older,” Tamara says. “He used to physically abuse me by biting me every time I did something wrong.”
She lived with him for three months, until someone alerted social services. Then, as arrangements were being made for Tamara to return to school, she noticed something. She’d missed a couple of periods.
Tamara was 12 years old and expecting a baby.
Almost 100km (62 miles) away from Tamara’s aunt’s hut, a short drive from the border of Mozambique, a small bright green building blares out Malawian pop music. It’s the office of Radio Mzati, a local radio station.
A group of glamorous young women in their 20s are gathered in a radio studio, adjusting their microphones and laughing as they get ready to go on air.
“Hello! Hello! Welcome to another edition of Ticheze Atsikana,” booms host Chikondi Kuphata, “a programme that stands as a platform for us beautiful girls to discuss issues affecting us!”
Kuphata and co-host Lucy Morris switch between English and Chichewa – the programme’s name means “let’s chat” in Chichewa.
It’s a weekly show, sponsored by AGE Africa, an NGO that supports rural and vulnerable girls to stay in education, and it reaches more than four million listeners across Malawi. The majority of the audience are women in rural communities like Tamara’s.
Today’s subject is child marriage.
“A major reason here is poverty,” says Morris. “Because most of the families we come from are poor, our parents are not able to look after their children, so the best solution is to send a girl into a marriage.
“Girls marry men much older than them who can provide for them.”
The women encourage their listeners to send comments via WhatsApp, before breaking for a song, called Come Back. Its lyrics contain a clear message:
“You now need school for everything!
“It’s better you go back to school!
“Early marriage is not good!”
“When girls have an education and they know their rights, they know they can get help to stop child marriage. That’s part of our mission, to get girls talking, to share their stories and know that there is another way,” Morris says.
Her village, Gulumba, in the foothills of Mount Mulanje, has a women-only listening club for Ticheze Atsikan.
Another fan of the show, although he’s not invited to the listening group, is local chief Benson Kwelani. He says he encourages girls to stay in school, and will not give his blessing to a marriage if the girl is under 18.
Married as children
About 650 million women alive today were married before their 18th birthday according to the UN children’s fund, Unicef
South Asia is home to the largest number of child brides with more than 40% of the global total, followed by sub-Saharan Africa with 18%
Worldwide, about 21% of girls are married in childhood, according to aid organisation World Vision
Child marriage rates have declined in Asia and Africa over the past decade, but in Latin America and the Caribbean there has been no progress for 25 years, according to NGO Girls Not Brides
The three influential philanthropists are working in the country, supporting local organisations fighting against child marriage.
Obama’s Girls Opportunity Alliance, for example, is supporting AGE Africa, while Clooney’s Waging Justice for Women initiative supports the Women Lawyers Association of Malawi to inform rural girls of their legal rights. French Gates funds projects that improve healthcare for women, including girls who give birth in their early teens.
It is still unusual for social services to get involved in cases of child marriage, NGOs say, but attitudes appear to be changing among some local leaders.
After a drive by the UN Population Fund in 2020, more than 100 of Malawi’s traditional chiefs – about a quarter of the total – have promised to fight traditional marriage in their communities. Yet they may be powerless if families give away their girls to much older men.
Two chiefs in Neno district, where Tamara lives, tell us they could not be sure that child marriages were not happening secretly in their communities.
“Some parents do approach us, but we discourage and refuse those marriages,” says John Juwa, head of a community of more than 2,000 people.
“Sometimes parents insist that their child is ready for marriage, but we do ask for their health passport book to confirm their age.”
George Mphonda, chief of more than 1,000 people, says: “We are not saying that child marriage is not happening but we are saying if it is happening, then they are kept in secret from us.”
But whose responsibility is it to stop secret child marriages?
After a long pause Juwa says: “It is our responsibility as chiefs, with the support of the family.”
Tamara has given birth to a healthy baby boy. A small Malawian NGO based in the city of Blantyre, called People Serving Girls At Risk, paid for a man on a bicycle to pedal her to the local health clinic when she went into labour. They’re also checking in regularly with her and her aunt.
Tamara’s labour was thankfully straightforward. Complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death in young women and adolescents according to the WHO, so people had been concerned for her.
Yousef Eldin / BBC News says Tamara’s hope for Prince is that he will be able to finish school
“Tamara is back home and doing well with her young son, her family are very happy about his arrival,” says Caleb Ng’ombo, executive director at People Serving Girls At Risk.
“She has the support of the community and her aunt, but the real work starts now. It would be better for her to return to school but she also needs to support her child.”
Tamara tells the BBC her big hope for her son, Prince, is that he will be able to finish school.
Tamara’s aunt owns a fruit and vegetable stall which brings in less than $50 (£39) a month. It’s a few steps away from their hut. Tamara helps out when she can, and she gets to see her friends.
At the stall, a number of young girls come to collect provisions for their family.
The last time we visit, at least two pregnant teenage girls from the village – with arms full of vegetables – say hi to Tamara before heading back home.
AceNewsDesk – A new national report has found Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are 10.5 times more likely to be in out-of-home care than non-Indigenous children, with its authors warning more must be done to turn the tide on current trends.
The Family Matters annual report, released today in Adelaide by the national peak body for First Nations children and families, SNAICC, highlighted the state of child protection across Australia and outlined a range of recommendations to improve the lives of Indigenous children.
According to the report, as of June 2022 there were 22,328 Indigenous children in out-of-home care – the highest number on record and an increase of 85 children from the previous year.
SNAICC chairperson Muriel Bamblett said it was concerning to see little traction in improving outcomes across all states and territories.
“To have so many children over-represented in the system, so many children are going to grow up away from their family, away from their community,” she said.
“They will often not be with their siblings, not know their own country – these are things that are important to Aboriginal [people].”
Ms Bamblett, a Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Wurrung woman, said state and federal governments were not acting fast enough to shift control to Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisations (ACCOs).
“It’s a very, very slow transfer of resources, transfer of power and authority, [yet] where we see resources and power back, we see better results,” she said.
“Many governments are actually running child protection … out of their government departments, and [there is] very little investment in Aboriginal community control.
“That speaks against self-determination — Aboriginal people need to be making decisions about their children on their land, on their country, and in their best interests.”
She described current child protection systems as “racist” and urged authorities to work more closely with Indigenous communities to better understand the sector’s complexities.
The report also highlighted that fewer than half of Indigenous children in care are living with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers, a sharp decline from more than 65 per cent a decade ago.
April Lawrie, Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People in South Australia, said increases to funding had not resulted in better outcomes for Indigenous children.
“Where the funding is going is not hitting the mark,” she said.
“It reveals that much more effort is required in the right places to truly make a difference in outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.”
Ms Lawrie said the appointment of a national Aboriginal and Torres Islander children’s commissioner would create a “central, coordinated, leadership role”.
“[It would] ensure that the voice of the Aboriginal child is brought into the fold of policy development, into decision-making on key aspects of life that have [an] effect on Aboriginal children and young people’s life outcomes,” she said.
In a statement, national Children’s Commissioner Anne Hollonds said the Family Matters report “reinforces the fact that child wellbeing is not a national priority, and that our piecemeal efforts are failing to achieve the reforms required”.
“We need to listen to what First Nations children and families say they need,” she said.
“We need governments to be accountable for action on the evidence-based recommendations from decades of royal commissions and inquiries.”
Commissioner Hollonds said governments around Australia needed to adopt a national approach to address “the evident systemic failures”.
According to the report, current trends indicate that Target 12 in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap — to reduce the over-representation of Indigenous children in out-of-home care by 45 per cent by 2031 — will not be met.
The report also calls for the state and federal governments to invest in a new family support program for ACCOs to help shift responses towards prevention and early support services.
In a pre-recorded video played at the event, Indigenous Australian Minister Linda Burney said the report highlighted how much work was still required to reduce the rate of child removals.
“All children deserve to be raised in a healthy, supportive and safe environment with access to quality early-childhood education and care, a sense of belonging and connection with our culture and those around them,” she said.
“And of course, they need to play, have fun and develop healthy social skills.”
The report’s authors urged state and federal governments to take urgent action on the recommendations outlined in the report “or risk causing further harm to generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children”.
AceNewsDesk – Believe it or not, our favourite Blue Heeler and her family have now been in our lives for five whole years! Bluey is a show that revels in love, family, friendship and nature, and has taken the world by storm.
Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Nov.28: 2023: You can watch the 100 to 1 countdown on the Bluey Fest live stream and Bluey Series 1 to 3 on ABC iview: And hooray! There is more Bluey coming in 2024, including the longest episode yet — it’s 28 minutes long and called The Sign: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link https://t.me/+PuI36tlDsM7GpOJe
To celebrate this huge milestone, as part ofABC’s Bluey Fest, we asked you to vote for your favourite episode in the Biggest Little Bluey Countdown!
And biscuits! A lot of people had opinions — more than 50,000 votescame in!
So get your cheese and crackers ready, ‘cos here’s your top five.
Here come the Grannies! Gets me every time.
This is the first episode we meet GrannyRita (aka Bingo) and GrannyJanet (aka Bluey), and didn’t they leave us wanting more?!
This episode has so many laugh-out-loud moments — including Bingo and Bluey’s granny impressions, with their one-liners and their shaky voices.
Then there’s Bluey and Bingo’s actual Nanalearning to floss (the dance, not the teeth), which I’m pretty sure kicked off the flossing craze in Australia and beyond.
Grannies also shares wisdom in Bluey’s trademark non-preachy way; this episode provides a sisterly love lesson on being aware of others’ feelings.
This is one of the favourites of Bluey executive director Daley Pearson.
It said the episode was a “four-hankie dazzler about the challenges, rewards, and costs of growing up”.
#3 Granny Mobile
The Grannies returned, and my family lost it — with squeals of laughter.
This time Bluey and Bingo’s cousin Muffin come along for the ride as fan favourite Grouchy Granny.
In Granny Mobile, the Heeler family help their older and not-so-assertive neighbour Doreen to get the right price for items she is selling at a garage sale.
It is laugh-out-loud funny when Grouchy Granny Muffin meets real-life Grouchy Granny, and the two haggle over the cost of a granny mobile.
#2 Baby Race
Baby Race was in the first series of Bluey, and features the magically wise line from Bluey and Bingo’s mum Chilli:“Run your own race”.
As a parent, I loved this episode. It not only shows children that we all learn differently and at our own pace, but it also reminds parents not to compare their children to other kids — or themselves to other parents.
Sounds like a no-brainer, but not so easy when you are sleep-deprived, overthinking and over-analysing way too much as you navigate the ever-changing world of parenting.
There were only 5,800 votes separating this episode from the number-one spot.
But there can only be one winner …
***Drum roll please***
Cricket certainly struck a chord with Bluey fans far and wide.
The episode features a neighbourhood game of cricket, with young Rusty’s story taking the lead.
Rusty lives and breathes cricket. He practises and perseveres and he steps up when his older brothers and mates don’t take it easy on him.
“ What Australians love about themselves is everything in that episode,” said Pearson on ABC News Breakfast.
“[It shows that] persistence will get you to a good place where you can achieve what your potential is, but it’s also [about] fair play and being good to those around you.”
Rusty’s dad, who is serving in the Australian Army (and is voiced by Blue Wiggle Anthony Field), sums up all the feels in this episode in a letter he sends home to the family — with a postscript to Rusty.
“As you grow up, you’ll face harder things than a cricket ball, and you’ll have two choices: Back away and get out, or step in front and play a full shot,” he writes.
“ Just keep your eye on the ball and take care of your little sister for me.”
When Rusty eventually decides it is time to get out — he sets up a catch for his overjoyed younger sister — it’s just beautiful!
Head of ABC Family & Children and Executive Producer of Bluey Libbie Doherty wasn’t surprised about the number-one choice.
“Joe Brumm and the team at Ludo Studio have so perfectly captured the spirit of the game,” she said.
“We hope all the backyard cricketers this summer give their younger siblings a catch, just like Rusty.”
AceBreakingNews – A black-market trade in delivery app accounts allows underage teenagers to sign up as riders, the BBC has found.
Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Nov.15: 2023: By Angus Crawford: BBC News: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link https://t.me/+PuI36tlDsM7GpOJe
The family of a 17-year-old who died while working as a Deliveroo rider – despite 18 being the minimum age – say the company is “unaccountable”.
The Home Office is urging Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats to reform policies that let riders lend accounts to others, known as “substitution”.
Deliveroo says it has a “zero tolerance approach” towards ineligible riders.
The BBC’s investigation found substitution fuels an online trade in accounts, including potentially to children.
Riders who sign up to work for the big food delivery apps have to pass background checks. They must verify their age, that they have no convictions and that they are allowed to work in the UK.
But once verified, a rider is permitted to lend their account to another person to work instead of them.
It is the duty of the original account holder – not the app they work for – to check that their “substitute” meets the legal criteria to work.
The system appears open to abuse.
‘He just wanted to earn money’
Leo was just 15 when he first rented his Deliveroo account from a man in the town where he lived.
Two years later Leo was killed on a borrowed motorbike – he was only 17 but still working for the app. The minimum age to work for the company is 18.
“ Leo wanted to be a millionaire. Whatever it took, he just wanted to earn money and hustle,” says Leo’s stepfather Patrick.
His family have decided to speak out because they feel so strongly, but have asked to withhold their surname as they are worried about a backlash from riders in their local area who use illegal accounts.
Leo’s mother Preta says on the surface the work was really appealing for a teenager. “They make a lot of money and they don’t want to stop. £100 or £200 a day – it’s a lot of money”.
Patrick says: “No-one’s accountable, they just take the money. It’s not right.”
Deliveroo has not contacted the family, he says.
“Well they wouldn’t would they? They wouldn’t even know he existed.”
The company told us that if a rider was found to be ineligible to work for the app “we will stop working with them with immediate effect”.
‘Age does not matter’
As part of our investigation, the BBC found social media account holders selling or renting accounts for the three main delivery apps.
We set up a fake social media profile, using an image of a 16-year-old boy generated by AI, and messaged the sellers.
When we told one seller offering Deliveroo accounts that he was speaking to a 16-year-old, he replied: “I want to help you, age does not matter.”
Another said he would rent us his Uber Eats account for £70 per week, adding: “They don’t check age, it’s more like you are using my account.”
Just Eat accounts were also available, this seller told us – “no one checks anything”.
The company has the largest share of the UK market followed by Uber Eats and Deliveroo.
The government says it is unhappy with the situation and has called in the three big delivery apps for a round table meeting on Tuesday.
Home Office Minister Robert Jenrick told us: “This is not a victimless activity, we’ve seen a young person die when he was doing a job that he shouldn’t have been doing.”
Mr Jenrick said the policy of substitution was “perpetuating and enabling illegal working in our country”.
And he called for it to be reformed so that any “substitute rider” would also be verified by the apps, not by the owner of the account.
The Home Office has been carrying out checks on riders and says, so far this year, 381 across the UK who do not have the right to work in the country have been arrested.
Deliveroo said: “We take our responsibilities extremely seriously and we continue to work in close collaboration with the relevant authorities to support their efforts in this area.”
Just Eat released a statement saying: “We have high standards and a robust criteria in place for couriers.
“Self-employed independent couriers have the legal right to use a substitute.
“Legally the courier account-holder is responsible for ensuring their substitute meets the necessary standards to deliver on our network.”
And Uber Eats said all couriers “must pass a criminal background check, be over the age of 18 and hold a valid right to work in the UK”.
It added: “We understand that there are concerns around this issue, and we are working closely with the government and want to find a solution.”