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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Divorce: Why the big breakup in China?

By Jaime FlorCruz, CNN Beijing Bureau Chief

  • Divorce in China was once frowned upon
  • In today's China, some 4,500 couples split up every day
  • Psychiatrist: Divorce on the rise because of social, economic changes
  • Another reason for increase in divorce: Changes to regulations make it easier to split

"Jaime's China" is a weekly column about Chinese society and politics. Jaime FlorCruz has lived and worked in China since 1971. He studied Chinese history at Peking University (1977-81) and served as TIME Magazine's Beijing correspondent and bureau chief (1982-2000).

Beijing, China (CNN) -- There was hardly any confusion about marriage and family life in old China. Traditional Chinese culture frowned on divorce. An ancient proverb admonishes newlyweds: "You are married until your hair turns white."

In practice, of course, men played a more dominant role in Chinese families and got away with most things, including marital dalliances. It was shameful for women to marry more than once while it was easy for men to take one or more concubines.

But the times are changing in modern China. The economic miracle that followed the country's opening to the outside world after 1979 has dramatically changed social mores --- and getting divorced no longer carries the social stigma it once did.

In today's China, some 4,500 couples split up every day. More than 2.46 million couples divorced in the country last year -- nearly twice the number in 2001.

See more of CNN's special coverage of China

"The rise in divorce rate is expected because China over the years has been going through drastic social and economic changes," said Xu Haoyuan, a U.S.-trained psychiatrist who offers marital counseling on a Beijing radio hotline. "Views on sex and marriage have swung from one extreme to another -- from the extremely puritanical to the free-wheeling."

So, why are couples in China splitting up? Experts have many explanations, but a key reason was the revision in 2003 of the marriage registration regulation, making it easier to divorce.

Before the change, couples seeking a divorce were required to get letters from their work units or neighborhood committees that explained and endorsed their reasons for breaking up.

Those who did not want to be subjected to lectures, gossips and shame opted to stay miserably married. Under the new rules, if couples are not fighting over property rights or child custody, they can get their divorce in minutes.

Other reasons for the spike in divorce: increased social mobility, especially the relaxation of the "hukou," or household registration system, that has accelerated internal migration; the one-child policy, some negative effects of rapid economic growth on peoples' values, and the dramatic change in the status of women.

Ideologues blame it on fickleness that comes from social-climbing, gold-digging, unsatisfied sexual or romantic desire. Still others attribute it to indiscriminate adoption of Western values and "bourgeois ideas" of materialism and egotism.

Not surprisingly, marriage counselors find that a common cause of Chinese divorces is marital infidelity, euphemistically referred to as "di san zhe," or "a third party."

"Extra marital relations are quite common nowadays," said the psychiatrist Xu. "Almost every couple who call in say they have extramarital relations. People are confused about what is right and what is wrong."

For four years, one of my friends had carried on a long-distance marriage with his wife. He worked in Beijing as a producer of movies and TV programs, while his wife chose to stay in her native Shanghai, where she worked as a white-collar employee in a trading company.

Not long ago, my friend found a girlfriend -- a young Beijing native. When his wife learned about it, she demanded a divorce. They parted ways amicably.

In some regions in China, the reasons for divorce have nothing to do with the romantic relationship: some people, wanting to take advantage of government programs, have entered into fake divorces.

For example, many property-hungry couples in Shanghai were found forging divorce documents in early October in order to circumvent a new government regulation. To curb speculation and cool the red-hot Shanghai property market, the local government recently issued new rules limiting families to buying one additional home per family. By faking divorce, couples hoped to buy as many as four homes instead of two, according to the Chongqing Business Newspaper.

In the past, marriage in China was mainly an economic arrangement where women were dependent on husbands and relegated to the role of breeder and nurturer.

Chinese women are now achieving higher economic and social status. These changes transform marriage into a mutually satisfying partnership.

Many Chinese now put a premium on love, mutual affection, compatibility and sexual equality.

All things considered, I see rising divorce rates in China in a positive light.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The World's Most Powerful Women

The World's Most Powerful Women

When it comes to power, cultural impact means as much as money and political influence.
Forbes' power lists are synonymous with moguls and movie stars, heads of state and captains of business. One look at the 2010 World's 100 Most Powerful Women list and it is clear that we've come up with a new ranking of the female power elite that reflects the New Order of now.

When we set out to identify this year's list, we decided it was time to look up and out into the broader culture. Our assessment is based less on traditional titles and roles and more on creative influence and entrepreneurship. These power women have built distinctive companies and brands and championed weighty causes, sometimes through unconventional means; in other cases they have broken through gender barriers.

In Pictures: The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women

Click here to see the full list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women

We divided our power women candidates into four groups: politics, business, media and lifestyle (that is, entertainment, sports and fashion). We ranked the women in each group, and then group against group. Not easy, but that's today's reality: an unpredictable, diverse mash-up of hard power (currencies and constitutions) and dynamic power (audience and audacity).
Why else would Lady Gaga (No. 7) and Ellen DeGeneres (No. 10) share top 10 billing with Michelle Obama (No. 1), Irene Rosenfeld, CEO of Kraft Foods ( KFT - news - people ) (No. 2), Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (No. 5) and Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo ( PEP - news - people ) (No. 6)? If anything, it's inspiring.

We included many heads of state and hopeful candidates, but we also have queenmakers who don't hold office, first ladies of various sorts, Surpreme Court justices and cultural icons, bankers and bestselling authors. We rely on these women for, yes, managing our money, creating paychecks and governing at home and on the international stage, but also what we eat, download, talk about around the dinner table and the causes we support. What we think and how we act.

At the top of our list, First Lady Michelle Obama is a true change-maker since taking lodge in the White House in 2008. The first African-American in the post, she's changed the face of the office (literally), and with consistently high approval ratings, she's given a new generation of girls and women around the world a role model. A former private attorney and public servant in Chicago, her interest in working with young people and advocating for healthy eating, among other issues, is evidenced by her Let's Move! campaign, which aims to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity within a generation.

Power women are connected, each one leveraging the power of the next. As a result of Let's Move!, for example, major food and drink manufacturers (including Rosenfeld's Kraft Foods and Nooyi's PepsiCo) have pledged to cut 1.5 trillion calories from their products by 2015 through new products, recipes and reduced portion sizes. At the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) last month, Secretary of State Clinton led a plenary session on empowering women and girls, a new CGI action area, and attended by Katie Couric (No. 22), Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan (No. 76) and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (No. 86).

Back to how Nooyi and talk show host DeGeneres landed together among the top 10 most powerful women in the world? While Nooyi helms PepsiCo, which has revenues of $43 billion annually and a portfolio of brands that include Tropicana, Frito Lay and Gatorade, DeGeneres directly connects with 3 million viewers daily weekdays through her talk show. And that's just one hour of her day.

Off-camera, the out-and-proud DeGeneres spreads her message to more than 5 million Twitter followers, notably bringing national attention to a gay teen's fight for same-sex prom dates last spring. Her high-profile, high-energy personality--as a television host, CoverGirl model and former judge of American Idol--has made LGBT issues more than mainstream. She's instilled a sense of glee and attractiveness to it all.

Traditionally, women's lists are heavily salted with the language of "firsts." First woman CEO. First woman on the Supreme Court. First female president. To be sure, there are firsts on this list: Nancy Pelosi is the first female Speaker of the House, while race car driver Danica Patrick is the first (and only) woman to have won an IndyCar series. With the impending launch of OWN, Oprah Winfrey is the first woman to own her own cable network and Julia Gillard and Johnson Sirleaf are currently the first female prime minister of Australia and Africa's first female president, respectively.

First females make for good copy, but the real headline is that packs have emerged. Three women sit on the Supreme Court, marking an unprecedented tipping point for change. This year Diane Sawyer joined Couric as a female nightly solo news anchor, with Rachel Maddow and Christiane Amanpour as compats. Gillard is among 10 female heads of state on this year's rankings. From Singapore to Silicon Valley, 25 women on the list hold CEO titles.
Ripening for political leaders, generally, comes at the 50s and 60s, while business leaders peak in their 40s and 50s. Media and lifestyle power women seem to come of age in their 20s and 30s. But there are notable exceptions and crossover. Madonna and Arianna Huffington have exceptional staying power, while Sarah Palin and Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg are early bloomers.

Redefining the idea of power as influence is a challenging feat, particularly hard in that we looked at the world in all of its complexities to find the women who wield their importance in four distilled spheres to create change. Add the pace of the year 2010--the speed at which we consume and communicate--and the task becomes even greater.
What we've found is that power, hard or dynamic, can be fleeting. One million or so Twitter followers today can be kissed goodbye as quickly as a company can go bankrupt or a government overthrown. And so we consider this list a frozen moment in time.

We invite you to visit forbes.com/woman where the list will live, breathe and be shaped and reshaped in months to come.

The Most Powerful Women In The World—click on each woman to view profile
1. Michelle Obama, First Lady, U.S.
2. Irene Rosenfeld, Chief Executive, Kraft Foods
3. Oprah Winfrey, Talk show host and media mogul
4. Angela Merkel, Chancellor, Germany
5. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State, U.S.
6. Indra Nooya, Chief Executive, Pepsico
7. Lady Gaga, Singer and performance artist
8. Gail Kelly, Chief Executive, Westpac
9. Beyoncé Knowles, Singer and fashion designer
10. Ellen DeGeneres, Talk show host
11. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, U.S.
12. Angela Braly, Chief Executive, Wellpoint
13. Janet Napolitano, Secretary, Homeland Security, U.S.
14. Cynthia Carroll, Chief Executive, Anglo American
15. Sheila Bair, Chair, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
16. Sarah Palin, Political maverick and commentator
17. Mary Schapiro, Chair, Securities and Exchange Commission
18. Ellen Kullman, Chief Executive, DuPont
19. Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court Justice, U.S.
20. Ursula Burns, Chief Executive, Xerox
21. Angelina Jolie, Actor and UN Goodwill Ambassador
22. Katie Couric, News anchor
23. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary, Health & Human Services
24. Anne Lauvergeon, Chief Executive, Areva
25. Elena Kagan, Supreme Court Justice, U.S.

Click Here To See The Next Most Powerful Woman In The World

Monday, October 4, 2010

Canada: 40% of First Marriages End in Divorce

4 in 10 1st marriages end in divorce: report

CBC News

Forty per cent of Canadian marriages end in divorce, says a new study from the Vanier Institute of the Family.

The traditional definition of family is changing in Canada, with 4 in 10 first marriages ending in divorce, according to a new study.

For the first time in Canadian history, there are more unmarried people than legally married people age 15 and over in this country, says the study from the Vanier Institute of the Family released Monday in Ottawa.

It was based on data from the 2006 census, and some of the information has been reported in the years since.

"Marriage is still a vitally important part of the experience of families in the fabric of our country and most young people do aspire to marriage," said Clarence Lochhead, executive director of the Vanier Institute, adding that even people who have divorced or separated will end up partnering up again.

"We just have to come to grips with the diversity that actually is within our experience. Then we need to find ways to address and take on the challenges that face families, but do it in an inclusive way that makes sense for the reality and not some ideal notion of what a family is or ought to be."

According to Statistics Canada, about 38 per cent of all marriages taking place in 2004 will have ended in divorce by 2035. The total divorce rate was down slightly from its peak of about 41 per cent in the mid 1980s, but slightly higher than the rate of about 37 per cent recorded in the mid 1990s.

Newfoundland and Labrador had the lowest rate of divorce at 21.6 per cent — while Quebec had the highest at 48.4 per cent.

Top 8 reasons people marry
1. Feeling that marriage signifies commitment
2. Moral values
3. Belief that children should have married parents
4. It is the natural thing to do
5. Financial security
6. Religious beliefs
7. Pressure from family
8. Pressure from friends

Top 5 reasons couples separate or divorce
1. Different values and interests
2. Abuse — physical and emotional
3. Alcohol and drugs
4. Infidelity
5. Career-related conflict
Source: Vanier Institute of the Family

The highest proportion of married people was in Newfoundland and Labrador where 54.3 per cent were married, while Quebec had the lowest proportion of married couples with only 37.5 per cent of adults falling in this category.

Newfoundland and Labrador also had the lowest rate of divorce, while Quebec had the highest.

Also for the first time in Canada, there were more couples without children than with children, and this was true throughout the country, with families with children representing a minority of families in all provinces and territories.

For married families with children, 18.6 per cent of children live with only one parent. Common-law families are growing faster than any other type of family with one in 10 Canadians living in such relationships and 14.6 per cent of children living with common-law parents.

The 2006 census was the first to report on same-sex marriages and 16.5 per cent of same-sex couples now marry.

The recent economic downturn has proven to be a stressor for families. The higher cost of living means most families now require two income earners to achieve an average standard of living.

More families are also struggling with debt and poverty. Men are also working longer hours and spending less time with their families.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2010/10/04/vanier-study004.html#ixzz11RwJBynn