Wednesday, July 29, 2015



Family Violence can be described as when physically or emotionally harmful act is performed between individuals in families or in intimate relationships. The term family violence covers a wide range of behaviours and includes domestic violence (sometimes referred to as spouse abuse), child abuse, and abuse of the elderly. Violence between adult partners can include threats and coercion, physical and sexual assault, and murder. Child abuse ranges from physical or sexual assault to neglect of a child’s basic needs. Violence toward the elderly may involve physical, psychological, or financial abuse or neglect.
The Image Works/Bob Daemmrich
Parent-Child Conflict
As young children develop their own sense of self, they increasingly come into conflict with their parents. The way parents handle these conflicts influences the quality of their relationship with their children.
Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopaedia 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation.
Experts agree that family violence is a widespread problem, but the actual extent is difficult to accurately measure. Most experts believe that the extent of violence is higher than research indicates. Data based on official reports, such as police or hospital records, tend to underestimate the extent of violence and abuse because much violence is never reported. Surveys of individuals, which generally produce higher estimates than official records, are also assumed to underestimate the extent of family violence. Understandably, many respondents may fail to report incidents of violence. Furthermore, definitions of what constitutes abuse may vary. Records indicate that the victims of most instances of family violence are women and children. However, some self-report surveys indicate that men are likely to experience violence from a partner.
In the United States, public awareness of family violence has dramatically increased since the 1970s, in part as a result of the women’s movement and of high-profile cases of child abuse and spouse abuse. However, the problem of family violence is not confined to the United States, nor is the problem greater in the United States than in other countries. Researchers have found comparable rates of violence toward women and of abuse and neglect of children in Canada, New Zealand and numerous other nations.

Domestic Violence or Spouse Abuse, physically or emotionally harmful acts between husbands and wives or between other individuals in intimate relationships. Domestic violence is sometimes referred to as intimate violence. It includes violence that occurs in dating and courtship relationships, between former spouses, and between gay and lesbian partners.
Photo Researchers, Inc./Mark C. Burnett
Victim of Domestic Violence
Violence between individuals in intimate relationships, commonly called domestic violence or spouse abuse, is widely recognized as an important social problem. Victims of such abuse suffer both short-term and long-lasting effects. This female victim suffered severe bruising on her head and face and required hospitalisation.
Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopaedia 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation.
Abuse between intimate partners can take many forms. It may include emotional or verbal abuse, denial of access to resources or money, restraint of normal activities or freedom (including isolation from friends and family), sexual coercion or assault, threats to kill or to harm, and physical intimidation or attacks. In extreme cases, domestic violence may result in the death of a partner.
Many experts and lay people use the terms domestic violence and spouse abuse interchangeably. However, some scholars and activists consider the term spouse abuse inappropriate. They assert that because the term is gender-neutral—that is, it can refer to abuse of either husband or wife—it gives the impression that men are as likely as women to be victims of abuse. Because police and hospital records indicate that the majority of victims of domestic violence are women, some experts use the term violence toward women to refer to domestic violence. These experts tend to view violence in intimate relationships as a problem of coercive control of women by their partners.

Experts agree that domestic violence is a widespread problem. However, its actual extent is difficult to measure. Researchers believe that the extent of violence between intimate partners is higher than reports indicate. Data based on official documents, such as police or hospital records, tend to underestimate the extent of violence because many instances of abuse are never reported. Surveys of individuals generally produce higher estimates of violence than official records, but they are also assumed to underestimate the actual extent of domestic violence. For a variety of reasons, respondents may fail to report violence that occurs with an intimate partner.
According to a study published in 1998 by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), women in the United States experienced about 840,000 non-lethal incidents of violence committed by an intimate partner in 1996. These incidents consisted of physical assault, robbery (theft that is accomplished by a threat of violence or actual violence), and rape or other sexual assault. The DOJ report indicated that intimate violence occurs almost equally among women of all races and is slightly more likely to occur among women with low incomes. The report showed that the most common victims of intimate violence are younger women, between the ages of 16 and 24. Experts widely disagree over the extent of male victimization. According to the Department of Justice, men in the United States were victims in about 150,000 incidents of intimate violence in 1996. The department’s data indicate that women are about six times as likely as men to experience victimization by an intimate partner. However, in a privately funded survey conducted in 1993, American men and women reported experiencing similar rates of intimate violence.
In some cases, domestic violence results in homicide. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), more than 500 men were killed by their wives and girlfriends in 1996, representing about 5 percent of all male homicide victims in the United States. That same year more than 1300 women in the United States were killed by their husbands or boyfriends—approximately 30 percent of all female homicide victims. Murder by intimates accounts for about 9 percent of all homicides in the United States each year. Two surveys of married couples in the United States conducted in the 1970s and 1980s found that some kind of violence between spouses had occurred during the previous year in 16 percent of the homes surveyed. In addition, 28 percent of couples surveyed reported marital violence at some point in their marriages. Researchers have found comparable rates of domestic violence in numerous other nations, including Canada and New Zealand.
Corbis/David H. Wells
Shelter for Victims of Domestic Violence
Victims of abuse may feel unable to leave their violent relationships due to economic constraints or fear of retaliation. Shelters for domestic violence victims and their children provide a safe refuge, as well as such resources as legal advice, counselling and child care.
Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopaedia 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation


No single factor explains why men and women assault and abuse their partners. The factors most closely related to spouse abuse are youth of both the offender and the victim (between 18 and 30 years old), low income, growing up in a violent family, alcohol or substance abuse, unemployment, sexual difficulties, and low job satisfaction. While no single personality factor causes domestic violence, offenders committing the most serious abuse tend to have antisocial personality disorders. People with such disorders have an impaired ability to feel guilt, remorse, or anxiety. See Personality Disorder: Antisocial Personality Disorder.
Social and cultural influences also contribute to spouse abuse. Because most victims of intimate violence are women, researchers who analyse social factors contributing to spouse abuse often focus on the role of women in society. In most societies, economic and social processes operate directly and indirectly to support a patriarchal (male-dominated) social order and family structure. Patriarchy is associated with the subordination (restriction to inferior status) and oppression of women. Some analysts believe that patriarchy accounts for the historical pattern of violence directed against women in intimate relationships. The violence is often institutionalised, or formalized in societal structures, for instance in traditional laws and customs that permit husbands to physically punish their wives. Also, analysts say, patriarchy contributes to lower economic status for women, which may make women dependent on men. This dependence may increase a woman’s likelihood of becoming involved in an abusive relationship or may limit a victim’s ability to leave such a relationship.

Victims of domestic violence experience both short-term and long-lasting effects. Physical injuries can range from bruises, cuts, and burns to broken bones, stab wounds, miscarriages (in women), and death. Also, victims experience depression and other psychological distress, eating disorders, and alcohol and substance abuse problems, and they are more likely than other people to contemplate or attempt suicide. Children who witness domestic violence experience depression and psychological distress and are more likely than other children to be physically violent.
Spouse abuse often involves repeated episodes of violence. In the past people sometimes blamed victims for failing to leave abusive relationships. However, considerable research indicates that most victims are not passive in response to abuse. Victims call the police, they go to social workers or mental health agencies, they flee to the homes of friends or parents, and they fight back physically. However, studies find that many factors—economic, interpersonal, cultural, and social—prevent victims from leaving violent relationships. Victims who seek help from community services often find that agencies are overwhelmed and limited in their resources. People who are dependent on their partners emotionally and economically learn to endure abuse and remain in unhealthy relationships; a process that has been labelled “learned hopefulness.” Learned hopefulness refers to an abuse victim’s belief that the abusive partner will change his or her behaviour or personality.
Most experts agree that economic and cultural factors play an especially powerful role in contributing to and perpetuating repeated abuse of women. Because women, as a group, tend to have less power in society, they are more likely to be victims and are less able to end abuse once it begins. Traditional beliefs, customs, and laws restrict the roles women may play and limit their economic opportunities, contributing to their dependence on men. Some scholars assert that the process of socialization teaches boys and girls a belief system that devalues women—especially unmarried women—and creates a sense of female responsibility for the maintenance of the family. Women who believe that the end of a relationship or of a marriage represents a personal failure are less likely to leave abusive relationships.

A variety of programs and services, for both victims and offenders, exist to treat and prevent domestic violence. Since 1964, more than 1800 shelters or refuges for battered women have been established in the United States. Initially designed to provide simply a safe place for victims (and often victims’ children), shelters now provide a wide range of programs. At shelters, victims of abuse receive legal assistance, counselling for themselves and their children, referral to other treatment programs (such as substance abuse rehabilitation), and additional treatment and advocacy services.
An increasingly common response to domestic violence has been the establishment of treatment programs for offenders. Courts often require offenders who are found guilty of physically or sexually assaulting their partners to attend these programs as a condition of their sentences. The length of programs varies, but many are short term—lasting from 6 to 32 weeks.
Although programmes for offenders vary in form and in underlying theory, most involve group therapy. Many are educational and offer a feminist perspective on domestic violence. Such programs seek to educate male offenders about the role of patriarchy and to demonstrate that men’s attitudes and behaviour about control and power lead to abuse of women. The programs also encourage men to examine their attitudes about what it means to be a man. Many treatment programs also emphasize anger management for offenders. Counsellors teach participants to recognize cues of anger and then use a technique, such as waiting a period of time to calm down before reacting, to control the anger and avoid violent behaviour.
The laws of all 50 U.S. states provide that domestic violence is a crime. These laws have made it easier for victims to obtain protective or restraining court orders that prohibit offenders from having contact with them. Also, laws in most states allow police officers to arrest people suspected of committing domestic violence without the victim filing charges. Before the 1980s arrests were uncommon, in part because many victims were unwilling to press charges and also because many law enforcement officials were reluctant to make arrests. Instead, officers typically attempted to calm the violent parties down or restore order. In response to criticism by feminist activists and as a result of research indicating that arrests seemed to reduce subsequent violence, many cities changed their intervention policies.
In 1994 Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act, which authorized more than $800 million in federal funds for state and local programs to combat domestic violence. This law makes it a federal crime for a person to travel from one state to another in order to violate a restraining order. It also prohibits an individual who is subject to a restraining order from possessing firearms. Although the title of the law refers to women victims, both male and female offenders are subject to its provisions.
The vast majority of programs that deal with intimate violence—such as shelters, police intervention programs, and treatment groups—are implemented after a severely abusive incident. A few programs and policies attempt to prevent intimate violence before it occurs. The most widespread prevention programs have been community and national public awareness campaigns that identify intimate violence as an important social problem.

For much of history and throughout the world, social and legal traditions have tolerated or even promoted the physical assault of women by men. In ancient Rome, a husband could legally divorce, physically punish or even kill his wife for behaviours that were permitted for men. Punishment of wives was called chastisement, a term that emphasised the corrective purpose of the action and minimised the violent nature of the behaviour. Under medieval English common law, a husband could not be prosecuted for raping his wife because the law provided that a wife could not refuse consent for sex to her husband. Because much of U.S. law was modelled on English common law, this definition of rape remained in effect in the United States until the 1970s, when many (but not all) states modified their rape statutes.
Although laws in the United States have always prohibited wife beating, these laws often were not enforced. Furthermore, laws prohibiting assault and battery set different standards for guilt if the victim was the wife of the assailant.
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Victims of Violence in the U.S.
According to U.S. government statistics, women are far more likely than men to experience violence from an intimate partner (current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend). Overall, men are more likely than women to experience violence; however, strangers or acquaintances rather than intimates typically victimize them.
Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopaedia 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. .
That is, to be found guilty of a crime for hitting his wife, a husband had to more severely strike and more seriously injure her than if he had hit a stranger. Courts treated victims of assault differently because the husband had a legal right to chastise his wife. The right to chastise wives was first overruled by courts in Alabama and Massachusetts in 1871.
Since the 19th century, women have acquired greater legal and political rights, such as the right to vote (see Woman Suffrage). As the status of women has improved, attitudes toward domestic violence have shifted and laws have been changed. The National Organization for Women (NOW) and other women’s rights organizations in the United States have sponsored campaigns to raise public awareness of intimate violence. Whereas 30 years ago spouse abuse occurred behind closed doors and was largely considered a private matter, today it is widely recognized as an important, dangerous, and harmful social problem.
Contributed By: Richard J. Gelles & Kenez J. Danmbaezue

Rape (law), is having sexual intercourse against a person’s will. Most experts believe the primary cause of rape is an aggressive desire to dominate the victim rather than an attempt to achieve sexual fulfilment. They consider rape an act of violence rather than principally a sexual encounter.

In the United States, rape is the most serious form of sexual assault punishable by law, but the definition of what constitutes rape varies from state to state. In all states, if a man forcibly subjects a woman who is not his wife to sexual intercourse against her will, he has committed the crime of rape. Recently, an increasing number of states have extended the definition of rape to include certain non-consensual incidents of intercourse—even if force was not involved—and the rape of one’s spouse. In other states, rape remains narrowly defined as forcible sexual intercourse, but separate statutes address other forms of sexual assault, including non-consensual (but unforced) sexual intercourse and unwanted sexual activity other than intercourse.

Many other countries also provide legal redress for women who are raped. However, some countries expect that women will be protected by sexual taboos (social prohibitions) rather than by criminal law. National military codes and international agreements such as the Geneva Convention (1949) prohibit rape by soldiers during times of war or civil conflict. However, in some instances military leaders have actually tolerated and even encouraged rape, either as a “reward” for soldiers or as part of a campaign of terror. Recently, human rights organizations have sought to protect women around the world from sexual violence and to hold those who victimize women, even during wartime, accountable.


Laws defining and setting punishments for rape have varied enormously among different cultures and during different times and varying periods. Throughout history, rape laws have illustrated a culture’s social and political attitudes about sex and gender.

A In Ancient Societies

In some ancient societies, men obtained wives through the practice of bride capture. In this custom, a man would kidnap a woman and force her to have sex, and then he would marry her. In these societies, what we would now call rape was socially acceptable, especially in times of war. In some cases bride capture was celebrated as heroic. For example, Romulus, the legendary founder of Rome, is credited with populating that city by capturing the women from a neighbouring group of people known as the Sabines.

Some ancient societies considered rape a punishable offence. However, many of these societies punished the woman raped, as well as the rapist. For instance, under the ancient Babylonian Code of Hammurabi, a married woman who was raped was considered to have committed adultery. The law required that the woman and her rapist be bound and thrown in a river. The woman’s husband had the option of rescuing her or allowing her to drown. Similarly, ancient Hebrew law required that a married woman be stoned to death if she was raped.

In some ancient societies, women were treated as a form of property and rape was defined as an offence against the property owner—the woman’s father or husband—not against the woman herself. For example, the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, which delineates ancient Hebrew law, provides that if an unmarried virgin is raped the offender must pay the woman’s father 50 shekels and marry the woman. This law reflects the belief that a rapist could atone for his crime by marrying his victim. Such laws indicate that the society did not view the injury done to the woman as the essence of the offence of rape.

B English Common Law

During the 12th and 13th centuries, an elaborate system of law based on judicial decisions, known as the common law, was developed in England. The common law made rape a crime and provided for punishment of the rapist (but not of the victim). Rape was defined as sexual penetration of a woman forcibly and against her will. However, because the common law treated wives as the property of their husbands, a woman’s husband could not be found guilty of raping her, regardless of whether he used force against her to obtain sex. As a result of the wedding contract, wives could not legally refuse to have sex. So, the law considered marital rape an impossibility.

In addition to creating complete immunity for husbands, English law also contained a number of legal and procedural requirements that made the prosecution of rape difficult. Under the utmost resistance doctrine, a man could be found guilty of rape only if his victim could demonstrate that she had physically attempted to fight off the rape but had been overpowered. A woman who was not physically bruised had little hope of proving a case of rape. If a woman did not promptly complain of a rape, under the fresh complaint rule her case could not be heard. The fresh complaint rule was based on the theory that a delayed report of rape was more likely to be fabricated.

Both the utmost resistance doctrine and the fresh complaint rule were based on assumptions that reflected the status of women in society. These doctrines were explicitly designed to protect men from false accusations of rape, indicating that English society placed more value on preventing false accusations than on protecting women from actual rapes. Legal decisions applying these doctrines assumed that women were likely to fabricate rape accusations, either because they were ashamed at having consented to sexual intercourse, because they had been rejected by their lover and wanted revenge, or because they had fantasized the rape.

Under English common law, certain rules of evidence also helped men defend themselves against charges of rape. Evidentiary rules governed what information was available to the jury during a trial, as well as the weight the jury should assign to the information. Special rules made it difficult to achieve convictions and made the trial an ordeal for the victim.

Under these rules, a woman who reported a rape could expect to be questioned in great detail about her sex life. For example, the victim could be extensively cross-examined by the accused rapist’s attorney to show that (1) she had consented to sexual intercourse with the defendant (accused rapist) on that or another occasion, (2) she had consented to sexual intercourse with another man or men, or (3) she did not have a good reputation for chastity.

Although it was difficult to obtain a conviction under the common law, the punishment for rape was severe when prosecution was successful. During most eras, English law treated rape as a capital offence—that is, a crime punishable by death. See Capital Punishment.

C In the United States

The English common law served as the model for criminal law in the United States, including rape laws. However, U.S. laws added to the protections against false accusations of rape. For example, many states instituted a special corroboration rule for rape prosecutions. This rule provided that in the absence of corroborating physical evidence (such as semen or bruises) or the testimony of a witness, a rape victim’s testimony was insufficient evidence on which to convict a defendant. As was the case with English law, this requirement assumed that the primary objective of the law was to protect men from false accusations rather than to protect women from rape.

C1 Changing Attitudes

As women gained greater legal protections under civil rights laws thus acquiring more political equality, traditional rape laws came under attack. Beginning in the 1960s, members of the women’s movement assailed many of the assumptions on which rape laws were based. For example, they criticized the fact that rape laws were preoccupied with protecting men from false accusations. According to these activists, the laws not only failed to adequately protect women, they often did women harm. Some research findings indicating that women who resisted rapists were more likely to incur serious physical injury, reformers called into question the appropriateness of the utmost resistance doctrine.

The identification of rape trauma syndrome also affected attitudes and laws concerning rape. Rape trauma syndrome, a form of post-traumatic stress disorder, is a psychological reaction to rape involving feelings of shock and shame. Victims who experience this syndrome are often reluctant to report a rape. Discovery of rape trauma syndrome undermined the fresh complaint rule, which was based on the assumption that delayed complaints of rape were less reliable.

Reformers also criticized the fairness of the special corroboration rule. They noted that the typical reaction of a victim experiencing rape trauma syndrome is to shower, to change and discard any damaged clothing, and to hide bruises. Consequently, many victims quickly destroy the physical evidence that a prosecution might later require under the corroboration rule.

C2 Legal Reforms

In the 1970s, most states began to change their laws concerning rape. Many states redefined rape and eliminated some of the common law doctrines and their biases against victims. Beginning with Massachusetts in 1968 and Tennessee in 1971, most states have ended the requirement—usually extremely difficult to meet—that a complainant, or alleged rape victim, produce corroborating evidence to the crime. Some states have passed laws enabling males to press charges of sexual assault.

Another important legal reform was the enactment of rape shield laws. Rape shield laws strictly limit the ways in which defence attorneys can question the complainant about her general sexual conduct. Proponents of shield laws argued that such questioning was used in trials, often unfairly, to insinuate that the accuser probably had consented to having sex. The shield laws emphasize the rights of the complainants rather than those of the accused rapists. Some critics argue that the new laws can more easily lead to the conviction of an innocent person.

Following the English model, some U.S. states punished rape as a capital offence. However, a 1977 decision of the Supreme Court of the United States ruled this practice unconstitutional. Today state statutes typically provide for a substantial number of years of imprisonment, including life imprisonment, for persons convicted of rape. In 1997 Montana adopted a law authorizing the death penalty as punishment for a second conviction of rape involving serious bodily injury. Whether this law is constitutional in light of the Supreme Court’s earlier decision has not yet been addressed.

D In Canada

Like the United States, Canada modelled its criminal law on English common law. Consequently, Canadian rape laws primarily attempted to protect men accused of rape. Prior to legal reforms in the 1980s, husbands were immune from prosecution for raping their wives. Canada also supplemented the English common law safeguards for men accused of rape. A fresh complaint rule was imposed, prosecutors were permitted to introduce evidence of the victim’s past sexual history to attack her credibility, and judges instructed juries about the dangers of convicting a suspect on the uncorroborated evidence of the complainant.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Canadian Parliament reformed these traditional rape laws and doctrines, adopting a new statutory scheme governing sexual assault. Under the current criminal code, both men and women may be found guilty of criminal sexual assault, and marital immunity has been repealed. Furthermore, lawmakers have eliminated many of the evidentiary rules intended to make rape prosecutions more difficult, including the fresh complaint rule and the requirement for corroboration.

E In Africa and Asia

No one talks much about rape and domestic violence because they are rare. The women are more traditionally oriented and therefore are submissive and respect the dominant position of their husbands. Often they choose to refer to their husband as ‘my lord’ or ‘ my master’ or ‘our father’ in the plural of their dialects! The latter ploy is often used to curry favour or simply to placate or appease angered husbands.

Since no wife ever thinks of refusing, her man’s sexual advances in a polygamous set-up, it is rare to conceptualise of deliberate rape cases in an average African home! It is an abomination in the community or the extended kinship system to hear of rape victims. Rather, what happens occasionally is that women quarrel among themselves regarding sex starvation or about one woman unduly monopolising ‘our husband!’

In Biafra and most West African nations, a man can be banished for life or ostracised by his clan for raping any woman, married or unmarried. There are heavy penalties for the latter case. This is even more heinous when it is found out that an unmarried adolescent is involved in such a rape case! He is forced to pay exorbitant dowry and marry his victim or be banished!


As attitudes about sexuality and gender equality continue to change, lawmakers and legal reformers struggle to redefine what behaviours constitute rape. Some argue that rape should be defined as any non-consensual sexual intercourse, without any special requirement to prove use of force. This proposal has been highly controversial. However, as a result of changing societal perceptions, laws now prohibit several different types of rape.

A: Forcible Rape

Sexual intercourse carried out against a person’s will by the use or threat of physical force is sometimes referred to as forcible rape. Historically, a person could only be charged with rape if force was used to subdue the victim. Most states retain use of force as part of their definition of rape or, at the least, of the most serious form of rape. However, some states have modified this traditional requirement. For example, in 1992 a New Jersey court found that the requirement of force was satisfied by the act of sexual penetration itself, without any additional force or threat of force.

In Canada, the federal Criminal Code prohibits various types of sexual assault. Sexual assaults with a weapon or that cause bodily harm to the victim are punished more severely. An aggravated sexual assault is the most serious form of rape in Canada. A person commits aggravated sexual assault if he or she wounds, maims, disfigures, or endangers the life of another person while sexually assaulting that person.

The Canadian code does not explicitly define sexual assault in terms of the types of sexual activity prohibited. However, for the purpose of determining whether a sexual assault has occurred, the statute defines consent as the “voluntary agreement of the complainant to engage in the sexual activity in question.” If the complainant is incapable of consenting to the activity or if the complainant expresses, by words or conduct, a lack of agreement to engage in the activity, a defendant may not successfully defend against charges of sexual assault on the grounds that the complainant consented.

B Acquaintance Rape

When a person rapes a person he or she knows, it is called either acquaintance rape or date rape. The two people may be friends, former lovers, or presently dating. Studies indicate that a woman is more likely to be raped by an acquaintance than by a stranger or a relative.

An acquaintance may commit forcible rape. However, the term acquaintance rape is usually applied when the sexual intercourse is non-consensual but does not involve the physical coercion typically associated with forcible rape, such as assault or threats of violence.

The issue of consent in circumstances of such rape cases has stirred considerable controversy. Determining whether an incident of sexual intercourse was consensual can be very difficult. A man charged with rape and a woman alleging that she has been raped might have very different perspectives about what happened, even if they are both sincerely trying to give a truthful account. Lawmakers and courts have struggled with the issue of whether to define consent from the victim’s point of view. To do so creates the risk of punishing a person (the accused rapist) who mistakenly thought another person was consenting to sexual relations.

As awareness of acquaintance rape has grown, the subject has become a frequent topic of discussion and political protest. Rape education advocates conduct seminars on communication differences between men and women regarding consent to sex. Some colleges have developed codes of conduct instructing young men to ask permission and await an answer before pursuing sexual intercourse.

C: Date Rape

Rape is not always a surprise attack by a stranger. In fact, that scenario is far less probable than assault by someone the victim already knows, according to studies. Date rape can involve grey zones in communication, according to experts who point out such factors as alcohol or even simple politeness can cloud a woman’s resistance. As one report noted, “…[some] of these men do not see themselves as … rapists; they are merely ‘out to have a good time.’" As reported in this Collier’s Year Book article, studies suggest that even legal action can backfire: Victims who decide to press charges may be subjected to sceptical scrutiny, humiliation, and even blame. Collier’s Associate Managing Editor Louise Bloomfield explored the complicated issue of date rape. 

D: Marital Rape

Rape of a person’s spouse is called marital rape or spousal rape. The English common law and traditional U.S. and Canadian law did not recognize rape within a marriage as a crime. As recently as the 1960s the American Law Institute recommended retaining the historical legal doctrine that a man cannot rape his wife. The organization based this recommendation on the theory that it was inappropriate for the law to invade marital privacy. However, as a result of changing attitudes about domestic violence, many states abandoned this doctrine and began to allow prosecutions for marital rape, especially if it is committed by force. In Canada, spouses may be convicted of criminal sexual assault.

This is not usually regarded as rape in Africa or Asia. A wife cannot refuse the legal husband is the norm! Who would listen to her? Not even her mother would!

E: Statutory Rape

Sexual intercourse with a person who has not reached the age of consent is known as statutory rape. The age of consent for sexual intercourse varies depending on state law, but is no higher than 18 in any state. Under most state laws, the younger the victim is, the greater the punishment. Statutory rape laws traditionally treated men or boys as the prospective offenders and young women or girls as prospective victims. However, some jurisdictions have enacted gender-neutral statutory rape laws. States also typically treat sexual intercourse as rape if the victim is considered incapable of giving consent for a reason other than age. For example, if a person has sexual intercourse with someone who is drugged or asleep, or who is mentally retarded, that person may be found guilty of rape.

In Canada, traditional statutory rape laws have been replaced with specific laws against a variety of sexual offences concerning children. For example, the Criminal Code provides that any person who, for sexual purposes, touches any part of the body of a person under the age of 14 is guilty of the offence of sexual interference. The charge cannot be defended by claiming consent by the minor or mistake concerning the age of the victim. However, if the accused person is between the ages of 12 and 16 and the victim is less than two years younger than the accused and consented to the activity, it is not considered a crime.

F Rape of Men

Traditional rape laws were gender specific, providing that only women could be victims of rape and only men could be rapists. In recent years an increasing number of states have rewritten their rape laws to be gender neutral. In these states it is possible, although unlikely, for a woman to be charged with raping a man. In Canada, statutes prohibiting sexual assault apply to both male and female perpetrators and victims.

Homosexual rape, when it is not covered by a state’s general rape statute, may be covered by statutes that prohibit anal or oral sex between members of the same sex, a type of sodomy. Although some statutes do not distinguish between forcible and consensual acts, forcible sodomy is generally subject to more severe punishments. Homosexual rape is a notorious problem in prisons. However, in society as a whole, rape of men—whether by women or other men—is not a highly visible issue.
This is absurd in concept and amusing in practice for the average African! How can a healthy man be raped? Homosexuals are still very rare!


Tony Stone Images/Billy E. Barnes
Counselling a Rape Victim
Many cities have free support services for victims of rape. Rape support workers typically provide psychological counselling and assist victims with medical and legal issues.
Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopaedia 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation.

Many cities have free support services for victims of rape. Rape support workers typically provide psychological counselling and assist victims with medical and legal issues.

Women who are raped suffer a sense of violation that goes beyond physical injury. They may become distrustful of men and experience feelings of shame, humiliation, and loss of privacy. Victims who suffer rape trauma syndrome experience physical symptoms such as headaches, sleep disturbances, and fatigue.

They may also develop psychological disturbances related to the circumstances of the rape, such as intense fears. Fear of being raped has social as well as personal consequences. For example, it may prevent women from socializing or travelling as they wish.

As attitudes about rape have changed, society’s response to rape has also altered. For example, many law enforcement agencies have instituted practices that show greater sensitivity to rape victims. Some cities have formed special units of trained policewomen and counsellors. Use of such specialists can help make it less difficult for a rape victim to report an attack.

In addition, rape crisis hot lines and clinics have been established to help victims negotiate the legal system and overcome the after-effects of being victimized.

Rape is not always a surprise attack by a stranger. In fact, that scenario is far less probable than assault by someone the victim already knows, according to studies. Date rape can involve grey zones in communication, according to experts who point out those factors such as alcohol or even politeness can cloud a woman’s resistance. As one report noted, “…[some] of these men do not see themselves as … rapists; they are merely ‘out to have a good time.’" As reported in this Collier’s Year Book article, studies suggest that even legal action can backfire: Victims who decide to press charges may be subjected to sceptical scrutiny, humiliation, and even blame. Collier’s Associate Managing Editor Louise Bloomfield explored the complicated issue of date rape.
By Louise Bloomfield
Of all women's fears, that of being raped is the darkest. Worried parents make veiled allusions to the threat of rape by cautioning their daughters, from early childhood on, never to talk to strange men. Yet in most cases the rapist is not a stranger. Up to four rapes out of five in the United States are committed by people who already know their victims. Rapists may be neighbours, co-workers, casual acquaintances, dating partners, former boyfriends—even husbands.
An Underreported Crime
A woman is raped every six minutes in the United States. Although that figure is disturbingly high, it actually tells only part of the story, since it takes into account only those rapes reported to the authorities. Most rapes—by strangers or acquaintances—go unreported. A 1988 survey by the U.S. Justice Department found that fewer than half the victims of attempted or completed rapes reported their attacks to the police. A 1990 study for the Senate Judiciary Committee found that only one rape victim in ten reported her assault. Many rape victims feel overwhelmed by fear of reprisal by the rapist, a sense of guilt or shame, fear of public exposure given the social stigma attached to having been raped, and they are unwilling to go through the further ordeal of a public trial.

These pressures against speaking out may weigh even more heavily in an acquaintance rape. Burdened by an additional popular misconception—that the rape victim must have been "asking for it" all along—some women feel so guilty that they may themselves begin to doubt whether a rape really occurred. It is widely acknowledged that the percentage of acquaintance rapes that go unreported is even higher than that for stranger rapes. Hence, the social myth that only strangers commit rape is allowed to persist.

Especially in acquaintance rape cases, the justice system is far from a sure recourse. Even if charges are filed and the state decides to prosecute, chances are relatively good that the rapist will escape conviction. As many as 80 percent of rapes are committed by acquaintances, but roughly 80 percent of convictions are for stranger rapes. There may be many reasons for this, according to Susan Estrich, a law professor at the University of Southern California and the author of Real Rape, a book about acquaintance rape. Juries have traditionally been reluctant to convict in cases where there is no evidence that physical force was used or where the victim exhibited "contributory behaviour”, such as drinking or being alone with the defendant in a car or bedroom. Most crucially, says Estrich, juries tend to take any evidence of a prior relationship—especially a sexual one—between defendant and complainant to mean that the latter consented to sex at the time and alleged rape only later. With this in mind, prosecutors are more hesitant to take acquaintance rapes to trial—which, in turn, further discourages victims from speaking out in the first place.
When a Date Goes Awry
"Date rape”, in which a date ends in forced sex, was making headlines across the United States even before William Kennedy Smith, a nephew of Senator Edward Kennedy, was tried in December 1991 on charges of sexual battery in connection with an alleged rape. The charges were filed in May based on a woman's statement to police that Smith had raped her on March 30 at the Kennedy’s' Palm Beach, Florida Estate, where the two had gone after meeting at a bar earlier that evening. Smith, whose defence was that the woman consented to sex at the time, was acquitted of all charges (after a sensational televised trial that drew massive media coverage); jurors deliberated only briefly and cited inconsistencies in the complainant's testimony. It was a textbook example of date rape as an issue, in all its ambiguity and complexity.

The past decade has seen an upsurge of reported date rapes on college campuses, from Ivy League schools to huge state universities. Increasingly, female students have alleged that they were raped by fellow students, with the attacks often taking place after parties at which large amounts of alcohol were consumed. At Brown University in Providence, R.I., female students went so far as to scrawl the names of their alleged rapists on the bathroom walls as a warning to other potential victims.

Members of male athletic teams and fraternities have been implicated in a high proportion of the campus rape reports. A 1984-1985 survey of undergraduates on 32 campuses, by University of Arizona psychologist Mary P. Koss, found a third of campus sexual assault cases involved athletes.
Drawing the Line
Date rape is sometimes a gray area—especially when both parties are young people who may be still in the process of defining their own values. It is vital that a woman is able to say a clear "yes" or "no" to sexual contact, but this is not always easy to achieve in a romantic encounter, where both people may be unsure of each other's and even their own expectations.

 Mystery and ambiguity are seen by many as essential elements of a successful romance, yet mixed signals run the risk of being interpreted as consent. A further problem is the perception on the part of some men that women feel obliged to resist sexual advances even when they really want sex. Peer pressure on men to "score" sexually adds an element of aggression to dating that may contribute to date rape, particularly, for men in groups such as athletic teams and fraternities.

It is not surprising that many reports of campus rape cite alcohol consumption by one or both parties as a factor. Drinking only compounds the difficulty in giving and receiving sexual signals—arguably, even to the point where a woman can be refusing sex while the man believes she is assenting. If the woman later charges rape, evidence that she has been drinking will undermine her credibility with police, prosecutors, and jury alike.

Campus date rape has become so controversial that it is hard even to agree on terms. Standard legal definitions of rape apply most readily to stranger rape, and the laws themselves vary greatly from state to state. Among students and campus sexual assault counsellors, there is a widespread feeling that the concept of rape as forced intercourse needs to be widened so that "intercourse" encompasses other forms of unwanted sexual activity and "force" is clearly understood to include threats and other forms of intimidation.

Some people claim that any undesired sexual overture, and even verbal harassment or innuendo, constitute rape. This highly politicised view sees rape as an extreme form of a generalized oppression of women by men. On the other side, arguments run from the biological—that men are programmed to be persistent and women to resist, at least at first—to the idea that an extremely broad definition of rape would minimize the impact of the most serious offences. Some feminists feel that greatly broadening the definition would actually undermine women by implying that they cannot take full responsibility for their behaviour, as though the law had to compensate for their vulnerability to manipulation.

While the political battles rage, students and the colleges themselves are taking practical action. Around the United States, students have organized their own rape forums and demonstrations, both as a warning to other students and to prod college administrations to tackle the issue publicly. Rape awareness seminars for men and women are increasingly showing up on orientation programs for new students, and many institutions now require attendance at them. The University of Rochester responded to reports of rapes by athletes by having athletic coaches participate in its rape awareness programmes.
Rape Laws: A Double Victimization?
Any woman who admits publicly to having been raped encounters a pervasive belief that she must somehow have brought it on herself, especially if an acquaintance was the assailant. Many people think that if a woman has been drinking or flirting, or was alone with a man in a room or car, she was "asking for it," probably wanted sex, but in any case deserved whatever she got.

The 1988 film ‘The Accused’, which won actress Jodie Foster an Oscar award for her portrayal of a hard-drinking, flirtatious victim of a gang rape, examined how this stereotype compounded the victim's ordeal as it followed her from the hospital examination to the courtroom. A dramatisation and discussion session on date rape at Tufts University brought another rebuttal of the myth: "Drinking," a participant pointed out, "is not a rapable offence."

Nevertheless, blaming the victim was enshrined in much of the traditional body of law covering rape. Even as recently as 1973, California's standard jury instructions for rape cases included the following quotation from the 18th-century English jurist Lord Hale: "Rape is an accusation easily to be made and hard to be proved, and harder to be defended by the party accused, though never so innocent." The jury instructions went on to require that the "female's" testimony be examined with caution. The Californian case was neither unique nor not typical! The admonition to distrust the complainant could be especially crucial in an acquaintance rape trial. Whereas stranger rape cases may raise questions of identification and use of physical force, acquaintance rape cases tend to centre on consent. With the jury already predisposed against the complainant, a defendant's claim that she consented initially and changed her mind later, or that she offered no resistance so he did not realize she was unwilling, would frequently suffice to secure an acquittal.
It can still be extremely difficult to get a conviction for acquaintance rape, and the complainants still risk being portrayed as vengeful or promiscuous liars. Ironically, evidence of physical injury may be required to counteract this claim—even though a common response of rape victims is to submit to the crime so as to avoid additional harm.
Changing Legal Perspectives
Thus, in practice, the accusation of rape is hardly "easily to be made." But recent laws passed in various states indicate that attitudes may be shifting in favour of rape victims. In the mid-1970s a Michigan law, which became a model for other states, expanded the definition of criminal sexual misconduct so as to make it more applicable to acquaintance rapes in which a woman is surprised by demands from a casual acquaintance or date, or where she is asleep or unconscious until it is too late to prevent intercourse. (Notwithstanding these changes, Michigan's conviction rate is still estimated to be substantially lower for acquaintance rape cases than for stranger rapes.) In Wisconsin having sex with someone who has not consented—even if the person remains silent or does not explicitly refuse sex—can be a criminal offence, allowing convictions in cases where the victim was unconscious or too drunk to knowingly consent. Rape victims—particularly those who had previous relationships with the offenders—have often been reluctant to file charges because of the fear of public exposure that a trial would bring. Whether voluntarily or to comply with the law in some states, most mainstream press organizations have respected victims' wishes for anonymity; but this is not always the case. Patricia Bowman, the Florida woman who brought charges against William Kennedy Smith, was named on NBC News throughout its trial coverage and by a few large newspapers before she voluntarily disclosed her identity in a taped television interview in the wake of Smith's acquittal.
Whether publicized or not, rape trials have tended to include microscopic examinations of the complainant's personal and sexual history, drinking habits, dress, and behaviour, to the point where many victims have felt that they themselves were on trial. This tactic has succeeded in biasing many juries against the prosecution. Here again, however, the laws are changing. All states have adopted so-called rape shield laws, protecting a complainant from questions about past sexual history. The laws vary, and many exempt evidence of past consenting sexual relations with the defendant; overall, however, they have strengthened most victims' right to privacy. (In Canada, by contrast, a rape shield law on the statute books since 1983 was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1991, on the grounds that it could deny defendants a fair trial.)

Many rape prosecutions have failed to prove their cases because the victims did not immediately file charges or report their assaults. Delayed reporting has been cited by defence lawyers to support a defendant's claim that the victim initially consented to sex and changed her mind later. In recent years, the high courts of several states have allowed the use of expert testimony on a pattern of victims' behaviour known as rape trauma syndrome, to inform jurors of other possible explanations behind a delay in reporting a rape.  Women suffering from rape trauma syndrome can appear unnaturally calm and controlled after their attack and may not immediately be positive that a rape has occurred. Rape trauma syndrome can contribute to a victim's refusing to name her rapist, especially if he is someone she knows.

There are signs that public sympathies are increasingly with the victims. Heightened public concern about rape in the United States and the increasing readiness of victims to speak out may affect legislation at the national level. A bill before Congress, the Violence Against Women Act, would make rape a gender-based bias crime that violates federal civil rights laws, allowing victims to bring civil suits for damages against their attackers. The bill would also fund campus rape education programmes and require colleges to disclose all sexual assault incidents on campus. Thrust into the spotlight on campuses, in court, and on national television, the personal trauma of acquaintance rape has assumed a place on the national agenda.

                                            Source: 1992 Collier’s Year Book.
Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopaedia 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation.

Contributed By: Susan N. Herman and Kenez Danmbaezue.

© 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.




Divorce, or dissolution, as it is increasingly becoming known, a legislatively created, judicially administered process that legally terminates a marriage no longer considered viable by one or both of the spouses and that permits both to remarry. Until the divorce reform movement of the 1970s began to have an impact, the legal doctrines governing divorce could be understood only by reviewing the long history of English divorce law, which was dominated by concepts of canon law.

Before 1857 in Britain, freedom to remarry could be obtained only by an act of Parliament following a separation decree given by an ecclesiastical court on the basis of some wrong (such as adultery or abandonment) done by the defendant to the plaintiff. This system, based on the premise that valid marriages may not be dissolved, reflected the Roman Catholic origins of English domestic-relations law.
The early American colonists brought this fault-based system with them to the New World. Because they feared the moral dangers posed by a married yet separated state, they made it possible to obtain an absolute divorce, but only on the traditional English grounds for separation. However, the conceptual and legal structure of the marriage-dissolution system remained as it had been created and maintained for a divorceless society.
Ecclesiastical courts were abolished in Britain in 1857, and absolute divorce was then instituted. Incorporated into the law of absolute divorce were the fault-based notions that had grown up around separation. These notions continued to affect British and American divorce law and administration for more than a century.

Because of the traditional fault-based view of divorce—that the “innocent and injured” spouse should be able to obtain relief (that is, a divorce) from the spouse who has done some wrong—almost every state divorce law has in the past required the plaintiff to prove one of a number of legislatively recognized grounds. Typical grounds have included adultery (almost universally); desertion; habitual drunkenness; conviction of a felony; impotence (carried over by many state legislatures from annulment law); and, most commonly used by divorcing parties, “cruel and inhuman treatment.” Because the state’s interest in maintaining stable marriages was assumed, divorce suits could not be treated like other litigation. One spouse, the plaintiff, had to prove grounds even when both spouses wanted the divorce. Thus, divorce trials were filled with charges and counter-charges and generally omitted investigation of the actual viability of the marriage.
Moreover, the divorce system required that the plaintiff be without fault; varieties of fault-based defences were therefore recognised. A plaintiff could be denied a divorce if guilty of
(1)                       Condonation—that is, forgiving the defendant of the behaviour that provided grounds for divorce;
(2)                       Recrimination—plaintiffs who had themselves given grounds for divorce were not entitled to the help of a court (the result of this doctrine was that if both parties wanted a divorce so badly that each provided grounds, neither could terminate the marriage);
(3)                       Connivance—if the defendant’s misbehaviour could in some fashion be laid at the door of the plaintiff, that party was not entitled to a divorce; and
(4)                       Collusion—a divorce could not be obtained by a plaintiff who had somehow conspired with the defendant to provide evidence of grounds for divorce.
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Divorce Rates in the United States
Divorce rates in the United States rose during and after World War II (1939-1945) and then briefly declined. After reaching a peak in the early 1980s, the rates again decreased.
Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopaedia 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation.
By the mid-20th century, most state legislatures had recognized one or more no-fault grounds for divorce, usually consisting of a substantial period (from one to five years) during which the spouses had lived “separate and apart”; sometimes insanity or incompatibility were acceptable grounds. Even these few no-fault legislative provisions, however, were interpreted narrowly by the courts; whenever possible, the fault-based notions of traditional doctrine were read into no-fault legislation.
The realities of divorce litigation in the U.S., however, were actually quite different from the legal requirements. Trial judges and lawyers, pressed by a society that in fact wanted free divorce and yet retained publicly the ideal of “until death do us part,” for many decades operated a legal system that permitted spouses to terminate their marriages without proving grounds if both parties wanted the divorce. This consensual-perjurious divorce was obtained by having the plaintiff in effect lie about grounds without objection from the defendant. As divorce became less stigmatising and as serial marriages became more common, the burden on lawyers and judges to maintain a fictional fault-based divorce system became even greater.
The grounds for divorce differed from one state to another; thus, for example, before 1967 the only ground for divorce in New York State was adultery. Moreover, judicial and public attitudes toward consensual-perjurious divorce varied from state to state. The difficulty of obtaining a divorce in several of the more populous eastern states, such as New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, eventually led to a substantial amount of “migratory divorce” in so-called divorce havens. For instance, a six-week gambling sojourn in Reno, Nevada, could culminate in a divorce and a return to the state of original domicile.
Before extensive legislative reform, some spouses living in states where divorce was difficult to obtain would travel to jurisdictions outside the continental United States (usually Mexico, Haiti, or the Dominican Republic) for a divorce decree that had none of the constitutional advantages, for purposes of local recognition, of a decree from another state. New York State courts were the only ones to extend formal recognition to Mexican divorce decrees, which were popular because they could be obtained after only one day’s residence in that country by either spouse. This formal acceptance by the courts of Mexican divorces was recognition of both the number of New York marriages dissolved in Mexico and the unlikelihood of a change in the state divorce laws by the legislature. The system of migratory divorces was considered by many as discriminatory against the poor, who could not afford to take up residence in another state or travel to a foreign country in order to get a divorce.

A divorce reform movement finally took place in the early 1970s in Britain and the United States. The movement was originally initiated by a group, assembled by the archbishop of Canterbury, who proposed a single, no-fault ground that required a judge to grant a divorce if he or she finds that the marriage is “irretrievably broken”. This proposal was accepted by a study commission in California and enacted by that state’s legislature. Subsequently, the notion of irretrievable breakdown was promulgated in the U.S. by the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act and appears to be gaining acceptance throughout the nation.
The phrasing of the no-fault principle has produced much controversy. Many critics, pointing out that irretrievable breakdown is a vague concept giving judges substantial discretion, have argued that enactment of this standard will perpetuate sluggish divorce administration by conservative courts, often at the expense of the poor and those spouses whose behaviour is not consistent with the values of the judiciary. Others have complained that this standard allows, “divorce by consent” and that formal recognition of such easy divorce will eventually undermine the stability of the nuclear family. More than a decade after reform began, most observers seem satisfied that these potential problems were overestimated. Although the rate of divorce has increased in states that have reformed their laws, there appears to be no basis for believing either that some segments of the population have been treated in a discriminatory manner or that the laws themselves have been responsible for increasing divorce. In the mid-1980s, approximately one in three marriages ended in divorce. A growing number of expert observers conclude that this high divorce rate is due to a number of social changes that are the cause rather than the consequence of divorce-law reform. Among these changes are greater societal acceptance of divorce; greater financial and emotional independence of women; and, paradoxically, a greater belief in the emotional value of marriage, which more readily disposes disappointed spouses to divorce to seek a happier subsequent marriage.
In a divorce action, one spouse, usually the wife, may be granted alimony or maintenance payments generally for a limited period. The custody of any children may be awarded to either spouse, with equitable regulations made for visiting rights and support of the children. At present, joint-custody arrangements are being worked out more and more frequently by divorcing parents.
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Divorce Rates in Various Countries
Rates of divorce vary throughout the world. This chart accounts only for formal divorces. Many couples may separate without legally obtaining a divorce.
Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopaedia 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation.

The status of divorce in other nations varies, often depending on prevailing religious beliefs. Among Roman Catholics throughout the world, the traditional attitude is that a true marriage (one entered into as a religious sacrament) is indissoluble by legal means. Notwithstanding this strict interdiction of divorce, many Roman Catholics procure divorces in the courts. The Roman Catholic church views such divorces as merely a form of legal separation, and remarriage is not permitted. In countries where Protestantism is dominant, the doctrine that marriage is indissoluble has been rejected. Philosophical theories and political theories generally maintain that marriage is pre-eminently a civil contract and that therefore it is subject to dissolution. Divorce on various grounds is recognized among Buddhists and Muslims as well. In Communist nations, which usually rejected formal religious doctrine, divorce was normally easy to obtain.                         
 Contributed By: Robert J. Levy.
Annulment of Marriage, in law, is the determination by a court that a supposed marriage was never legally valid. Annulment, also called nullity of marriage, is distinguished from divorce, which is the action of a court in terminating a valid marriage.
Marriages subject to annulment proceedings are classified as “void” or “voidable”. A void marriage is one that is deemed invalid in all respects. Examples of void marriages include those involving incest or bigamy. A faulty or voidable marriage occurs when some defect exists in the contractual agreement in which all marriages originate. Examples are marriages of the under-aged or the insane or a marriage procured by fraudulent means. Sexual impotency existing at the time of marriage also gives grounds for annulment. A voidable marriage may be annulled only in a lawsuit brought by the aggrieved party directly against the guilty party. In practice, voidable marriages are valid until annulled, and any children are legitimate.
Separation, in the law of domestic relations, is either a separation agreement, that is, a contract entered into between husband and wife by which they agree to live apart; or a judicial separation, a court decree that separates the parties to the marriage and provides for their living apart. Separation does not dissolve the marriage relationship. A separation agreement contains provisions for the custody and support of minor children, as well as for the division of property between the parties.
It is here, very crucial, to note that the Catholic Church does not permit divorce. Rather, if a case for separation is fully proven in a canonically constituted court, a temporary separation is allowed by the Local Ordinary. In such cases; threat to life and property or homicide is often established!
1992: Behavioural Sciences

Here we present topics that should interest the responsible parent about what to expect in the roles and duties of parenting. Studies published in the year 1992, examined the incidence of clinical depression shortly after divorce, the relationship between access to guns and risk of suicide, the acquisition of language in infants, some of the probable biological explanations for homosexuality, and the influences of genes and environment in alcoholism.
 If you are a concerned parent or parent-to-be, take particular notes of what researchers have found and work hard to eliminate the remote and immediate causes in your family relationships. You can equally sit sown with your spouse or spouse-to-be and examine, assess and evaluate your susceptibility to any or all the issues raised in the following pages that  I have deliberately picked out from my encyclopaedia on family affairs for your family health, success and happiness. Happy reading and critical analyses
Depression after Divorce
“In the fallout of divorce or separation from a spouse, both men and women are vulnerable to depression. However, men who have never before suffered major depression are at particular risk after a marriage ends”, epidemiologists Martha Bruce and Kathleen Kim at the Yale University School of Medicine reported.

Bruce and Kim analysed data collected on 695 women and 530 men in New Haven, Connecticut, as part of a national study on the prevalence of major psychiatric disorders. The research subjects had been interviewed three times, at six-month intervals, in 1980 and 1981. During the course of the study, 53 participants divorced or separated from their spouses. Of the women whose marriages broke up during the research period, about 21 percent reported an episode of major depression, as defined by standard psychiatric criteria.

This rate was three times higher than that for the happily married women interviewed and twice that for unhappily married women and previously divorced or separated women. The pattern for men was similar but more marked. Of the newly separated or divorced men, approximately 17 percent reported an episode of major depression — a rate nine times higher than that for their happily married counterparts and twice that for men in the other two groups.

The differences were more striking among those with no history of major depression. Among the men, 14 percent of those who separated from their partners during the study suffered their first bout of major depression, compared to 0.3 percent of those whose marriages were happy, 1 percent of unhappily married men, and 4.3 percent of previously divorced or separated men. The rate of first-onset depression in the four women's groups ranged from 3 to 5 percent.

Since such surveys have not been carried out in African countries, we may be in a position to counsel you adequately on the issues of comparative analyses on divorce rates and the subsequent clinical depression as it presents in the continent.

Gun Access and Suicide
More Americans use guns to commit suicide than all other methods combined. Nevertheless, the notion that limiting access to firearms could prevent suicides remains controversial. If guns were not readily available, critics say, suicidal people would simply work harder to acquire a gun or find other ways to kill themselves. A 1992 study, however, found that keeping firearms at home strongly increases the risk of suicide in the home.

Arthur Kellerman, a physician at the University of Tennessee in Memphis, led a research team that collected data on all suicides taking place over a recent 32-month period in two demographically distinct areas: Shelby County, Tennessee, which contains the city of Memphis, and King County, Wash., which surrounds Seattle. Of the 803 suicides during the study period, 70 percent took place in the victim's home, and 58 percent of these were committed with a firearm. Sixty-five percent of the suicide victims had kept one or more firearms in their home; in about half of these instances it was a handgun. In homes with firearms, a gun was the method chosen for suicide in 86 percent of cases, whereas only 6 percent of suicides were committed with a gun in homes where firearms were not usually kept.

As in most cases of suicide, the victims in this study were more likely than others of their age, sex, race, and socio-economic status to live alone, to take prescription medication for depression or mental illness, to have been arrested, to abuse drugs or alcohol, and to have not graduated from high school. However, when the results by researchers statistically proved that controls for these other risks were provided, the correlation between guns in the home and suicide was still statistically significant and the theory held.

The oldest method of suicide is still in vogue in the few reported cases of suicide on the African continent. Those are easily read in the newspapers are predominantly events that happen in urban areas.
To date, suicide is an abomination in the rural communities. No indigenes would touch his dangling corpse with a pole and the family members of the victim are permanently ostracised for life!
How Infants Learn Language
Human infants are born "universal linguists”, able to distinguish among all the sounds used in all the world's languages. But according to a new study, by the age of six months babies become specialists in the sounds of their native tongue. At the same time, they lose some of their ability to tell the difference between similar sounds in a foreign language.

Patricia Kuhl, a linguist at the University of Washington in Seattle, led a study of sound perception in six-month-olds, 32 in the United States, and 32 in Sweden. First the researchers trained the infants to turn their heads when they heard a change in a speech sound. The babies sat on a parent's lap while a vowel sound played over a loudspeaker. If the baby turned its head when the sound changed, it was rewarded by being shown a toy bear beat a drum.

Then the researchers tested the infants' abilities to perceive slight variations of a vowel — the ways it can sound as real people speak it — as the same sound. Half the babies in each country listened to the "ee" sound of American English, a sound not used in Swedish, and variations on it. The other babies listened to the Swedish "eu" vowel, which is not found in English, and variations on it.

American babies ignored the variations on "ee," perceiving them as the same sound, but tended to turn their heads when they heard alterations in the Swedish sound. Conversely, Swedish babies responded to changes in the American sound but not to changes in the Swedish sound. In other words, both American and Swedish babies were able to filter out meaningless differences in their native language but were less able to do so for a foreign language.

How do infants discern key sounds before they can understand their meaning? Kuhl's study does not answer this question, but she thinks that babies might pick up cues from the exaggerated intonation of "motherese," the singsong speech in which parents talk to their babies. The prolonged vowels and slow tempo of motherese may tutor infants on native-language speech sounds, says Kuhl.

Alcoholism runs in families. But the exact roles played by genes and by family environment are not clear. Two recent studies sought answers. Matt McGue at the University of Minnesota, Roy Pickens at the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, and Dace Svikis at Johns Hopkins University studied 356 clients of an alcohol abuse treatment program and their twins by means of mail questionnaires. Scientists study twins to estimate the influence of genes in a disease because identical twins are thought to share the same genes — if one identical twin has a disease caused entirely by genes, the other should have it too. Fraternal twins share only some of their genes; so they are less likely to both inherit a genetic disease.

McGue and his colleagues were attempting to determine whether sex and age of onset of alcohol problems moderate genetic and environmental influences on those problems. They found that both male identical twins were more likely to have alcohol, drug and behavioural problems than were both male fraternal twins, but only when the twin treated in the program had his first symptoms of alcoholism before the age of 20. Female identical twins of alcoholics were no more likely to abuse alcohol than female fraternal twins. Moreover, male twins of female alcoholics were more than twice as likely to abuse alcohol as female twins of male alcoholics. McGue's conclusions: Genes play a minimal role in alcoholism among women of all ages and among men who develop symptoms of alcoholism during adulthood; genetic influences are important only among men who develop problems with alcohol during adolescence.

The second study came to a very different conclusion, at least as regards women. A team led by Kenneth Kendler at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond used birth records to track down 1,030 pairs of female twins in Virginia. The twins were then interviewed by clinical social workers to find out if they had ever been dependent on alcohol. Analysis of the interviews showed that identical twins were significantly more likely than fraternal twins to have similar histories of alcoholism, suggesting a strong role for genetics. Most experts on alcoholism have assumed that environmental forces played a far more important role than genetic ones in causing alcoholism in women.
Biology and Homosexuality
Is homosexuality innate, or is it a choice influenced by individuals’ environments? A 1991 controversial study suggested that sexual orientation might be biologically predetermined: an area in the brain known to influence sexual behaviour was found to be smaller in homosexual men than in heterosexual men and about the same size as in heterosexual women. In 1992, brain anatomists Laura Allen and Roger Gorski, at the University of California in Los Angeles, reported another structural difference in the brains of homosexuals and heterosexuals. They examined, after autopsy, an area of the brain called the anterior commissure in 34 homosexual men, 84 heterosexual women, and 75 heterosexual men. They found that this cord of nerve fibres, which helps the two halves of the brain communicate, was 18 percent larger in homosexual men than in heterosexual women and 34 percent larger in homosexual men than in heterosexual men. The anterior commissure is not thought to play a direct part in sexual behaviour.
Some researchers said that linking the brain differences to sexual behaviour was questionable because both sexual behaviour and brain function are so complicated. In addition, the differences are based on averages. Among individuals, the sizes of the structures overlap: some of the heterosexual men in the study, for example, had anterior commissures larger than some of the homosexual men.

In a related finding, psychologist J. Michael Bailey at Northwester University and psychiatrist Richard Pillard at the Boston University School of Medicine claimed, based on studies of twins, that sexual orientation is determined in part by genes. They recruited 110 homosexual male volunteers who had twins. In about half of the sets of identical twins, both twins were homosexual. In a quarter of the fraternal sets, both twins were homosexual. A study of lesbians with twins yielded similar results. Sceptics contended that the way in which the research subjects were recruited and the phrasing of interview questions on sexual preferences could have tainted the studies' results.
You can appreciate why prelates of the Catholic Church permit separation when threat to life is fully established. See the Judge of the Marriage Tribunal in your Diocese for details. Or consult your Parish Priest!
- Downloaded and greatly improved upon by: Dr Kenez J. Danmbaezue.

This is our symbol of a happy family counsellor who injects health, success and happiness into all his/her clienteles!
q       So, what have you learnt from the excerpts?
q       Can you become a better parent from internalising some of the positive patterns you read?



The Human Brain
The central nervous system that comprises the brain; made up of the cerebrum, the hypothalamus, the pituitary and the cerebellum; and then its stem, which runs down the whole length of the vertebral column, control all activities in the human body. All romantic responses to the opposite sex begin and end in the brain. For details, you will have to see another book or refer to another chapter in the later part of this book. For now, let us see the diagrams that will impart more practical knowledge than studying the details and physiology of sexual intercourse. Take note of the small but mighty gland, called the pituitary! It is even properly encased by nature in a bony structure for security reasons!
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Pituitary Gland
Called the master gland, the pituitary secretes hormones that control the activity of other endocrine glands and regulate various biological processes. Its secretions include growth hormone (which stimulates cellular activity in bone, cartilage, and other structural tissue); thyroid stimulating hormone (which causes the thyroid to release metabolism-regulating hormones); anti-diuretic hormone (which causes the kidney to excrete less water in the urine); and prolactin (which stimulates milk production and breast development in females). The pituitary gland is influenced both neurally and hormonally by the hypothalamus.
            Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopaedia 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
Female Reproductive System

The bones of the human female pelvis form a bowl-shaped cavity that supports the weight of a developing foetus and encloses the organs of the female reproductive tract. Two ovaries, the female gonads, produce mature eggs. Leading away from the ovaries are the fallopian tubes, or oviducts, the site of fertilization. The uterus, a muscular organ with an expandable neck called the cervix, houses the developing foetus, which leaves the woman's body through the vagina, or birth canal.

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Female Reproductive System
The bones of the human female pelvis form a bowl-shaped cavity that supports the weight of a developing foetus and encloses the organs of the female reproductive tract. Two ovaries, the female gonads, produce mature eggs. Leading away from the ovaries are the fallopian tubes, or oviducts, the site of fertilization. The uterus, a muscular organ with an expandable neck called the cervix, houses the developing foetus, which leaves the woman's body through the vagina, or birth canal.
Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopaedia 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft  Corporation. All rights reserved

Male Reproductive System

The organs of the male reproductive system enable a man to have sexual intercourse and to fertilize female sex cells (eggs) with sperm. The gonads, called testicles, produce sperm. Sperm pass through a long duct called the vas deferens to the seminal vesicles, a pair of sacs that lies behind the bladder. These sacs produce seminal fluid, which mixes with sperm to produce semen. Semen leaves the seminal vesicles and travels through the prostate gland, which produces additional secretions that are added to semen. During male orgasm, all are ejaculated into the vagina by the penis!
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Male Reproductive System
The organs of the male reproductive system enable a man to have sexual intercourse and to fertilize female sex cells (eggs) with sperm. The gonads, called testicles, produce sperm. Sperm pass through a long duct called the vas deferens to the seminal vesicles, a pair of sacs that lies behind the bladder. These sacs produce seminal fluid, which mixes with sperm to produce semen. Semen leaves the seminal vesicles and travels through the prostate gland, which produces additional secretions that are added to semen. During male orgasm, the penis ejaculates semen.
 Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopaedia 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved



The union of male sperm and the female ovum accomplishes reproduction. This is where sexual behaviour involves all the three components of thoughts, words and actions by the lover and the loved to permit physical sexual intercourse. The correct stimuli and responses ensures that the penis penetrates the vagina and to deliver the spermatozoa necessary for fertilization to occur.

In the female, it is the pituitary gland and its secretion of the appropriate hormones that initiates the growth and enlargement of the breasts. The same master gland ensures the widening of the pelvic girdle in the young girl, the production of eggs at the ovary and finally the monthly menstrual cycle that prepares a viable egg for fertilization. In the male, the same pituitary initiates sexual behaviour like chasing a mature female, wooing and courting her, erection of the penis, the physical intercourse and finally, the ejaculation of sperms at the right place and at the right time, which invariably is during orgasm!

In coitus, the male organ ejaculates more than 250 million sperm into the vagina, from which some make their way to the uterus. Ovulation, the release of an egg into the uterus of a healthy woman, occurs approximately every 28 days. During the same period, the uterus is prepared for the implantation of a fertilized ovum by the action of estrogens. If a male cell fails to unite with a female cell, other hormones cause the uterine wall to slough off during menstruation.

From puberty to menopause in the life cycle of every woman of child-bearing age, the process of ovulation, the preparation of the uterine wall to receive the implantation of a fertilised egg and the subsequent menstruation if such fails to occur, is repeated monthly except for periods of pregnancy. The duration of pregnancy is about 280 days. After childbirth, prolactin, a hormone secreted by the pituitary activates the production of milk. You can now appreciate why I warned you to take particular note of the little but mighty gland! Without it, you may not have been born at all. Without it, no young girl or woman will ever want to have sexual intercourse again after experiencing the pains of pregnancy, labour and childbirth!


Abstinence is the avoidance of any sexual activity involving contact between the penis and the vagina that could cause pregnancy. This includes coitus (physical intercourse described above) and other romantic sexual activities in which semen may encounter the vulva, (another name for the external female genitals) or penetrating the vagina. Abstinence is the only known, foolproof, complete and effective method of preventing pregnancy as well as STDs. It poses no health risks as well. It is tall order but is the only certified insurance!


Withdrawal (interruption of normal sexual act) is the deliberate removal of the penis from the vagina before ejaculation so that sperm is not deposited in or near the vagina. This method of contraception is not recommended, because drops of fluid secreted by the penis when it first becomes erect can contain enough sperm to cause pregnancy. In addition, a man may not withdraw in time. The penis should not be reinserted into the vagina after ejaculation because sperm may remain in the urethra. In typical use, withdrawal is effective in preventing pregnancy 76 percent of the time. Definitely, it does not protect against STDs.


Natural family planning, also called fertility awareness or the rhythm method, relies on abstinence from sexual intercourse during the most fertile phase of a woman’s menstrual cycle. This period ranges from five days before ovulation to two days after ovulation.

One technique for determining fertility is the basal body temperature method, in which a woman takes her temperature at the same time each morning before getting out of bed. In most women, body temperature rises about one degree on the day of ovulation and stays raised for several days.

The cervical mucus method of determining fertility requires a woman to monitor the consistency of her cervical mucus. Mucus that is clear, wet, and sticky or elastic indicates fertility. In typical use, natural family planning methods are generally about 81 percent effective in preventing pregnancy. Effectiveness varies depending on the specific method used.

These methods are generally accepted by religions that ban contraceptives. These techniques cause no side effects, require minimal equipment, and are inexpensive. Natural family planning requires a high level of commitment to consistently and accurately monitoring monthly cycle of the fertility of a childbearing woman. Some couples find abstinence from sexual intercourse during the fertile period inconvenient. In addition, natural family planning does not provide protection against STDs.

In the Catholic Church, only Billings Natural Ovulation Method is permitted as all the other options are canonically prohibited. The reason is simple and logical! Since a fertilised ovum is a creature of the Almighty. No one who cannot create has the right to destroy what God has allowed to live. Therefore, the objective of Natural Planning is the prevention of fertilisation rather the termination the process of gestation or pregnancy.

Contributed by: J. Kenez Danmbaezue & Christopher A. Ezike
With the aid of research articles downloaded from the Internet and the 2004 edition of Encarta Encyclopaedia, © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


The human factories where the germ cells responsible for procreative activity are the testis in the male and the ovary in the female. They vary in all species of animals and plants, but essentially, they perform similar functions. Whereas the testis produces the spermatozoa (singular is ‘spermatozoon’) in the human being, the ovary produce the ova (singular is ‘ovum’). There are in duplicates like other organs in our body. However, the quantity of sperms produced in both testis are uncountable, the ovaries alternate monthly in the production of a single ovum during an individual woman’s peculiar menstrual cycle. This later phenomenon varies from mother to child to siblings There are seven variations in the number of days in the various cycles nature bestows on women. Find them!

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Structure of Human Gonads
Gonads—in the male, the testes (singular, testis), and in the female, the ovaries—are the organs that produce gametes and sex hormones. The male gamete is the spermatozoon, produced by cell division in the seminiferous tubules of the adult testes. Typically, several hundred million sperm reach maturity in the epididymis and are stored in the vas deferens each day. Whatever is not released in ejaculation is reabsorbed, part of a continuous cycle. In the female, the ovaries produce eggs, or ova. At birth, about 2 million oocytes, or immature eggs, are present in the ovaries. Once the female reaches puberty, one egg matures approximately every 28 days inside a saclike Graafian follicle. Ovulation occurs when the mature egg bursts from the follicle and the ovary, beginning its journey down the fallopian tube toward the uterus.
Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopaedia 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.



The microscopic sperms, the life bearing germ cells that fertilise the ova are produced in the round organs hanging down the pelvic girdle in every male. Nature is gratuitous with the abundance of sperms ejaculated in only one sexual act. They are in excess of seven million in every healthy man the spermatozoa need to be viable, virile and fertile! We shall explain the three adjectives when we deal with infertility, impotence and sex therapy. For now, just take note of the terminologies: vas deferens, epididymis, seminiferous tubules, testicles and then the anatomy of this essential organ that is fully responsible for every successful pregnancy, gestation, and child birth.



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Internal View of Male Reproductive System
The reproductive anatomy of the male human is largely external. Beginning at puberty, sperm are produced within seminiferous tubules of the testicles, a pair of glands that reside in a pouch called the scrotum. The external location of the scrotum keeps the temperature of sperm slightly below body temperature, which is necessary for their healthy development and survival. From each testicle, sperm migrate to a long, coiled tube known as the epididymis, where they are stored for one to three weeks until they mature. Also located outside the body is the penis, the erectile organ responsible for the excretion of urine and the transfer of sperm to the vagina of the female. Just before ejaculation during sexual arousal, mature sperm travel from the epididymis, a coiled tube behind each testicle, through a long duct called the vas deferens. Sperm leave the body in semen, a fluid produced by the seminal vesicles.

Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopaedia 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


As we have discussed earlier, the fusion of a sperm and an ovum initiates pregnancy and gestation in viviparous reproduction in the human species. These are the various stages in diagrams we downloaded from our reference encyclopaedia for you.

Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopaedia 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

© Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
Human Female Breast
Breasts, also known as mammary glands, are anatomical features that characterize members of the class of vertebrates known as mammals. In the center of the human female breast is the protruding nipple, which is surrounded by a pigmented circular area called the areola. Small glands in and around the nipple provide lubrication and protection against infection, which is particularly important for breast-feeding mothers. Produced by the lobules in the interior of the breast, milk is carried to the nipple by a collection of tubes known as ducts.
Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopedia 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

This diagram presents a statistical average, i.e. it depicts only the average for all women and is drawn based on the 28-day cycle. Therefore, for any particular woman adaptations must be made to reflect the differences imposed by long and short cycles in menstruation. A rule of the thumb in gynaecology states that one needs to subtract 14 days from the end of a cycle to get the approximate date of ovulation. For a 21-day cycle therefore, ovulation may occurs while the woman is still menstruating! This is why young women on this shortest cycle often carry a pregnancy for three or more months before realising their condition! A woman on a 26-day cycle will expect her ovulation on the 12th day, whereas a 30-day and a 32-day woman will have theirs on the 16th and 18th respectively. These are the common one sin the tropics. Longer periods of 36, 48 and even 3 calendar months are found in the temperate and artic regions. So, one really has to master these ovulations variations before pre-selection of baby’s sex is made!  

……………………………………..…..Dr J. K. Danmbaezue (2001)

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An average menstrual cycle begins with three to five days of menstruation, the shedding of the uterine lining, during which hormone levels are low. At the end of menstruation, a pituitary hormone stimulates new follicles to develop in the ovary. These secrete estrogen as they mature, causing cells in the lining of the uterus to proliferate. Mid-cycle, one mature follicle releases an egg. The empty follicle forms the corpus luteum, an endocrine body that secretes progesterone. Under the added influence of progesterone, the uterine lining thickens further and swells in preparation for the implantation of a fertilized egg. If fertilization does not take place, the corpus luteum dies and hormone levels fall. Without hormonal support, the uterine lining disintegrates and discharges, beginning a new menstrual period and cycle.
Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopaedia 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

The typical human pregnancy lasts about 280 days (about 40 weeks) and is divided into trimesters, each lasting about 3 months. During pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes a variety of changes to prepare for the growth, nourishment, and birth of a child. The health of the developing foetus is closely tied to that of the mother. A pregnant woman who consumes tobacco, alcohol, or certain drugs increases the risk that her baby will be born prematurely or with birth defects. They must avoid these!

Although this diagram may look elongated and out of proportion, take note of the exact position of the developing foetus in the pelvic region of a pregnant mother. Note that the picture at the top left hand corner above represents the actual size of the growing baby. The later diagram is the same picture now magnified 100 times to allow you appreciate the details of the development of the new individual in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Nature is wonderful! What your are looking at now is exactly how all humans begin life, from the most intelligent down to the moron, from the royalty down to the serfdom, that is how you were at the first three months in your mother’s womb. It is the combination of the three stages of pregnancy that is called GESTATION. We shall look at the other two presently!

Labour in a Full-Term Pregnancy and Safe Delivery
This is the final stage of the reproductive process in all animals, and it is similar in all mammals that bear their young alive. That is what the term ‘viviparous” refers to. There are six stages in a full term labour. This is what a girl a mother / a woman!


The nuclear family, two adults and their offspring, is the basic unit of social organisation. Parenting is “possessing the correct competencies; the skills and the responsibilities of nurturing and teaching one’s children to grow up into creative, productive and useful citizens.” In this photograph, a couple and their children enjoy time outdoors. Note that this is a rare example of an inter-racial marriage.

The problem of unwed mothers—especially very young ones and those who are unable to support themselves—and their children is an international one, as improved methods of birth control and legalized abortion have slowed the trend of population growth. Divorce is increasing even where religious and legal impediments to it are strongest. Smaller families and a lengthened post-parental stage are found in most industrial societies. 
Unchecked population growth in developing nations threatens the family system. The number of surviving children in a family has rapidly increased as infectious diseases, famine, and other causes of child mortality have been reduced. Because families often cannot support so many children, the reduction in infant mortality has posed a challenge to the nuclear family and to the resources of developing nations.

Dr J. K. Danmbaezue, D. Sc. (Psychometrics)

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