German Government Funds Men’s Conference

As the charity that is only able to host the UK’s National Conference For Men and Boys in the UK thanks the huge generosity of volunteers organize the event; the speakers and facilitators who give their time for free an the delegates who travel from all over the country (many at their own expense; we were both delighted (and a bit jealous) to hear that the German government is hosting a men’s conference!

It would be ungracious not to mention that our own city council in Brighton & Hove has helped  us by part-funding this year’s national conference and who knows how soon it will be before the UK Government takes after its colleagues in Germany and funds a national conference for men and boys in the future.

The key in Germany seems – in part at least –  to be the forthright support of Kristina Schröder, the country’s 32 year old Family Minister  who has publicly challenged German feminists in her book “Danke, emanzipiert sind wir selber!” or “We’re emancipated on our own, thank you very much.” In it she writes: “Never were women in Germany as free as they are today, but in the ideological trenches of the 1970s sit all manner of dogmatists who publicly pass judgment on the results of this freedom.” One chapter is called: “The world has changed — the feminist worldview has not.”

In an open letter published in the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in the spring of 2011. “We have become so used the monopolistic claims of women’s rights activists on issues relating to gender equality that the idea of including boys and men to a greater degree in the debate has, in the best case, been ignored and in the worst case been branded as a betrayal of the goals pursued by the women’s rights movement.”

As Family Minister Schröder’s has pledged to focus more attention on issues affecting men and boys and started by establishing a German Boys’ Day last spring.

Against this backdrop  Schröder opened a two-day conference today focusing on issues specific to men as society strives to achieve gender equality. Called “Men’s Policies: Contributions to a Gender Equitable Society,” the gathering is the first such high-level conference ever held on men’s issues in the German-speaking world.

From the perspective of The Men’s Network, our approach has always been to make the case for tackling the inequalities that men face in addition to – rather than in opposition to tackling the inequalities that women face and it’s interesting to see the approach taken in different countries to working on behalf of men and boys.

According to a report on the German men’s conference at Spiegel Online, some of the key men’s issues identified include support for fathers, boy’s educational underachievement and men’s short life expectancy.

We’re glad to say that – even though not Government funded – the UK’s Second National Conference for Men and Boys addresses a much broader range of men’s issues including male suicide, the isolation of older; men as victims of violence; mentoring and rites of passage;  working with gay, bisexual and transgender men an much, much more.

What’s also interesting about this development in Germany is learning about some of the men’s groups and campaigners working across Europe. According to Spiegel Online there’s:

  • The Austrian Labor Ministry which has created a ministry devoted specifically to the subject. In 2004, the ministry held the first ever European fatherhood conference.
  • There’s Thomas Gesterkamp, the author of several books on men’s issues, including “The New Fathers between Child and Career.
  • There’s Markus Theunert, president of maenner.ch, an organization that unites all men’s and father’s groups in Switzerland
  • Andreas Goosses, spokesman of Forum Männer, a Germany-wide group which focuses on men’s issues

As we build our global links through International Men’s Day and other activities, we look forward to learning more about how different nations are approaching the challenging issues of working for men and boys.

Thanks to Tony Stott of Healing Men for bringing this to our attention via Michael Buchanan.

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Looking Ahead To The First Big Man Gathering

Some of the UK’s leading men’s groups and rites of passage practitioners are coming together next month to create an experiential day of workshops, sharing and connecting for men who want to explore their inner worlds.

If you want to be part of this read our post Are You Coming To The Big Man Gathering to find out what’s happening and how to book your ticket online and come along.

The very act of making the gathering happen has been a great privilege and adventure as it has enabled some great men and men’s groups to start to work together for the first time and create something bigger than ourselves.

And it has started to open up new relationships and connections with other men and men’s groups around the UK which reflects our intention that this event should be the beginning of something bigger than any of us can imagine.

And the bigger idea is that there are men and communities of men all over the country (and world) who are on a path of self discovery and growth and we imagine it would be amazing to connect us all and discover what we can learn from each others journeys.

At the heart of this idea is not to find the ‘right’ way or ‘best’ way for men to grow and develop but simply to be able to spend time with other men who are on their way, whatever way that is – and by doing that not only can we deepen and enrich our own personal journeys but also help others on their journeys too – whether they are just taking their first tentative steps whether their seasoned travellers on the road of self discovery.

The men who have been involved this year have come from a range of different groups including The Men’s Network, abandofbrothers, Journeyman UK, The ManKind Project, MensCraft and the Brahma Kumaris men’s group and Men Beyond 50.

And there are other groups and individuals we have begun to connect with too who we hope will become more involved in future gatherings such as Men As Learners and Elders and Noble Man, the team behind the International Symposium for Men 2013 and men working with the Three Principles.

If you want to come and take part in this first Big Man Gathering or want to connect to this evolving conversation do please feel free to drop me a line on glen@themensnetwork.org.uk

To book your place at the Big Man Gathering get more details on the Gathering here.

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Men’s Rights Leaders Gather For UK Summit

Some of the UK’s leading voices on men’s rights and men’s equality are gathering in Brighton & Hove on the eve of the Second National Conference for Men and Boys – and you can join them.

You may want to come along to this event on Thursday 1st November if you’re concerned about issues like

  • Equal rights for dads
  • Support for male victims of domestic violence
  • Equal pension rights for men
  • Tackling misandry and sexism against men
  • Tackling negative stereotypes of men
  • Protecting men against false allegations
  • Improving boys education
  • Tackling fatherlessness

The event is a great opportunity for like-minded people to get together to network and debate and contribute to an open discussion on the theme Putting Men’s Issues On The Political Agenda.

Speakers on the evening will include:

James Williams, an online radio presenter who champions men’s issues through his regular Men’s Matters programme on Express FM.

John Mays of Parity, the UK’s longest-running men’s equality campaign who have successfully fought the British Government over the issue of pensioner inequality that denied  men aged 60 – 65 hundreds of millions of pounds in state support that was given to women of the same age through prescription charges, winter fuel payments, bus travel concession an widower’s benefits. There current areas of focus include domestic violence, the education of boys and the unequal funding of men and women’s projects by the public sector.

Matt O Connor, founder of the headline grabbing Fathers 4 Justice campaign who is working on a new project to launch a political party called ‘Tomorrow’ that he says will advance cogent economic and social arguments that support the role of fathers in families and society, free from the institutional prejudices of the past.

David Smith of the charities NORM UK and Genital Autonomy campaigns for boys to have equal protection against medically unnecessary genital cutting and mutilation. David connects with other campaigns like Men Do Complain and the campaign to End Unnecessary Male Circumcision to work towards giving boys and girls equal protection in law.

Swayne O Pie author of Why Britain Hates Men who says he worked enthusiastically for ‘Equality Feminism’ in the 1970s and still passionately believes in the principles of equal rights, equal opportunities, equal respect, equal treatment and equal choices for women and is now a fierce critic of ‘modern feminism’.

Also present will be representatives from UK charities running social projects that seek to address some of the issues highlighted by men’s rights campaigner such as male victims of domestic violence, the high rate of male suicide and fathers denied contact with their children.

They will include Mark Brooks of The ManKind Initiative, Glen Poole of The Men’s Network and Simon Howes of CALM UK amongst others.

To book your ticket now and come and take part in this unique event see this link: Conference Fringe Event – Men’s Rights Networking Event and Discussion.

The event takes place on Thursday 1st November from 7pm to 9pm at The Brighthelm Centre, North Road, Brighton & Hove, BN1 1YD and tickets are £5 in advance and £10 on the door.

Posted in NEWS

Five Myths About The Sentencing Of Female Offenders

Female offenders in the UK are not being discriminated against on the grounds of their gender according to the backbench MP Philip Davies who has outlined, in detail, what he calls five myths about the sentencing of female offenders.

The following article is an abridged version of the speech by Mr Davies and not written by The Men’s Network. For background on this story read the news item  Men Face Sex Discrimination In UK Justice System says MP.

Five Myths About The Sentencing Of Female Offenders

“There is an old political maxim that if someone tells a lie often enough, people will believe that it is true. I can only conclude that has happened in this case. I heard the lie that women are more likely to be sent to prison than men and that they are treated much more harshly by the courts, and I was taken in by it.

“I presumed it was true, because I had heard it so often, and I thought it was an absolute outrage. I was so outraged by the inequality in sentencing that I decided to do some research into it. As many people know, I spend a lot of time researching matters to do with prisons, sentencing and justice, and I wanted to get to the bottom of why women were being treated so badly.

“Imagine my surprise when, having looked at all the evidence, I found it was not the case that women are treated more harshly by the courts. The unequivocal evidence is that the courts treat women far more favourably than men when it comes to sentencing. I want to expose five myths today……….”

The first myth is simple: women are very likely to be sent to prison and are more likely than men to be given a custodial sentence. That is simply untrue.

  • A higher proportion of men are given a sentence of immediate custody than women, irrespective of age of offender (juveniles, young adults or adult) and type of court (magistrates or Crown)
  • In 2009 58% of male offenders who entered a guilty plea for an indictable offence were given an immediate custodial sentence compared to only 34% of women
  • For every type of offence group a higher proportion of males pleading guilty were sentenced to immediate custody than females
  • A greater percentage of males were sentenced to immediate custody than females (29% compared with 17%), which has been the case in each year since 2005
  • Women shoplifters are less likely than comparable males to receive a prison sentence
  • Among repeat offenders women are less likely to receive a custodial sentence
  • Women first-time offenders are significantly less likely than equivalent men to receive a prison sentence for a drug offence
  • In 2009, a lower proportion of women who had a pre-sentence report that recommended immediate custody went on to receive this sentence than men (83% compared with 90% for males)
  • For all other sentence options recommended in pre-sentence reports (Suspended Sentence Order, all community sentences or fines), a higher proportion of males received custodial sentences than females.
  • For offenders where probation officers have recommended custodial sentences,  a higher proportion of men are given a sentence
  • In 2009, women given an immediate custodial sentence for indictable offences received shorter average sentence lengths than men (11 months compared to 17 months for males)
  • The average male prison sentence is over 50% more than the average female prison sentence
  • On average, males served a greater proportion of their sentence in custody – 53 per cent compared to 48 per cent for females in the quarter ending December 2011
  • Women have 50% more chance than men of being released from prison early on home detention curfew

The second myth is that most women are in prison for petty or non-violent offences in fact 22% of female prisoners are in custody for up to 12 months, which covers all cases heard in magistrates courts and some cases heard in Crown courts. All other female offenders are serving sentences of more than one year, which means their offences were so serious that they had to be dealt with by a Crown court. 78% of the total female prison population, are not serving short sentences for not-so-serious offences, as people would have us believe, but are serving much longer sentences for the most serious crimes.

  • Just under 16% of female prisoners are serving sentences of less than six months
  • A further 6% are in prison for up to one year
  • 34% are serving between one and four years
  • 28% serving sentences of four years to life
  • 11% serving indeterminate sentences
  • 5% of offenders are in prison because after previously being released, they have either reoffended or breached their licence conditions

The third myth is that women are often remanded in custody but then are not sentenced to custody.

  • In 2009 80% of females were bailed, compared with 62% of males
  • 20% of women were remanded in custody compared with 38% of males
  • Of those remanded in custody, 66% of females were then sentenced to immediate custody in comparison with 75% of males

When people complain about women being more likely to be remanded in custody and then not sent to prison, it is solely due to women being treated more favourably when they are sentenced. It is not that they are more harshly treated when the decision is made to remand them in custody or give them bail.

The fourth myth is that prison separates mothers from their children:

  • It is said that 17,000 children are separated from their mothers
  • Two thirds were not living with mother at time of separation
  • An estimated 180,000 children are separated from their fathers

My understanding is that a senior civil servant at the Ministry of Justice has helpfully confirmed recently that two thirds of the mothers sent to prison who have children were not looking after them at the time. She apparently said of the women being sent to prison:

“Two-thirds of them didn’t have their kids living with them when they went to prison.”

If we are so concerned about the children of women offenders, what about the estimated 180,000 children who are separated from their fathers who are in prison? In this age of equality, what about that much higher figure? Should we not be more, or at least equally, outraged about that? If not, why not?

The five myth is that women are generally treated more harshly than men in the justice system:

  • Women are less likely than men to go to prison
  • Women less likely to be given a community order
  • 10% of women sentenced are given a community order compared with 16% of men
  • For domestic violence, the community requirement imposed on those who commit an offence in a domestic setting is imposed only on men and cannot be handed down to women
  • Women are more likely to receive lower level punishments such as fines
  • There is an imbalance in the number of women reaching court compared with men, as more women than are issued with pre-court sanctions

To read the full transcript of this debate see this link: Sentencing Female Offenders

Thanks to James Williams of Men’s Matters for bringing this speech to our attention. You can meet James at The Men’s Rights Networking Event and Discussion on the theme ‘How Do We Put Men’s Issues On The Political Agenda?’ on Thursday 1st November – click here to find out more now.

Posted in NEWS

Men face sex discrimination in UK justice system says MP

Male offenders in the UK are being discriminated against on the grounds of their gender according to the backbench MP Phil Davies.

Speaking in a debate of female offenders in parliament this week Mr Davies said:

“There appears to be sex discrimination in the sentencing of offenders, but the people being discriminated against are men not women. Women cannot have it both ways. They cannot expect to be treated equally in everything in society except when it comes to being sentenced by the courts for the crimes that they commit.

“People may want to argue that it is reasonable for women to be given lighter sentences than men, and that it is right that fewer women are sent to prison than men. That is an argument for another day, but at least when we have these debates about sentencing for men and women let us stick to the facts as they are and not what we would like them to be.”

The Member of Parliament for Shipley in Yorkshire went on to say:

“Men are treated more harshly by the courts than women. For every single category of offence, for all ages and in all types of court, men are more likely to be sent to prison than women. There is not one blip anywhere. For every single offence, for every age, in every type of court, women are less likely to be sent to prison than men.

“The argument goes that this is all about women; it is not all about women. Let us not focus just on the very small proportion of women who are in prison. Let us also think about all the men, too. The point of this debate is to make people aware that where there are issues they apply equally to men, and that some of the issues are not even issues at all because the facts do not back them up.”

Mr Shipley is rated by the Conservative Home Blog as one of his party’s most rebellious MPs, has been described by political commentator Peter Hain as “a genuine conservative” and is the parliamentary spokesman for the Campaign Against Political Correctness.

The Men’s Network is concerned with helping every man and woman reach their full potential – including offenders – and we have previously highlighted the issues facing the male prison population on this blog (See our short statistical post asking why are so many men imprisoned and our news item about mentally ill men stuck in ‘Victorian lunatic asylums‘.

What Mr Davies’ speech highlights is our collective tendency to view the world through the filter – women HAVE problems and men ARE problems – and he provides some startling research and analysis from the House of Commons Library to challenged the commonly held belief that women offenders are treated unfairly compared to male offenders.

It is not clear, however, whether Mr Davies is genuinely interested in tackling the inequalities experienced by men in the prison system or more interested in winning an argument against those campaigning for a more lenient treatment of women offenders.

The thrust of his passionate speech in parliament – 5 myths about female sentencing – seems to be making the case that ‘women are problems too’ more than it is making the case that men who offend have problems too.

And when you consider problems male prisoners are dealing with it seems evident that time spent supporting boys in care, fatherless boys, boys excluded from schools, boys with mental health disorders and boys with learning difficulties has the potential to deliver huge benefits in reducing the male prison population in the long run.

To see the key points and statistics highlighted by Mr Davies in our post outlining his Five Myths About The Sentencing Of Female Offenders.

Thanks to James Williams of Men’s Matters for bringing this speech to our attention. You can meet James at The Men’s Rights Networking Event and Discussion on the theme ‘How Do We Put Men’s Issues On The Political Agenda?’ on Thursday 1st November – click here to find out more now.

Posted in NEWS

Local Partner Tickets For Men’s Conference

Do you have men and boys as a target audience? Do you want to know how to become more effective at engaging men in the Sussex area? If so you may want to take advantage of a discounted local partner ticket to the Second National Conference for Men and Boys in Brighton & Hove on Friday 2nd November.

Tickets range from £25 to £150 and we have a limited number of local partner tickets now available for just £10 which includes food and drink for the day.

To find out more about the conference  and why it is of value to local partners working with men and boys CLICK HERE NOW

And to buy your local ticket online now for £10 (plus £1.25 admin fee) CLICK HERE NOW

For a limited period we are also happy to make a Friends Of The Men’s Network ticket  available to any local supporter who makes a donation of £10 or more online in 2012 by visiting our localgiving page here (no surcharge).

Simply email glen@themensnetwork.org.uk with date of your donation to claim your ticket if you make (or have previously made) a donation of £10 to The Men’s Network online.

Local partners may also interested to find out more about a forthcoming workshop on including men in your service called Helping Men Get Help – you can find out about this training now when you CLICK HERE.

Posted in NEWS

Health professionals invited to attend national men and boys conference

If you work with men locally or nationally on any aspect of men’s health, wellbeing and social care, you may want to attend the Second National Conference for Men and Boys on Friday 2nd November.

The conference promises to be the biggest ever gathering of people committed to improving the lives of men and boys in the UK and will be of particular interest to you are working in any way on men’s health issues.

As a delegate you’ll enjoy talks, discussions, best practice presentations and the opportunity to share your experience and ideas with others and ask lots of questions too.

As well as hearing about effective approaches to working with men on a broad range health issues covering  physical, mental, sexual, social and emotional health and wellbeing, there’ll be lots of examples of how to work effectively with men from specialists in other sectors like fatherhood, social care and community safety.

Some of the expert speakers and contributors on health and mental health will include:

  • Jim Pollard of the Men’s Health Forum, the national charity that has championed men’s health issues for more than a decade
  • Simon Howes of the male suicide prevention charity CALM UK which takes an innovative approach to engaging with men who aren’t accessing mainstream services
  • Sam Thomas founder of Men Get Eating Disorders Too, which is changing perceptions about eating disorders through a skillful combination of media campaigning and sector training
  • Berkeley Wilde of the Diversity Trust, a men’s health champion who will share his research on engaging gay, bisexual and transgender men rural communities
  • Ryan Walshe, a young cancer survivor who delivers health awareness talks to thousands of teenagers through his Talking Testicles project

Other experts to look out for throughout the day include:

  • Andy Wood of MensCraft who has been helping to increase the take up of breastfeeding in new mums by working with dads
  • Pip Reilly from Mensfe the UK’s leading expert working with men who are infertile
  • Mark Williams who works with dads experiencing post-natal depression
  • Mike Jenn champion of the emerging Men’s Sheds movement which offers a unique approach to providing support services to older men
  • Dr Peter Ball and Dr John Warren of NORM UK who are experts on tackling unnecessary male circumcision
  • Dr Luke Sullivan of Men’s Minds Matter 

And you may also be interested on sessions about using social media to engage young fathers, working with men who are victims of domestic and sexual violence and developing men and boys through mentoring and rites of passage.

Tickets for the conference range from £50 to £150 and for supporters of The Men’s Network who donate £25 or more in 2012 apply for a FREE ticket today can. Click here now to find out how now.

But before you do that if you live or work in Brighton & Hove, East Sussex or West Sussex why not contact us now to see if you qualify for a further reduction and can get a low cost local partner ticket today – email glen@themensnetwork.org.uk for details.

Finally, if you’re concerned with helping men and boys get better access to and outcomes from your service, or maybe you’re interested in developing new services and projects for men and boys, then you’ll probably find the forthcoming training called ‘Helping Men Get Help’ very useful.

Click here now to find out more about the Helping Men Get Help Course

For more information about The Second National Conference For Men and Boys an also The Big Man Gathering the following day CLICK HERE NOW.

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