The DesertLight Journal
Volume 2, Number 12

                 August 1, 2002

The e-zine of the International Men's Rights Movement. This is the first e-zine intended to focus primarily on the issues of domestic violence against men and divorce/child custody issues. We welcome news of groups, websites, and people in the men's rights movement worldwide. We encourage new writers and commentary.

For all the news all the time, visit our buds 
http://www.angryharry.com in the UK http://www.mensactivism.org  in the US 
or Men's News Daily http://www.mensnewsdaily.com anywhere.

For exclusive book-length works on men, and the issues visit
See the BBS at http://www.cybermanbooks.com/cgi-bin/board/
For breaking news on the groups and orgs.
"A woman needs a man like a fish needs the river."


NOW Distances Itself from the Family Court Report and NAFCJ

The National Organization for Women says a report produced by the California chapter, released in late June, is an “independent report.” Rebecca Farmer, spokesperson for NOW’s Washington headquarters, declares no knowledge of alleged evidence of criminal activity, claimed to be contained in the “Family Court Report 2002.” She was not apparently prepared to deal with questions regarding the month-old report. 

Cindy Ross of the National Alliance for Family Court Justice, a self-proclaimed activist group which contributed information in the compilation of the controversial report, sent e-mail to Wendy McElroy in early July, later published at Men's News Daily, claiming to have sent actual evidence of criminal activity on the part of various organizations and individuals, to CA NOW.   

When the DesertLight Journal asked Rachel Allen of CA NOW:
“…please clarify, if you would, what specific evidence you have been given, if in fact you have been given such evidence relating to [such] charges... Ms. Ross' comments would appear to charge many people of some quite serious crimes. Does CA NOW, or the National Organization for Women have any plans to pursue these charges, and if so, would you please comment on the nature of any planned action on the part of either?”

This response was received, in part:
“the only information received from Cindy Ross included in our Family Court Report was in the form of links to related articles found in the related links and articles section    of the  report. The content of the report itself was written and researched by the authors indicated on the title page. Although we support the work of the NAFCJ in their efforts to improve the family court system for women and children, we are not in any way affiliated with them nor do we speak for them.”

When asked, “Have you received any evidence of criminal activity on the part of any
group or individual from Cindy Ross? Do you feel that CA NOW has any responsibility to address this evidence in any way, such as reporting the alleged criminal activity to authorities, and does CA NOW have any plans to do so?”

Ms Allen responded by directing us back to report itself, which contains no reference to either evidence of specific criminal activity, or to specific actions on the part of NOW itself regarding any crimes reported to them. The “solutions section,” referred to by Ms. Allen, appears to be in the form of suggestions regarding legislative and other changes in the general family court system. Although it calls for a statewide audit of the judiciary for non-compliance in elections and government codes in election and appointment of judges is mentioned, as is an “audit and investigation by the Attorney General of fraudulent non-profit continuing education and support organizations participating in family law processes,” it does not specify any groups or individuals by name, nor does it suggest the means to be used by the AG’s office to identify which organizations should be considered.  There is no mention of NOW being in possession of any evidence regarding any specific group or individual, nor is the charge made by NAFCJ of “a court kickback/financial corruption scheme that calls for the misuse of federal program funds in the name of fatherhood and shared parenting" referenced in this section.

It would appear that while Ms Ross believes herself to have “worked closely” with CANOW in providing information and criminal evidence, as stated in her previous e-mail, NOW considers her contribution to be otherwise. There is no apparent recognition of any evidence of criminal activity in the possession of NOW or specific action intended by either the National Organization or its California chapter.  

It has also been reported to the DLJ that the President of NAFCJ, Liz Richards, claiming specialized knowledge of father’s rights organizations and public figures active in the men’s movement, has been contacting women’s organizations seeking their support. To our knowledge, she has not been successful. 

While all of this information is mainly a confirmation of suspicions on our part, we have begun to formulate more questions: the actual reasons for issuance of the Family Court Report 2002, and why an established, even (in some quarters) respected organization such as NOW would rely on a small, self-proclaimed activist group such as NAFCJ to supply them with clearly unverified, unsubstantiated information. The website for NAFCJ speaks for itself. There is no apparent organized activism project for the org since 1993, when they claim to have organized. There are neither specific goals stated, long-term or short, nor any of the procedures obvious with other orgs, such as regular meetings, or fund-raising projects. It is simply, as in Rachel Allen’s words, a collection of “links to related articles.” A visit to their online discussion group, Family Court Reform, shows that their professionalism as a group is questionable. Personal correspondence and communications by the org’s “officers” also leave much to be desired. Have they perhaps been chosen as the too-willing scapegoats in some larger, as-yet-unrevealed scenario?

Is the arrogance of NOW complete, and they believe themselves to be a law unto themselves? That no person, nor organization would dare challenge their conclusions, no matter how faulty or hastily prepared? The report itself was not even proofread; which suggests either a reason for haste, or an uncaring attitude on the part of its authors. Why is it that the national office seems to be disinterested in, possibly even embarrassed by this report? 

One thing is obvious; this is certainly not an example of “linking arms in dangerous times,” as was the theme of this year’s national conference for NOW in St. Paul, MN. If this is an example of the kind of sisterhood and solidarity practiced by feminist orgs these days, then the men’s movement has made much more progress than we realize. 

As has been seen by the well-founded criticism both in the mainstream and men’s issues press, this report was at best an ill-conceived, poorly designed attempt to point out indications of a social problem. It should be pointed out that of the authors of the report, only Rachel Allen has spoken out publicly in defense of the document, in her position as PR spokesperson for CANOW. With only one author of the report itself and some of the contributors to the project apparently willing to ‘own’ it in its entirety, it is highly unlikely that anyone – any responsible person, that is – in California state government is likely to give it credence. They would be even less likely to act on any of its suggestions. These suggestions, by the way, fail to assign a specific role for NOW in implementing the proposed changes. In another era, NOW would be certain to carve a niche for itself in the proceedings, if not to direct the changes as much as possible.

The next step is to find out why this tremendous faux pas occurred, or was allowed to occur. Was FCR2002 intended to be accepted without question? Or was it in fact a purely political move that backfired? We can only hope that time will tell, and the answers to our questions will soon reveal themselves.


Men's Health America Special Report

  In 1979, the UN General Assembly approved the Convention on the 
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). CEDAW 
is often described as an international bill of rights for women. CEDAW 
is overseen by a Committee of 23 persons, most of whom are women. 

  CEDAW consists of 30 articles that cover such areas as Sex Role 
Stereotyping, Education, Employment, Law, and many others. More 
 be found at www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/.

The CEDAW Health Recommendations

  Article 12 of CEDAW addresses Women's Health. This Article states:

"States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate 
discrimination against women in the field of health care in order to 
ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, access to health care 
services, including those related to family planning."

  Twenty years later, in 1999, the CEDAW Committee approved the 24th 
General Recommendation on the topic of Women and Health. General 
Recommendation 24 states:

"special attention should be given to the health needs and rights of 
women belonging to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, such as migrant 
women, refugee and internally displaced women, the girl child and older 
women, women in prostitution, indigenous women and women with physical 
or mental disabilities...."

  Whereas Article 12 merely calls for the elimination of discrimination 
in order to improve access, General Recommendation 24 goes much 
farther: It calls for "special attention" for "women belonging to 
vulnerable and disadvantaged groups."

  On the surface, CEDAW sounds like a progressive and enlightened 
concept that all persons should enthusiastically embrace. But a careful 
examination of CEDAW reveals serious problems.

Flaws in the Policy-Making Process

  Following the approval of CEDAW by the UN General Assembly in 1979, 
the CEDAW Committee began to approve its "General Recommendations." The 
stated purpose of these General Recommendations is to elaborate the 
Committee's view of the obligations assumed under the Convention.

  Given the fact that the CEDAW Committee was given free rein to make 
new rules, it is not surprising that over the years, the General 
Recommendations have become quite extensive. Whereas the original CEDAW 
numbered 9 pages in length, the General Recommendations are now 25 
pages long. 

  As it develops these General Recommendations, the Committee claims to 
engage in "open dialogue" with unspecified "non-governmental 
organizations and others." Once the Committee finalizes its General 
Recommendations, however, there is no requirement that they be ratified 
by the UN General Assembly. Indeed, none of those nations that had 
already ratified the original CEDAW has to give any approval for the 
new General Recommendations.

  So the Recommendations do not come into existence following any 
process that could be construed as democratic. There are no checks and 
balances to prevent the abuse of power. As a result, a committee of 23 
persons is essentially dictating gender policy to those nations that 
have ratified CEDAW.

Flaws in the Health Provisions of CEDAW

  Although there are areas in which women have suffered from 
discrimination, healthcare generally is not one of them. To the 
contrary, men have lagged behind women on almost every indicator of 
healthcare utilization, lifestyle factors, health status, and 

  The problem with Article 12 of CEDAW is that it makes the pernicious 
assumption that women have less access to health care services than men 
do. Whether access is defined in terms of health insurance coverage, 
availability of health care services, or actual utilization of 
services, men have less access to health care services than women do. 

  Indeed, in many poor countries around the world, the country's health 
care system revolves around their maternal and child health programs. 
While services to prevent deaths from childbirth and promote the health 
of infants are essential, such services, by definition, exclude men.

  CEDAW's General Recommendation 24 is even more deficient. The wording 
of the Recommendation is revealing: 

"special attention should be given to the health needs and rights of 
women belonging to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, such as migrant 
women, refugee and internally displaced women, the girl child and older 
women, women in prostitution, indigenous women and women with physical 
or mental disabilities."

  First, the Recommendation is worded very broadly. The term "mental 
disability" is not defined, and could be construed to include a broad 
range of psychological conditions. In many low income countries, 
virtually all women could be classified as "vulnerable and 

  Second, the Recommendation ignores the fact that many men are also 
vulnerable and disadvantaged. Men can be migrants and refugees. Boys 
and older men are often at higher risk of acute and chronic illnesses. 
Boys and men have been subjected to sexual abuse. Men have physical and 
mental disabilities, as well.

  The effect of Article 12 and General Recommendation 24 is to create a 
double-standard of healthcare services: a "normal" level for men, and a 
"special attention" standard for women.


  The previous MHA Special Report on The Global Disparities of Male 
Longevity documented the health problems that affect men around the 
world. Men are at greater risk of dying from almost all causes of 
death, in virtually every country, and in every age group.

  Despite these well-documented facts, CEDAW aims to categorize women 
as "vulnerable and disadvantaged," and therefore deserving of special 

  Under the guise of eliminating discrimination and promoting equality, 
CEDAW has become a Trojan Horse strategy for promoting a double-
standard of healthcare. 

  CEDAW is a euphemism for gender inequality. 

Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General
World Health Organization
Avenue Appia 20
1211 Geneva 27
Cost for airmail postage: 80 cents

This Special Report was originally posted on July 30, 2002 at



Look for a guest editorial by John Tinker at

And new Heart-Man Chronicles by Ruthie Schmeits and Brian Fraser



The cyberManbooks website has been completely refurbished, making it much easier to get to those exclusive books, available only at cyberMan. Check it out!



The basic framework for DVA2002 is on the website at 
See what we have planned for this year’s international domestic violence awareness campaign for October!

”First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.”
¾Mahatma Gandhi

Trudy W. Schuett
http://www.desertlightjournal. com/
PO Box 1252 Yuma AZ 85366

This e-zine may be shared or forwarded provided the entire publication is sent.
To subscribe to the DesertLight Journal, send a blank e-mail to dsrtlite@mindspring.com with "subscribe" in the subject line. To unsubscribe, send a blank e-mail with "unsubscribe" in the subject line.
Commentary and contributed articles are not necessarily the opinion of the DesertLight
Journal. We strive to include all views in the emerging men's rights movement, and
therefore cannot be expected to agree with everything. We are not affiliated with, nor do we receive financial support from any group or organization.

©2002 TWSchuett
All rights reserved
ISSN: 1538-3857- Library Of Congress, USA